Failure to get Property Survey can be Costly: Avoid Post Close Issues by Getting a Survey

May 23, 2014 - Updated: May 23, 2014

There is no doubt that a lot goes into buying a home. There is no shortage of considerations, paperwork, and going back and forth with multiple parties about the details of the transaction. This results in many home buyers being forced to make important decisions about a property in a limited time frame. This is just how it works sometimes, especially if you want to get your hands on a hot property and need to act quickly before someone else snatches it up.

However, this can also lead to a number of mistakes and cause people to overlook the important decisions that are made as part of the buying process. One thing that is commonly skipped by many homeowners is a house survey. If you are planning on buying, you should seriously consider adding a land survey to your do to list before closing.

About house surveys

A home survey is essentially a map of a property. It provides information such as the dimensions of the lot, legal boundaries, structures and other physical features of your property and your home. On average it costs about $700 to have done. The cost is one of the reasons why many buyers tend to skip it, amid all the other closing costs they have to pay for. In Ontario, surveys are prepared an Ontario land surveyor. They use specific calculations used onsite and then compare this with the registered title of the property.

A survey is a very important document in a real estate transaction and it can help avoid legal issues and potential headaches once you take possession of a property. The truth is that you never know if something illegally exists on your property or if all the property you think you own is actually yours. Surveys are also critical if you plan to renovate or put an addition on the property.

There have been cases in the past where driveways and other structures were actually not part of a property when the buyer assumed they were part of the property. These are not things that you want to find out after the close.

What about previous home surveys?

Asking the seller for a copy of a previous home survey is an option, but you risk the information on the survey being dated. You are best to just get a survey done to have the most up to date information about the property in question.

What about title insurance?

Title insurance is used to protect you from issues that could arise with the property title. It is an important document and lawyers strongly recommend that you get title insurance, even though it is not mandatory in Ontario, even though many mortgage lenders do want you to obtain it as a condition.

Most opt for title insurance for many reasons. First, it is cheaper than a land survey, costing about $300, and it still provides you with the protection you need from problems with full property ownership.

Even though title insurance is a value form of protection for a buyer and will protect you from things like previous leans on the property, it is still not a complete substitute for the information that is provided in a land survey.

Words of Advice

The question about land surveys brings up a very important lesson for home buyers. You cannot make assumptions and just go through the motions when buying a home. It is important that you are an active participant in the close process and do your homework.  

Make sure you fully understand everything that you are signing and it is important to ask the right questions during the close process, even if they seem obvious. That is what you real estate agent is for – they are there to help you.

Also, work with a lawyer that specializes in real estate transactions. They will be able to provide you with sound advice and recommend the best course of action, given your unique situation.

Remember, you are buying the home and it is your duty as a home owner to perform your due diligence. If you don’t, you could end up with a costly and expensive surprise after closing. Get a land survey to ensure you are completely protected when buying your next property.


Tagged with: house survey closing issues toronto real estate market update royal lepage terrequity tips and advice article
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