From wish list to reality

Back in 2008 and 2009, when we were house hunting, we had set a high bar: A house with good solar access, and a vacant city-owned lot to the south. Despite the flush housing market in 2008 and 2009, reality set in and that high bar quickly moved down a notch. Our focus turned to finding the right building, first and foremost.

We did, and in the process held on to the option of a vacant lot for extra garden space. Our house has a vacant lot to the east and west.

The lot to the west is owned by our neighbors. With most of our windows facing east, the eastern lot was the one of interest to us. But it was more of a mystery.

Our attempt to buy it from the developer who owned it didn’t work out. He actually disappeared at one point, resulting in another lot with an absentee property owner. Because we didn’t want the lot to turn into a dump, we kept it clean and maintained it for the next few years.

To our delight, we discovered in 2012 that the property taxes on the vacant lot hadn’t been paid. That’s when Cathy did a lot of research and stepped into action. Long story short, last winter her due diligence and excellent work got us the deed to the vacant lot through a tax sale.

Although we had to pay all the back taxes that were owed, the late fees and penalties that had accumulated, and attorney fees, we feel that we got a very good deal. We ended paying about 1/4 of the developer’s asking price from a few years back.

The dream of an adjacent vacant lot for extra garden space has graduated from the wish list to reality. Except that it doesn’t resemble a garden space at all – at least, not yet.

Related posts:

Dream home wish list

No vacant city lot

Here is what we bought…

Separating fiction from the fact


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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