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Waterfront House Lot

Old 07-26-2009, 07:32 AM
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I have come a across a waterfront house lot on a saltwater bay. Surprisingly, the price is reasonable and it for sale by owner, it is over 2.5 acres, with 1.5 acres classified as Uplands, the remainder as wetlands The lot is in Massachusetts and it did undergo a review by the Dept of environmental protectection bureau and the planning board. The planning board has asked for a 18 foot wide driveway with 12 inches of compacted gravel to extend the existing blacktop road for access to the dwelling. The order of conditions from the Dept of environmental protectection bureau is straight forward with no special provisions. Their is town water and sewer that is would have to be brought to the home and the stubs are with 100 feet of the proposed dwelling. The is a address (street number) assigned to the property on the order of conditons.

The bad news is the plans expired in january of this year, as the originals plans were approved in January of 2006, with a 3 year time limit. There was no building permit issued, as the Planning Boards conditions were not started or met. The Conservation committee signed off on the WPA form 5, the order of condions by the environmental protectection bureau.

I cannot find any changes to the law, either state or town ordinance that would prevent the lot to be converted to a home. The property is in flood zone VE 19, it would have to be built on concrete stilts. This predominant in the area with new construction and major rennovations.

Looking for advice as to what else to check for before plunking down the cash?

Thanks in advance, Brian
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:41 AM
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Check it out thoughly, 99 out of a 100 times if it seems to good to be true it is, why was it never built on? How long has it been for sale?
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:46 AM
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put down the money with conditiions that you will be able to build
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:52 AM
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You will have to get the environmental papers, both MA DEP and local Con Comm, re-filed and pay for new permitting. The easiest way to do this is to have the engineering firm that did it the first time handle the renewals.

I don't have any contacts down your way, Brian, but I have done some work in Salisbury on the North Shore and the coastal zone requirements are the same.

This permitting could be a condition of the sale, the seller could foot the bill for this work. Additionally, if you plan on getting a mortgage for the property, your bank will require all the permits be in place prior to closing.
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:08 AM
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The lot will need in my guesstimation 20 to 40K before the building permit would be issued, the lot is trees and marsh grass. I don't know of any bank doing lot loans at present, it wil have to be a cash sale. The seller does claim that the town is difficult to deal with, I have observed 2 new homes built in the last 3 years that were "wet" based on the vegetation on the land prior to clearing and building. I have no idea how long it has been for sale, I am wondering if anyone has seen conditions set and then the town not allowing the land to be developed. The clerk for the conservation committee has said some of the same things that have been mentioned.

Thanks, Brian
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:36 PM
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just condition the contract upon all approvals in place prior to closing
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fichtion View Post
just condition the contract upon all approvals in place prior to closing
Best advice in this thread.

In these circumstances my usual language is "We will close when building permit is in hand". If you are willing to pay full price, the seller should find this reasonable, ie shifting of execution risk against monetization.

Be warned though, the renewal process can be long and have its bumps. Make sure the contract to purchase provides enough time for renewal, ie do not put your earnest money at risk.

As an aside, if you want a killer design, contact "Mymojo" on this forum.

Pm me if you have any questions, I am rather experienced in this area and know how to "work" the system
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by stripa View Post
The lot will need in my guesstimation 20 to 40K before the building permit would be issued, the lot is trees and marsh grass. I don't know of any bank doing lot loans at present, it wil have to be a cash sale. The seller does claim that the town is difficult to deal with, I have observed 2 new homes built in the last 3 years that were "wet" based on the vegetation on the land prior to clearing and building. I have no idea how long it has been for sale, I am wondering if anyone has seen conditions set and then the town not allowing the land to be developed. The clerk for the conservation committee has said some of the same things that have been mentioned.

Thanks, Brian
Sorry replied before seeing this.

Re banks - They are out there IF you qualify and have the appropriate credit risk to them

How long for sale - if it is in MLS this is easily found out

Re conditions - I have had towns/municipalities try, but a Pit Bull lawyer and a can do mentality can get you past this.

I had parcel that was approved for 25 lots. Approvals expired, town tried to cut it to 12. No big deal to me, I inherited the land, it was all essentially profit to me. My lawyer said we can fight this and get the 25 lots. I said no need for me to pay you 400/hr when there is plenty of $$ at 12. She said fight it. I said easy to say when it is not your money being spent. She said fine "I will put my cock on the block" let me fight it on contingency, I get 25 lots, you transfer title on 7 of them to me. I said fine - you take the risk you get the reward. Oh my did she ever win, got 7 lots and sold them for an average price of 375K each - you do the math. Point being - these boards are not as powerful as they think they are.


Re speaking to the clerk - be VERY careful who you talk to. Clerks have big mouths, and they get "incentives" from developers to provide information about who is checking out what parcels in town.
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by fichtion View Post
just condition the contract upon all approvals in place prior to closing
Good advice.

The fact that the law has not changed is no guarantee that the bureaucrats will do the same thing twice.

I handled a major regulatory takings case against the US, and I can tell you there are plenty of cases arising from the circumstances you described where the buyer went forward and then got stuck with a new wrinkle imposed by the govt.
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