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Realty Check: Astronomical Prices For SF Vacant Lots

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- If you spend over a million dollars for a piece of real estate in town, you might expect to get a house or some kind of structure but -- as San Francisco real estate falls farther down the rabbit hole -- that's not always the case.

Case in point: 477 Eucalyptus Dr., where $1.6 million will buy you a cozy, yet crumbling concrete pad. Shabby chic, indeed.

And tucked behind a fence in the central Richmond District is a dream spot for gardeners -- so long as they love weeding. The price: $1 million.

Yes, in San Francisco real estate, even dirt fetches seven figures.

"There was someone in the 1880s who said there's 'gold in them thar hills' and I've always said 'those thar hills *are* gold' because ... it's extremely valuable dirt we have here," said Arrian Binnings, with Pacific Union Christie's International Real Estate.

According to Binnings, the land-to-house ratio in the Bay Area -- and San Francisco in particular -- is flip-flopped.

"We're talking 80 percent of the value of any given property in San Francisco, 80 percent of that value, is the dirt and only 20 percent is the building," Binnings said.

That's not the case outside the City by the Bay.

"In Dallas, for example, the value of the land versus the overall property value is only about 10 percent," Binnings says.

A plot at 19 Arguello, near the entrance to the Presidio, is $5.5 million. At least it comes with plans for a mansion.

There are only 18 vacant lots for sale in the city and Binnings says the risk may be greater for a buyer than a fixer-upper.

"If they're getting hosed on the land acquisition itself, that doesn't leave very much wiggle room for mistakes in the construction process," Binnings said.

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