Selling Backyard to Neighbor


    I’m looking for information on selling some or all of a rowhouse back yard to a neighbor (i.e., so the buying neighbor ends up with a double-width yard and a sort of L-shaped lot, while the selling neighbor ends up with a smaller yard or no yard at all). Are there any tricky legal issues? How did you deal with air rights/FAR? What is a fair price for half of a backyard? For all of a backyard? Assume that there is no landscaping to speak of and both yards are basically blank slates.

    6 Replies

    1. why would you even consider doing such a silly thing…it will make your house unsalable in the future

    2. I’d also keep resale value in mind. Even if it’s legal to go as small as 30′, I think a lot of buyers would be turned off, especially if the neighbor develops that part of the lot with their bbq patio, kids play area, etc. Nothing like having a short yard AND noise too.

    3. The first thing I’d look at would be what’s left of the rear yard. If the building is not on a corner, then most likely, it needs a 30′ minimum rear yard. Get rid of the rear yard and you’ve got a non-compliant building. Additionally, there are minimum size requirements for the lot itself, depending upon which zone it’s in. Too small a lot and you create a non-conforming lot, strictly prohibited. Get an architect to do a zoning study or have a look through the zoning code yourself.

      Jim Hill, RA, LEED AP
      Urban Pioneering Architecture