Where you buy a house is important — not just in terms of its geographical location and neighborhood, but also because of the zone it comes under. That’s because local zoning laws can regulate the usage of your property. So, if you’re wondering, “How do I know the zoning of my property?”, this guide will help you understand the ins-and-outs of zoning, and how it impacts your property. 

What is zoning?

Zoning is a type of urban planning whereby a municipality or a government divides land into areas or zones. Each of these zones has a set of regulations regarding development and land use. 

Simply put, zoning ensures that properties are demarcated based on their purpose. That way, a particular zone can be intended for a specific purpose. Basically, zoning helps in maintaining neighborhood uniformity by grouping similar types of properties together. 

Read more: Understanding neighborhood commercial zoning

Why is knowing your zone important when buying a home?

Zoning is crucial when you’re buying land mainly because the property can only be used for certain purposes, dictated by the zoning laws. Every state or county may have its own zoning structure, so owning a property in one place will be subject to different rules and zoning regulations than another.

A zoning structure even sets the development standards for land. For example, the building height, floor-to-area ratio, size, placement, density, neighborhood compatibility, screening, and even yard landscaping

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How do zoning laws impact a community?

Zoning laws are a great way to legally protect the individual landowners from harmful or undesirable uses of a property in their area. These laws help them maintain an orderly and systematic neighborhood.

Zoning decides whether a specific geographic zone is acceptable for residential or commercial purposes. For instance, zoning laws keep the oil refineries away from apartment buildings. That way, the localities are organized in a rational way, and the factories stay away from city life at a comfortable distance.

How do I know the zoning of my property?

Your local zoning laws will determine the zoning district of your property. Fortunately, zoning ordinances and maps are public records — freely available to every potential homebuyer. You can visit, call, or email your local zoning office, city hall, or your local planning board, and get a copy of the ordinance.

Sometimes, zoning maps and local ordinances are also available online on your city’s website and in local libraries.

A legal description of your property — owner’s name, address, tax map, and parcel number — will get you all the zoning information you need. As you can see, accessing zoning information does not require significant research. Having said that, if you face any difficulty, you can always get help from your local officials or an attorney. Especially, if your intended property use is not included or permitted in the ordinance. An attorney will help you find ways to expand the lawful use of your property by getting the required permission from the local zoning board.  

Read more: Wondering, how do I determine who owns a piece of property?

What does it mean to rezone a property?

Rezoning essentially means changing a property’s zoning. The process is rarely easy. Keep in mind that any rezoning must be consistent with the local master land-use plan. To confirm it does, get a copy of the master plan from the zoning or planning office.

Remember that you must carefully follow all procedures within the zoning ordinances if you’re requesting a rezoning of your property. Also, keep in mind that requesting a rezoning comes at a high price!

Read more: Gentrification pros and cons

Last thoughts

We’re sure, you wouldn’t be wondering now, “How do I know the zoning of my property”. Well, now you know. 

In a nutshell, zoning allows your local and national authorities to regulate and control land and property markets. It can stimulate or slow down development in specific areas according to the local ordinances.

For the property owner, it helps protect their property values by keeping incompatible or unsuitable land users away. For example, it’s because of zoning restrictions that a retail store will not be permitted inside a single-family residential district.

It’s not wrong to say that zoning makes properties attractive — both for the homebuyers and the developers. If you’re looking to buy real estate — whether residential or commercial, zoning will help you get the best property according to your requirements.

Read more: 12 Crucial things to know before buying investment property

Take a look at this if you need a friendly abstract:

How do I know the zoning of my property? was last modified: November 3rd, 2022 by Ramona Sinha
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