Zoning Rules and Selling Your Home: What do Home Buyers need to Know?

Zoning, according the Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal is defined as “The public regulation of the character and extent of real estate use through police power; accomplished by establishing districts or areas with uniform restrictions relating to improvements; structural height, area, and bulk; density of population; and other aspects of the use and development of private property.”

Seems relatively straightforward. But how does zoning impact the person selling their home and on the other end of the transaction, the home buyer? Selling your home, like all contractual transactions requires disclosure. This is information that impacts the buyer and may make the seller of the home liable for changes that they knew about, problems with the property and adjacent areas, or as the REA dictionary suggests, density.


Last year, there was a proposed zoning change for a neighborhood in Bend, which up until then, had considered itself as quietly residential. While the rest of Bend was being developed, this small parcel was left more or less intact. And while we will discuss this zoning change in a different post, I thought I’d give you some insight into zoning and why disclosure is important to the smooth sale of your home.

We have discussed the importance of disclosures, the legal document that tells buyers everything they need to know about the largest financial transaction they are likely to make. This disclosure includes all sorts of physical attributes of the house that you may know about, including certain quirks you have come to live with over the years of ownership. But disclosure can extend beyond those four walls and although some locales do not require you look too far beyond your property line, in some instances, knowing something might occur to the neighborhood after the sale is complete adds another reason to disclose.

Here are some things to consider when you do look beyond your borders.

Is Zoning Research the Buyer’s Responsibility?

Zoning takes on numerous descriptions depending on the city. Some smaller cities have no zoning laws while other clearly define what is residential, what is multi-family use, etc. with some going as far as placing certain lot sizes as a minimum for each category. Most cities provide maps of zoning and in all likelihood, you received some of this paperwork during the transaction.

While most people pay little attention to these documents, the importance should not be ignored. In some instances, zoning may be grandfathered in from previous zoning rule changes. What is residential now may be the result of zoning performed years ago. If home buyers intend on renting the space or part of the space, a residential zoning rule may not permit such endeavors. Renters may also violate zoning laws, albeit unwittingly. All zoning compliance lies with the owner.

Other zoning rules will include setbacks such as how far from the property line the house can be situated. This may impact improvements or extensions that the buyer might envision. It may also impact an improvement done by the current owner.

The Bottom Line

If the current seller has prior knowledge to the restrictions on the property’s zoning, they are obligated to tell the future buyer. If we are working together to sell your home, we’ll discuss this important documentation to ensure the sale of your home proceeds without issue. And as an advocate for the buyer, I will help you understand the importance of due diligence. The Jones Group @ Sunriver Realty believes that the details are important.

How can we assist you today?


On behalf of The Jones Group @ Sunriver Realty

Nola Horton-Jones, Principal Broker/Realtor | ABR, C-RIS, e-PRO, GREEN, RSPS, CCIM Candidate

Bryce Jones, Broker/Realtor | ABR, CRS, e-PRO, GREEN, GRI, RSPS, SFR

The Jones Group @ Sunriver Realty | 57057 Beaver Drive | Sunriver, OR 97707

Mobile: 541-420- 3725 | Mobile: 541-420- 4018 | Fax: 541-593- 5123



Licensed in Oregon