<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1636887349932403&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Agent Insights - Real Estate Zoning Laws Your Client Should Know About

Posted by Kristina Brunnler

May 16, 2017 10:30:00 AM

In today's Agent Insights - Paul Sian - a RE/MAX Incline Realtor® in Cincinnati Ohio shares common real estate zoning laws that may affect your clients.

Zoning laws are the rules and regulations set by local government to control what types of Paul_Sian.jpgbuildings (residential, commercial, industrial, retail) can be built and where. In order to keep some uniformity and consistency many governments restrict areas so that they are only residential, commercial or industrial in order to avoid conflicts between the different land uses and in order to better provide for allocation of services like utilities, roads, police and fire functions. For instance an industrial plastics factory being built right next to a residential area can cause problems with the people living in those homes since the smell of plastic could affect their property value and quality of living. Additionally a high density residential area will require more services in terms of utilities and roads than an industrial area where there are a few large buildings but with fewer people present.

The basic types of zoning you will find in most every city that have zoning controls are Residential, Commercial and Industrial. Residential zones cover a variety of different types of residences from high density housing like apartment buildings, condo complexes to low density housing like single family residences. Commercial zones cover activities like office spaces, retail outlets, service operations, hotels and similar activities. Industrial zones are areas where manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centers and the like operate.

These basic zoning categories can be further broken down into sub categories in order to further restrict the types of buildings that can be contained within certain zones. For example residential zoning can have sub-categories like R1, R2, R3 which break down residential zones even further. R1 zones might be high density residential like apartment buildings, high rise condominium units, or other clustered residential units. Next R2 may limit residential buildings to smaller apartment buildings with no more than 4-5 separate family living units per building with R3 being single family residences only. The sub-categories of zoning can also apply to commercial and industrial with similar effect like the residential sub-categories mentioned above.

Occasionally you may find buildings that are being used in a way contrary to the existing zoning rules. If the non-conforming use is being done without the permission of the local zoning board chances are the owner will be forced to comply with the existing zoning uses and may also face fines for the non-conforming use. Other times the non-conforming use may either be grandfathered in since the use predates the change in zoning or the use was approved by the zoning board for something other than as currently zoned. If your client is considering property whose zoning use is different than what is permitted you should get further information from the zoning board on whether or not the non-conforming use is permitted and therefore legal before making an offer. This is an ideal situation where contacting an attorney who specializes in real estate law and zoning would be a wise thing to do.

Can Clients Request Zoning Changes for their Land?

Local governments usually have zoning boards which decide on how land should be zoned and also hear petitions for zoning changes from the public. These zoning boards can be elected officials, government employees or citizen volunteers with knowledge about the zoning process. Vacant undeveloped land may have been set as a certain type of zoning in the past but due to the changing nature of people and business migration zoning boards generally want the highest and best use of the land without causing harm to other landowners in the same jurisdiction. Therefore if it can be shown that the land is better suited for office buildings instead of industrial zoning the boards are often willing to rezone land to help establish a better use.

Local governments usually have zoning boards which decide on how land should be zoned and also hear petitions for zoning changes from the public. These zoning boards can be elected officials, government employees or citizen volunteers with knowledge about the zoning process. Vacant undeveloped land may have been set as a certain type of zoning in the past but due to the changing nature of people and business migration zoning boards generally want the highest and best use of the land without causing harm to other landowners in the same jurisdiction. Therefore if it can be shown that the land is better suited for office buildings instead of industrial zoning the boards are often willing to rezone land to help establish a better use.

Zoning and My Home

Most homes are located in residential zones. In certain areas residences can be mixed with commercial retail and/or office spaces. This is more often found in downtown areas which have a mix of commercial retail and office spaces as well as residences. The residences found in these areas are more likely to be multi-family apartments and condominiums with the less common single family residences. Sometimes you will find mixed zoning outside of downtown areas where zoning boundaries were not present in the past and commercial retail or office space remains in place and was not changed due to grandfathering rules which allow them to continue their business as originally started.

It is always wise to check the zoning plan of the area where you plan to buy a home. If you are looking at an area that is strictly single family residential with no corner stores then you should check the zoning maps for the city where you want to buy a home to see what it has been set as and where the boundaries lie for the different zones. Additionally you should also drive the neighborhood to see if there are any prior use buildings that are still being used for commercial purposes that don’t need to change due to grandfathering rules. Those prior use buildings could affect the enjoyment you might have in your home as compared to an area that does not have any non-conforming zoned buildings.

Bottom Line

Zoning laws govern the types of buildings that can be put up in certain areas and help keep a consistent look to land development. Whether your client is purchasing residential or commercial property, understanding zoning for your local area is important to help make sure your purchase is something that works well for your needs.

For more from Paul, check out his website and blog here


Looking for More Agent Insights?


Download Our Free  Agent Insights eBook - 3rd Edition!

Topics: Agent Insights

comments powered by Disqus

Real Estate Success Blog

Everything you need to know to be successful in today's real estate market.

Visit our Real Estate Success Center

 

Zurple Facebook Page
Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on trending topics and news.

 

convos-by-zurple-1

You focus on clients, Zurple converts leads. See how it works.

Get New Articles in Your Inbox

Follow Zurple

Recent Posts

Over 3,500 agents nationwide use Zurple software to close more deals.

Brokerages that use Zurple