what to do with unsellable land

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Naikansha
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what to do with unsellable land

Post by Naikansha » Fri May 17, 2013 10:39 pm

We have a plot of 2-1/2 acres of land that is very difficult to sell not only because there are many fewer speculators than in the past (not us, we were given the plot). While there are electric and telehone hookups, there is no water line, so a buyer would have to either drill a well or pay a neighboring land owner for an easement. The closest one will not allow us to do this. Meanwhile, the state taxes are now over 1K per year. Any ideas for getting out of this financial handicap?

freebeer
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by freebeer » Fri May 17, 2013 10:46 pm

Naikansha wrote:We have a plot of 2-1/2 acres of land that is very difficult to sell not only because there are many fewer speculators than in the past (not us, we were given the plot). While there are electric and telehone hookups, there is no water line, so a buyer would have to either drill a well or pay a neighboring land owner for an easement. The closest one will not allow us to do this. Meanwhile, the state taxes are now over 1K per year. Any ideas for getting out of this financial handicap?
It depends a lot on where this plot is, as value will vary depending on the cost/feasibility of well (and septic) and of course desirability of living in that location and how many alternative properties are available. There are properties that are, literally, worthless and are given up to the county in lieu of taxes. But if you think there is any potential demand figure out a price that could "pencil in" for a buyer to build or put in a mobile, and offer it at 85% of that price on craigslist, zillow, etc.

WhyNotUs
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by WhyNotUs » Fri May 17, 2013 10:59 pm

Not enough info to say much but here are some generic thoughts.

Is there a public right of way to access the water line? If so, get City/County policy on using it for water service. Have you checked the City/County to see the plat on adjacent properties to make sure there is no utility easement? They are very common along edges of properties that that gone through subdivision.

Are wells typical in this area and if so are they deep/expensive/reliable? Seems like coming up with a way for someone to move forward on water will help with sale even if you do not do anything more.

Second, are there builders in your area that build spec houses? If so, market the lot of them.

Third, offer builders or other buyers financing. Since you do not have a note on it that is an option. May allow you to get a better price.
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mlewis
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by mlewis » Fri May 17, 2013 11:11 pm

The land is not likely "unsellable." You have simply not lowered the price enough to entice the right buyer out of the woodwork.

Perhaps you think of it as unsellable because it seems unthinkable how little it may actually be worth on the open market.

heyyou
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by heyyou » Fri May 17, 2013 11:12 pm

The county seems to think that the lot has value. Have you appealed your taxes? If the land has little value, why are your taxes so high?

Naikansha
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Naikansha » Fri May 17, 2013 11:21 pm

Thanks for the good ideas. Unfortunately there are no easements next to the neighboring properties but the public line could be accessed from the main road, about a mile away. There is a closer line but neighbor will not approve an easement. Wells are common for those who can afford them. I just read the thought about taxes,something to look into. We are very flexible regarding price.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by chaz » Fri May 17, 2013 11:49 pm

Donate to a charity.
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Aptenodytes
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Aptenodytes » Sat May 18, 2013 5:08 am

In some places you can simply tell the town you wish to relinquish ownership. You then stop paying taxes and eventually the town will take over ownership. I had a family member do this with an unsellable plot.

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frugaltype
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by frugaltype » Sat May 18, 2013 5:38 am

chaz wrote:Donate to a charity.
If the area is suitable, you may find a conservation open space group that is likely to take it.

I also agree about appealing your property taxes, but in my area, at least, one rarely gets a reduction of significance. It's not costly to appeal here, however, if you stay at the tax assessor and then board of appeals level and don't go up a level to court where you need a lawyer. You just have to do your homework on sales or valuations of nearby properties, or failure to sell yours at various prices. If you can get the taxes down to a few hundred dollars, I would be inclined to keep it and see what happens long term.

Why were you given the plot? Can you give it back?

