Your vacant land—what can you do with it?
Owning your own piece of land is exciting and empowering. There are many potential uses for raw land, so it’s important to research the options. Steve Lander of Home Guides shares ideas for every land owner to consider:
Vacant land is both a challenge and an exciting opportunity. On the one hand, vacant land is challenging because it can be expensive to own while it is producing no income and because, in some areas, it can quickly become a haven for vandals or criminals. On the other hand, there is so much that can be done with it. Whether a vacant lot is an in-fill parcel in the middle of a city or a rural plot in the proverbial middle of nowhere, it can become a valuable addition to its surrounding community or region.
Develop the Land
Some land owners choose to prepare land for building instead of building on it themselves. While you can do this with residential lots, many developers also do this with commercial properties. Land development spans a wide range of activities, starting with just completing the survey and doing legal work, to subdividing the property or even installing utility stubs, curbs, gutters and streets. Read up on local codes and zoning regulations before adding or removing anything from the site.
Use without Development
Your vacant land could be useful as it is or with very minimal work. In a city, you could turn it into an urban garden or even into a parking lot, as long as these are allowed according to zoning regulations. An urban garden requires soil leanup or addition of new soil in order to grow healthy plants free of toxins that may be in the soil. In a rural area, you could rent your vacant land to a farmer or rancher. Other land owners rent their holdings to alternative energy producers that install wind turbines or solar panels in regions that allow such structures.
Leverage the Land’s Resources
Many landowners own their land not for what they can do to change it, but to take what they can out of it. Many parcels of land have resources either on or below them. Owners of heavily forested land can log them for profit, where allowed by law. You can also extract any mineral, oil or gas deposits on the site, in some cases.
Some vacant land is not really useful. For example, there isn’t much that you could have done with the land along Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim in the 1940s other than grow oranges. Some land owners simply hold on to land for a long period of time, hoping that it will someday turn into valuable property. For instance, that land adjacent to Disneyland that was almost worthless is now worth many millions of dollars per acre.
If you have land that you are willing to leave undeveloped, you may be able to turn it into a source of tax credits. California has an aggressive tax credit program to incentivize landowners to place certain parcels of land in special land trusts. While your lot is in the land trust, you can still use the land for a number of purposes, including hunting, ranching, farming and recreation, Once in a land trust, the land cannot be developed.