Frequently Asked Questions - Land

Serving California Since 1987


How long has been in business?

The firm started doing business in 1987. The owner, Michael Chulak, became licensed as a real estate broker in 1971.


What does do when someone wants to list a lot or parcel of land for sale with your firm?

The first thing we do is evaluate and determine the land's highest and best use and approximate value, so we know who to target as potential buyers. Factors that are important include the zoning of the land, its configuration, its precise location, general demand in the area, and what is being planned in the area. The information helps us determine who we will contact from our database of land developers, home builders, land bankers, franchise companies, chain stores, investors, and other land brokers. We also erect a sign on the property and contact adjacent and nearby property owners. Finally, we receive inquiries from our website.


I have been advised that some of the people offering land for sale do not actually have title to it. Is that possible?

Absolutely. Many "sellers" have only a land contract that promises they will receive title upon full payment of the land which is often years into the future. If they don't meet all conditions, including full payment, the contract will be canceled, and they receive nothing. These so-called sellers can only offer you what they have, which is a contract that requires conditions to be met, including full payment. Our advice is to demand that anyone wanting to sell you land prove ownership by providing you with a copy of their deed. Always insist on a grant deed, a note and deed of trust if seller financing is involved, an independent escrow company, and a policy of title insurance.


I have seen many ads for the sale of land in various desert areas including California City. The terms are usually $1.00 down with payments stretched over ten to twenty years including interest on the unpaid balance owing. How is this possible?

First, if you check carefully, you may find that you are not receiving a deed to the property unless and until the property is paid in full. You may be given only a contract that promises the delivery of a deed subject to several conditions. The fact is that most, if not all, of these "sellers" do not have title to the land they are promising to convey to you in the future. Most, if not all, have only a contract that promises them that they will receive title if they meet certain conditions. We strongly recommend that you always verify that the seller actually owns the land by requesting a copy of their grant deed, utilize the services of an independent escrow company, and insist on a policy of title insurance. If seller financing is included, you should insist on a deed of trust, not a land sales contract. See: Land Sale Contracts and Avoiding Land Fraud.


When evaluating a potential listing for the sale of vacant land, why does request a copy of the grant deed?

We want to verify that the person offering the land for sale has title to the property and not simply a land contract that promises to provide them with title at some time in the future subject to conditions such as payment. Asking for a copy of the deed is a screening process that does not negate the requirement for a policy of title insurance.


I am intending to purchase some rural land in California. Given that high quality satellite maps are available on the internet, is it really important to make a physical inspection of the property?

Yes. It is not only important, it is necessary that you make a physical inspection in order to avoid land that is not suitable for your future plans. While satellite images are very good, they cannot adequately provide you with the details of the terrain. For example, only an in-person inspection is likely to reveal if the intended site for your future home is located within a wash. If a seller or land broker discourages you from inspecting a property, you should run from them.


I am interested in buying land in California City. It seems to be a nice and growing community, and the prices of land are very reasonable. However, I have seen a lot of negative publicity dealing with the history of the development. Should I avoid California City or take advantage of its beauty and the attractive prices of land?

You are correct that back in the 1960s and 1970s there were false advertising and fraud claims made by numerous buyers of lots that resulted in a legal settlement. After that time, the city has grown and continues to grow. Today, there are many land bargains available to buyers. The principals of our firm continue to be interested in possibly joint venturing the acquisition of land in California City.


Generally, where can I find the least expensive land in California?

There are many desert areas in California where land is very inexpensive. Areas that have long-term potential where land is inexpensive include California City in the northern Antelope Valley. most of the small communities in the Mojave Desert Region, and most of Imperial County.


What happens if two people own real estate together and one wants to sell the property while the other refuses to sell?

A co-owner can force a sale of the property by filing a partition action which will result in a court order forcing the sale of the property. See: Partition Actions - Real Estate Sales.


I would like to work with a Christian real estate agent. Can assign a Christian real estate agent to me?

Yes. Michael Chulak, the founder and owner or the company, is a Christian and many of our agents are Christians. Please call Michael Chulak for additional information.


When evaluating pre-development land opportunities, what are some of the most important considerations?

