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Know The Zoning Rules In New York Before You Start Fix ‘n’ Flip

New York skyline


Don’t Be Blindsided By The Law

First things first: many of the laws in New York that bind homeowners aren’t the sort which are following the spirit of America’s founding principles. However, there are differences in social advancement which have predicted increased law. Is it good, or is it bad? It’s hard to tell. Many zoning and code laws are for the protection not just of individuals involved, but their neighbors.

For example, say you buy a property in New York intending to refurbish it. Excellent. Now say you don’t know what you’re doing and insulate a room incorrectly, installing wiring behind the installation that ends up causing a fire.

That wouldn’t be a big deal if the property were by itself in a rural area. However, if it’s sandwiched between two other homes in a residential block similar to a duplex, then that faulty wiring could burn down multiple homes.

Well, that sort of thing became an issue in American society around the eighteenth century. In fact, the year America became independent—1776—New York had a massive fire. So if you’re buying a property, and you’re going the “fix ‘n’ flip” route, it’s absolutely fundamental you follow local legal guidelines pertaining to zoning and building code.

fire regulations

Considerable Realities

There is a level of safety to consider. But even more considerable than that is the legal red tape that will be thrown at you if you don’t “play ball”, as the saying goes. Whether or not the laws are right, those who enforce them have in the back of their mind events like 1776’s fire.

So they may be totally wrong from a moral, ethical, or actual capacity; but that won’t stop them impeding your ability to sell the property you just fixed up. In their view, they’re protecting the whole city. Let’s take a closer look at zoning rules in New York.

restoring a house

Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself

Start from the back and work your way toward a sale. For example, before you get any refurbishing or flipping done whatever, know how you’re going to get the fixed-up property sold. There are many options out there, you might want to look into groups such as this one:

You could also seek specific agents to help you in the process. For example, in Kentucky, this agency of top-performing agents commonly helps those who have remodeled or refurbished a house flip it for more money than the initial purchase, and the cost of repairs.

You want to find similar analogs in New York, and part of that will involve zoning districts. Some real estate agencies will have more or less acumen in one district as opposed to another.

Specific New York Zoning Regions

There are ten zoning districts in New York City. They’re organized under designations R1 through R10. These districts cover about 75% of NYC’s zoned land areas. Bulk and density define which “R” your property is. R1 is low, R10 is high in terms of density. Some districts have additional controls that add letters; R4 may include R4-1, R4B, or R4A districts.

Some residences are side-by-side with commercial buildings. This isn’t the norm in NYC, but it’s not something that is foreign to real estate listings, either. Still, if you’re doing a fix ‘n’ flip, you’re more likely working with a residence that isn’t near much commercial real estate. There are always statistical outliers, but the majority of such fixer-uppers will be away from big commercial institutions.

Then you’ve got the FAR to consider. FAR describes the Floor Area Ratio. In NYC, FAR will be more “flexible” in community areas than it will for residential use. This is at least partially owing to the over-condensation of the population in the region. There isn’t over-population, but there is an over-condensation of individuals seeking secure residency in one place.

FAR ratios may be more restricted in more urban areas of NYC than they will toward the exterior of the sprawling megalopolis. This website can be very helpful in assisting you here. Whether you purchase a property or not, and what kind of refurbishing you do after the fact, will in large part depend on such considerations.

New York skyline

Consultation And Success

Something else you’ll want to do is seek consultation. Don’t limit yourself to what professional opinions happen to be. You want these, but you also want to find people who have flipped homes in NYC, and who can give you information from a perspective that is more closely aligned to your own.

In a nutshell, zoning and code will limit the sort of refurbishing you can do. You need to know what boundaries you must work within if you’re going to make a profit this way. Next, you’ve got to know how you’re going to sell the property.

Sometimes you want to go with a website, sometimes you want to go with a realtor directly. Advice and consultation to help you find the best balance here. You can definitely make a profit through a fix ‘n’ flip in NYC, you’ve just got to be savvy about zoning, code, and how you’re ultimately going to sell.

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