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Do you know the difference between building classification and zoning? If you’re in the real estate business and don’t know the answer to that question, you may not want to admit it out loud, but read this article to set yourself straight.

Zoning data is used for land-use planning to regulate the type of development activity and the structures built in a given area. Designations are often controlled by local governments at the county or municipal level, but state and federal regulations can and often do play a part. Common zoning types are residential, commercial, or manufacturing, with the potential to drill these categories into very fine minutiae. For example, some commercial zones may limit building sizes based on square footage and height, whereas a residential zone may allow for the building of single-family homes only.

Building classifications, on the other hand, tell us the nature of a specific building. Examples of building classifications are a single-family home, condominium unit, game farm, vacant land, marina, library, etc.

Here’s where it can get complicated: just because a property is a single-family home doesn’t mean it’s located in a residential zone. Have you ever seen a residential property next to some restaurants or a retail store? The zoning is likely not residential, yet a residential property is still standing.

To find out the zoning code for an individual property, you might have to contact the individual town, city, or village the property is located in. Sometimes you’ll need to show up in person to get the information. That can mean substantial legwork if you’re looking at several properties.

How Does ATTOM Help?

ATTOM’s local jurisdiction zoning codes feature classifications made available by the local (city or county) zoning, building, and/or code enforcement departments for all property types, including residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural. ATTOM does the legwork for you. In addition, ATTOM offers property data for building classification, including property characteristics, assessor tax data, legal descriptions, geocodes, house size, building permits, lot size, addresses, and interior and exterior features. Get all your zoning and property information from one reliable source, ATTOM.

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