How to check property zoning? How do you know the zoning of a property?
I’m going to show you how you can check the zoning of a property, for free! You can do this search online, or with a phone call. It only takes a few minutes and is one of the most important things you need to check when going through your land-buying checklist.
I’m going to share with you the third video in our Due Diligence series, and answer the third question that you should ask when buying land: What is the zoning of the property?
If you have any questions on the content in this post, leave a comment below and I will reply with your answer.
Why is Property Zoning Important?
I am going to continue with the same example property, the one we looked up in the first and second videos to see who the owner was and determine the back property taxes and tax lien information.
If you missed them, the first video goes over how to find the property owner, and the second video goes over how to check for back taxes and tax liens owed on the property. If you want to check those out make sure you see our YouTube playlist for the Due Diligence video series.
This is an important question to ask when buying land because land can only be used for certain purposes based on the zoning. And each County will have its own zoning structure and naming convention, so even if you own property in one County, it’s not subject to the same standards as another county.
To make sure your aspirations for the land, and what you want to use it for, aligns with what’s allowed, you need to check with the County. This only takes a few minutes and can save a lot of headache and heartache down the road.
For example, at Compass Land USA, we sell a lot of property in this area of Colorado that people want to RV and camp on, but not all the counties here allow for it – you have to know what areas allow for which activities.
One thing to note, too, is each zoning code usually has a mix of ‘allowed’ uses, conditional uses and denied uses. Usually, if you Google the County name and zoning code (example: ‘Costilla County zoning code’), you can find a detailed description of what you can do with it.
So our example property, is a lot in Costilla County Colorado, with the parcel number of 70273760.
How Do I Check Zoning for My Property?
This check can be done online if the information is available, or on the phone. And a lot of people don’t know that this can be done completely for free.
So at this point, you have verified the seller and you know that there are no tax liens or back taxes owed on the property. Now you need to check the zoning.
You will need 2 things to find out the zoning information for a property.
- You need to know the county that the land is in, so in our case, that is Costilla County.
- You will need the parcel number.
If you found a piece of property you’re thinking about buying on any of the Land sites, Craigslist, even Facebook Marketplace, you can get the parcel number right from the listing or just ask the seller and they will be able to provide you with that info.
Note: If the seller does not have the parcel number or cannot get it for you – that is a big red flag. It increases the likelihood of that seller being a scam or not having the rights to actually sell you that property.
How to Find Property Zoning (for FREE!)?
A lot of times the zoning information is shown in the Assessor’s database online, so we’re going to start by finding the Assessor’s page for the County, and see if they have an online parcel search.
I’m going to head over to Google and type in ‘Costilla County Assessor parcel search’.
Every county page will be different. You want to look for keywords like ‘online parcel search’ or ’Assessor parcel search’. Here is Costilla County’s Assessor page.
I’m going to click on the link that says ‘County Assessor Parcel Search‘. On the page that follows, you will need to accept the County’s disclaimer.
And here is Costilla County’s Assessor online database. So now you’re going to need that second piece of information – the parcel number (remember for our example the parcel number is 70273760). I’ll paste that in the ‘Parcel Number’ box and click ‘Search’.
Okay so that’s the parcel number we typed in and searched for and here’s our result.
You may have to dig around a little bit. You’re looking for keywords like zoning, land use, land use code. Let’s see what we can find.
I see a Land Code, and a Use Code. The Use Code is ‘100’.
The Zoning is blank, so to find out what it is I’m going to call the County’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Back to Google for a quick check on the number for the Planning and Zoning Department in Costilla County. From their homepage, we can see that’s (719) 937-7668.
How Do I Know Zoning for My Property?
I gave the County’s Planning and Zoning Department a call, and they told me that for this property, it is zoned as Residential. Here is the Residential Development Policy for Costilla County.
The Zoning office informed me that even though this property is zoned as Residential, you can camp and RV on it for 14 days out of any 3 month period. This is really great to know because it means that if you were hoping to purchase the property as an investment, or had future long-term plans for it, you can still get some use out of it now!
So if you’re not ready to start building, you can get out there and enjoy some Colorado camping!
Find Out Zoning of a Property for Free
And that’s it, in just a few minutes you found out how to check the zoning of a property, for FREE, you answered the third question you should ask when buying land.
The next Due Diligence item on your checklist should be: How do I access the property? I’m going to go over how to check that in part 4 of this video series.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you like it, share it, tell your friends about it, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re the first to know when the next video in this Due Diligence series is published. By the end of this series, you will have a comprehensive checklist of items you need to check before you buy any piece of land.
If you have any questions leave a comment below I’ll make sure I answer them and help you out. Thank you for reading!
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The information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer, and if you’re considering buying land I recommend getting help from a paralegal or lawyer to find out what your options are. It can be difficult and overwhelming to do a proper Title Search, especially to someone without experience. To be certain of what rights are included with your property, a local title agency or paralegal can help you. Leasing rights and determining access can sometimes escalate into a very difficult and troubling situation, so it’s best to get professional advice.