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If you are considering looking at land for sale or buying or selling vacant land, this site may be of help to you. By vacant land I'm referring to all land for sale. The terms 'vacant land', 'lot' and 'parcel' are used interchangeably to refer to land: they all really mean the same thing.

New page with links to land for sale now available - Click here to go to that page!

Land Use and Development (Updated 07-30-15)

Land Use General Plan Legislation (Updated 10-25-14)

Perkins Coie's California Land Use & Development Law Report offers insights into legal issues relating to development and use of land and federal, state and local permitting and approval processes. This legal firm has a series of blogs and articles that are directly related to land use in California and is frequently updated - well worth a visit!

This bill (Senate Bill 1241) requires the legislative body of a city or county to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan covering safety associated with fire hazards. This bill would require the legislative body of a county to make 3 specified findings before approving a tentative map, or a parcel map for which a tentative map was not required, for an area located in a state responsibility area or a very high fire hazard severity zone, as defined. These findings are (1) the design and location of each lot are consistent with fire protection regulations, (2) fire protection and suppression services will actually be available for the subdivision, and (3) access for fire equipment into and out of the subdivision meet regulations for road standard.

Many cities and counties already have stringent fire regulations that will not be affected by this bill - however, areas that have been less stringently legislated up until now are covered by this more restrictive legislation

Other sections of SB 1241 cover seismic and other geologic hazard information,flooding, and making sure high fire hazard areqas are adequately identified and all public facilities including hospitals, emergency shelters and fire stations are located outside of these areas.


New Land-Related Legislation 2013 (Updated 10-25-14)

A search for new land related legislation in the slew of 2013 laws introduced this year shows a dozen or so laws that directly affect buying and selling land. In future updates of this web site we will list all these bills and their ramifications. They include bills on Land Use Fees (1801), Use of State Land (2082) compulsory purchase of land for fire protection (2544), Lot Line Ajustments (2680) Mitigation Land Legislation (Senate Bill 1094) and Appraisal of Conservation Land (SB1266) whcih details changes in the appraisal process for lands to be acquired for conservation use. If you want to search the legislation in general here is the main California Legislative Information website,

About Land

This web site really deals with residential land, including land for sale suitable for splitting. For commercial property, including land suitable for storing equipment and manufacturing you may want to look here

I've put this information together mainly because I seem to spend a good deal of my working life explaining to eager buyers that they can't buy a $100,000 lot, put a $50,000 mobile home on the lot, and end up with a total outlay of $150,000. Also, there are very few books available on buying and selling land. Books on building a home typically start out with a quick chapter on selecting a lot, but they don't go into much detail. I've included a few book recommendations in the 'Useful Links' section of this web site.

If you want to know the typical costs involved in buying a lot in southern California, jump to this page.

I should say at the outset that I'm mainly concerned here with Southern California and San Diego County in particular. My comments about price and availability should also be relevant to many parts of the country. Other important factors and parameters to consider when buying or selling land will be valid no matter where the parcel is located.

You'll find a wealth of information on everything to do with buying and selling land in these pages. Use the menu bar across the top of each page to navigate around the website. You can also use the 'Find' button at the top right of each page - this will produce a list of pages in this site containing the words that you've searched for.

Here are the main sections of the site.

Stuff To Know

Whether you are buying or selling land this section covers the basics: the price of land, topography, fire department, access to utilities, easements, CC&Rs and zoning.

Buying Land

This section covers the steps involved in selecting a lot, the steps involved in buying land, working with 'experts', getting a loan, lot splits, the building process, and subcontracting

Selling Land

The seller is interested in what the land is worth, and this section looks at appraising land, lot splits (again!), using a land agent and marketing issues

Useful Info

Ever wondered how a lot is legally described, what different types of septic system there are, or how many feet of leach line your septic system is going to need? All this good stuff is here, together with information on the make-up of a land purchase contract and a section on how to read an MLS printout for a lot.


Contains all those words and abbreviations that engineers, land agents and builders know but you don't: everything from APNs to TPMs.

Useful Links

All the links found in various parts of this website, collected together and categorized. Also contains a short reading list of relevent books on buying and selling land.

Here are a few quick external links if you know what you want!

For land loans IndyMac is a good starting point.
San Diego County's Department of Planning and Land Use has much useful information.
If you need help with the building process, UBuildIt may have an office near you.

ABC Real Estate Directory



This website has been written and developed by Rob Ransom, PhD. Rob has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers of vacant land in San Diego County, CA. Although Rob currently has a California real estate license he is retired from selling real estate.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding this web site, email Rob at the address below.


Website developed by REMedia, an electronic media company based in San Diego, CA. Previous projects include the ZooGuides series of educational CD-ROM titles, of which over 1m copies have been sold to elementary, middle and high schools across the USA.


Buying and Selling Land is Copyright 2012, REMedia Inc. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this website may be used in any manner without prior approval of REMedia Inc.

This website is about buying and selling vacant land, lots, parcels in California, including San Diego County, Riverside County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Kern County. Land for sale in California. Includes information on land values, topography, access to utilities, septic and sewage systems, legal descriptions of lots. Use this site if you want to buy or sell land in California and other US states.