Will a zoning change cause our property value to drop?

Reader Question: We own a small, well cared for, older home in a moderate neighborhood in a small midwestern city of about 30,000. We are one block off off of a feeder street near downtown that has both similar single-family homes plus a few apartments and small medical offices. The zoning allows for a medical office under conditional use. A sizeable dental office is seeking to tear down two homes right across the alley. A real estate agent friend told us that if this project is approved, it will negatively impact our property value. What can we do to stop it?

Monty’s Answer: While it is true that rezoning can negatively affect nearby property values, it can also increase or not change the value. Neighborhood data can often help provide guidance based on fact, rather than an off-the-cuff opinion.

Gather Data

Many cities of thirty-thousand residents will have a variety of data points online that allows you to gather information from home. Zoning ordinances and municipal code on the city website are legitimate sources of the specifics of a particular type of zoning. Zoning maps in their GIS system can give you a big picture overview that helps identify potential locations to dig deeper. There are also maps from sources like Google Maps or Bing that come with 3-D and street views or aerial photography.

Ask your real estate friend to search for a recent sale with a business in the back yard. There will be a few behind the feeder street near downtown.

  1. Identify a specific house that sold.
  2. Search for similar homes that sold nearby in the recent past.
  3. Adjust the sale prices of the comparables based on the differences in features.
  4. Then compare the adjusted sale prices to see if there is a pattern of higher sales prices away from the backyard business subject property.

The big picture

You have many positives that suggest there will be no drop in value, such as an affordable price range, proximity to downtown, close to amenities like schools, parks, bus line, and churches. And you have taken good care of your home.

If there is a negative pattern, it could influence a zoning board if you display your findings well. Consider asking an appraiser friend to confirm your results and present them on your behalf.