Purchasing a home means hearing many real estate terms. One you may not be familiar with is zero lot line. Because this scenario can play an important role in your home ownership, you should understand it. Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of property can help you decide what is right for you.
What is a Zero Lot Line?
First, we start with the definition of a zero lot line. It means houses built directly on or very near the property line. In simpler terms, it means you have very little land. Without any distance between the two houses, landscaping needs are minimal. Common homes with this property line include row houses and garden homes. You are likely familiar with townhomes and how they often share a common wall. Single-family homes can mimic this property type as well. This means the walls of the home are close enough to hear your neighbors.
Advantages of the Zero Lot Line
It might seem strange that anyone would want a property that butts up to another property, but there are plenty of advantages. The largest advantage is the lower purchase price you will likely obtain. The amount of land plays a role in the purchase price. When there is less to sell, the price gets lower. Keeping with the idea of less land, there is also less upkeep you must do for the land. Homes on large lots not only cost more, but they also require more work, which often means more money as well. You need to purchase the equipment and either spend your time or hire laborers to do the work for you.
Outside of the size of the land is the type of privacy you get. You may find single-family homes with prices similar to those of condominiums. However, the single family home provides more privacy than the condominium. The shared walls in condominiums often diminish a homeowner’s privacy. With a zero lot line home, you each have your own walls. Even though they are closer together, you do not share walls. You also gain a greater sense of community when you live in such close proximities to your neighbors. When you live on large pieces of land, it is easy to conduct life outside of interaction with your neighbors. With row houses or garden homes, though, you often share alleyways or just come into contact with one another more often. This is an advantage for many homebuyers.
Lastly, you may be able to have a larger home when you give up some lot space. Every square foot costs money, whether it is land or house. If you prefer a larger house and do not care about the amount of land you have, you can purchase a zero lot line home. You still get the savings of a smaller piece of land, but have the benefit of a larger home.
Disadvantages of the Zero Lot Line
Of course, there are also disadvantages to this type of property. The first thing many people will tell you is the lack of privacy. You may see this as a benefit while others see it as a disadvantage. While you do not have the shared wall, you are still very close to your neighbors. If you happen to have a neighbor you do not get along with, it could make life difficult. It is hard to do anything outside without running into them at some point. In this sense, it is similar to condominium or townhome living.
Another big problem is the property line issue. If your neighbor decides to build something on the side of the house, it could encroach on your property. Knowing your easements and studying your survey can help you know what your neighbor can and cannot do. This helps prevent any unpleasant surprises down the road when it feels like your neighbor encroaches on your property.
A cosmetic issue some people have with zero lot line homes is the lack of windows on the shared side of the home. If you are in a row home and are in between two other homes, you may not have windows on either side of your home. This means less natural light and possibly less décor indoors. If you know you love windows, whether to dress them up or let natural light in, you should watch the placement of your row home carefully.
Lastly, you may not care for the noise level in this type of home. Similar to a condominium or townhome, it is much easier to hear your neighbor’s business than it is in any other property. If you have a particularly loud neighbor, this could be a huge disadvantage for you.
Consider all the advantages and disadvantages of the zero lot line property before making a purchase. There are many other options available. However, if you like the design, carefully choose your lot so that you have some freedom. At the very least, get to know the neighbors before purchasing a property to ensure that you can comfortably live in the home with little privacy and the potential for a lot of noise.