Author Topic: Canada: vacant land  (Read 2130 times)

scrubbyfish

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Canada: vacant land
« on: October 30, 2016, 09:22:45 PM »
I'd like to buy a cheap lot, for no reason except maybe my kid would like to build something one day.

When considering a vacant lot, what do I need to consider?
What makes one a total score?
What can go wrong/crazy, factors that I might seek to avoid?

Cathy

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2016, 09:46:00 PM »
When considering a vacant lot, what do I need to consider?

One thing you should consider is whether it is possible to access the land. For a cautionary tale, see Vesuna v. British Columbia (Transportation), 2011 BCSC 941, aff'd 2013 BCCA 10, leave denied 2013 CanLII 53403 (SCC).

scrubbyfish

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2016, 09:54:54 PM »
Thanks, Cathy!

Received a PM, too, with notes about access, unrecognized property lines, dumping, etc.

I know of one privately-owned vacant lot that has become a literal dump. I imagine the owner will be responsible for fines/clean up when the authorities decide to address it or owner wants to develop it.

I have two sets of acquaintances living on properties whose access is through another's private land. In both cases, the second owner decided to "close" the road for a while, because he could. Interestingly, neither of my acquaintances minded. They just waited until second owner re-opened it. I wouldn't like that myself, though.

So maybe I need to look at:

public road access, with no options for private parties to buy the road rights from govt
visible to the public/neighbours, so they'll let me know if something's up

snacky

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2016, 10:27:36 PM »
Water. There is land available around Greenwood for cheap. My dad went to check it out and found that the land was all hilltops, with no springs, creeks, etc. And the water table was too far down for any kind of well drilling. If he hadn't looked into the water issue he would have ended up with some really useless land.

backyardfeast

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 10:35:46 PM »
Hi Scrubby!  You know we just went through this. :)  Things I will always look for now: water access! If it's on a well, how much water does the well produce?  If it's in town, is there already water and sewer to the house site?  Or to the lot line?

Usability of the land/soil composition.  Is the land a wetland bog? Solid granite? Sand?  Some types of land are not worth building on or can't be built on without blasting or putting in major drainage.

Slope: the flatter the better.  Although it's possible to terrace, to use slope to one's advantage, etc, all of that costs money and resources.  Flat areas that won't cost a lot to level or where you won't have to build expensive retaining walls are more resource-efficient. Plus easier to grow things on. :)

Consider your preference for trees vs growing spaces.  Some people just want to build a cabin in the woods, and in that case the cabin can be built out of the woods.  But if, like me, you want to be able to grow things at some point, then access to sun and saving the expense of clearing and stump grinding is something to think about.  I love the forest, but we saw properties completely ringed with tall trees and only cleared a little in the middle, and they could be quite claustrophobic once I realized you would only get sun for a few hours a day in the summer and not at all in the winter.. :(

One piece of good news: composting toilets and greywater recycling are being introduced into BC's building code, meaning these should be much easier to get cleared.  This potentially means less expense and land needs for septic systems. Yay!

Perhaps biggest: who is the regulatory body that decides what/if you get to build on this property?  How easy are they to deal with?  What criteria are they using?  We considered some of the islands, as you might remember, but realized that trying to get a building permit from Island's Trust might not be worth the wait or the risk...

In permaculture, they consider 1) access; 2) water, and after that, 3) structures.

On another note, you may be buying land with cash and building small, also with cash, which is great.  But if not, mortgages for raw land and for building are complicated, and quite differently structured than for houses.

Look into what kind of insurance is available for raw land as well, if that matters to you.  Especially if you don't intend to be there regularly.

Last but not least: ZONING!  Our search area comprised about 12 different small municipalities (eyeroll), all with slightly different zoning criteria.  I spent hours of my life getting to know these.  There were vast differences between what is allowed in different places; make sure you know what you are getting into.  Realtors often don't understand or care about zoning, but luckily most municipalities have all of the info online.  Most require you to find a lot on a map, and then search for zoning by the address or map, and then go through the online bylaws once you know the zoning category.  Fun times.

Hope that helps!  Happy to share anything I learned over the last year. Sigh.

ETA: Cross-posted with snacky.


Goldielocks

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2016, 10:49:56 PM »
When considering a vacant lot, what do I need to consider?

One thing you should consider is whether it is possible to access the land. For a cautionary tale, see Vesuna v. British Columbia (Transportation), 2011 BCSC 941, aff'd 2013 BCCA 10, leave denied 2013 CanLII 53403 (SCC).

This!  My aunt inherited a rural property in Mission, BC, and can't sell it for several years now, because it does not have access to land.  All she can do is sell it to the neighbors, and they are not interested in more property.

I must point out that buying vacant land for your son, is not an investment, (as you wouldn't sell it, just give to him) and it may end up being in a place that he does NOT want or could use in future...
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 10:52:13 PM by goldielocks »

scrubbyfish

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2016, 10:57:38 PM »
Holy info! This is amazing stuff, peeps! Thank you...

Pretty sure Greenwood is where an advisor urged me to buy some years ago.

When I invest, it doesn't make a difference to me whether I or my kid or a stranger is getting the increase. I do anticipate the value of vacant land to go up over the long term, for whoever gets it.

Goldielocks

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2016, 11:06:35 PM »
I understand. 

As they say on the ship - Put on your own lifejacket, before your sons'-   I hope that you already have it put together for yourself that you can consider this generosity1

scrubbyfish

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2016, 11:18:55 PM »
I hope that you already have it put together for yourself that you can consider this generosity1

Oh yes, totally! :)

It's why I wouldn't buy anything major (house, major taxes, anywhere expensive, etc). I'd buy the low-cost plot and in 10-40 years, Kid (or I) can built on it, hang out on it, sell it, whatever.

backyardfeast

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2016, 12:40:22 PM »
I hope that you already have it put together for yourself that you can consider this generosity1

Oh yes, totally! :)

It's why I wouldn't buy anything major (house, major taxes, anywhere expensive, etc). I'd buy the low-cost plot and in 10-40 years, Kid (or I) can built on it, hang out on it, sell it, whatever.

If you're looking for land for long term, Scrubby, another important thing to think about is how climate change might impact the area.  All the provinces have on extensive reports on their government websites that detail the expected impacts of sea level rise, erosion, salination of water table, increased flooding risk, etc etc.  Well worth taking a look at, and sometimes quite eye-opening.  As you know, we have wondered for years about buying a property in the Maritimes; poor PEI and parts of NS are predicted to get quite battered!

TrMama

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Re: Canada: vacant land
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2016, 03:46:35 PM »
Current zoning, future zoning (based on the community development plan) and development costs.  We just sold a property whose value increased due to the city changing the targeted zoning for it in their community plan. So don't just look at the current zoning, but also what the city plans to do in the neighbourhood over the next couple of decades.

Also, not all cities charge the same amount for permits/development costs. Some are  transparent and some are opaque and corrupt. This affects how much a developer is willing to pay for it, and since you're planning on buying vacant land, you will need to sell to someone who is willing to develop it.