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How will your neighbors use their real estate?

Of all the wide variety of factors that go into a real estate transaction between a buyer and seller, probably the one "X" factor is the people who own the adjacent properties. After all, a prospective buyer in South Florida may be able to do all the research they want about the home itself, the commercial opportunities in the vicinity and the local schools, but they can't necessarily do a background check on the people who will come to be their neighbors after the real estate transaction is complete.

In most metropolitan areas throughout the country, certain areas are zoned in a particular manner: residential, commercial, industrial, etc. Obviously, when a person is purchasing a home, the area is almost certainly within a residential zone. But, what about the surrounding properties? Are they zoned residential as well? Can a seller guarantee that it will stay that way?

In short, there really is no way to be sure that the surrounding properties will not, at some point in the future, be used for a purpose other than what they are being used for at the time a South Florida resident makes a real estate purchase. And, even if the zone is unlikely to change, there is always a chance that a neighbor will not comply with the local zoning ordinances, resulting in significant zoning violations that can impact a person's enjoyment of their own property.

Perhaps the best a prospective buyer can do is to make sure that they are purchasing a home in a solidly residential area - like a neighborhood. And, prospective buyers can always drive through the area and survey the use of land and property by potential neighbors to make sure that at least at the time of the sale everything appears to be in compliance.

Source: americanbar.org, "Zoning Issues," Accessed Nov. 28, 2015

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