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James's Forum Posts: 1

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By James in Glen Burnie, MD on 8/28/2006


My wife and I put an offer on a parcel of land. The seller had some counters, which included:

Settlement in 30 days (rather than the 90 days we proposed).

No feasibility study.

No contingency on the sale of our house.

He did accept our offer of 10% off of the asking price, but explained that he already had a building permit waiting to be picked up, and a perc test already done. He is not only the seller, but the real estate agent AND the potential home builder.

His feeling is that he doesn't want to tie up the land for more than 30 days, in case someone comes along who wants him to build their house, as well. His counteroffer included an invitation to have him build our house, and lessen the work we'd have to do (since he's already done it for a house of his design).

I don't have a lot of experience with this, but while I sympathize with his situation, the counters he has mentioned are a bit excessive, in my opinion. I feel that, at the very least, a feasibility study should be done with an arbitrary engineer (he would like us to use his engineer, as it would "save us time".) I'm not even sure that a feasibility study could even be done in 30 days.

My question is, am I expecting too much? 30 days to get done the things that we need seems to be a short amount of time.


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By Harvey in Milford, NJ on 8/28/2006


James,

I would ask myself "What's his hurry?" He accepted 10% off asking price, so he couldn't have gotten any full price offers. He's an agent, so he must know the market price. Maybe 10% off is FULL, or better-than, market price and he knows it, so he wants to rush you along. If you have an agent friend, ask for a simple market analysis of the property. An experienced agent can look at the Multiple Listing Service sold comps and give you a quick opinion without having to build a major dog and pony show. (The big advantage to working with an experienced agent.) The "building permit" and "perc test" are public records you can check on yourself at the town building office. If you're going to have someone else build your house, I would think you would want bids from several competent (and recommended) general contractors. As a real estate broker for many years, I encourage my clients to take their time, take control, and do the homework -- it is a major investment, after all.

Harvey


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By Angelique in Fort Washington, MD on 9/8/2006


James,

Don't let him rush you. Find out how long it's been on the market; call another real estate agent. I have been looking for almost two years for a lot between Virginia and Maryland. I put $1,000 on a lot in old town Manassas with a 10-day feasibility study. Nice lot, and I was sold until I went to the county office to pick up the planning information for the city and a topo of the lot at about 4:00 pm in the afternoon. The traffic coming into Manassas (2/3 lanes) was wall to wall traffic for as far as the eye could see. My husband works in Silver Spring, MD and I work at Fort Belvoir, VA. I thought about the hours spent in just sitting in traffic and backed out. Had I gotten more than 10 days to study the area I could have done more checking on the traffic (we had a family emergency and left during the study period time for three days). 

30 to 45 days is pretty standard around this area. You have to realize that every month is is not sold is another month he has to pay the loan on the property. However, I would find out what his builder contract looks like. If he builds it cheap, you don't want it. Builders tend to want to limit what you can have done to your home because they don't want to put too much money into the home. You might want cherry wood flooring and he wants to put oak because he can get it cheaper at a local builder auction/surplus store. 

Whatever he puts into the contract you are stuck with, so make sure you can live with it. I went to this builder home that they were advertising (classichomes.cc) and they will build on your lot at what looked like a good price. However, when I had the agent send over the builder's contract, I found that I would be paying for a lot of things that I would have had to do if I were an owner-builder (e.g., pulling of permits, installation of septic tanks if necessary, installing the driveway). After all of those extra items, the cost of the home for me would have been much more.

Using his engineer could be a good idea and may not be. I would find out the engineer's cost and then get pricing from other engineers. You never know, the builder may be getting a kickback.

Also look into hiring a general contractor. Find out how the county feels about an owner-builder. Go to the county and find out what the process is for obtaining a building permit. What do you need to get your site plan through the county? How much is the "impact fee" for the county you are living in? In PG County outside the beltway it is $13K, inside the beltway is $7K. Also for PG County there is another fee called "development tier", which is $2K for some areas and $6K for others. Both are to be paid the day you to go get the building permit. There are fees for the electrical permit, decking permit, low-voltage permit, etc.

It REALLY pays to go take a day off from work and go down to the county and look at the land plat, and talk with the personnel at the county in person. Over the phone they like to run though phone calls. In person you may have to wait a while longer, but it is well worth it. So make sure you get to the offices you really want information from first, since they will probably be the busiest.

Good luck.

Angelique


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By Maria in Cincinnati, OH on 7/12/2011


James, please go with what your heart, and mind (and your wife if any) tell you to do; otherwise you will regret later. You ARE NOT unrealistic in any of your expectations about this sale. And NEVER worry about hurting the seller's feelings. Because if there are any feelings, then the seller is not ready to sell anything yet. Don't let them play the "someone else wants it, so you have 30 days" game. Actually, either stay away from those OR be polite BUT FIRM. ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU YOU YOU want to do (it's your money, right!). Don't let anyone to intimidate you while you are making a very important financial decision. God bless! Good luck!
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