Your evaluation should include the following: 1) Is the location in the growth path of a major population center? 2) Is the. population of the area in which the land is located increasing at an acceptable rate? 3) Is the land usable and relatively level? 4) Is the land easy to reach by car? 5) Does a master plan exist for streets, sewers, and utilities? 6) Is water available? 7) Is the land located in a business-friendly county and state where residential and commercial development is encouraged? 8) Is the land priced at or below fair market value? 9) Can I afford the payments?

Your final decision to invest in land will ultimately involve weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. The agents with can assist you in evaluating all types of real estate investments.


What is a county-maintained road?

A county-maintained road is a road that has been formally accepted by a County Board of Supervisors to be added to the county road system and registered and maintained by the county. While most county roads are paved, some are gravel roads, and some may be dirt roads. Many roads within a county are maintained by other agencies including incorporated cities. Freeways and State Highways in California are maintained by Caltrans which is an agency of the state. Other roads are private roads maintained by a land owner, or a group of people, usually a homeowner association. Rural property is always more valuable if it fronts on a county-maintained road or has legal access to a county-maintained road.


What is arable land?

Arable land is any land that is capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops. Nonarable land includes land that is extremely steep, excessively wet, has poor drainage, is full of rocks, or has insufficient freshwater for irrigation. Major portions of the California deserts are arable and capable of growing many types of crops. Using desalination facilities along the coast, Israel has turned most of its desert areas into rich agricultural areas that export fruits and vegetables all over the world.


What are the most common reasons that people invest in remote desert land that cannot be developed as a practical matter for many years?

Many of these buyers are acquiring California land for their young children, grandchildren , and future grandchildren in order to assure them that they will participate in the American Dream. These buyers recognize that much of the most valuable land today was once remote and considered of little value only forty or fifty years ago: Much of this land is now being used for shopping centers, office buildings, residential subdivisions, and apartment complexes. Many people buy large sections of remote, inexpensive land because they want the future generations of their family to be wealthy. They want to leave a legacy.


What is glamping and what is a glamping site?

Glamping is a term that refers to camping in a luxury camping site, often referred to as a glamping site. Many owners of rural property are developing glamping or camping sites on their property as a means to earn income in the short term before developing the property at some point in the future, or long term. See: Land Banking Strategies and Land Banking Joint Ventures.


Is investing in land a good hedge against inflation?

Over the long term, the acquisition of land located in the path of development can be a good hedge against inflation. When the right land is acquired with a down payment of 10% to 20%, and the seller carries a long term loan written at 2% to 4% per annum, the investment can be very attractive when inflation is raging on average at the compounded rate of 5% per year or more. When acquiring land, a due diligence investigation is always required. See: Before You Make an Offer to Acquire Land.


Can I reliably determine how much my land is worth from an internet website such as Zillow or Trulia?

No. These sites provide only rough computer-generated estimates based upon averages as opposed to specific data. Their valuations can easily be 10% high or low. If you want a reliable estimate of the value of your home, you should have one of our real estate agents prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA).


Will provide us an estimate of value before we list our vacant land for sale?

Absolutely. While estimating the value of vacant land is difficult, we will provide you with our best estimate of value based upon the data available.


For infill lots zoned for condominiums, other than the square footage and the number of units permitted to be built, what is the most important factor that determines value?

The number of parking spaces that can be designed for a future building is a highly significant factor. Regardless of the zoning, the number of parking spaces will determine the maximum number of units that can be built and sold. For example, two nearby lots may be zoned for 12 units each, but one will accommodate 24 parking spaces while the other will accommodate 23 parking spaces because of the configurations of the lots. The lot that will accommodate 24 parking spaces will allow 12 units to be built while the other lot will allow only 11 units to be built notwithstanding the zoning. The lot that will accommodate 12 units will be worth substantially more money to a developer of condominiums.


What is the best way for us to search for land?

After being pre-qualified by one of our real estate agents, the best way to get started is by engaging in an advanced search on our website. The search feature is on the home page. For instructions: Search for Land Listings Like a Realtor.


Does your company represent buyers and sellers of land in the Antelope Valley and the surrounding areas?

Yes. We have represented buyers and sellers of land in the Antelope Valley including Palmdale, Lancaster, and Victor Valley for more than 35 years. We have also represented buyers and sellers of land in nearly all of the Mojave Desert communities in California.


I am intending to sell my land. What am I required to disclose to prospective buyers about my land?

