In my town, a middle class bedroom community in the area west of Boston around Framingham, I notice that in some of the poorer parts of town are various vacant lots of 5000-10000 square feet with no power or utilities that generally have an assessed value of between $5000 and $10,000 dollars. Often the lot is owned by the owner of the adjoining property. I would expect in many cases these would not be buildable lots.

Is this kind of assessed value a reasonable valuation of what the lot could be bought for, or is the assessed value on something like this well below what a sale value would be?

The problem here is that I cannot gauge it because sale of such lots is not typically listed on normal real estate transaction listings, so I have no idea what such vacant lots typically go for, so I have no way of knowing the accuracy of the assessment. Zillow is useless in this case, because it only shows homes, not vacant lots.

1 Answer 1


This is a reasonable estimate of what the "unimprovable" lot might be worth to an owner of one of the adjoining properties, if they actually had reason to buy it..

It's value to anyone else is usually negligible because about all you can do with it is pay taxes and insurance until one of them wants to buy -- and if there are easements across the land, those may give the neighbor everything they need without their spending the money.

if the scrap affected access plans for a major mall or something of that sort, and you were willing to get stuck holding the bag if they found a cheaper solution, there might be brief opportunities available. You might find one of those rare cases. But in general, if a serious opportunity existed, the pros would already be on it.

  • If you are sufficiently obnoxious, look up the concept of a "spite house". It isn't quite blackmail...
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:34

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