Vacant residential lots are looking better and better to real estate investors.

The cost of a finished, ready to build lot, can cost a developer about 25 percent of the finished home price. There are a number of these ready-to-go lots on the market at about half what they actually cost to prepare. Investor groups are snapping them up, figuring that the time will come soon when they will be in demand.

The country needs 1.2 million new units for the next 10 years just because of population growth, says Scott Clark, president of American Development Partners, which has bought thousands of vacant lots all over the West. [U.S. builders] built about 500,000 units in 2009 and 600,000 units in 2008, so there eventually will be pent-up demand. We want to get as many of those finished lots as we can because as demand begins to rise, the need for housing will become painfully obvious. The delta (ratio of change to value of underlying asset) in this investment will be significant.

Source: Inman News, Scott Bergsman