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Zoning and property value

When buying real estate, it is important to make sure that you understand how local zoning laws impact the use of that property. Remember, even if you own a piece of property or a building, that does not mean you can use it in any way that you want. These laws have often proven controversial for this very reason -- it could be argued that they infringe on the rights of property owners -- but they still stand.

There are numerous ways to zone property. The most common designations are commercial and residential. However, you may have other specifics to consider, like what types of commercial enterprises are permitted or if it is a mixed-use building that can have both commercial and residential spaces.

As you begin looking into all of this, you may find yourself wondering why zoning laws even exist. Why infringe on people's rights? Why not just let them do anything they want with their property?

While there are multiple reasons, one of the big ones is property value. The government -- along with property owners -- wants to keep it as high as possible. This generally means keeping similar properties near one another. A factory next to a neighborhood drags down the value of the homes in that neighborhood, for instance. Historical districts may also have regulations making modern updates and features illegal on the grounds that they detract from the historical charm and lower the value.

Before you ever put in an offer, make sure you know what laws you need to abide by and how you can use the property.

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