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by YttriumNitrate » Sat May 18, 2013 8:12 am

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by bertilak » Sat May 18, 2013 8:42 am

Naikansha wrote: Unfortunately there are no easements next to the neighboring properties but the public line could be accessed from the main road, about a mile away. There is a closer line but neighbor will not approve an easement. Wells are common for those who can afford them. I just read the thought about taxes,something to look into. We are very flexible regarding price.
First, easements are not necessarily "next to" a property but through a property. Both my current property and my previous property had utility easements across parts of the property. Both were something like the 10 feet up to the line on specified edges. I could do whatever I wanted on that part of the property, but if the county needed to put in a drainage ditch, water line, or anything, I would have to accept the possibility that whatever I did (garden, pond, tool shed) might be damaged or destroyed without compensation.

Second, if wells are common even if expensive that means there is water down there. Figure out the cost of a typical well and credit the buyer that much for drilling the well.
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dm200
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by dm200 » Sat May 18, 2013 10:38 am

Naikansha wrote:We have a plot of 2-1/2 acres of land that is very difficult to sell not only because there are many fewer speculators than in the past (not us, we were given the plot). While there are electric and telehone hookups, there is no water line, so a buyer would have to either drill a well or pay a neighboring land owner for an easement. The closest one will not allow us to do this. Meanwhile, the state taxes are now over 1K per year. Any ideas for getting out of this financial handicap?
The donating to a charity (that would take it) is something I would investigate.

I think I might pursue the water line issue a bit more. If I understand, you must have frontage to a public road/street for access and there is electric, phone (and perhaps some other utility) access, but that frontage does not have a water line access. Is there public sewer line access, or would this need to be a septic tanks type setup? It sounds like the public water line is on a nearby street/road, but that route is through a neighboring property. is that correct?

Is there any plan for or expectation of public water being on the access street/road? Are there other neighbors or neighboring property in the same fiz that you are? If so, is there any way that a group could deal with this?

Naikansha
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Naikansha » Sat May 18, 2013 2:36 pm

I sincerely appreciate all the thoughts about this matter.
Regarding an easement: Bertilak, thanks for the reminder of the correct wording regarding an 'easement'. dm200, public water lines are on two nearby roads. The closest requires a granted easement through a neighbor who will not grant it though we were certainly willing to pay her something for it. The other line is about a mile away and we would need a granted easement from another land owner who most likely would be acceptable to such an offer. This may in the end be the route we will take as the cost would most likely be less than a well. (Anyone have ideas regarding how to figure out how much to offer?)

Nitrate: Regarding your idea to plant an orchard or garden, a good one as most everyone out here has such things but it took us a long time to figure out how to keep a garden going without giving everything up to the local critters. And this is the Sonoran desert, northeast of Tucson. Anything planted needs to be watered regularly (it is now hovering around 90 degrees midday and there won't be any more rain until July - if we're lucky). Protection from birds and animals large and small requires high fencing and even wire screen covers over (and in some places, under) all vegetables out here. While it's a beautiful and interesting place to live, it would be impractical to put in an orchard where there is no water line - that comes first.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Sidney » Sat May 18, 2013 2:41 pm

dm200 wrote:The donating to a charity (that would take it) is something I would investigate.
This would require an appraisal if you want to take a tax deduction. If it is truly unsellable, I don't see how anyone could do a valid appraisal.
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stan1
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by stan1 » Sat May 18, 2013 2:44 pm

So the idea is to put in water to make the property more desirable to a buyer (higher price, quicker sale)?
That's a speculative investment which may or may not give you a return on your investment.
Before doing that, what have you done so far to sell the property "as-is"? How have you determined that the property is "unsellable"?

