“People don’t really think about boundaries as they’re falling in love with a property,” says Saša Krcmar, executive director of Krcmar Surveyors, which recently launched a website to address the issue of boundary disputes.
“Everywhere I go, everyone has a boundary story for me,” he says. “Somebody has an issue with a boundary then you start to feel the emotions come out.”
Selling agents should aim to provide a copy of the most accurate and up-to-date property surveys so that buyers don’t mistakenly believe they own a mutually shared driveway, for instance. Buying agents, meanwhile, can make their clients’ offers more appealing by having a boundary search completed in advance.
The issue of boundary disputes can easily rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs for your clients should the issue go to court. In British Columbia, for example neighbours found themselves ordered to remove an in-ground swimming pool that was placed over their neighbour’s property. In Ontario, a court case revolving around a strip of land about a foot wide spent four years in the court system and cost $100,000 in legal fees.
“If you have a problem with, say, heating, it’s a limited amount of money to deal with it,” Krcmar says. “But you can’t easily fix a boundary problem. If neighbours don’t like each other, how do you fix that? You don’t feel comfortable in your own home anymore. It hits you on a different level.”
Krcmar Surveyors, together with Land Survey Records Inc., has about one million property plans in its database for the GTA, and has made the results of those surveys available through its new site ProtectYourBoundaries.ca
. The site enables Realtors, property owners and potential buyers to purchase an up-to-date survey of a property. Krcmar says the site will help people to understand where their property boundaries are, mitigating any issues before they become problems.
“It starts with a survey plan. That will show you where the boundaries are supposed to be,” he says. “It’s a more objective starting point versus the emotional – ‘he ripped down my hedges, she took down my fence’. It’s a starting point.”
With the lack of inventory plaguing several municipalities across the country, agents are working hard to make sure the deals they do have close as seamlessly as possible. But one check that seems so straight-forward actually has the potential to destroy a deal and send your clients spiraling into years of arbitration.