Where is this Place?

So your searching for property in Lake County California and you find something that looks appealing but not really sure where it is.  There is an on-line tool provided by the County of Lake to help you.  Go to the County’s website at  http://www.co.lake.ca.us/.   When you get there look at the column on the left hand side of the page and you will see a link labled  GIS / Mapping. Click on that link and you will land on the Lake County California GIS webpage.

Before using this tool be sure to read the disclaimer carefully because you need to know that the site will show approximate property boundaries.  The nice thing is that you can get an aerial view of the property and a better idea of where it is located.   I find that if I use the assessors parcel number for a property search I get better results.   Here is a sample of what you will see when you locate a property.

Sample GIS Aerial Photo


Things to investigate when buying vacant land.

Things to investigate when buying vacant land in rural areas

Lake County is primarily a rural environment and living here is truly “country living”. Not sure what that means? Well here are some bits of information to help guide you as you investigate a property.  The information provided herein will not address every conceivable situation in Lake County but will provide you with some basic direction on how to go about doing an investigation of a piece of property.     There are many other details to investigate about a property but these are some of the basic items and I hope this information will help you and if you have any questions please ask me for assistance.

Property Boundaries – Some properties in Lake County have not been surveyed.  Do not rely on the information in the listing as it is often an approximation, always verify.  Some things to look for:

  1. Is there a survey of record?    Check with the County or City Planning Dept.
  2. Get a parcel map from the county public works dept or city if within city limits.
  3. Does it look like there might be an encroachment problem?
  4. Are there any boundary disputes with the neighbors?
  5. Does it fall within a Home Owners Association (HOA)?
  6. Do the property lines look like the parcel map?

Easements, Permits and Intergovernmental Agreements

  1. Are there any easements or permits such as drainage, utility or access easements?
  2. Are there any Intergovernmental agreements that provide right of way acquisitions for various reasons.  Check schedule B of the Preliminary Report
  3. Easements – Does the preliminary report map track with items in schedule B of the preliminary report?
  4. Any unused easements?
  5. Any closed or abandoned roads.
  6. View easements (height restrictions on buildings)
  7. Equestrian Trails
  8. Conservation or other restrictions

Home Owner Associations (HOAs)

Lake County has many HOAs.  If your purchasing property in an HOA you need to know what are the HOA dues or recurring fees if any for living there and any proposed changes to the fees. You should also see a copy of the rules or covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and the By-Laws.  You should recieve disclosures from the HOA showing all known material facts about the HOA including their financial status, any pending litigation and other known issues that will affect your living there. Some HOAs have this documentation for review on a website but be sure to contact the HOA directly to verify if the content on thier website is up-to-date.  The following HOAs have websites with information available to review including:  Hidden Valley Lake,  Clear Lake Riviera Community Association, Riviera West,  Riviera Heights, Buckingham Park.


Buying land site-unseen in Lake County is not something I would recommend to anyone.  If you buy property on the side of a very steep hillside you better be prepared for a lot of added development costs:

  1. Hillsides: Any history of landslides?
  2. Drainage:  How does rain water pass through the property?  Are there areas of standing water.
  3. Flood Areas:  If your buying in a designated flood hazard area you may need to look into what requirements the county will have for constructing homes in those areas.  Look into Flood Insurance availability and lend-ability.
  4. Fire Hazard areas, check to see how far are you to a fire hydrant or fire station.
  5. Wind.  Some areas get a lot of wind.  If this is something that matters to you then look into it. Some telltale signs are hills with little vegetation or trees.
  6. Fault lines – The county should have maps and information readily available


We have several state highways in Lake County including HWY 20, Hwy 29, Hwy 53 and Hwy 179. Other roads are either city roads, county roads or private roads.  Some private roads have maintenance agreements and others have no maintenance agreements and are not maintained at all. If you are purchasing a property that has a private road with a maintenance agreement some of the things you should look into are:

  • Is the agreement recorded with the county and is it enforceable?
  • If it is recorded does it go with the property? (Check County or City Recorders Office).
  • Is the agreement with current owners? (Check County or City Recorders Office)
  • Does it need to be up dated or should it be re-written  (Consult an attorney)
  • Are there regular maintenance costs?
  • Is there history of what maintenance has been performed and what were the costs?
  • What is the current condition?
  • Who maintains the road
  • How are decisions made about repairs.
  • Is the road in a county benefit zone. (Check County or City Recorders Office).
  • Are there build-able lots on the road?
  • Any provision in the agreement for collections?


