Considerations When Buying a New Home
The City of Oak Point is located in North Texas, one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. While the pace of land development has slowed in recent years, even our Country Place known as Oak Point will continue to develop. While the City of Oak Point regulates development through zoning and tree preservation requirements, there are generally no absolute guarantees that the large open field or the heavily wooded property near the home that you are considering purchasing will remain that way in the future. To prevent one from buying a home and being surprised later by plans for the development of a nearby property, home buyers should familiarize themselves with these issues that can impact the property they plan to purchase or properties in the surrounding area.
Please note that this information is not legal advice. You should consult a real estate professional or attorney for advice regarding your particular situation.
- Future Land Use Plan
- Future Street Locations
- Development Plans
- Property Ownership
- City Limits
- HOAs, Covenants & Restrictions
Contact the City to inquire about the zoning of the property that you are wanting to purchase and the zoning of properties in the surrounding area. Review the City’s zoning regulations and zoning map to answer the following questions:
- Is the home you want to purchase in a residential zoning district?
- Does the property border a different zoning district that allows a different residential density or other types of land use such as office, retail, commercial, or industrial uses?
- What types of buildings and land uses are allowed to develop in the zoning district? Ask if the zoning restricts building height, size, or materials.
Understand the zoning of the property and whether you can build the type of home you want before committing to buy the land. For buyers looking to build a new home, zoning regulations also specify:
- Building heights
- Building setbacks
- Many other requirements
- Maximum lot coverage
- Minimum dwelling sizes
Changing a Property's Zoning
It is important to note that the zoning of a property can change. A property owner can submit an application to the City to change the zoning of their property. State law requires cities to send a notice of a zoning change to all property owners within 200 feet of the property. The notice provides basic information about the change and the associated meeting dates. The City of Oak Point also includes a reply form with the notice to enable property owners to indicate if they support or oppose the change. The City also requires that a sign be posted on the property to inform the public of the requested zoning change.
After the zoning request is reviewed by the City staff, both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council will hold a public meeting at which the public may offer input regarding the requesting change. After holding a public hearing, the City Council will act on the requested zoning change.
Future Land Use Plan
The City’s Comprehensive Plan (PDF) serves as a guide for policy decisions relating to the physical, social, and economic growth of the community. The Plan establishes the vision and direction of the City. A comprehensive plan is to a community what a business plan is to a business.
The Comprehensive Plan contains a Future Land Use Plan (FLUP). The FLUP illustrates the desired pattern of growth of the City and its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The Plan provides City staff and City officials with a guide for day-to-day land use decisions to ensure that development occurs in an orderly and efficient manner. The Plan is intended to serve as guide to evaluate zoning requests. If a property is undeveloped today, the FLUP will illustrate whether the City expects the property to be developed for residential, commercial, retail or some other use in the future. Review both the zoning map and the FLUP to determine how undeveloped property may be developed in the future.
Future Street Locations
Along with asking about what someone can develop on a property, people should also ask about plans for widening existing roads or constructing new roads. Roads that currently dead end into a barricade are likely to be extended in the future. There may also be plans to widen narrow roads. The City’s Thoroughfare Plan shows the type and general alignment of collector sized streets and larger.
Ask the City if development plans have been submitted for undeveloped properties in the area. Ask to see the plans.
Property ownership may also provide clues to the future use of the property. A property owned by a school district is a good indication that the property may be developed as a school or a related purpose. A property owned by the City could be developed as a police or fire station, athletic fields with lights, or some other municipal use. If the City or a school district owns an adjacent property, ask the City or the school district if there are development plans for the property. If a property is owned by a hospital or grocery store, there is a fair chance that the property will be developed accordingly.
City Limits vs. Unincorporated Areas
Zoning regulations apply to properties located within the City, but they do not apply to properties located outside of the City. If the property that you want to purchase is located next to a property that is located outside of the City limits, the City has very limited jurisdiction over how the property in the unincorporated area can develop or how it is maintained.
Home Owners Associations (HOAs), Covenants & Restrictions
Does the neighborhood have an HOA? Ask your real estate broker for a copy of the deed restrictions and covenants for the property. The City does not maintain copies of deed restrictions or enforce deed restrictions. However, these restrictions can impact what one can and can’t do with their home and/or property.
While the following issues do not directly relate to the zoning, development, and use of adjacent properties, home buyers should also familiarize themselves with the following issues when purchasing a home.
Real Estate Taxes
Property taxes are assessed to owners of property in Oak Point by the following taxing jurisdictions: the City of Oak Point, Denton County, and either the Denton Independent School District or the Little Elm School District. Current tax rates can be found be visiting the City’s website, the websites of each individual entity, or the website for the Denton County Appraisal District. Owners of property located within a Water Control and Improvement District or a Municipal Utility District will also pay an additional assessment.
Find everything you need to know about accessing utilities of all sorts by visiting our Utilities page.
When building a new home, a home buyer may want to consult with an engineer to discuss how natural hazards such as flood prone areas or soil types may impact the construction of the home.
Access / Easements
If a property does not have frontage on a public street and access to the property is provided by driving across an adjoining parcel, you should verify the presence of a recorded access easement and find out who maintains the road and what your pro rata cost may be for maintenance of the road. Determine if your neighbors have the right to cross your land. The lack of street frontage can create problems when constructing a home or developing a “land-locked” parcel of land.
The advice here is plain and simple. When buying a home, you are encouraged to do your homework. Don't neglect to understand as much as you can about the home you want to buy and the surrounding areas and end up being dissatisfied with your financial investment. While much of the information that can provide answers to questions about the above listed issues can be found on the City’s website, any questions may be directed to the City of Oak Point at 972-294-2312. No question is a bad question.
Paula Lavigne also offers some advice to potential home buyers in a Dallas Morning News article, published on Saturday, March 6, 2004. Read "Some Advice to Potential Home Buyers: Get the Lay of the Land" (PDF).