Zoning for Beginners: 6 Easy Basics

By LandCentral

outline of a house in a field

Ah, zoning. That boring tagalong word that seems to plague every real estate venture. Zoning is about as exciting a topic as septic tanks. And yet, like septic tanks, we should all be grateful we have them. Zoning is, after all, the very thing that establishes order in the natural world so we humans can divide up the earth properly. While the ins and outs of zoning can be confusing for the most experienced property owner, it doesn’t have to be beyond comprehension. Check out LandCentral’s Zoning for Beginners: 6 Easy Basics:

#1: So What is Zoning Anyway?

Zoning is the municipal or local government laws that dictate how property can and can’t be used. Like we said above, zoning establishes order and defines the “legally permitted uses for a specific property or area.” In short, zoning draws lines around property and tells you what you can do inside those lines.

#2: The Benefits of Zoning

Zoning may seem like an overbearing parent telling you what you can and can’t do with your land, but it actually has quite a bit of useful purposes. The main one being, thanks to zoning, other people can’t do what they want to their land either. At least not in a dramatic way that will negatively impact your life. Basically, zoning separates incompatible land uses from each other. So thanks to zoning, no elementary school will ever be neighbors with a strip club. Or your tranquil dream home on the lake won’t have to hear a shooting range right next door. Get the idea?

#3: Common Zoning Categories

While there are countless zoning categories, the main ones that will likely affect your day-to-day can be narrowed down to four:

  • Residential – Any home dwellings (apartments, single or multi-family, trailer parks, co-ops, etc.)
  • Agriculture – Farming (animals, crops, any activity that requires a large plot of land)
  • Commercial – Businesses (shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, etc.)
  • Industrial – Noisy businesses (Manufacturing plants, airports, anything that will impact the area around it)

For a complete list of zoning types and what they entail, check out Types of Zoning.

#4: What does zoning regulate?

Like we said, zoning sets the limits and guidelines to any given property. The types of things zoning laws regulate are:

  • Types of buildings allowed (remember those zoning categories?)
  • Location of utility lines
  • Restrictions on accessories such as building setbacks and other boundaries
  • Size and height of buildings
  • Number of rooms
  • Lot size
  • And many more.

#5: The Dark Side of Zoning

If you don’t understand the zoning for your area, some of your future plans may be squashed before they start. In addition, if you happen upon your dream lot but it is zoned for commercial, then the loan you are able to get on that property will be for a commercial loan which will have a much higher interest rate. If you already purchased your home and plan on doing renovations, you may find the zoning for your area doesn’t allow for your vision.

#6: How to Change Your Zoning

That’s right! Zoning may be invisible lines we draw around a property with an intended purpose, but those invisible lines aren’t written in invisible stone. They’re flexible. So long as you have good reason, the right property and enough knowledge on zoning, you can get the change you want. Interested in changing the zoning of your property? Check out this step-by-step process.

So there you have it, LandCentral’s Zoning for Beginners: 6 Easy Basics. Ready to test your knowledge with a new property? We’ve got tons of vacant land all over the U.S. We even tell you the zoning ahead of time. Just a little extra zoning help from your friends at LandCentral.

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