A land survey lets property owners know where their property boundaries are, as well as where their property is situated compared to nearby infrastructure or geographical features – a road, or a lake for example.
When buying a cottage or a home in the country where property lines aren’t necessarily as concrete as they should be, a land survey is even more vital because you may not be purchasing what you think you are.
Real Estate Lawyer Bob Aaron shares this reminder in a recent Toronto Star column, where he says you should get one even if your agent says no. In fact, he’s been recommending that a land survey become a mandatory part of the real estate transaction process for several years.
So what could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Mr. Aaron provides several examples of discrepancies found by land surveys, including one where a cottage owner had a survey done and found they also technically own a good chunk of their neighbour’s cottage, too, including their driveway. Imagine being the neighbor in this case, having a survey done on your own property and finding that you don’t even own your driveway!
Other people have found via land surveys that their driveways weren’t even driveways, but technically city sidewalks that no one could park on. In another big case, almost the entirety of a 1930s era cottage was sitting on shoreline reserved for city roads, and the buyer didn’t own any of the land underneath her cottage. Other findings include swimming pools and fences inadvertently built on neighbouring property.
While most buyers who obtain a survey before buying discover that everything is fine, there are plenty of occurrences where things are not as they seem – and the headaches that stem from these findings are tremendous. A survey is a wise investment for anyone buying a home.