Understanding the value of a lot

Not all lots are created equally, even within the same subdivision. Lot size, width and location are all factors to take into consideration when purchasing an undeveloped lot or a pre-owned home.

Of primary importance to many homebuyers is southern or western exposure, and where that sunlight falls in relationship to the home’s living spaces. Avid gardeners will not consider buying a home without southern exposure in the backyard.

Even if you’re not a gardener, at the end of the day, the gathering place for families is the kitchen that is almost always at the back of the home and so sunshine becomes a primary factor for many families. However, a popular plan is a reverse two story with a vaulted ceiling in a great room with an open kitchen. In that home plan, buyers like the southern exposure in the front of the home.

Cul-de-sac lots have a perception of greater value and higher desirability. However, the narrow width at the bulb of the lot sometimes requires plans that are longer and narrower. Most trees in a new subdivision, regardless of how heavily forested before construction, are ultimately lost, particularly if the newly created lot is only 50 feet wide.

A publicly dedicated road is 60 feet wide, including the right-of-way, which must be cleared. In Eagle River, shallow utilities are placed at the front of the lot, which makes saving any trees virtually impossible. In Anchorage, electrical easements are at the back of the lot, which makes landscaping and the streetscape more aesthetically appealing.

Mature trees play a major role in a desirable streetscape and most new homeowners and land developers are beginning to recognize their value by planting larger trees and fewer shrubs, although foundation plantings of shrubs are becoming very popular and add to the aesthetics of any new home.

Corner lots are considered more desirable by some, but not by others. Some buyers would prefer to have the drive-by car as an intermittent neighbor, to a noisy one with a barking dog. Corner lots frequently don’t have much backyard, and have front and side yard setbacks, minimizing usable yard space and putting constraints on home design.

However, if a corner lot is your preference, look for one that is slightly larger than the other lots in the subdivision. Most savvy developers are creating larger corner lots that make them more desirable and provide an aesthetically more attractive spatial feel to the community at entrances or intersections. Ranch homes are a good plan for corner lots.

Lot sizes vary in a subdivision, perhaps by as much as 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and will be priced accordingly, but the location of that square footage is very important in establishing value. Lot width dictates the value of a lot more than its depth.

Current construction costs for lot frontage with public water, sewer and a publicly dedicated road is about $1,600 per lineal foot. Also important is the relationship of the lot to its immediate neighbors. Does the back lot line match up with the adjoining lot? Or does it straddle two lots making for two backyard neighbors?

Occasionally, a lot may actually have four or five neighbors, rather than the traditional three with one on each side yard and in the back. The more adjacent neighbors, the less value to the lot.

Dedicated green or open space and mountain or inlet views are, of course, the most highly sought after and most expensive amenities. How much would you pay for an unobstructed mountain view? $20,000, perhaps. What about an inlet view? $100,000? River or lakefront? $200,000? Even a peek-a-boo view creates a shorter marketing time when it comes time to sell the home.

Connie Yoshimura is the broker/owner of Dwell Realty. Contact her at 907-646-3670 or [email protected].

Updated: 
11/20/2016 - 3:19pm

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