You are required by law to disclose every material fact that would affect a buyer's decision to buy or not buy the property, or to pay more or less for the property. This is a very broad disclosure requirement that sellers must take seriously.


What is a wetland and how do wetlands impact the development of land?

A wetland is an area of land that is saturated with water most of the time. When a wetland is not covered with water, the land has a very high-water table, making it possible to support aquatic plants. Wetlands can be tidal or non-tidal. The water can be freshwater, saltwater, or brackish. In California, wetlands cannot be developed and must be protected. Consequently, when acquiring land, the buyer must investigate in order to determine if any part of a land parcel is a wetland. In California, the United Sates Fish and Wildlife Services protects wetlands.


How much does it cost to hire a buyer's agent?

It doesn't cost anything. Agents that are hired by buyers are a paid portion of the commission paid by the seller of the property.


What is earnest money?

Earnest money is money deposited into escrow in connection with a purchase agreement to demonstrate good faith that the buyer serious about closing the transaction. Earnest money protects the seller if the buyer backs out after all contingency periods have expired or is unable to perform. The lack of performance by the buyer for any reason can cause substantial financial harm to the seller, who has taken the property off the market and has probably made plans  based on the sales agreement.


Is it possible for me to earn real estate commissions by simply referring  potential buyers and sellers to a full time, experienced real estate agent?

Yes. By becoming a referral agent, you can avoid joining the Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service while earning commissions. Referral real estate agents can earn thousands of dollars consistently each year without showing homes or selling. Call Michael Chulak for details.


Do you do more than sell land?

Yes. We are involved in property management, commercial leasing, and the sale of houses, apartment buildings, and commercial properties. Our affiliate, Pacific Business Advisors represents people wanting to sell or buy a business anywhere in California.


Does receive referrals from out of the area real estate brokers?

Yes. Our firm receives both buyer and seller referrals from: Broker to Broker Referrals and other referral sources.


Is the assessed value of my land an indicator of its market value?

No. The assessed value is the number assigned by the real estate taxing authorities and is not indicative of the fair market value of your land.


Are real estate brokerage commissions set by law in California? It seems that  every firm is charging 10% to sell land.

Broker commissions are not set by law. Every real estate brokerage firm establishes what it will charge to market and sell a given property. Commissions and levels of service vary from firm to firm.


Does offer any commission discounts or rebates to buyers or sellers of homes?

Yes. In appreciation of their extraordinary service, is pleased to offer a $1,000 commission discount or rebate to all active-duty military and reservists in the United State Armed Forces, sheriffs, police, fire fighters, and paramedics who buy or sell land through our company.


Does your firm ever joint venture the purchase of investment properties with others?

Yes. We will consider the joint venture of homes, rental homes, apartments, commercial properties, and land. Call Michael Chulak to discuss a potential joint purchase of any type of real estate.


Can a non-citizen own real estate in the United States?

Absolutely. Whether you are a citizen or a non-citizen, we would be pleased to help you purchase a home, land, or any other real estate.


Does your firm recommend the acquisition of land or other property in Mexico?

No. Crime is out of control in Mexico making the government unstable and the economy highly uncertain. See: Acquisition of Properties in Mexico. Many Mexican citizens are purchasing land in California. See: Land Investing for Non-Citizens - Foreign Investors.


I would like to start a career in real estate. Do you have any suggestions?

You have already made a good start by visiting our website. You will need to take certain required courses which you can take through First Tuesday. They are an excellent company and you can contact them through our site. They will give you a discounted price when you contact them through They also offer an excellent, prelicensing exam crash course which we highly recommend.  Our firm also offers a real estate licensing crash course which is absolutely free.  Information is on this site.

After you pass the state exam, we would like to meet with you in person if you are in Southern California or via Zoom if you are not local. After learning more about you and your career goals, we will assign a mentor to you and will provide you with  excellent training. Of course, you many contact us at any stage or at any time. Please ask for Michael Chulak.


When I sell my property, who receives the commission I am paying?

Generally, 50% is paid to the selling office and 50% is paid to the listing office. Each office must pay their agent from its share of the commission. This is typically between 50% and 80% of the amount received by the office. Every office is different so the formula will vary from office to office.


If I obtain a real estate license and join your firm, will I be assigned someone to assist me through my first few sales transactions?

