Land Title Certificates: Why Buyers Must Review Them

It’s imperative to review the Land Title Certificate when purchasing a home. Your buyer agent should be pulling the title before submitting the offer. What’s the harm if they don’t?

Consider this recent case summary from the Real Estate Council of Alberta:

Agent A (names have been deleted) prepared an offer for buyers who issued a deposit cheque to the sellers’ brokerage for $5,000.  Agent A  assumed the property was a duplex when it was in fact a condominium. There was no condition regarding condominium documents in the offer to purchase nor was there any information about monthly condo contributions. The buyers waived the financing conditions, indicating a firm sale.

It’s bad enough the buyers bought a condo without realizing it, but it gets worse:

When Agent A brought the buyers to their lawyers’ office, the lawyer read the condominium documents and discovered an age restriction which prevented the buyers and their family from living at the property.

Double ouch!

Below are pictures of six detached homes.  Which of them are condos?

Which is a condo

All six in this example are condos.  A “condominium” is simply a form of real property ownership.  You cannot tell whether a building is a condominium simply by looking at it.   This is why you must review the Land Title Certificate.

Take a look at a snapshot of two different titles – it’s easy to discern which of them is registered as a condo:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

The legal description of the property is one of many reasons the title should be scrutinized.

Here are some things your buyer agent can determine by checking the title:

  • name of owners
  • Are dower rights a possibility? Have they been released?
  • owners address (could be a rental property)
  • zoning regulations
  • easements
  • agreements
  • encumbrances such as HOA fees
  • caveats
  • builder liens
  • restrictive covenants
  • foreclosure orders
  • utility right of ways
  • health hazards
  • affidavits
  • encroachments
  • registered mortgages (lender & amount of principal mortgage)
  • party wall agreements
  • subdivision plans
  • consideration amount/value
  • date of transfer

Just discovering that there are restrictive covenants or easements registered on title isn’t enough either.  Those specific documents then need to be purchased by your agent to discover what exactly they entail.

Buyer agents are not created equal.   They are not to be viewed simply as chauffeurs that can unlock homes for you to view.   Real estate knowledge and experience are essential qualities you want in someone hired to represent you in what’s likely the largest purchase of your life.

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