Burn Letter

8 Replies

Anyone familiar with a "burn letter"? I have a purchase in escrow. Two homes on one lot zoned sfr. Older homes one built in 1945 the other 1977. Seller financed. Question came up if the property burned down if the city would allow two homes to be rebuilt. I didn't think anything of it or have any concern but the agent brought it up. Does anyone have any experiences with this or thoughts?

It sounds like this is a legal, non-conforming property which was probably grandfathered in when the zoning was changed to SFR after 1977. If that's the case it's likely that you would not be able to re-build 2 homes on a lot that's currently zoned for SFR.

Probably good to poise this as a hypothetical question to someone in city zoning.

Never heard it referred to as a burn letter. But, if the two houses aer non conforming as to current code, you probably could not rebuild. Most places place a limit of like 25-50% to be able to repair/rebuild a non conforming structure.

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Seller financed is the key here. Getting a mortgage will be troublesome.

I had this on a property and ended up getting a variance prior to buying to get funding.

Zoning Variance.

In my case without the variance if 51% of the building burned it could not be rebuilt with the commercial zoning it's currently in. I made my case to the City and in the end the variance was granted, your results may vary however because it's up to the local board.