Absolutely. All new real estate agents are assigned a mentor and receive extensive training both in the office and in the field. A knowledgeable experienced, financially successful senior agent will be available 24 / 7 to help you and will be available to meet with prospective clients as needed.


Does have an experienced transaction coordinator?

Yes. Our transaction coordinator has been providing our real estate agents with excellent services for many years.


Is it possible to be successful selling real estate part-time?

Yes, assuming you have no other employment, or your other employment is compatible with selling real estate. If your other employment allows for flexibility in your time requirements, there should be no problem. If your other employment is rigid in its time requirements, it will not be compatible with serving as a real estate agent which often requires you to be available on short notice. See: Part-time Real Estate Agents.


I would like to join your real estate company but I live very far from your corporate office in Agoura Hills. Can I work from my home in Northern California if I join

Yes. It is not necessary to work from Agoura Hills. Today, most real estate agents do most of their work from their home. See: Part-time Real Estate Agents.


I am a very successful real estate agent with a dedicated team located within ten miles of Agoura Hills. Will you consider opening a office for my team?

Yes, assuming you have a proven record of success over a period of at least two years.


Does the opportunity exist within your firm for a successful Realtor to become a part owner of the company?



Is interested in acquiring small independent real estate brokerage firms in Southern California?

Yes. Please call to discuss.


How much are real property taxes in California and how are they calculated?

Real estate taxes in California consist the 1% rate established by Proposition 13 in 1978 plus voter approved debt and district levies. Voter approved debt and district levies vary, but average about .25% for a total average tax of 1.25% of the fair market value. This is an estimate only.


How big is an acre?

An acre is 43,560 square feet and approximately 208.75 feet square. A large residential lot is typically one-quarter acre or 10,890 square feet.


What is a city or county general plan and how does it impact value?

In California, every city and county must adopt its own general plan for long-term physical development. These plans have a substantial impact on the demand for land and buildings within the local government's planning area. See: General Plans - Cities and Counties


What is an overlay zone?

An overlay zone is a defined geographic area shown on a city or a county zoning map where special requirements exist in addition to the underlying base zoning district requirements. Some overlay zones are intended to provide incentives to developers to build low-cost housing within certain districts by permitting increased housing density, reduced lot setbacks, reduced parking requirements, and/or reduced government fees.


What is a zoning variance and how do I get one?

A zoning variance is an exception to the zoning laws which must be approved by the county or city government having local jurisdiction. While obtaining a change of local zoning is close to impossible, obtaining a variance is extremely difficult, but not as difficult. Each local government has a list of requirements that must be met in order to justify a zoning variance. Property owners seeking a zoning variance should start by reviewing the list of requirements that applies to their land. See: General Plans - Cities and Counties.


What is plottage?

Plottage is the increase in value obtained by combining adjacent parcels of land into one larger, more useful parcel. The process is known as assemblage. Often, the value of the assembled parcels will be worth far more than the sum of the individual parcels.


What is assemblage?

Assemblage is the process of combining two or more parcels of land into one larger, more useful parcel. The process of assemblage creates the plottage value.


We own some desert land that is located in an extremely remote area. It does not have water or utilities, and is not located on an improved road. We have tried to sell it without success. Can you help us sell it?

Yes. If you are wiling to carry financing, we have buyers who are long term land bankers who are in the market for inexpensive rural land including desert property.


What is a Will-Serve Letter?

A will-serve letter is a document in which a utility company certifies that a specific property lies within the utilities service area and that subject to certain terms, conditions, and limitations, the utility will provide its services to a specific property. WiII-serve letters are often obtained in connection with the acquisition of land in rural areas. They may apply to water, sewers, or electricity.


Is it possible to find buyers for remote rural land that is landlocked without any legal access?

Yes. There are buyers for landlocked rural land including desert land. Down payments are usually in the range of 5% to 10% and long-term seller financing is almost always required.


What does it mean to be off-the-grid?

For most people, off-the-grid means not being connected to the public electrical grid, but it can also mean not being connected to other utilities such as water, sewer, and gas. Off-the-grid is a matter of degree. Most off-the-grid homes will have extensive solar panels with battery backup, rainwater harvesting, groundwater wells, and septic systems. Some people that live off-the-grid supply their own electrical power by means of wind turbines.

Many home builders, developers, and land bankers prefer to buy off-the-grid land because it can be acquired inexpensively and developed at a later date.


