Rollin’ and Flippin’

Here’s a story for people who are entertained by REAL ESTATE LAW!:

In some of the suburbs of San Francisco, there are ubiquitous anti-squatting laws. If a residential lot sits empty for more than (usually) 2 years, ownership of that lot reverts to the local municipality. The idea is to keep the town vibrant rather than full of real estate speculators. Eminent Domain FOR THE CHILDREN!

There are also neighbor approval laws, especially down by the waterfront. This means that you can’t build a house until your neighbors have signed off on the plans. This particularly to make sure that you don’t block any views. I feel that this is one of those laws whereby “codifying neighborly civility” quickly turns into “enough litigation to keep trial lawyers busy for the next ten million billion years.”

These two laws can have some epic overlap. About ten years ago, a developer bought three acres of bayfront in Sausalito. Paid about three million dollars. Just for empty land. They designed a building and submitted the plans to the abutters. The abutters scoffed, the designer counter-scoffed, and a lengthy court battle ensued.

Things were still going through litigation when some local buyer noticed that two years had elapsed, and no building had been erected. So he walked down to the county surveyor’s office, got them to calculate the direct-sale value of the land ($30,000, using a formula which had been set during the GOLD RUSH adjusted for inflation)… wrote them a check, and took the deed.

He flipped it immediately for four million.

After which, I like to think, he bought a more sane place to live. Like Montana. (You know: all of it.)


~ by davekov on 11 March 2013.

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