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Could You Benefit from Subdividing Your Investment?

Subdividing investment

People find many creative ways to leverage a profit on real estate. One possible way to turn a profit on a purchased property is to subdivide. Subdividing your property can allow you to keep your home, by reducing your lot size and selling it off. The process to obtain a permit to subdivide may not be an easy or quick one, but if you’re armed with the right information and follow your application methodically, it’s certainly a possible and potentially profitable option.

First off, it’s important to note that each municipality will have their own unique application process for subdivision. This article details the most common steps in the subdivision process, although the process may differ from state to state, or town to town.

If you’re looking into purchasing a property that you’ll subdivide down the line, do some investigating before hand. You’ll need to look at a survey of the land in question and look into the municipality’s subdivision requirements. The property your looking at subdividing will have to satisfy certain minimum lot requirements according to your municipality’s application. Take note, that different areas of the same town may have different minimum lot requirements. Doing such an investigation can not guarantee that you’ll be successful with a subdivision application on a given property, but it can give you an idea as to whether or not subdivision may be possible.

If you’re looking into subdividing a property you already own, you’ll want to start with cross comparing your local subdivision requirements with a survey of your property. If by dividing your lot into two, both sections satisfy the minimum lot requirements, you’re on the right track. If this is not the case, check into minimum lot requirements for differently zoned areas in your town. If there’s a zone in which you can satisfy the minimum lot requirements, you might consider applying for re-zoning as a first step towards subdividing.

If the zoning code permits your lot, the next step is to check for any subdivision ordinances that may make it impossible for you to do so. These ordinances, for example, may require a particular amount of frontage onto city streets. In some cases, new streets and utilities will have to be installed prior to the sale of a lot within the new subdivision. If you qualify under zoning and subdivision ordinances you can then move onto the next steps.

If you’ve jumped through the above hoops and still seem to be standing, the next step, typically, will be to hire a land surveyor who’ll draw up a plan of the prospective lot. If you talk with your local building and zoning department you’ll be able to get a good reference and sort out how much the process will cost.

This plan will then go to the city, who may require numerous amendments to your original plan. Likewise, they may not approve it. It’s often recommended that you talk with a local attorney who handles zoning and land use matters, to help you through this process.

Another aspect to consider before subdividing is how you plan on making your profit. When you subdivide, your property will be considered two parcels. If you sell the land you’re currently living on, you’re selling a primary residence and so are eligible to keep up to $250,000 in profits from the sale, tax free. On the other hand, if you’re selling the lot that you do not live in, this is treated as an investment property, and you’ll be taxed appropriately on it– 15 percent capital gains, plus whatever your state charges for capital gains tax.

One way to avoid the capital gains tax is through the 1031 tax free exchange, or like-kind exchange. To defer taxes on the sale of this property, you must purchase a different investment property for at least the same price as the property you are selling. You’ll need to meet specific deadlines and have a third party intermediary hold the revenue from your property in escrow while you find a replacement property.

In the case of subdivision applications it’s truly best to follow every step with precision and accuracy if you want to be successful. This may cost you up front, but you’ll be rewarded in the long run.