What can or cannot be done with the property?  Check the zoning ordinance with the County or City Planning Dept, Lake County zoning ordinances are posted and viewable on the County of Lake website.


Water may be one of the most important issues to check on when buying property in Lake County. How is it provided?

  1. Well
  2. Pulled from the lake, river or stream,
  3. Private or Mutual Shared,
  4. Municipal.
  5. Is water available without power generation? Is it gravity fed, Hand Pumped, or Generator Operated?

Well Water

You may consider hiring a well or pump company to help you investigate questions about well water and water pulled from a lake, river or other body of water.

  1. How many wells are there?
  2. Where are the well/s located?
  3. Is the well abandoned or dried up?
  4. Is the well for Agriculture purposes only?
  5. Was it installed with a permit?
  6. Was it certified by the County Environmental Health Dept?
  7. Has there been past tests at the source or from within the house?
  8. Does the well dry up during the hot months.
  9. What is the flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM).  This is very important to know if your planning on doing a lot of irrigating.
  10. What is in the water? Note: some areas in the county have hot water and heavy concentrations of iron or boron.
  11. Is the water potable? If not can it be treated?
  12. Does the water have an odor?
  13. Well tests quantity should include:
  • Capacity vs Expected use. How many users, household vs Ag use.
  • History:  Output Summer vs Winter. What was worst case history?
  • Was water ever trucked in?

14. Pump inspection:

  • Casing
  • Plumbing
  • Pump itself
  • Electrical.
  • Storage Tanks.
  • Filtration
  • Routine maintenance and typical maintenance costs.

Private or Mutual or Shared Water:

  1. Where is it from?
  2. How many wells and are there storage tanks,
  3. Are there recorded easements
  4. Are they tested.
  5. History of repairs, adequacy.
  6. Any special assessments for upgrades?
  7. Who maintains and manages it?
  8. If water is provided through an Home Owners Association (HOA) is it recorded and how are decisions made?
  9. Are there financials and reserves available?
  10. What is the remaining life of the equipment?
  11. Are there any pending system upgrades
  12. Are there any moratoriums or cease and desist orders from the county or state to connect to the system.  This is very important to know if you’re purchasing vacant land.

Septic and Sewer:

Seems appropriate to save this part at the tail end.  Septic systems may seem a bit intimidating for folks who are use to having a sewer system.  Many properties in Lake County are on septic systems. The bottom line is you need to know if the property is connected to a sewer system or does it have or need a septic system.  If not then you need to know what it will cost to connect to a sewer system or the cost to install a septic system and know what kind of septic system is permitted by the County to be installed.   Resources for help with this include the Lake County Department of Environmental health, Lake County Special Districts, and local septic companies that install and inspect septic systems. If the property has a septic systems then I highly recommend that buyers get a septic inspection.  You need to know what type of septic systems it is what capacity it has, how well it functions and if it needs repair.  There are engineered septic systems being used in Lake County and most of these systems will need routine maintenance since they have mechanical and electrical components.

Contacts and Resources:

  • Any items in the preliminary report contact the Title Officer.
  • County Community Development and Planning:  707-263-2221
  • Special Districts:  Water and Sewer:  707-263-0119
  • Lake County Environmental Health Dept:  707-263-1164
  • County Public Works: 707-263-2341
  • If property is within an HOA contact the HOA.
  • City of Lakeport   707-263-5613
  • City of Clearlake  707-994-8201



Median and Average Sales Price Activity in Lake County 2011.

California State and Lake County CA  Median and Average Sales Price Activity as of December 2011.

The State of California and Lake County MLS median sales price data provided in the following table is generated from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Median Price data is represented by statistics of existing single-family detached homes only.

