Develop a bare lot, but with what and how

9 Replies

I have identified 2 separate lots in Marysville Washington (Snohomish County) that are bare and undeveloped. I have not contacted the respective owners (yet). My vision is to develop/ build and have multifamily structures built based on the size of the lot as I see it. (One lot could potentially be commercial/ mixed use due to the proximity of an existing mixed use.) However, I cannot tell what can be built on either lot/ what they are zoned for. One of the lots states undeveloped vacant land and the other states that it is an SFR despite the dwelling having been demolished.

Besides the fact that I need to mail off letters to the owners on record, where do I start for determining the dwelling size and type that could be built? I feel that I should know these things in order to seek finance and outline budget as well as exit strategy (or hold).

Kyle, there are a lot of steps to take to build a commercial project and I would argue that the 1st step would be to either purchase an aged LLC or season one. Then build up great credit and a solid down while paying down all debt. The great thing about some construction loans is that you do NOT have to own the land. Get ready to hire everyone from a builder to architect to lawyer to CPA, etc. OR try and owner-build a smaller project to get experience 1st, John

Many if not all cities have a zoning map. Try searching the planning department website. Also try looking for a GIS map (maybe on the county website) which should pull up a lot of useful information including zoning.

Once you know the zoning, lot size and dimensions you can figure roughly what can be built. There are tons of other issues that take books to cover. You may want to partner with someone whose done it or start small with a home addition.

At this point in the cycle and really always you should be trying to buy under market value. The nice thing about development is you can pay “market value” for a SFR but if it is zoned for commercial or mixed use you have a good deal. The reason I bring this up is you may need to contact 100 owners before someone is willing to sell at a price that works with your pro-forma

as stated above this is a very simple task to determine what's allowed.. I always like to walk in and talk with a planner.. they will usually give you a handout that defines the zoning for that parcel.. what's approved outright what takes a conditional use permit and what is a major change ..

If and I could be presumptuous here but if you have NO experience in developing or building.. I think you will find it difficult to impossible to get financing unless its friends or family..  ground up is still quite tough to get .

Best play here is either partner with reputable builder if they think your bringing any value by just tying up the dirt

or flip it to a builder.

Thanks all. I will see about reaching out to a contact I have in the city offices for details and the proper contact. However, before doing that, it appears that I may need to table this idea. As @Jay Hinrichs speculated correctly in that I am quite green. That said, I feel I need to start somewhere. I may be starting to research one of the toughest venues with no experience and limited network and limited capital... I feel I need to start somewhere though. I drive by these opportunities every day, twice a day.

I will say that one of these lots is off the market so to say. There is an FSBO sign laying down in the tall grass. The county records show that this is now held in a trust after a deed transfer a handful of years ago. A thought was to wholesale the lot, but that is likewise a no experience venue for me. (I did just start reading "If you can't wholesale after this".) However, my thoughts progress from there, "Why can't I have something built myself?".

Hook up with a builder and be a bird dog for them.. then learn the process's.. if the lot is sitting there like that

in this Market on the west coast  ( unless new construction is not feasible in that area which many areas new construction is not as existing stock is cheaper than new construction)

but if there is new construction and that lot is sitting there usually means a couple things.

1. lot has some technical issues.

2. seller had it grossly over priced.

In our west coast market any lot that is priced correctly and not a technical challenge sells in 10 to 60 days ..

Not to be Debbie downer but I have done this 4 decades now.. and you simply cannot get this done with no money and no experience... you HAVE to have a partner with both.. other wise as stated bird dog it.. or try something else..

I forgot to mention/ ask, what all type of facts and data should I collect for the purpose of wholesaling or presenting to a partner, in regard to a vacant lot. Zoning, setbacks, density, height restrictions, and so on? Maybe that is where I am going down rabbit trails and over complicating this? My thoughts are that I needed to have data to present to someone in the likeness of wholesaling a house with estimated repairs and market values.

OK Kyle my last response because your not going to get this all answered on the internet..

YOU SIMPLY do the following.

1.  walk into planning department they will have a handout that describes the zoning codes for what your property is zoned or they will refer you to a website that will describe all that you ask above.

2.. then go to public works  ask about sewer water and storm drains  ( sometimes storm is in a different department)

    ask if there is capacity and what the hook up fees and system development charges are.

If there is slope you may need to ask a local geo tech if they \know the area.

with those things above you can get a good idea.

good luck with it..

Originally posted by @Kyle MacWilliams :

@Jay Hinrichs copy that and thank you. I am a small fry peering into the world of whales.

NP  but really the only people to listen to are the people that issue =the  permits  end of that story.. development is site specific and jurisdiction specific..  

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