What types of land are easiest to sell?

Land that is zoned for condominiums, planned developments (single family detached homes) and apartments are the easiest to sell. Next would be individual lots zoned for the construction of a single house.


We are considering the acquisition of a group of lots that are encumbered by deed restrictions. What advice can you offer?

Deed restricted properties are most often encumbered by a Declaration of CC&Rs, or by restrictions set forth in a deed. You must review and approve the proposed deed and any recorded CC&Rs before you make a commitment to purchase a property. Questions should be directed to a real estate or homeowner association attorney. One of our affiliates, has an excellent website that contains many relevant articles that will assist you in understanding 'homeowner associations.


What is a property owners association?

A property owners association (POA) is an incorporated or unincorporated association of lot owners. Generally, the lot developer will form a property owners association to manage any common area and to govern the CC&Rs that are commonly adopted. At some point, after some of the lots are sold and developed with new homes, the property owners association becomes a homeowners association. In California, the developments governed by property owner associations, are referred to as planned developments by the California Department of Real Estate.


If I sell my desert land with 10% to 15% down, carry back financing to make  the sale, and then pay a commission and closing costs, I will end up with little cash. If I list my desert property with your firm, are you willing to take all or some of your commission as a note secured by a deed of trust?

Generally, yes. If we recommend that the seller carry back financing, we are almost always willing to convert all or some or all of our commission into financing.


How are FICO scores determined and how can a FICO score be improved?

A FICO score is a credit score created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). Lenders and lessors use the scores to make credit granting decisions. See: FICO Score - Credit Score for detailed answers to your questions.


Should I buy land in California using a land contract or land sales contract?

No. Land sales contracts or land contracts are full of risks for buyers of land. We recommend that you receive a grant deed and that any real estate financing involve the use of a standard promissory note and a recorded deed of trust. A neutral escrow holder should always be used and you should always insist on a policy of title insurance. Please refer to the article on our website: Land Sales Contracts for more information.


What is a cistern?

A cistern is a waterproof receptacle primarily designed to collect and store rainwater in desert areas where rain does not occur often and other sources of water do not exist, are expensive, or are in short supply.


How do escrows work in California?

An escrow is a legal arrangement in which a third party, a licensed escrow holder, temporarily holds money, and sometimes property, until specified conditions nave been met that satisfy all parties to the escrow. The parties to most escrows involving the sale of a home include a buyer, seller, a homeowner association, and usually the buyer's lender and seller's lender See: Escrows in California.


What is a wilderness area?

A wilderness is an area of land that is in its natural state. It is land that has not been modified in any way. Most large wilderness areas in the United States are owned by the federal or state governments and are protected by law.


What is a ravine?

A ravine is a landform similar to, but much smaller than a canyon. Ravines are almost always formed from streambank erosion. They are larger than gullies and usually contain an active or intermittent stream.


What is the difference between a wash, an arroyo, and a gulch?

A wash is a shallow channel that follows contours of the land allowing water to flow or wash from higher elevations to lower elevations. An arroyo is a creek or small river that may be intermittent. Arroyo is a Spanish word. A gulch is a small ravine or small canyon. All of these landforms should be investigated to see if they exist near a property that is being considered for acquisition. See: Before You Make an Offer to Acquire Land.


What is land accretion?

In real estate, land accretion is the gradual increase of land on a stream, lake, or sea by the action of water depositing sand , silt, or soil upon the shoreline. This may build up considerably over time. The opposite of accretion is erosion which is the gradual washing away of land.


What is erosion of land and the cause of it?

Erosion is the geological process in which earthen materials such as wood, soil, and rock are worn away by natural forces such as water or wind. Erosion is the opposite of land accretion.


Is it possible for a rural parcel of land located in the desert to have a homeowner association?

It is extremely unlikely, but it is possible. A preliminary title report or a title insurance policy will indicate whether CC&Rs have been recorded against a specific property. By reading the CC&Rs, you should be able to determine whether an association exists.


Is it possible to sell real estate prior to filing for bankruptcy in California?

It is definitely possible to do so, but you should not list property for sale or sell it before you obtain the advice of a bankruptcy attorney.


May we distribute your articles to others and add them to our website?

Yes, provided we are given credit for writing the article. Every one of our articles includes our identifying information at the bottom which must be included. There is no cost for using our articles.



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