It’s a sentence that I hate hearing anyone say … But I hear this all the time from people in passing: “When we bought this place our realtor never told us ________________.” I should state that I work primarily on the Sunshine Coast, so we see a lot of people buying here from throughout the lower mainland and using an agent from their local area. They tend to not have the area knowledge of using a local agent or the knowledge of things that are common on properties here such as septic systems, and wells. That being said, I’m going to assume you are using a competent agent who is focused on making sure you are aware of everything regarding the property you are purchasing. However, there are still some critical questions you should be asking. You also need to be clear with your agent regarding all the potential possibilities you might be entertaining for the property in the future. Questions are going to be different from property to property, but here are a few we find are key in rural areas, to get you started:
What does the zoning allow for?
It’s important to know what is allowed and not allowed on the property you are purchasing. For example, if you are buying a single family home, and you want to put in a suite eventually, you need to make sure that the zoning allows for this.
Does the existing use of the property conform to the zoning?
This is a big one for properties with more than one home on it or a home with a suite in it, among other things. While it is the obligation of the seller and sellers agent to disclose any non-conformance, it’s important to review the zoning to ensure what is already happening on the property is allowed. This will avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.
Are there any easements or rights of way registered on title?
It is quite common in some areas to properties to have access agreements (easements) across one property to allow for access to a neighboring property. It’s also common to have Rights of Way in place for utilities such as hydro and sewer lines. It’s important to know if there are any of these on title, and to know exactly the what areas of the property are affected, as these areas may be unusable for anything permanent such as locating a shed, putting up fences, etc. Your realtor should provide you with a copy of the land title to review, as well as ALL of the copies of the non-financial charges registered on title.
What’s the neighborhood like, and are there any new developments happening nearby?
While your Realtor may only know so much as far as the neighbors, who they are and what they do, etc. They should have area knowledge and expertise. They should be able to give you an idea on the types of homes in the neighborhood, any developments that might be upcoming that may increase traffic in the area or other things such as airports nearby that may affect your use and enjoyment of the property. I always also recommend a buyer spend some time exploring the neighborhood and drive around at different times of the day and get a good feel for it.
Is the house on septic or community/city sewer?
This is a big one for rural areas. While generally there is nothing to be afraid of with a home on a septic system, its something you should know and educate yourself on. Septic systems come with a need for ongoing maintenance that you are solely responsible for, and the system is affected by things you put down your drains. You will want to make sure your offer contingent on a septic inspection, and get copies of maintenance records from the seller if available. You may also encounter neighborhoods with a communal/shared septic system. In those situations, it’s important to know any ongoing maintenance fees associated with being a part of that, and get an idea of how well the system has been maintained and if any big upcoming upgrades/fixes are planned/needed.
What school catchment is this property in?
If you have kids and are you’re moving to a new area, make sure to contact the local school district and get a map of their catchment areas. You may think because you are closer to one school, that your child would be attending that one, however, school districts have to balance out the number children who attend each school, therefore set their boundaries accordingly. If you are set on your child attending a specific school, then make sure you make that clear to your realtor, and set your search criteria within that area.
– Cody Robinson / Sutton West Coast Realty.
Cody works mainly selling homes and property on BC’s Sunshine Coast. For any questions about the above, or if you are interested in property on the Sunshine Coast, you can contact Cody at:
Cody Robinson / 778-997-8844