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Oh give me land, lots of land under LA skies above...
November 11, 2009 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Say I want to buy some cheap land in the Los Angeles area: where would I find such a listing online?

Basically it's time to go from a renter to buyer. Only given that a nice two bedroom in Compton is still over 300K I think I want to go a different way.

I've been looking at some amazing pre-fab houses that are 100-150 all in and all up. Now all I need is a piece of property to put one on. So where do you look for that? Craigslist? Landhunter.com? Lotsoffun.net?
posted by rileyray3000 to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can search for "lots of land" on all the real estate websites. I like camoves.com, but realtor.com does this too.
posted by Joh at 12:52 PM on November 11, 2009


From a friend in the biz:

"camoves.com is *coldwell banker properties only*, trulia and zillow are terrible places to look, that either realtor.com or themls.com are the best places to search, as they're the most accurate/current.

many homes that are dilapidated or would otherwise cost too much to bring up to "current standards" (building code and aesthetic) are often sold as tear-downs for land value only, though they won't be *listed* as land."
posted by electroboy at 1:11 PM on November 11, 2009


Do prefab houses meet LA's strict building codes?
posted by dfriedman at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2009


You might consider driving around some appropriate areas that appeal to you and looking for vacant lots, then find out who owns them, and whether they might want to sell them.
posted by mareli at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2009


camoves.com is not coldwell banker properties only. A quick look will confirm that if you doubt me. It gets its listing from CLAW MLS.
posted by Joh at 1:20 PM on November 11, 2009


So far on CA moves I've seen three great lots for 35K each on the studio city side of the hollywood hills. That plus a 150k modern pre-fab house is so far looking like a pretty good deal.
posted by rileyray3000 at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2009


Are these lots improved? (Meaning, are they electric-ready, water & sewage, etc.?)
posted by Gerard Sorme at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2009


I dunno what you're looking at buying, but definitely make sure you factor in any possible depreciation associated with a pre-fab house...
posted by paanta at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2009


If the lots are in the hills (ie south of ventura), they may be incredibly steep, in which case your prefab house isn't able to be plopped straight down on the lot, you may need to do significant earth moving and build retaining walls (super expensive).

Another possible snafu - many banks will not finance prefab, so you will need to find a specialist lender. Also, what Gerard said.
posted by Joh at 3:22 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


A 35k hillside lot in LA is going to need 200k in improvements. I so want to do this too, but there's no free lunch.
posted by hwyengr at 5:52 PM on November 11, 2009


I believe that local jurisdictions are focused on foundation standards, as pre-fabs are reviewed by HUD (California contact info, HUD manufactured home info).

With that, utilities (gas, electricity, water and sewer/on-site septic) are local issues. If you find a piece of land you like, contact the local jurisdiction if you want to know about how utilities are managed in a given area. There might be a non-government utility company, but the local jurisdiction would be able to direct you and give you some estimation of costs to improve the lot.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:49 PM on November 11, 2009


Thanks for that part. I guess that's real question: how much for the improvements. If it's a fortune then I'm looking somewhere like North Hollywood where I've now seen some lots that are in the 25K range in residential areas.

Also is pre-fab housing the same as manufactured housing? One is a trailer that can be moved, one's a permanent structure that just comes in pieces. Are you saying they're both treated the same for financing?
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:40 PM on November 12, 2009


Also is pre-fab housing the same as manufactured housing? One is a trailer that can be moved, one's a permanent structure that just comes in pieces. Are you saying they're both treated the same for financing?

They're different things. Mobile homes are built in a factory (more or less) and held to standards by HUD. If you're looking to get a "kit" house of some sort, I believe that must meet local building standards. Call the local jurisdiction's Building Department, and ask them for more information based on the model(s) you've been looking at buying. You may need to give them the specs for the materials, so they can review how that would meet local and state-wide building codes.

Additionally, there might be local planning standards, which regulate "look and feel" issues (heights, setbacks, appearances and materials) beyond the Building standards for health and safety. The Building Department might not know those standards, so ask if there are other local standards that you need to meet.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:47 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also is pre-fab housing the same as manufactured housing? One is a trailer that can be moved, one's a permanent structure that just comes in pieces. Are you saying they're both treated the same for financing?

That is my understanding. There are various upmarket modern prefabs in production right now, and I have heard that many banks do not differentiate between manufactured homes (roll onto site, no foundation) and prefabs (construct onsite, on top of a foundation, ends up being the same as a custom built home). I did quick google for "prefab financing" that lead me to some good sources of info, including this article which summarises the process at a very high level:
http://www.jetsongreen.com/2006/10/the_mcglasson_p.html

Also check out dwell.com, and the book "prefabulous". Good luck!
posted by Joh at 3:51 PM on November 12, 2009


Here's a search at Realtor.com which lists a number of lots. Some have caveats like "paper roads" but some are on regular streets. As mentioned above, a steep slope that requires a six-figure foundation is a bit discouraging. Other factors like sewer easements might make it unfeasable if not outright un-buildable.

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/Los-Angeles_CA/price-1-55555/type-land

P.S. I am the OP for http://ask.metafilter.com/140938/shouldnt-a-vacant-lot-be-buildable so I feel for you. Lets talk.
posted by markhu at 4:58 PM on December 18, 2009


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