1. Percolation test: Not an old outdated test but a viable, "vested" test with system design in place. If you don't have this and face a "wet weather" perc then you've created a major headache for ALL parties to the transaction as so many inches of rain has to fall before you can test and if you miss the "perc" date then you're into the next year!! "Vesting" the system is the way to go. I'd contact the PRMD (Permit Resource Management Division http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/). Actually this would be your first stop to determine many facets of your properties marketability including but not limited to: zoning, minimum lot size, density, land use, septic requirements, water zone, etc.
2. Water: If youâ€™re in Sebastopol you could be in a zone 3 or 4 water area. Zone 4 means you MUST prove water before you can build. Buyerâ€™s want to come in and have a complete package awaiting them. The two essentials are septic and well. Get these in place and you can move forward. Weeksâ€™s Well and Drilling are the kings of Wells in Sonoma County.
3. Surveyâ€”know your property lines. I canâ€™t tell you how many clientsâ€™ Iâ€™ve represented who bought their acreage years back and where told the â€œfenceâ€ is the property line!! Rarely is it the case! And remember, Assessor Maps state right on them for â€œAssessment Purposes Only!â€ I sold a huge parcel in the Sharps road area years back which was over 600acres on the AP Map but when surveyed came up 50 acres short!! I could go on and on about the lawsuits Iâ€™ve heard from Surveyors who are called in â€œafter the factâ€ to determine property boundaries!
4. Is the land plantable for vines? Soils reports? Just because the neighbor has vines doesnâ€™t mean yours will!! Donâ€™t misrepresent! And if you have plans for a home forget about the new owner giving them any value. Your 10 acres price and finished housing product push the overall estate into the custom built arena. Someone buying this property will want THEIR dream homeâ€”NOT YOURS.
5. Lastly, financing. Good opportunity for you to carry and try an installment sale. If not great financing actually exists for bare land. Will you be exchanging? Iâ€™ve heard rumors of IRS investigation into changing the â€œlike-kindâ€ status so you might want to get this puppy on the market and exchange while the exchange laws are still in place!!
6. And Listen to my local radio show: The Real Estate Hour, 1350AM, Sundays, 9 to 10am, KSRO. Thanks!
There is a big value spread depending on what kind of 10 acre property you have. There are currently two active listings for 10 acre parcels of land near Sebastopol, one at $719,000 and one at $950,000. Only three properties of that size have sold in the last year. They ranged from $550,000 to $1,350,000. That should give you some idea of how much the value can change depending on what your property is like. The high value property was in an apple orchard close to town, and the lower value was for a more distant ranch property without as many improvements.
The site linked below will let you select Lots and Land and you can see what's on the market right now.
Try going online to your local MLS. On the consumer side you will still be able to see, active, pending and solds going back as far as you want it to go. The other thing you can do is to contact a reputable Realtor in your area and ask him/her to do the research it for you. Good luck.
I think the best way is really for an agent to come out and take a look of your property, then do a comp for you. What you get will be quality comp, rather than just statistics by numbers. Most of the agents will do this free of charge and no strings attached.
The reason why is because we can't really do a comp for a 10 acre property in Sebastopol, unless we know the specifics of the property. As you see from Dave and Gingerâ€™s answers below, the price range can be dramatic.
Is your property land only or does it have a house/cottage/barn/horse corral, etc on it? If there is a house, what sf / condition of the house? How many units? Can it be a horse property or not? What's it zoned for, how close is the property to major road/101? What type of land is it sitting on? Rolling hills with view or some places out of sight?
I normally get a preliminary description over then phone, go and see the property and then come back, refine the comps. When I did this kind of comps for my last client in Petaluma for his horse property, on, yes, 10 acres of lot; I included not only Petaluma properties with a range for number of acres (7-20), range of properties on site, etc; I also included properties in nearby towns, such as Sebastopol, Penngrove, etc. The reason is because the existence of those similar properties can affect the value of yours.
In addition, I also look at the withdrawals and expiries to see why they have not sold. Those also might affect the comps.
Let me know if I can help further.