1. What is the zoning classification of the property?

The zoning classification will determine for your property:

  • the permitted uses, e.g., single-family residence or office-institutional;
  • the prohibited uses, e.g., tattoo parlors, saloons, or rock quarry; and
  • the special-exception uses (sometimes called “conditional uses” or “special uses”), e.g., a home office, church, or campground (which the ordinance permits if approved by the local board of zoning adjustment).

The zoning classification will also determine the front, side, and rear setbacks. You want to know the setbacks in case you wish to build an addition, a pool, or an outbuilding.

2. What are the zoning classifications of nearby properties?

Places where current zonings are obsolete and property is devalued are where rezonings might affect the neighborhood.

There is a vacant church building for sale near my home. Across a busy two-lane road from it is commercial property: a strip mall not fully rented and a grocery store. However, the church’s side of the road remains residential to the creek half a mile behind it and for at least half a mile each way.

For the owners of the church, about their only prospective buyers are churches and religious groups, unless their property is rezoned commercial. For potential buyers of the property, if they could get the property rezoned to commercial, it could have a high-volume drug store or fast-food restaurant.

For the residential neighbors, the commercial rezoning of the church property on their side of the road would be a decisive precedent. Many would likely appear with torches and pitchforks to the public hearing for such a rezoning. On the other hand, commercial development might be as desirable for those who want to sell and move as it is undesirable for those who plan to stay.

Thus, before you buy real property, knowing the surrounding zoning classifications and their potential points of conflict is crucial to predicting the stability of your home value.