There is a lot that I'd like to purchase to build a single family house on. However, the current zoning in the area requires a 300ft width, while this existing lot is only 220ft.
Is it possible to make the seller an offer contingent upon getting a variance that would allow me to build? If so, who would be awarded the variance...the seller?
I don't see any good reason why you couldn't make this a contingency in your offer. The challenge will be getting the seller to agree to it.
Most municipalities are going to require the seller to give you notarized permission to apply for the variance for property they own. Ask the city or the governing authority for planning and zoning what their requirements are. You may consider speaking with a civil engineer that specializes in this type of project too.
Caveat: I work in an entitlements/site civil engineering focused office, but don't know your local laws, P&Z ordinances ect.
We have a client right now that is under contract to purchase an old auto dealership. They have a contingency that they have to get their development permit or they're out. They have us submitting not only their development permit(approving their "concept" with no designs yet), they have submitted for grading permits, right of way improvements (curb gutter sidewalk), and site utilities like storm drain, water, fire service and sewer.
So yes that is a very do-able contingency to have written in, and you can do a lot not being the owner once you are in contract. And depending on the jurisdiction you should easily be able to apply with almost no involvement from the owner other that a permission letter of some sort when you initially go in.
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