Our Privacy Policy has been changed.

By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our updated Privacy Policy

BiggerPockets

Sub-dividing and developing land

7 posts by 7 users

Jon Klaus Verified Moderator Donor

Investor from Garland, Texas

Feb 16 '12, 02:39 PM


I'm looking at a 50 acre tract that I'd like to sub-divide into 5-10 acre home sites. Or not even developed home sites, but smaller tracts that the buyers could develop later. I'm looking for resources for learning all I can before presenting to the city planning and zoning dept. Any good websites or books to recommend? Or words of wisdom?



Jon Klaus, SellPropertyFast
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 214-929-6545
Website: http://www.sellpropertyfast.com


Ryan Scritchlow

Contractor from Illinois

Feb 16 '12, 03:19 PM


Set up a meet with the city planner or head of building and zoning. Also find the best land use attourney in your area. Ask lots of questions even ones that's may not apply to your project. Since your starting. I'd make 3 plans for the land the one you want one you can live with and one you will settle for. Pitch the last one when that gets shot down push hard for the middle one frame it like a compermise and after that gets shot down have your attourney frame up your best as a compermise and act like its their idea. I know that sounds stupid but after my first project I started doing that until I got to know every one and proved to them that I do t back down and will all ways get what I want. Now its a lot easer so I lead with my middle idea, there are all ways going to be a stumbling blocks so keep and open mind and good luck



Tod R.

Investor from Southlake, Texas

Feb 16 '12, 04:55 PM


Hey @Jon Klaus, I would agree with Ryan about talking with the city's engineer or someone in the P&Z dept. We've had good luck with talking to city staff. I would think a smaller town would also be friendly as well, as long as you're not wanting to develop a pig farm. I would also find a local civil engineer that's worked with this town.


Edited Feb 16 2012, 17:05 by Tod R.


Geof Greeneisen

Commercial Real Estate Broker from Howell, Michigan

Feb 16 '12, 07:53 PM
3 votes


The Urban Land Institute (ULI) I think is one of the best resources for land use issues. They have books and white papers on just about any type of development you might be considering.

I would make two recommendations. 1). Purchase the property subject to site plan approval. We typically had a 3-6 month buffer after approval in our contracts before we closed which allowed us to get the project either approved, appraised and financed, or packaged and sold. 2). Don't negotiate with planning or council. You know your product better than they do. Planning Commissions and Council's are notorious for negotiating the density down, don't do it, always have a reason for layout, density, retention/detention and traffic flow. The difference between good developers and great developers is that last lot, fight for it.



Will Barnard Verified Moderator Donor

Investor from Santa Clarita, California

Feb 16 '12, 08:24 PM


Jon, when subdividing land there is a lot to plan for. I don't have any recomendations for books, but can provide the following from previous experience: look into highest and best use, check with zoning on number of units per land size, get a soils report, geo report, check with fire department on number of fire hydrants needed and make sure to have existing pressures tested to confirm new hydrants will have proper pressure, and of course speak with zoning/planning. Pay attention to flood plains, existance of current or past landfills, and any natural hazard items.



Medium be logoWill Barnard, Barnard Enterprises, Inc.
Website: http://www.barnardenterprises.com
http://www.InvestorExperts.com - For all Southern California House Flippers, Agents, and Wholesalers


Kama Ward

Investor from Asheville, North Carolina

Feb 17 '12, 11:53 AM
4 votes


There are two categories I'd look into: technical and market (sorry if this is overly basic- it's what I did though and it seemed to work).
It seems you are asking about technical stuff-- which often limits what you can do in a certain market.

To learn about technical issues I see three ways:

1. The Research Nerd way: all your ordinances etc. should be online. Or at least downtown or at the county seat! Read them. It takes a while, leaves you with more questions than answers sometimes, but it is very valuable to see what's written down. If there is a dispute, this is what it often comes down to. Sometimes even the officials in the planning office will say something contradicting what's written down.

Plus know your state laws! For example, in NC you can divide tracts without having to create a subdivision as long as the end products are larger than 10 acres.

2. The Good Ole' Boy way: Talk to your local good quality surveyors, excavators, well guys etc. They know the soft edges of what can and can't be done, and can clear up some questions that reading the ordinances bring up. Realize that they have a slight bias to do things, rather than not. In my case, my surveyor called planning and got something through I might not have been able to. He had a good reputation with the decision maker. Always listen to your good contractors and subs! Of course not everything they say is golden-- but they have gems that will save or make you $$ on this deal or the next. Visit successful and failed projects and talk to the neighbors. (of course this is good for knowing your market too)

Talking to your land/real estate atty straddles the good ole boy way and the next way.

3. The Upstanding Citizen way: Talk to your attorney. Get the dope from him/her. Ask all kinds of questions, yes like Ryan said even ones that sound crazy at first! Get recommendations for good surveyor etc.--- ie the ones with the fewest lawsuits on their tails.

Call planning, ask general questions that may apply to your project (not mentioning a specific piece of land). I'd tread lightly on this one until you have a good rep. and are one of the good ole' boys yourself!

For the market I'll be brief: Know it well. On the ground, not just by computer. Is there a need/want that you can fill that other places can't/won't? Women make most housing decisions (probably less so for lots), what do they want? Paint the picture for them.



Adrian G.

Real Estate Investor from Chicago, Illinois

Mar 01 '12, 11:28 PM


Originally posted by Geof Greeneisen:
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) I think is one of the best resources for land use issues. They have books and white papers on just about any type of development you might be considering.

I would make two recommendations. 1). Purchase the property subject to site plan approval. We typically had a 3-6 month buffer after approval in our contracts before we closed which allowed us to get the project either approved, appraised and financed, or packaged and sold. 2). Don't negotiate with planning or council. You know your product better than they do. Planning Commissions and Council's are notorious for negotiating the density down, don't do it, always have a reason for layout, density, retention/detention and traffic flow. The difference between good developers and great developers is that last lot, fight for it.

I agree completely with Geof, check the Urban Land Institute. They have a ton of books, everything and anything.



Manage Keyword Alerts

View All Forums