What if you're working with a client who is buying or selling a piece of property and its use is outside of the current zoning guidelines? Can you ask for an exception to the rule, or maybe the property is grandfathered for this use?
The intelligent real estate agent understands the lingo of the trade and delivers the value of their knowledge to their clients. Do you understand the difference between these often confused terms? Variance vs. Nonconforming Use, each represents an exception to the current zoning code, but in very different ways.
Understanding a Variance
Getting permission from governmental zoning authorities to build a structure or conduct a use that is expressly prohibited by the current zoning laws or an exception from the zoning laws represents a variance. A variance gives some measure of elasticity to the zoning game.
The use of variances can have many forms. Many variances are granted conditioned upon the commencement of construction within a certain time period (for example, 12 months). This helps to eliminate land speculation.
There are also use variances such as for apartment use in a single-family residential area. There is also an area or building variance where the owner attempts to get permission to build a structure larger than permitted.
To be granted a variance, the applicant usually must:
- Describe how they would be deprived of the reasonable use of the land or building if it were used only for the purpose allowed in that zone.
- The request should be due to unique circumstances and not the general conditions in the neighborhood.
- Detail how the use sought will not alter the essential character of the locality or be contrary to the intent and purpose of the zoning code.
Understanding Nonconforming Use
This exception is a permitted use of real property that was lawfully established and maintained at the time of its original construction but that no longer conforms to the current zoning law.
The nonconforming use might include:
- The structure itself
- The lot size
- Use of the land or use of the structure
The use will eventually be eliminated, although the nonconforming use status does not necessarily have to be discontinued upon the sale or lease of the property.
By allowing the use to continue for a reasonable time, the government can assure itself that the use will not continue indefinitely and, at the same time, avoid having to pay just compensation for taking the property through condemnation.
When purchasing a nonconforming structure, a buyer should be made aware that in case of substantial destruction by fire or otherwise, the zoning statutes may prohibit reconstruction of the structure. In such a case, a buyer should discuss the possibilities of purchasing demolition insurance from an insurance agent. A nonconforming use can also terminate upon abandonment of the property.
So in the simplest terms, a variance is an exception to the existing zoning, whereas a nonconforming use (also known as a grandfather clause) arises when there is a change to the zoning, but an existing use is still permitted to continue.
What is your experience with Variance vs. Nonconforming Uses? Have you ever had to deal with one? And if so what was your experience with the process?
Meaningless mock-up, mock turtle soup spilled on a mock turtle neck. Mach I Convertible copy. To kill a mockingbird, you need only force it to read this copy. This is Meaningless filler. (Elvis movies.) It is not meant to be a forum for value judgments nor a scholarly diatribe on how virtue should be measured. The whole point here (if such a claim can be made in an admittedly pointless paragraph) is that this is dummy copy. Real bullets explode with destructive intensity. Such is not the case with dummy bullets. In fact, they don't explode at all. Duds. Dull thuds. Dudley do-wrongs. And do-wrongs don't make a right. Why on earth are you still reading this? Haven't you realized it's just dummy copy? How many times must you be reminded that it's really not meant to be read? You're only wasting precious time. But be that as it may, you've got to throw in a short paragraph from time to time. Here's a short paragraph.
Technology companies often make the mistake of developing products for the real estate professional without understanding the many ins and outs of working with the technology that runs real estate and the associations that control that technology. Long-time real estate expert Saul Klein dives deep in this video to explore the world real estate tech development and what issues must be considered before diving into real estate tech.
Communication Plan for Associations - What's Your Plan of Action? - In our decades of working for and with real estate associations across the United States, we've found the most common complaint coming from association staff and membership is regarding executive directed, organization-wide communication.
Communicating effectively at all levels of the organization seems to be a challenge for many associations. Great communication requires the creation of a communication plan and commitment to its implementation.
We've encountered this exact issue so often we've developed a communication implementation plan. Use these guidelines for enacting a new communication plan for your association. Or review these guidelines to ensure your current communication plan is robust and thorough.
Communication Plans Require the Following Considerations
ONE. Identifying the different channels of communication at your association. Some examples could include:
- Leadership to Staff
- Staff to Leadership
- Staff to Staff
- Staff to Member
- Member to Staff
- Member to Member
- Association to Public
- Committee Chairs to Committee Members
- Committee Chairs to Committee Chairs
- Committee Chairs to BOD
TWO. Identify benefits derived from effective communications and which of those benefits you wish to experience.
- Cost Savings
- More Participation
- Greater Understanding of the Workings of the Association by Everyone (Members, Staff, Public, etc.)
THREE. Identify current communication means used by your association and other tools you are not using.
- Social Media - Facebook/Twitter/RealTown Communities
FOUR. Identify sources of content to communicate besides the "as needed" communications.
FIVE. Decide which communication tools will be employed for each communication channel.
SIX. Determine the frequency of current communications down the channels identified.
- President to Board of Directors - Monthly by Meeting and Weekly by E-mail, Supplemented by Website
- Committee Chairs to Committees - Monthly by Meeting, Weekly by E-mail
SEVEN. Determine person responsible for ensuring the implementation of the communication plan.
EIGHT. Monitor results.
If you feel you need better communications at your association, what are you doing differently to accomplish your desired results?
We've heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think Albert Einstein said this, or maybe it was Ben Franklin, actually, it's probably a Chinese Proverb. But getting serious about communicating with your membership and the other people within your association is no laughing matter.
Too often Association Executives delegate communication plans to others, rubber stamp the entire process, or leave out disciplined communication entirely. But building, implementing and monitoring an organization-wide communication plan is one of the most important tasks an AE can endeavor.
What's your experience with communication within your organization? How did you overcome obstacles set in your path to deliver a great communication plan? We'd love to hear from you!
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