Naikansha
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Naikansha » Sat May 18, 2013 2:52 pm

I don't see why anyone would buy it without a water line, although it might go for a very low price as it is in a retiree - desireable area but not good for people who need to travel daily into town. But there are other low priced properties here with water. At this point our main issue is the yearly tax bill, not selling.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Sidney » Sat May 18, 2013 3:00 pm

Naikansha wrote:The closest requires a granted easement through a neighbor who will not grant it though we were certainly willing to pay her something for it.
It might be worth checking with a real estate attorney. I once owned a property that was inaccessible and I was granted an easement by necessity despite lack of cooperation of the other landowner (they hadn't refused, just didn't respond). I'm not saying this applies in this case but it might be worth checking with an expert.
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Watty
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Watty » Sat May 18, 2013 3:06 pm

A big question that makes it hard to know what to do with the land is that we don’t have a clue as to what it would be worth if it was buildable. In some parts of the country that land could be worth a lot, but in much of the country buildable land like that might not be worth the price of a good car.

Unfortunately I’ve heard of situations where neighbors will not allow access across their land for development so that they can eventually buy the land when you sell it for next to nothing or abandon it in a tax sale so that could be part of why they will not allow you to run the waterline. You could offer them part of the land in exchange for running the waterline if that would not make the lot too small to put in a septic system.

If you can’t figure out anything else to do with the land then find some new age hippie alternative lifestyle drum group to give it to. On the other side of the spectrum some sort of survivalist group might be able to take the land off your hands. At least that way the neighbor who would not allow you to run the waterline across their land will regret it.

Another option would be to use have the land auctioned off so that you could at least get whatever it sells for. The taxes might be tricky since it was a gift but if you can figure out what the cost basis of the land is then you might be able to at least take a capital loss on it and use that for a tax write off.

stan1
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by stan1 » Sat May 18, 2013 3:18 pm

Naikansha wrote:I don't see why anyone would buy it without a water line, although it might go for a very low price as it is in a retiree - desireable area but not good for people who need to travel daily into town. But there are other low priced properties here with water. At this point our main issue is the yearly tax bill, not selling.
My father owned two pieces of property in the desert for 30+ years. One of the properties got hit with a special assessment to pay for paving of a nearby road. When he passed away my step mother approached adjacent land owners and negotiated a private party sale. She was not trying to maximize her profits -- she was in the same situation as you, just wanting to get out of the property tax payments. People who live in the environment you are describing often like their open space, so you very well may find one of the neighbors is quite willing to buy the parcel in order to keep someone from building a house there.

Be careful about bringing water to the property. You'd want to check with your county assessor's office to see if municipal water or a well is an improvement that would trigger a reassessment (even more tax).

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Rainier
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Rainier » Sat May 18, 2013 3:18 pm

No easement for water? I agree with the other poster, I'm pretty sure that is a legal right.
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by YttriumNitrate » Sat May 18, 2013 7:22 pm

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dm200
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by dm200 » Sat May 18, 2013 7:32 pm

Rainier wrote:No easement for water? I agree with the other poster, I'm pretty sure that is a legal right.
I don't think there are "legal rights" involved here at all. If you have property (as the majority of the territory in the US is) that does not have connections to public water systems, there is no "right" that your jurisdiction must supply the service. It sounds like public water was extended to an area very near the property in question, but not to the property itself. I see no "right" to water access, since the jurisdiction did not provide it.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by tim1999 » Sat May 18, 2013 8:17 pm

What exactly is the uncooperative neighbor's response to your easement request? Are you not offering her enough money (or any money at all)? Elderly person who can't be bothered with such matters? Shrewd person who wants to buy your land cheap when you get frustrated and give up? Someone who owned your land in 1986 ticked her off and she'll never forget it?

Might be helpful to try to figure out what is motivation (or lack thereof) is. You may be able to get past the "no" if you push the right buttons.

If you are buying an easement, you need to "tee it up" give her a document she can review and sign after you agree on a price, not just say "I need an easement from you for the water line, I don't know how this stuff works, where do we go from here."

All this aside, at least where I live, if you stop paying taxes the land will go to county tax sale after a couple of years. I don't know if this would affect your credit, though.

