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Typically, when you buy a home, you’re not just buying the building itself. It is also buying the land on which it sits. As you explore the property lines, you may find that the house comes right up to the lot line, sometimes with only a small strip to spare. This is a zero lot line house. Zero lot line homes are not uncommon, but there are a few things potential buyers should consider before choosing one.
Definition of ‘lot zero line’
In a home with a zero lot line, one or more walls of the structure run along or very close to the property line. In many cases, the house is close enough to the lot line to leave only a strip of outdoor space, thus “lot zero.” Some zero lot line homes may even share walls with adjacent homes, such as row houses and row houses.
These types of properties are most commonly found in urban areas with high-density housing. Minimizing outdoor space and maximizing indoor square footage allows builders and developers to accommodate more residents in a smaller overall area.
To clarify, here’s an example: While looking for a house, you find one you like, but wonder why it doesn’t have yard space on the left side. You investigate the lot boundaries and discover that the left wall of the house runs just inside the property line. That makes it a zero lot line house. But you like everything else about the house and don’t foresee any need to expand or build an addition, so you decide to buy it anyway.
Pros of Zero Lot Line Homes
The advantages of this type of residence are:
- Maximum square footage for the price: With a property that uses most of its available land for interior space, you can get more house for the money. A home with zero land typically costs less per square foot than a home with more outdoor space; In other words, you’re not paying more for additional land.
- Less Outdoor Maintenance: If you are someone who does not like gardening or yard work, this type of home offers what you want. Minimal outdoor space means minimal work required to maintain it.
- Community feeling: With little to separate zero lot line homes from neighboring properties, people who live in these types of residences often feel a greater sense of community. If you enjoy meeting and interacting with your neighbors, this type of housing could be for you.
Cons of Zero Lot Line Homes
These properties also come with some drawbacks:
- Less privacy: A zero lot line house could mean shared walls, or walls so close they might as well be. Even if it doesn’t, at least one of the windows in the house can look directly into the windows of the next-door neighbors. And if the house is not too far from the street, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians can see and hear each other.
- Limited opportunity to expand: If you think you may need more square footage in the future, a zero lot line home could present a challenge. While you may have the opportunity to build an additional story to increase your space, you likely won’t be able to expand your footprint.
- Possible property line issues: Property line disputes can occur with any real estate property, but they can be particularly troublesome and costly if the actual structure of a home extends beyond its lot line. Before you buy a home with a zero lot line, do your due diligence to make sure the structure doesn’t overhang the line.
A zero lot line property is any property where the structure of the house touches or comes very close to the lot line. Because they can be more affordable and require little maintenance, these homes offer some curb appeal. But be sure to do your homework before you buy one, especially when it comes to getting clarity on actual property boundaries.