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Thread: Re-platting in advance of selling property

  1. #1
    Jan 2010
    San Antonio, TX

    Re-platting in advance of selling property

    I own a nine-and-a-half acre property in a hot area for
    residential real estate development in a suburb of a large
    metropolitan area.
    I've created four clearings in flat areas of this forested
    hillside property and cleared a lane for access to each area
    that runs from the street-front down the hillside. Other than
    this the land is unimproved. Electricity, city water and sewer
    have just recently become available on this street. Now I am
    considering re-platting the long rectangle into four 2+ acre
    tracts to increase the probability of selling and get a
    better return on my investment. The trade-off as I see it
    is that I'll also have to pay a lot more in taxes until the
    property sells. What advice or opinion do you have on
    my idea to re-plat this property?

    Moderator note:
    Welcome to Cyburbia, coatimundi. I've moved your thread from the Cyburbia Issues and Help forum here to Land Use and Zoning. The former forum is for issues related to the day-to-day and long term operations of Cyburbia itself, and not for generic questions about planning and development. I've also re-titled the thread to be more specific about what answers you seek. Thanks and carry on.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 06 Jan 2010 at 8:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    What does zoning allow? Absent of that tidbit, you're not going to get a good answer here.
    How do you plat a "long rectangle" into servicable lots without building a costly new street?
    Almost everywhere I have worked you would have a $ penalty for clearing land -especially woodland - in advance of seeking development approvals.

    Then again, you're in Texas.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Jul 2009
    Colo Front Range
    Quote Originally posted by Coatimundi View post
    What advice or opinion do you have on
    my idea to re-plat this property?
    I would go to the appropriate jurisdiction's planning department, set an appointment with a planner, and sit down with them and ask them the questions on your list. You need to know zoning, how much penalty you are going to pay for cutting down your trees (if in a residential zone and there is a preservation requirement [should be]), whether you need to put in the street and does it require curb-gutter-sidewalk, what you are on the hook for wrt water-sewer or can a 2-ac do septic there, nail them down for how long development review will take and get them to give a time frame, ensure you write down the planner's name, etc. You may find out the costs for street and water are too great and you'll just plat and sell so you don't carry the contracts and paper. And most people hire an engineering firm to do the platting stuff and ask the planner for a list of recommended, then try to get the planner to point out a few names they prefer, but be subtle about it.

  4. #4
    Aug 2008
    Jacksonville, FL

    Things to consider before re-platting ...

    As others have mentioned, you want to know first what type of zoning you have on the 9-acre tract. To do this, you need to know exactly which city or county has jurisdiction. The property may appear to be in "the city," but when a map is consulted, it may really be the jurisdiction of the county in which that city falls.

    You can call the local Zoning Department of the city you think the property falls into, and they will be able to help you with that. There are also GIS maps out there that can help you figure it out if you've got some experience with GIS maps, but if not, sometimes asking a Zoning person is the easiest and safest way to get this first fact uncovered.

    Once you know the zoning district, this will help you know what is allowed to be built on the property without having to do things like rezone the property or apply for things like land use amendments, both of which can be expensive in application fees alone, and very time-consuming, with no guarantees of approval.

    Aside from these basics, I think you have a question that is also about the "value" of re-platting, which is more about having a marketing tool/negotiating point IMHO.

    I think that if the area this property is in is indeed still "hot" for residential development, (which would be evidenced by actual development still happening, and talk around the city of more to come in the near future, with healthy home sales still going on), most residential developers would be more interested in the 9-acre parcel as a single parcel of land, rather than four separate parcels.

    Fundamentally, if the land is in a residential zoning district, there will be a maximum density that the district allows, or put more simply, a maximum number of housing units that can be constructed on the land. All developers are interested in maximizing density while still providing the required roads, legal access, utilities, stormwater management facilities, recreation areas, etc. within the new subdivision.

    If you were to re-plat the property prior to selling it, you could end up in a situation where the value and cost of the re-platting is lost since the buyer/developer will still need to plat a subdivision in the future, and it won't be the plat you envisioned, since their vision for the property will most likely involve maximizing it's allowable density.

    For instance, let's assume your property is zoned for single family residential, and you can have up to 3 dwelling units on it per acre. An interested developer's engineers and planners design 27 single-family units on the property. The developer would then have to re-plat the 9 acres to reflect this new design. Your re-plat to four parcels will have no value to such a developer, and thus the money you spent re-platting could become a lost cost to you. Additionally, there is no value in the time, money and effort you put into personally re-platting, so that measure isn't a selling point to the developer.

    The strengths of the property itself - it's current zoning, it's maximum allowed density/intensity, it's proximity to city services, whether it is high and dry land, it's proximity to things like transit, shopping, prime business/office space, recreational hot-spots are going to serve more as good selling points when it comes to selling land to a residential developer.

    Beyond this, meeting with a planner may help you understand some of the ramifications of subdividing the property. There might be requirements to meet, including the provision of utilties to the site, road requirements and fees like impact fees or mitigation fees that need to be paid. Your sale would need to recoup all these costs as I'm sure you can already surmise.

    As mentioned in one other post, you also have to have what is legal access to all four parcels, so just the specifics of HOW to subdivide the property are important to understand, and city/county planners can help you with that, too.

    Alternatively, if you have something specific in mind for the property, you can consider going to a local engineering or planning firm and paying them an agreed upon fee to research the matter (perform due diligence) with the local government agencies, and then provide you with a report so that you may be able to make an informed decision about how to proceed with your land. If you want to develop a marketing tool, many good planning and engineering firms can also provide, for a fee, a concept plan of the site developed into its highest and best use.

    Hope that helps a bit.

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