I'm not a real estate attorney, but I don't believe there is any "legal right" to connect to a public water system if your property is not immediately adjacent to the public roadway or water company easement containing the water main you seek to connect to. Even then, the water company can decide that they don't have enough capacity to serve you. Works the same way (and much more often this way) for sewer connections.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by heyyou » Sat May 18, 2013 11:16 pm

In the rural area where I live, every neighbor has their own well, and their own septic system. Check with a couple of well drillers on the cost, ours was a few thousand dollars and the septic was $3500. Both might increase your taxes but would make the land much more salable.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Valuethinker » Wed May 22, 2013 6:28 am

Naikansha wrote:We have a plot of 2-1/2 acres of land that is very difficult to sell not only because there are many fewer speculators than in the past (not us, we were given the plot). While there are electric and telehone hookups, there is no water line, so a buyer would have to either drill a well or pay a neighboring land owner for an easement. The closest one will not allow us to do this. Meanwhile, the state taxes are now over 1K per year. Any ideas for getting out of this financial handicap?
Summary

- check legal position re easement and or drilling (water rights)

- investigate cost of providing water and get estimate of value of land if water is in place (don't forget RE commission on sale!). See if worth doing

- investigate position re appeal re state taxes

- discuss possible sale to neighbour (wait until you know the water position, because they will view that as 'having you over a barrel', no pun intended)

If you can get a valuation with water, then generally your deal with the neighbour should be between the cost of the land without water and with water.

Riverstwo
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Riverstwo » Wed May 22, 2013 6:44 am

I would put an ad in the paper and say "open space - garden for lease"

Many people who do not own land would love to have a garden

Default User BR
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Default User BR » Wed May 22, 2013 9:42 am

Riverstwo wrote:I would put an ad in the paper and say "open space - garden for lease"

Many people who do not own land would love to have a garden
I doubt they're eager to have one in the desert with no water available.


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DAR395
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by DAR395 » Wed May 22, 2013 9:54 am

I just mow the grass and pay the taxes!

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by maroon » Wed May 22, 2013 10:00 am

I had posted to this topic earlier, and my comment disappeared without explanation! Is this typical?

Let me try again, perhaps this comment will be more helpful! I'm not sure where exactly the OP's land is, but I would say that drilling for water in the Sonoran desert is not inexpensive.

A good resource for the OP could be the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Here's a link to ADWR' well drilling guidance: http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/WaterManag ... efault.htm
The site includes a list of well drillers; if the OP is interested, he/she could call for quotes...

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Batousai » Wed May 22, 2013 12:06 pm

The lack of water should be calculated into the tax value. If it isn't, then you should be appealing the tax value, which may include getting an appraisal done. Discount it significantly enough and you'll find a buyer who will do nothing more than buy to flip at some price point.

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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed May 22, 2013 12:14 pm

maroon wrote:I had posted to this topic earlier, and my comment disappeared without explanation! Is this typical?
It is not typical. There were technical problems, it had nothing to do with your post.


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frugaltype
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by frugaltype » Wed May 22, 2013 12:22 pm

maroon wrote:I had posted to this topic earlier, and my comment disappeared without explanation! Is this typical?

Let me try again, perhaps this comment will be more helpful! I'm not sure where exactly the OP's land is, but I would say that drilling for water in the Sonoran desert is not inexpensive.

A good resource for the OP could be the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Here's a link to ADWR' well drilling guidance: http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/WaterManag ... efault.htm
The site includes a list of well drillers; if the OP is interested, he/she could call for quotes...
Website was down, they appear to have restored from an earlier backup.

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noyopacific
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Re: what to do with unsellable land

Post by noyopacific » Wed May 22, 2013 2:38 pm

I don't think I would pay the taxes or spend another dime on the property. In my area, it takes at least 5 years before the county can take real estate for non-payment of property taxes. That allows plenty of time to consider the options. If a real estate agent is willing to take the listing, I'd let them set the price and be willing to drop it incrementally within the time limit until it is seized for taxes. If an agent isn't willing to take the listing, Craigslist ads may be an option if you want to put your time into it. You might want to put up a "For Sale by Owner" sign to help prospective buyers locate it or if it is possible that anyone would see it. If the county takes it back, then you were right about it being worthless and at least you wouldn't have put any more money into it.
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