Gary Harryman

33 Years of Experience in Topanga/Malibu Real Estate



From the Buyer's Perspective

Buying vacant land can be one of the most exciting adventures in life but also presents a unique set of potential pitfalls that only years of experience can avoid. All issues in the sale or purchase of land are negotiable but Gary will not allow an escrow to close until a Buyer (and Seller) is satisfied they are getting what they want and need.

No Seller could be expected to spend the time and money to get building permits for a potential Buyer, but a prudent Buyer must be sure all necessary permits are obtainable before closing escrow.

Buyers must be satisfied that they can use the land for what they intend to do with it. Usually that means to build their dream home. Ideally, before closing escrow, a Buyer should:

  • have a satisfactory geology report (including a percolation test report if recommended by their geologist)
  • be satisfied of the location of property boundaries and corners (including survey if necessary)
  • have a topographical map (of at least the proposed building site)
  • be satisfied that they can get the necessary permits from governmental agencies to build their dream home can be built on the property. The most important agencies include:
    • LA County Department of Building and Safety
    • California Coastal Commission
    • LA County Fire Department
    • LA County Health Department
  • be satisfied they can get the necessary financing to build their dream home.

It can be helpful if Buyers understand that a Seller is usually giving up a long-held dream.

From the Seller's Perspective

Selling vacant land requires unique expertise that can only be gained by years of experience. All issues in the sale of land are negotiable and Gary will not allow an escrow to close until the Seller (and the Buyer) is satisfied they are getting what they want and/or need.

It is not an exaggeration to say that every parcel of land is unique and its attributes must be discovered and treated differently. However, some things never change. Paramount is Full Disclosure. A Seller must disclose everything known about their property – there are no secrets in real estate; eventually every fact can and will be known, so the sooner it is on the table, the better the result will be for all parties.

A Seller should not feel obligated to get building permits for a Buyer, but should understand that no prudent Buyer will close escrow without being confident permits are obtainable.

Sellers need to make their land obviously desirable and buildable. If Buyers cannot drive onto the building site, step out onto cleared flat land, and walk around with a map and geology in hand, the property will be viewed as less than ideal – overwhelmingly problematical. Problem properties sell for much less than ideal ones. Ideally, Sellers should:

  • clear the access and building site of brush, weeds, and trash
  • have a topographical map
  • have a geology report
  • have a percolation test report
  • have an unconditional Certificate of Compliance if the property was subdivided at the County level (properties subdivided by State Map Act are exempt)

Sellers who anticipate Buyer's sensitivities and needs will have done these things and will attract Buyers who are confident they are getting what they want at a fair price.