And what would be the best ways to get that information?
Every piece of land is zoned for usage. Check with the city to verify the info.
City hall is your friend. Every city (and block - some has local zoning like no second story) can be different, so check with City.
How important is to know what you can build on a property before buying?
Mandatory ! Otherwise, you are stuck with piece of land not usable !!
Zoning is not the only issue. Access to utilities, slope, septic perk tests and many other issues are involved in developing raw land. For example San Mateo county has nearly 10,000 empty lots. A vast majority are unbuildable.
I see that up here too. Land without all those studies done is under $100k. Land with studies and approved plans can be $700k. I’m sure someone with the time and expertise could make a profit off that.
Development fees in California average over $100k per lot. Even then there is no guarantee the lot is buildable. There are thousands of junk lots traded all the time that have no value. Larger lots that are sub-dividable can take several years for approval and are subject to lawsuits and government harassment. Meanwhile market conditions can change, millions spent and all you have is a dirt lot… Think Salt Works 700 acres of Bay Front Salt flat that could house 25k people. Currently worthless.