Definition of "Density zoning"

Gary Myers real estate agent

Written by

Gary Myerselite badge icon

EXP Realty

If you live anywhere else besides Houston, TX, in the US, you probably heard of zoning ordinances. The reason for that is the city of Houston Texas is the only city that doesn’t use them. Zoning ordinances are used for planning, regulating, and imposing some restrictions for development for specific areas regarding zoning, shape, and size of buildings. Several types of zoning ordinances use letters and numbers to identify their use easier, but regarding density residential (R) zoning, we have three large groups that will be covered below.

So What is Density Zoning? 

Simply put, density zoning places limitations on property development by controlling the number of structures in a given area to control population density. Density zoning is used in town planning as a tool to either increase density or maintain a low density in an area of the city. Through density zoning, municipalities can specify the types of buildings allowed in a zone or district, limit or encourage how the land can be used, and at what intensity. There are three types of zoning regarding density, and we’ll take a look at each of them.

The identifying characters used below are not standard use for every city, but we gave some examples to understand how they are used. Larger cities may have more variations from the identifiers below, so check with your municipality when dealing with the terminology. In a metropolitan area, one density zoning limitation may be for 4-6 residences in an acre, while in smaller towns, 2 residences per acre maximum.

Low-Density Residential Zoning (R-1)

Also referred to as single-family residential zoning, this group covers low-density zoning. The low-density zoning imposes limitations for land used for one residence. Areas under low-density zoning are for neighborhoods with single-family dwellings with land allowances generally limited to an acre. On this acre, the number of single-family homes may vary depending on the size of the city. 

Medium-Density Residential Zoning (R-2)

Referring to medium-density residential zoning, we can see more housing varieties, from single-family with a small lot to duplexes or other multifamily housing. In medium-density residential zoning, the maximum allowance is for 6 to 10 houses per acre with parcels that respect each home’s allowable density.

High-Density Residential Zoning (R-3)

In high-density residential zoning, we’ll see apartment complexes, condominiums, high-rise apartment buildings, and other multiple-dwelling properties. There are 10 and more residences per acre in high-density residential zoning with much more limited parcels for each residential unit.

image of a real estate dictionary page

Have a question or comment?

We're here to help.

*** Your email address will remain confidential.


Popular Real Estate Terms

Any walls constructed without using concrete or mortar. Drywall materials include sheetrock, gypsum, plywood, Styrofoam, and pressed fiver. See also drywall construction. ...

An insect, such as a termite, that "eats into" the wood and destroys it. This can cause significant damage to the home. Most states have laws that require termite inspection and ...

Word, or group of words, that identifies a business or one of its products. The name is registered with U.S. Patent Office and provides legal protection for an indefinite number of renewals ...

Also called real property. Anything permanently affixed to the land, such as buildings, walls, fences, and shrubs, as well as the rights to own or use them. It is distinguished from ...

Projecting what the total cost would be to construct a structure. Costs include material, labor, and lawyers' fees. ...

Square footage of space a parcel of land has. ...

Geographical area for which a given governmental agency has authority and responsibility. For example, the jurisdiction of a county court is the county in which it is located. ...

Adding a period of time onto another. An examples a mortgagor who successfully restructures his loan by tacking another five years onto the term. ...

Exposure can have various meanings in real estate and insurance, depending on the context. Let’s have a thorough look at these scenarios! Exposure as property’s ...

Popular Real Estate Questions