Analyzing the Purchase of an Empty Lot

3 Replies

Each city/county will have their own regulations regarding this. For example, where I live they require the parcel to be at least 10,000 SF. I would call your local planning and zoning office and ask about this to make sure the property is properly zoned and fits the initial criteria for multifamily. Then, I would ask to make sure the area aligns with the county/city's strategic plan. Sometimes areas wont allow you to build a multifamily unit if it does not align with their plan.

I'm sure there are more tips than just this but I would definitely just start with calling up the planning and zoning office. They can give you the initial information you'll need to start analyzing properties.

@Terri Parrilla are you looking in the DC area?There is a lot you need to know. By right most of the DC properties allow 2 units on a lot no matter how small. If you want more then you have to verify the zone it is located in. Also, if you want more than 2 units then each unit is required to have 900 SF of lot area. For example if you want 4 units then the lot has to be at least 3,600 SF. That does not mean each unit has to be 900 SF. In fact it could be bigger. Another possibility is a special exception. It is not a difficult process but does add 4-6 months for the permit process. The bad thing is that the city can deny a special exception. I am going through this process with a project in DC and I hope they approve it.

As you can see there is a lot going on and this is just scratching the surface. If you want send me the address of the empty lot and I can tell you pretty quickly what you can build by right.

Thank you both Benjamin and Eric for your responses.  The lots that I was interested in are in Deep Creek, MD.  I know that the lots are zoned for multi-family and vacation rentals.  My inquiry had more to do with how to analyze the worthiness of a lot to build on rather than what can be built.  Thanks.