Tiny House Community Property?

by Kent Griswold on March 10th, 2010. 29 Comments
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Last month, Kent was kind enough to mention here the land I have for sale in Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona (arizonaforestland.com). I have had a number of inquiries, some of which have got me thinking harder about tiny house possibilities.

As you may remember, its 18.6 acres a little more than an hour from Tucson. It’s quiet, private, and really exceptionally pretty, and better still, it borders on the 38,000 acre Rincon National Wilderness.

There’s a great well on it, there is electricity at the lot line (although this is the ideal solar location), and it can legally be subdivided into three 6+ acre parcels.

The asking price of $249,900 may be a lot for many tiny house people (especially in these times), and some have suggested they don’t want all that much land. So here’s a thought: Perhaps a bunch of like-minded folks could get together and buy the land and put it to a use according to their own ideas and vision.

This could work in a variety of ways. Most simply, three people could buy it and subdivide it to their liking.

But perhaps more interestingly, a greater (or smaller) number could buy it and not subdivide it, but instead keep it as a whole and create a number of tiny house sites with the majority of the land being held in common as open space. (Perhaps, some of the sites so created could even be leased to other tiny home folks.) There could be a variety of legal structures to accommodate this: a land trust; a tenancy in common; the creation of a condominium; and probably others. In this way a gorgeous parcel could be available to a larger number of people, while at the same time preserve individual privacy and open space.

Now being more of a hermit than anything else, I don’t have the skills to organize the process, (and not being a lawyer or zoning expert, can’t give professional advice), but there are a lot of you out there with all sorts of skills, who are out-of-the-box thinkers (to say the least), and are itching to make their tiny house dream a reality. With a little mental sweat equity, this could be a way to get going now.

So here’s the concept: I bet there are folks out there who would like to give this a go. If you are one of them, e-mail me at arizonaforestland@yahoo.com. (If you want to be an initial facilitator, mention it.) I won’t be part of the group myself, I am just the clearing house. I’ll provide the e-mail address of everyone who responds to everyone else who responds. As the group comes together, I would be available to answer questions about the land and all (and would be eager to work with/sell to any group that forms), but from here on in, its all up to you!

—-alfred
arizonaforestland.com
arizonaforestland@yahoo.com

29 Responses to “Tiny House Community Property?”

  1. Elizabeth Goertz says:

    The problem is price,While this land is beautiful, there are many places in the country where you can buy rural land for far less, for example West virginia.

  2. Peter says:

    There are many locations in that general area that could easily demand that price, but most of the land in the area is not.
    The location is a bit vague, I would like to know where it is!

  3. ami says:

    I’d love to do this with some friends… my worry though is “What happens if you select the wrong friends?” Then you’re stuck with the schmuck that stooped your wife… or whatever.

    Anyway. Love the property… but much to rich for my tastes… would love to see those mountains every morning though! Good Luck!

  4. Amanda says:

    This interests me. I live in Northern Ontario and although I joke about “freedom 85″, but there is a plan materializing and having some little place in an area like this (was thinking Desert Hot Springs before) could be very, very good. I’m going to email the owner.

  5. cavanaugh says:

    I highly, highly recommend that folks who want to take on this project read the book “Creating a Life Together” by Diana Leafe Christian, and perhaps invite her to consult on the project or run a workshop for potential community founders. There is no one more experienced at helping form new communities, helping communities work out their problems, and even helping communities work out the processes of dissolving or changing structure. Her kind of knowledge is really essential in a project like this–the rewards of a successful community are so great, but getting there is strewn with potential legal, ethical, and social hazards.

    http://www.dianaleafechristian.org/index.html

  6. Louise says:

    @Elizabeth: Of course land sells for different prices in different areas. Some locations and climates are simply more desirable than others. Personally, I would pay much more for land in Arizona than in West Virginia and judging by market values, that preference is shared by many.

  7. Liz says:

    Can you clarify the location a bit more?

    • I have contacted Alfred and hope to get a more detailed clarification of location soon. I will let you know and post it above when I have it.

    • Alfred says:

      @ Liz

      The simplest way to describe the location is to say it is appx 15 miles north of exit #297 on I-10 in southern Arizona.

      Another, more formal way, to describe it is to say that it is in the southwest portion of Section 11, Township 15 South, Range 18 East, of the Gila and Salt River meridian in Pima County, AZ.  (A section is a square mile.) I am not trying to be facetious here, because if you had access to one of those forest service or BLM maps, this would be a very good way to locate the property precisely.

