No More Zoning Report Needed for Condos / Townhomes in the City of Santa Barbara

As of January 1st, 2011, the City of Santa Barbara no longer requires a zoning report for condos and/or townhomes located within the city limits.  This is a big change with regards to real estate transactions.

What is a Zoning Report?

For each real estate transaction within the city of Santa Barbara, the seller is required to get a zoning report to give to the prospective buyer.  The goal of the zoning report is to see if there have been any illegal additions and/or changes to the property without the required permits etc.  In the past, zoning reports have cost anywhere from $300 to $500 depending on whether it was a condo or single family home.

What do these Changes Mean?

The main issues with zoning reports has been the time it has taken to get this process completed.  The staff down at the city just has not had the resources to do this in a timely manner and often getting a zoning report completed takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks.  The issue is that for most transactions, there is a contingency period of 17-21 days on average.  Often then the zoning report has lingered in in the last few days or has lead to extensions of contingencies and thus unhappy buyers and sellers.  Obviously then if there are issues with the zoning report (violations), this then leads to delays and frustrations across the board. This new change simply means that no longer do parties have to wait for the zoning report in any transaction.  With regards to condos and townhomes, this is almost universally a good thing.  The reason for this is that very few "illegal" things are done to condos and townhomes.  In my experience with condos, I have only run into one zoning violation.  For most people, paying a zoning report for a condo was simply $$ out of the seller's pocket and a potential time delay.

Is this a good thing?

Yes it is.  The reason being that from my understanding, if you are concerned about any zoning violation, you can request in your offer process that a zoning report be included.  But for the 95% of the time that a zoning report "is not necessary" for condos, you now simply do not need one. With regards to single family homes, a zoning report is definitely still needed as many homes in our town have violations.  If there was never the concern about zoning, I can only imagine that these violations would increase threefold at least. 

For information on Real Estate here in Santa Barbara, Montecito and/or our surrounding areas, as well as any other aspects of life in our area, please don’t hesitate to contact Kevin Schmidtchen at Berkshire Hathaway.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you find Santa Barbara Real Estate Voice informative. Please feel free to contact me or comment below with any thoughts.

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