Home buyers tend to act swiftly when they think they’ve found their “dream home”. But leaping before you look can result in some very unpleasant surprises. Requesting a current survey by a Professional Land Surveyor as part of the purchase agreement is an important step in your due diligence.
Every year, reports appear in the media of home buyers who have foregone the cost and time of a survey, only to discover encroachment issues with neighboring properties, or that the fence lines they saw when viewing the property do not define their actual property boundaries, or even that the house they thought they were buying is not on the parcel they purchased!
Several recent cases of note can be viewed in our “Home Buyer Beware” section, under the “News & Links” drop down on the PSC home page. They make for sobering reading.
One such unhappy story is that of Sudbury couple Dominique Ansell and James Crispo.
Ansell and Crispo purchased their home in 2016, believing their septic system and pool shed had been built legally on their land. However, shortly after they moved in, their neighbor contacted them about a possible encroachment issue. The couple then had a land survey done, which revealed that all accessories and improvements located beyond their pool were not in fact built on their property, but fell instead on land that belonged to Laurentian University.
Source CBC Licensing
“We’re actually stuck,” homeowner Dominique Ansell said. “We’re not trying to cause any trouble … but we actually can’t resolve this unless we have that land that we’re encroaching on.”
Now the couple is faced with an expensive, time consuming and stressful negotiation to hopefully acquire the land they thought belonged to them when they purchased the home.
This situation is just one of many similar examples that arise with regularity and that demonstrate the necessity of requiring a current survey as part of any property purchase.
Property boundaries are not always obvious, and they are not always where a fence or hedge would seem to indicate. A land survey, performed by a Professional Land Surveyor, delineates your property’s boundaries, and indicates where all major property improvements (e.g. fences, decks, pools, sheds, driveways and walkways) are in relation to those boundaries. This information is an essential component of the property purchase agreement, and fundamental to ensuring you clearly understand what you are buying, and have identified potential deficiencies before they become costly legal issues or detract from your enjoyment of your new property.
The only way to be certain that the parcel you are buying is as represented by the seller and your Realtor is to consult a Professional Land Surveyor prior to purchase, or to require a current survey by a Professional Land Surveyor as part of the conditions of sale. Only Professional Land Surveyors have the required knowledge, training and skill to confirm your parcel boundaries, as recognized by land survey legislation in all provinces and territories of Canada.
Home owners should also be aware that while title insurance insures the mortgager (your bank) against potential deficiencies in title, it does not insure a landowner against misrepresentation of boundaries. If you are buying a home, or investing in property improvements, consult a Professional Land Surveyor and invest wisely from the start.