In May of 1968, my parents traded a small apartment building they owned in Redwood City, CA for three pieces of property in Boulder Creek, CA. One had a small A-frame cabin on it, and the other two were bare land. The trade was uneven, so on the deed of the third, smaller piece of property, my parents took ownership of 60 percent of the parcel and the two Realtors split the remaining percentage. At the time it was worth something, not much, but something.
Then, to slow building in the area, the local County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that lots had to be a certain size for a septic tank, and this third parcel was smaller than the required square footage. It immediately became worthless - "unbuildable." Since there is no sewer in that area, and a septic system can't be installed on the lot, it wasn't worth anything to anyone, except possibly to owners of adjoining parcels.
My parents and others with similar "now unbuildable lots" tried to fight City Hall, but were unable to overturn the ordinance. After a while they got tired of paying taxes on it, and just stopped paying. They were "letting it go for taxes."
My lot is on the left side of the street in the photo below, a pretty, forested piece of land.
When I heard they were letting it go, I told them I wanted it, and would pay the back taxes to own it. So, I paid up the taxes, we did a "gift deed" and title transferred from my parents to me. I paid around $1,000 total to get the taxes up to date and the parcel in my name. That was 22 years ago.
I hoped in the future the local sewer system would come out to that area, but in the 45 years the lot has been in the family, it hasn't happened. From time to time I've worried about personal liability if something happened on the lot. It's forest land, and right on a main highway. There are houses on three sides. A tree could fall on a nearby house, or into the main highway and hit a car going by, something like that.
It's a long story, but briefly, when I took over my parent's percentage I only owned part of the lot. Many years ago I found one owner and he Quit Claimed his portion to me, so then I owned 85 percent. No one has ever heard from the other man on the deed, and he is presumed dead. I've wanted to sell the parcel over the years, but it's hard to sell property with so little value if you don't own it all. Getting an attorney and filing a Quiet Title to get the other owner off the deed would cost more than the lot was worth. And there are still Realtor fees and Escrow and Title fees.
I've had three offers on the lot over the years, one from each of the homeowners on three adjoining properties. All for nominal amounts but I was still hoping the city sewer would be built out to that area and I turned them down.
Last month I decided to get a Realtor in the area and have her contact the last potential buyer. He agreed to purchase my percentage of the lot and pay ALL fees, leaving me a little profit. The area my lot has, added to his small lot, gives him a decent sized parcel with frontage on the main road.
On Saturday, December 7, I signed the documents in front of a Notary Public in Blythe and escrow closed on December 10th. It's a small amount of money, but will fluff up my emergency fund and the liability of owning the land is gone.
I am now truly a turtle. Everything I own comes with me, wherever I go.
In case you were wondering, when I started full-timing, I called the county office in Santa Cruz to see if I could park The Palms on the lot. Unfortunately, that's not allowed unless I have a "structure" there, and according to my Realtor, I'd have to get permits to build or put down a small structure, and without a septic system, they wouldn't give me the permits needed. It's cold there in the winter, gets some snow, but it would have been a nice place to spend the summers.
This is what I was thinking of - below - for a "structure" on the lot. I might still get something similar if I ever buy a piece of land I can use as a part time home base.
I saw it and a bunch of other styles for sale right near the Grants, NM Wal-Mart. Katie and I walked all around them all, looking in the windows. The office was never open when I was there. I think they come in a kit and have to be assembled, but you can pay to have the manufacturer of the kits do it for you when they deliver it. It wouldn't take much to make the shed above look "homey."
This one is a Tuff Shed - all done up like a little house:
Isn't it darling? A little, tiny house with water, electricity, heat and sewer (or not - maybe a composting toilet), maybe a stacking washer and dryer on a back porch. It could also be used for storage and have a little bed and tiny efficiency kitchen - and a pad behind it for The Palms. Flower garden, some vegetables, a few fruit trees, and a chicken coop.
Maybe some day, if it still sounds good. Right now it sounds like heaven! I guess I'm going to have to start seriously saving my pennies, but I have a few more years on the road, at least. :)
Sometimes I think about what my life will be like next year, or the year after that. Five years? It's constantly changing, but right now, a little house like one of the above sheds sounds really nice. And of course with The Palms parked in the rear always ready to go at a moment's notice.
From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone! :)