Definition of "Buffer zone"

Steve Littig real estate agent

Written by

Steve Littigelite badge icon

Simply Vegas

In short, a Buffer zone is how it’s called the area or strip of land that separates one land use from another.

But let’s expand this buffer zone definition a little bit because when understanding this term it’s more enlightening to get to the bottom of the “why” than of the “what”.

A buffer zone is a sort of neutral vacant area over which, most of the times, governments establish rules prohibiting real estate development of any kind. The reasons behind their creation and enforcement are generally connected with safety. Let’s see some examples of the use of buffer zones as:

  • Health precaution:  between a nuclear power plant and a housing community there is likely to exist a buffer area, so that, in the case of an industrial accident, the radiation won’t affect people so quickly; hoping to ensure there’s a long way until it reaches any house and materials.
  • Security precaution: prisons, for instance, have a long buffer area so - in the event of prisoners escaping - law-enforcement can easily follow the escapees because they don’t have places to hide, nor people to take hostage nearby.
  • Sovereignty precaution: border areas are buffer zones by nature because they separate lands that have the same use but are under different commands. Those are usually jointly administrated so there’s no need of accusing people of trespassing left and right because they accidentally tripped to the other side.
  • Nature conservation: areas that have biodiversity importance that need to be protected might also have imposed a buffer zone around it to protect from negative environmental or human influences.

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Real Estate Tips:

Do you now understand how the “why” is so vital when trying to understand the buffer zone definition? With that in mind, we recommend you access our Real Estate Questions page, because some of the glossary terms will reveal another shade of them in the form of a question. No knowledge is static!

Comments for Buffer Zone

Gary King Gary King said:

I live on a country road and the neighbor put a barb wire fence on the buffer zone restricting me to the road access to the road is this allowed

Jun 24, 2023  08:27:50

Real Estate Agent

Hello Gary

Thank you for reaching out to us!

A buffer zone must be a neutral zone between two or more lands or properties. Regularly, the law prohibits putting anything permanent in buffer zones. However, in some parts of the States, you can install a fence in buffer zones if they don’t have a foundation (no concrete foundation is allowed!) Note that in several cases, the communal lands and boundaries weren’t correctly established in the first place.

You can check whether your neighbor had the right to raise a fence with your Homeowners Association, the regional zoning department, or an expert real estate attorney.

Jun 30, 2023  08:51:46
Zoniha Zoniha said:

Is it recommendable to invest in a buffer zone of land for domestic purposes?

Mar 08, 2021  17:29:38

Real Estate Agent

Buffer zones are parcels of land that are designated to separate two or more distinct zoning uses. Therefore, buffer zones can’t be part of a real estate transaction. If we are talking about the impact of buffer zones on other property investments, that is a different story. Buffer zones can be a red flag for developers because properties located near buffer zones will most likely add expense, time, and resources to a project. However, buffer zones are not all bad from a real estate investor’s point of view because they can improve the aesthetics and enjoyment of each zone.

Mar 17, 2021  11:18:08
Babu Vasudev Babu Vasudev said:

Please clarify whether the owner ship of buffer zone is vested in government or not.

Oct 17, 2020  06:18:38

Real Estate Agent

Hey, Babu!

Legal aspects and formal procedures of buffer zone planning and management are often poorly developed, and it includes the element of ownership. There are many instances where jurisdiction and ownership are unclear, and it commonly occurs when communal land is included in buffer zones. On the other hand, if a buffer zone is situated within the boundaries of a national park or some other protected area, then ownership and jurisdiction are usually clear.

Oct 23, 2020  09:38:55
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