Often, business owners setting out to find their first office for rent have many questions about commercial real estate, the most basic of which is what, exactly, falls into that category.
Commercial real estate is a term typically used to describe any kind of real estate that can be used to turn a profit, this includes properties like office buildings, industrial buildings, apartments, duplexes, storefronts, freestanding shop buildings and land that has the potential to become any of these things.
But that’s not all: Commercial real estate is also frequently subjected to zoning, a way of regulating what type of businesses can go where.
Commercial Zoning Dictates Business Occupants
Too many small businesses have learned about zoning too late when they moved into their new commercial location. Although a building may have the proper layout and a desirable location for your type of business, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be permitted by the governing municipality. This is where zoning comes into play.
Zoning differs widely from city to city, but typically includes residential, industrial, commercial and agricultural areas. These are further divided into densities, which describe how much activity or noise can take place or how closely together structures can be located. So, for example, a low density commercial zone might be able to support low-volume businesses that need a large parking lot, like a restaurant, where a high density commercial zone might be packed with towering office buildings. The same logic would apply to other types of zoning.
The purpose of zoning is to protect the city from developing haphazardly. Under zoning rules, development is guided in order to create buffer zones of noise and activity that protects areas like low density residential from the loud noises, noxious odors and high traffic that might be present in a high density industrial area, for example.
Spot Zoning Is Trickier
Many cities have only adopted zoning relatively recently (within the last 20 to 40 years), which has left a lot of areas of spot zoning, or locations that are given special written permission to operate outside of the zoning of the rest of the neighborhood. These municipalities recognize that they can’t simply bulldoze or relocate properties that were once commercial because zoning came into existence. Instead, these properties are considered to be “grandfathered,” thus allowing them to continue their current use for a limited amount of time or until the current owners sell.
Finding A Commercial Real Estate Agent To Help
Commercial real estate is filled with nuances like this, and this area requires a great deal of attention to detail to ensure that your business is located in the proper zoning area. This is where a commercial real estate agent may be able to help. Whether you’re renting or leasing, it pays to have all the information on your future location up front so you can make the right decision for your company.