      Unfortunately, these detailed maps are not available online. About the best I can locate is a forest service map of the Rincon Wilderness, here is the link:

      http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/wilderness/wilderness_images/rincon.JPG

      If you look at this map, the land is on the west side of Forest Service Road #35, a bit south of FR 4407.

      Hope this helps!

      —-alfred

      • Liz says:

        Thanks! I live a about 20 miles away from there, and I have a friend who lives right by the location you are describing :-) It is a really beautiful place! I’d caution, though, that is a bit far from any amenities, like gas stations and grocery stores, so if you live there, you’ll be spending a lot of time and money driving.
        If it were closer to town, I might be interested, but I already live too far out!
        It sounds like a really neat project, though, have fun!!

  8. Shan Juhas says:

    Did you create your own blog or did a program do it? Could you please respond? 92

    • Kent Griswold says:

      I use WordPress as the program that operates blog. The content is all written by myself, guest writers and people that share there stories.

  9. Anne says:

    According to your site the deed restrictions are three 6 acre divides, making the ‘create a number of tiny house sites with the majority of the land being held in common as open space’ virtually impossible without major (not to mention costly and time consuming) zoning changes.

    “Development/Subdivision
    Deed restrictions limit subdivision to three, six acre parcels. The property is covered by Pima County planning and zoning regulations.”

    • Alfred says:

      @Anne—

      My idea was to not subdivide the land at all, but to have it purchased by a small group of people who own the entire parcel in common under a legal structure that they would determine (e.g., a tenancy in common).

      —-alfred

      • Anne says:

        I understood that to be your idea, Alfred… but alas, once deed restrictions are applied to a parcel of land there is little (if any) hope of them being altered in the way you now propose.

        Good luck to you.

        • Alfred says:

          @Anne

          The deed restrictions only affect subdivision possibilities (and you’re right, if I wanted to create say six three-acre parcels, that would be near impossible), but not the use of the land, which is affected by the county’s zoning ordinance.

          The land can be owned as a tenancy in common or a land trust or in other ways regardless of any deed restrictions.

          —-alfred

          • Anne says:

            Not without a major variance, and that is where the complication (and costs) come in.

            I realize you want very badly to sell this land Alfred, but those looking for ‘new’ communities are generally doing so for financially reasons also… making your land less a prospect then non-restricted (thus cheaper) land would be. Add to that its lack of accessibility to a major city (Tucson is an hour or so away) in a community that as a whole is leaning toward non-vehicle travel and it puts it out of the realm of possibility for many who strive for a greener way of living… who happen to be a large part of the tiny house community.

            Again, good luck to you.

  10. Matt Olds says:

    I live here in Boise, Idaho and came across a 20 acre parcel just 45min outside of town with a creek (more like a small river, really) and overall great forested land listed at $79,900. The climate here is really quite nice, and I can vouch that the Grimes Creek area is very beautiful, as I have camped up there a few times. Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there for comparisons sake. Heres a link to the listing, which has pics and more info:

    http://www.intermountainmls.com/Listings/ListingDetails.aspx?l=98396542

  11. Mike says:

    I just bought 40 acres in northern AZ. for $600. an acre, $249k for that seem damm high

  12. Thomas D. says:

    I think you’re being taken advantage of here, Kent. I’ve seen property like this advertised all throughout the southwest by landscam companies. They buy up all this “junk” land, much of it at the border of public lands (as this one is described) and they sell it for cheap, cheap, cheap.

    You can usually tell when the owner can’t give you the name of a street (or even cross street) and describes it by the lot and block number or just general directions.

    At $250K, I’d be very cautious about this “offer”

    • Alfred says:

      @Thomas

      Gee, I wish I was making zillions doing this, but unfortunately, I am just an individual with one parcel to I’d like to sell.

      Most of land you refer to as “junk” (I think what you mean is heavily grazed former cattle ranches) abuts BLM land (as opposed to National Forests) is flat and featureless, and tends to be sold in much larger (35 acre+) parcels. Also the land companies doing this are not really interested in tiny houses or creating communities as I was proposing.

      In a way, its amusing that you ask for a street/cross street. There really aren’t many of them in the middle of National Forests, no less in federal wilderness where roads are prohibited by law.

      Again, the land is located along Forest Road #35 in the Catalina Ranger District of Coronado National Forest, appx. 15 miles north of exit #297 on I-10.

      If you take a look at the web site arizonaforestland.com there is a very detailed description of the land. Also above, in reply to Liz’s comment, there is a reference by township/range/section and you really can’t get more specific than that. Someone wrote and asked for an assessor’s parcel number and I’d be happy to provide it to you as well.

