We're now land barons! We closed on the lot today. It was a long process of hurry-up and wait. Apparently, the seller had not done the paperwork ~30 years ago when she inherited the land. There were other siblings and power-of-attorney issues on the seller's end. It took lawyers in 3-states to get the seller's end of the deal tidied up. I'm thankful for a patient husband and a patient realtor.
Our waiting has paid off! We own the sweet lot and plan to build on it. In a twist of irony too big to ignore, we looked at the lot 3 years ago and didn't buy it then. (We have differing stories as to why. :D) The lot went off the market. The DH kept it on his long list of to-dos in the past 3 years to find out what happened. As fortune would have it, the lot went back on the market and we found it before any of the land-hungry college housing landlords.
We would have saved money had we bought it three years ago, in a For Sale By Owner deal. However, would we have discovered and appropriately dealt with the legal issues? Would it have cost us more in the long run? There's no way to tell. And no sense in playing"what if." We own it now. We're celebrating with pizza AND breadsticks!