Why a survey plan should be in your home selling package

Why a survey plan should be in your home selling package

Today’s savvy homesellers understand the value of showing their home in its best light. “Staging” a home by eliminating clutter and adding tasteful artwork, neutral paint colours and optimal furniture arrangements has become routine in the hopes of attracting multiple offers and higher bids.

There is less awareness about the importance of including a property survey plan in the home information package. While the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) contains a standard condition that allows the purchaser to request that the seller supply a survey plan if they have one in their possession, there is much confusion regarding this clause and what precisely the vendor will produce.

We have seen countless situations where purchasers were expecting a survey plan, but received other kinds of maps and title documents instead. The lack of a survey plan sometimes causes closings be delayed or has the realtor scrambling to find a genuine survey plan to enable the sale to be completed.

According to Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aaron, a land survey is “the most important document in any real estate transaction.” In his popular property law column in the Toronto Star, he writes that a land survey should be a “compulsory part of every real estate transaction… Without one, purchasers cannot possibly know the full extent and measurements of their title.” See Land Survey Outlines What’s Really Yours.

As we noted in last week’s blog, a random sample of land survey plans from GTA homes shows that one out of every two properties has a potential property boundary issue. When these issues come to light, they can result in acrimonious disputes with neighbours, complete with emotional distress and unexpected financial consequences.

Many of these problems could be prevented at the time of the initial real estate transaction by the review of a survey plan. Full disclosure of all relevant information is key to protecting both parties in the transaction. If everyone is aware of the "as-is" condition of the land, it could help minimize expensive consequences for the buyer and “trailing liability” for the seller.

If you don’t have an existing survey plan of your property, you may be able to obtain one that still applies (its relevance will depend on improvements made to the property over the years). If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, check the Protect Your Boundaries database for a Surveyor's Real Property Report (SRPR) or a Building Location Survey (BLS), the term for plans done more than 20 years ago. Even if the SRPR is several years old, it may well deliver the essential information you need for your real estate transaction. If you have questions about the applicability of a particular survey plan, ask us.

By providing a land survey plan early in the process, you’ll eliminate potential buyer concerns and level the playing field among competitors for your home, so they can confidently focus their bidding on price alone. The end result? More clean offers and the best selling price. And it’s the right thing to do – potentially saving you the misery and expense of a lawsuit down the road should a hidden boundary time bomb explode.