Private land deals - tease out the seller lies before your consider an offer

Often when dealing with a property seller you can get a sense of the lies they tell you to try and make the property appear more valuable than it really is.  This is a very dangerous situation for the builder because he or she likely needs to get some land to start planning a future project, and a sense of haste can be very costly as the seller lies may not be unearthed until too late.

In a recent conversation I had with a seller, they had a nice 50 ft lot in Inglewood that has some potential to be a really nice duplex.  I was contemplating purchasing it, but I had this strange feeling that the land was subject to a possible restriction against subdivision and rebuilding.  

After some searching, I encountered the details on the airport exclusion zone in Inglewood.  This prevents subdivision of property within a large portion of the community.  After downloading the map, sure enough, the property was dead centre in the middle of the exclusion zone.  Purchasing the land there could be a disaster for the builder.  During my conversation with the seller, he boasted of the great development potential of the site, and how good it would be to rebuild a duplex.

Later on, when we chatted again, I tried to see if I could catch him in a lie, because possibly the seller was not aware of the airport issue, so perhaps he was worthy of the benefit of the doubt.  I mentioned the topic of inability to subdivide and the seller claimed 'he could work around that,' which is total nonsense.  Having caught the seller in a blatant lie, it makes a lot of sense to assume there were other lies also yet to be uncovered from this seller.  

This is just another of a long string of examples where land deal opportunities bring out the worst traits from the seller.  This seller also didnt want a realtor involved.  Perhaps he was involved with a local realtor previously, who knew the area ( and couldn't possibly not know about the problems with the land), so he also wanted to make sure the buyer would be as ignorant as possible of the airport conditions?  There is very little recourse to seller lies in land deals, this is partly why they are so prevalent.  At this point in land deals, you must assume everything the seller says is untrue.  And this is an unfortunate truth of inner city land dealing today.

This shows the inglewood map of the exclusion zone.  I would not buy land here or recommend other builders buy land here if they want to build infills.  While the rules can change, they can change a lot slower than a builder can bankrupt himself waiting.

This shows the inglewood map of the exclusion zone.  I would not buy land here or recommend other builders buy land here if they want to build infills.  While the rules can change, they can change a lot slower than a builder can bankrupt himself waiting.