How do I comp a vacant lot zoned R1.5 (Van Nuys)

6 Replies | Los Angeles County, California

I recently got a call from a woman who owns a vacant lot. a Lot that I thought was 7500 sq ft and zoned R1.5 - come to find out she actually combined the lot with the one next door and its 15k sq feet. She got approval for plans for a 5 unit apartment but for some reason (I don't think she was able to get the loan she wanted) she isn't going to go forward with the build.

I don't know how to run the numbers on this lot. and I don't know any developers who are doing apartments. My goal was to wholesale the lot. There are a few multi's that have sold in the area that give me an IDEA of a possible ARV but I don't know the build cost - permit costs and there aren't any vacant land comps that I can use to get an Idea of what to offer.

Any suggestions?

Here are a few comments:

1. Land is typically around 20% of the total value of a property

2. Due to Prop 13 in CA, assessed values can be way off from market value, however most counties will show you on the tax records how much the land is as a percentage of the total value.  You can look up the tax records for several of the recently sold properties in the area and use this % to figure out an approximate value.

3. Look up other lots that have sold recently in the area that are zoned the same, if they exist

Originally posted by @Lee Bell :

1. Land is typically around 20% of the total value of a property

Completely wrong in this town. It is frequently much much  higher.

I concur. AZ is a completely different market than CA and the value of the dirt is almost always well over 20% here, including Van Nuys, CA!

Best way to calculate land value is to work backwards. Take what you would build, say a 1500 SF 3+2 home with attached garage as an example and get that cost. Know the comps in that neighborhood so you can calculate the value of the new construction. Take that value minus the cost to build and then minus the 25% or so margin you need to cover holding costs, profit, etc and that is what the maximum that dirt is worth.


I'd look at properties with the same zoning in the area that sold. In this market there is a good chance the buyer is planning to build units. So, I'm looking at R1.5 with as similar location as possible, and same size. How many units can you build is one of the main drivers of value for these. I've noticed the Arts District and south part of North Hollywood, they are really going nuts building.