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An overview of Florida zoning laws

Anyone who is thinking about entering into a real estate transaction, either as a buyer or a seller, has quite a few things to think about and plan for. However, of all the potential issues that could pop up when residential property is up for sale, one issue is something that most people don't ever think about: zoning laws.

Zoning laws can impact any type of real estate transaction, not just residential real estate. In Florida, most local communities have the freedom to zone the areas under their control in whichever way they see fit, subject to some restrictions.

In most areas of Florida, and, indeed, throughout the country, the two main zoning areas are residential and commercial. What this means is that in certain areas of the community only those certain types of structures can be built. After all, who wants to see a fast food restaurant pop up in the middle of a residential neighborhood? That would never happen, and this is usually because of zoning laws.

However, there are times when the local agency that is in control of zoning issues can hear applications for changes - known as exceptions or variances. This type of issue may present itself typically along the boundaries of areas zoned differently. For instance, if a large plot of land is for sale and it is zoned for commercial use, but then a buyer comes along and wants to build a large home and maintain acreage, the local zoning authority would have to decide whether or not that is the best use of the land in question. And, unless the plan is for a large housing structure, like an apartment complex - and there is need for more housing in the area - most of the time a zoning authority would probably skew toward leaving an area zoned for commercial use. Whatever the issue, zoning laws can have an impact on any type of real estate transcation.

Source: broward.org, "Zoning," Accessed on Oct. 2, 2014

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