Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Real property surveys and title insurance

When we purchased the our new house in Ottawa, we were unable to obtain a Real Property Survey from the vendor. A real property survey is essential to ensure that there are no issues preventing us from having clear ownership of the property.

Now we know that the vendor must have had a survey done in the past, because they undertook extensive renovations in 1980, and they would have been required to submit a survey to the city in order to obtain their permits. However, we checked with the city and with the Ontario Land Registry Office and we could find nothing.

At the Ontario Land Registry Office, you can do a quick computer search of any property to see if a survey has been registered in the past. If one is registered, then for a small fee, you can obtain a print-out of the survey. However, apparently, while most surveys today are registered with the Land Registy Office, it was not necessarily common practice 30 years ago. Add to that the complications of Ottawa amalgamating with several surrounding communities a few years back and, well, let's just say things fall through the cracks. Either way, there was no survey on record for our property.

So, with no survey in hand, we followed our lawyers recommendation and purchased title insurance. Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects residential or commercial property owners and their lenders against losses related to the property’s title or ownership. It protects against a wide range of title related issues that could affect our ability to sell the property in the future, including unknown title defects, liens against the property, encroachment issues, title fraud, and errors in previous surveys or public documents.

Title insurance is pricey. Our one-time premium, plus lawyers fees and tax came to $378.10. Still, it's well worth the piece of mind.


  1. Hi Simon,
    I posted a comment and it got wiped out. I touched a wrong button and whizz! it was gone.

    Anyway, what I was trying to say was I hope you are keeping a list of all these payments you are having to make, that you probably didn't realize when you went into the project. I'm sure you are, but I can tell you there are many, many such surprises to come. I should know, having lived in this old house for 18 years this January 31st.

    To date I reckon I've spent at least $100,000 on it and to look at it it doesn't seem that I've done much. I have to look back to when I came in, with an unfinished concrete basement, no carpets, taking out dividing walls, and on and on, and I still NEED to spend about $12,000 on it, which I am not going to, given that I want to sell it. But I absolutely must get two new doors, front and back, as they leak in cold air like seives. I also need to have the front hall re drywalled before the old plaster, (yes, real plaster) falls off completely. (at least $3-4000 for these two jobs.) I need insulation badly, but as that is going to cost about $8,000 I am not doing it. I'd also like to get a more efficient wood stove and furnace in the basement, but those are going to have to go by the wayside too. I also want to get rid of the second-hand carpet in my two bedrooms and get new, so that is going to be another expense, at least $1,000. It never ends. In my humble opinion, I still think you might be better off getting a little man with a big bulldozer or Cat to knock the old house down and start again, new. It can't cost $60,000 to tear down an old house. Johnny Baker did his own in Kimberley, he hired a bulldozer. Then he hired some big bins and got a firm to haul it away. That was a bungalow. It had mould in it and I advised him not to attempt to renovate it. Lots of old houses have mould spores in them, particularly if there has been damp and they are a health hazard. I don't want to scare you, but you have to consider these things. To have a house built in today's recessionary times, you might be able to negotiate with a builder to build for $250 a square foot. That's roughly what Jonathan's cost him with all their lovely finishes. Anyway, do think about these things before you embark further.

    Whatever you do, you know that I wish you the best of luck and I'm sure,in the end, you'll end up with the house of your dreams. I guess being your mum I'm always concerned for you and to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I kind of went into this house blind and I learned by experience. But then I didn't have a house of my own at all, and I was well pleased to have anything, given the circumstances and I think I made a good choice, and I've had to live for years with a lot of things I didn't want to live with (old worn out lino, a stove from the Salvation Army, that I still use, and on and on) because I didn't have the money to replace them. It's been a long slow process for me. But I've been so grateful to have a piece of land and a home I could call my own. You have to look at the whole cost and say,how much further ahead would we be renovating via just starting from scratch and building new? If there's a $100,000 difference, in the long run, I think you'd be better off, because in an old house, there's always something going wrong that costs Thousands.

    Anyway, that's my two cents worth. Hope you'll both consider these things, at least. If you're not doing stuff yourself and paying other trades, the money flows out like a river

    I wish you a very Happy New Year. Love to the kids.

    Mum xxx

  2. Simon, Just another comment. My friend Marilyn, just paid out $1,600 on her credit card to have a pipe defrosted during the deepfreeze just before Christmas. She was quite distressed when she told me, and I'm not surprised. She couldn't get a local plumber right away so she hired some guys out of Calgary who were working locally anyway. They wanted $400 each to come and then $400 and hour each to do the job, which took an hour. Outrageous! Her husband is a professor and he was away lecturing in the USA so she had to make the decision on her own. These guys took one look at the big beautiful house in the Three Sisters and decided "We've got a right one 'ere, mate." and they charged accordingly. Now, if that had been me, the story would have a different ending. I would have negotiated a deal first, or second, refused to pay that price. They couldn't do anything about it. She's english and very ladylike and was flustered and payed up, pronto like I would have done in another life. I've had to learn to act without your dad and think like a man. It's been very hard on me, but needs must. Lesson, negotiate with trades, there's always another deal. I had a roofing guy wanted to charge me $6,000 to do half my roof. I sent him packing. He came back up the drive and went from $4 to 3000. No deal. He went home and I hired another guy for $2,500. The first guy rang me from home and offered to do it for $2,500. I told him - "too late." These tradesmen try it on, time and time again. They always try to get the most today because they don't know if there'll be any work tomorrow. Advice from mum's not always welcome, but offspring get it anyway. We can't help it!!!
    Love Mumxx

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