      I appreciate your skepticism, but I am afraid your suspicions are unfounded. And as I have known Kent for a while, I am not sure he is quite as naive as you may think.

      —-alfred

  13. Alfred says:

    @Anne—

    One last shot on this, then, I’ll quit.

    There is a big difference between a deed restriction, a zoning ordinance, and how title is taken to a property.

    A deed restriction is something that is placed by the seller of land on the buyer (and, as long as its legal, carries over to subsequent buyers). The weirdest one I have seen restricts the keeping of pigs/hogs on the property. So from now on whoever buys this land can’t keep pigs (regardless of zoning or title).

    Zoning is different. It restricts the use of the land and is set (in Arizona) by county ordinance. It can and does change. Sometimes quite a bit. This land is now zoned Rural Class 2 which allows for all sorts of uses.

    Title is just a matter of who (or what entity) owns a property. A single person, a married couple, a group of people, a corporation, a non profit (you get the picture) could own any property regardless of either how its zoned or what the deed subdivision restrictions are.

    And, about your cost comment, I am not sure its clear that property with deed restrictions is more expensive than that without. Actually, frequently the opposite is the case.

    However, I think the last part of your comment is a bit more valid and more telling about what you probably really want to say.

    Yup, some folks would like to live without cars with easy access to amenities. Very few remote locations (especially in the middle of National Forests) qualify, so clearly this land wouldn’t be for them. However, some folks want to be away from cities (for them an hour may be too close), so this might be a possibility.

    Everyone has their own tastes and priorities and I respect these, but its important to recognize that tastes and objectives are different from title, zoning, and deed restrictions.

    —–alfred

    • Anne says:

      lol. One last try then…

      A deed retriction is indeed different from a deed transfer, your ability to transfer has no guarantee that anyone buying will have the ability to create what you are promoting it for.

      In closing, anyone wishing to obtain this land (or any other) for Alfred’s suggested purpose, make sure to obtain planning permission BEFORE shelling out any cash for it. Or you may well be stuck with a very large and expensive white elephant.

  14. Cat says:

    Hi – please understand the spirit that this comment is being offered. There isn’t a snarky reply, in the event something is lost in translation.

    I don’t get the impression that Alfred is attempting to manipulate anyone. While regulatory issues are legitimate, I think most folks who are considering the purchase of 249K’s worth of land will take the time to explore the logistics of the legalities.

    I completely understand what Alfred is saying, and while I don’t have the resources to be a part of something along the lines of forming a community situation like this, I love the idea of it, and if there’s a legal way to put this kind of plan in action, how wonderful!

    With an intentional community, a group can share transportation and take turns making runs into town. It’s one of those considerations a group would want to explore when forming.

    Back to the legal stuff…hey, personally, if there’s a way to exploit the law without breaking it, all I can say is you go! I wish my little piece of dirt had some sort of rural zoning, b/c I’d love to see a miniature version of an intentional community here. It’s a great way to share resources and the opportunity to have respectful, intelligent neighbors to interact with at respectful intervals…

    Actually, I was trying to look up zoning regulations in Pima County, and encountered this blog. Alas, think it’s going to take a trip to planning and zoning to get the info I need. The upside is that I found this site, and I’ll be back.

    Alfred, I wish you the best!

    Cat

    So many people could never afford to live in a lovely remote area under any other circumstance.

  15. STACERANAE says:

    try Cade Lakes in Bulison Co. Tx. It is such a perfect place to take over for a “tiny comunity”.
    I would like to get on the tiny house simple living movement “Band wagon” myself! Iv wanted to build tiny houses out there for a long time now … about 3 years or so. my uncle took my advice though, he now has what I call his own “Tiny little spot”. Or the first of our “MTLS!” (My Tiny Little Spots!”) thank you & e-mail me with any ideals at: staceyranae16@yahoo.com

  16. Joanne says:

    I am looking into purchasing land in Florida for winter Tiny House living. Although it has been a while since the last post, I’m wondering if anyone has an interest in pulling up for the winter in Florida. This will give me some idea if it is feasible to purchase the land or not.

  17. Anne says:

    @Joanne, two years later I came across this post (again), so am bumping it in case anyone can give you more info specific to Florida… Depending on where you wish to go, you may be able to find cheap land with few restrictions in the non-tourist areas, but certainly none where most want to winter. They are also pretty particular about tourist trailer parks (which in many places yours would be) and are apt to treat it as a commercial venture and tax, etc. accordingly. GL to you if you are still looking into this.

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