In an effort to increase the overall value of land, property owners will seek to subdivide. In general, dividing a piece of property into several parts creates more profitable outcomes for the property owner by accommodating multiple residential units that can be sold to more potential buyers.
The Standard City Planning Enabling Act defines a subdivision to mean the division of a lot, tract or parcel of land into two or more lots, plats, sites, or other divisions of land for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale or of building development.
The process of subdivision establishes separate legal titles for each of the new plots created. So when going through the process of subdividing a piece of property be sure to follow the proper procedures and correctly file the deeds for each newly created plat. Here are a couple of links as a reference on this process:
So how do you go about taking that piece of property you own and legally subdivide it? There’s an old military saying: Prior planning prevents poor performance. In this case, start on a piece of paper and rough out how you want to divvy up the land. Draw division lines on your rough paper parcel so you can have an idea on how the lots will look.
If you are purchasing the property with the intention of subdividing it, then a title search is in order. If you already own the property, a title search was likely already done. Otherwise, you’ll want to verify that there are no outstanding claims, interest in the property, or outstanding debts or taxes.
Familiarize yourself with any local zoning or deed restrictions that may affect the way you plan on splitting up the property. If there’s a conflict, you’ll need to work with your local government for a rule change in your favor.
Hire a licensed surveyor to get accurate measurements and create a development plan with written descriptions for the lots the original parcel will end up containing, as these descriptions will be used all legal documents. Confirm that all the lots will be properly serviced with access to public roads and utilities.
Your local government offices, Clerk of the Court or Cadastral, will have the application to split and/or divide property. Complete the application and attach copies of the original deed and surveyor prepared the development plan. This is government, so the approval process may take some time, so be patient. Depending on the rules where you live, once approved, you’ll get new deeds for each newly approved lot and you may get the original deed back stamped as voided.
Please understand that the process described above is the process in general and the laws and regulations may vary with where you live and other specifics for your jurisdiction. The subdivision process is not standardized. Having a chat with your local department of planning and development is the best way to get the scoop on the specifics for your area, especially if you’re new to the process. Doing the due diligence before you start will save you time, money, risk, and get you smart on whether your property is even eligible for subdividing.