Average price data in Lake County CA is taken exclusively from The California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS)which is currently used by the Lake County Association of Realtors.  The Average sales price in the following table represents an aggregate total of existing stick built single-family detached homes on parcel sizes of ½ acre or less and taken from 1 January 2011 to 30 December 2011 and from 1 January 2010 to 30 December 2010.  Mobile Homes, Condos and Manufactured Homes sales are not used in this Average Sales Price analysis. These data are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Note: Median and average prices can be influenced by many factors including changes in cost, location of homes sold, and size of homes sold. Be sure that you work with a Realtor® to get specific sales history for a given area or neighborhood in the County.

MDOM = Median Days on Market,  ADOM = Average Days on Market.


Time on


Dec 2011











58.7 MDOM



LAKE County, CA Med









111.9 MDOM



LAKE County, CA Avg



(763 units sold)



(681 units sold)



120   ADOM


What Makes Lake County a Great Place to Live?

By Rick White – Konocti Realty


I grew up in Lake County and thought I knew most of what life in this county was about but now I know there is much more about living here than I realized.  In 2005 while waiting for my real estate license to arrive I worked for Kendal Jackson Winery in Lakeport as a sugar sampler. This job required me to go out early in the morning and collect grapes from numerous vineyards throughout the county. I would crush the grapes and bring juice samples back to the lab for analysis.  In the process of doing this I became aware at how big and diverse this county is. Those of us who live here know this place is one of California’s best kept secrets and we have a lot to be proud of and for those who may be skeptical, consider the following:

  • Clean Air – we’re ranked 1st in the state and 3rd in the nation. Not only is clean air good for our health but if you’re a star gazer you will enjoy our evening skies.
  • Lake activities – fishing, sailing, water skiing, bird watching and more. Some of the top bass fishing in the nation is right here on Clear Lake.
  • Lifestyle – Our less congested and relaxed atmosphere is great for anyone seeking a slower paced lifestyle.  This is partly why this county is so attractive to people seeking a place to retire. Other factors that attract retirees are affordable housing.  Close to nature – It’s amazing to see the diversity of wild life in Lake County the list of critters goes on and on but you can expect to see on any given day wild Turkeys, Deer, Osprey, Bald Eagles, Quail, countless kinds of waterfowl and we occasionally see a flock of beautiful white pelicans. When they fly in formation at various altitudes the light shimmers off their wings and provides an amazing aerial show.
  • Agriculture – Back in the 70s when I was a teenager, the big crops were pears and walnuts but now the rising star is the wine grape industry which seems to be growing every year. We now have 20+ wineries in the county and countless vineyards. This in itself is causing more interest in the county.
  • The climate here is also a major factor why people are attracted to Lake County.

People are taking notice of what Lake County has to offer. In 2006 a Hollywood film crew shot major portions of a movie called Sherman’s Way in Lakeport and Kelseyville. The movie recently won the Audience Award for best feature film at the CINEQUEST film festival in San Jose this year.  Not bad for being the only film out of eighty to receive this award. Craig Saavedra the film Director/Producer informed me that they hope to have a special premier showing of the film in Lake County, I look forward to that and hope to see some of the locals which were used as extras in the film. You can learn more about this film by going to http://www.shermansway.com/

Housing in Lake County – Lake County has more affordable homes than in surrounding counties.  According to the California Association of Realtors as of December 2011 the median priced home in Lake County is $114,170 while the median priced home in California is $285,920.*   Like most of the state the real estate market in Lake County is a buyer’s market. I’ve been tracking all county sales activity for single family stick built homes on city lots for the past year to see the typical sales activity and from this analysis the months of April through September are typically the busiest selling times with June being the typical peek month.  This year the pattern has leveled off from the 3 previous years. Many buyers seem a bit wary with concern about what is going on in the lending world. But in the long run real estate is still a good investment. There are still many good loan products available to first time home buyers and investors.  I still see Lake County as a good investment and when you consider the large number of baby boomers that will be turning 65 this year I expect to see a surge of buying in the county this year.

Mortgage rates: Week ending 1/12/2012 30-yr. fixed: 3.89% fees/points: 0.7% 15-yr. fixed: 3.16 fees/points: 0.8% 1-yr. adjustable: 2.76% Fees/points: 0.6% (Source: Freddie Mac)