Essential Insights for REALTORS: Navigating Real Property Reports and Land Development in Alberta

Essential Insights for REALTORS: Navigating Real Property Reports and Land Development in Alberta

As a REALTOR, understanding Real Property Reports (RPRs) and land development regulations is crucial for successful transactions and satisfied clients. This article aims to equip you with essential knowledge and practical insights to help you navigate these complexities with confidence.

Understanding RPR History and Current Standards

The evolution of RPRs is key to comprehending their current significance. Before September 1987, Surveyor’s Certificates were basic, showing only building locations without considering modern land use bylaws. Demand from real estate professionals, including real estate boards, home builders, and legal associations, led to the creation of the Real Property Report (RPR) in September 1987. Today, RPRs must comply with the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association (ALSA) Manual of Standard Practice (MSP). Sellers are required to provide an up-to-date RPR with municipal compliance during real estate transactions.

Importance of Land Titles

Alberta employs the Torrens Land Title System, ensuring clear and absolute ownership. A land title can contain critical information such as mortgages, builder’s liens, caveats (warnings), restrictive covenants, and utility rights of way. Understanding these elements is vital, as they can significantly impact real estate transactions and affect the interests of both buyers and sellers.

Navigating Restrictive Covenants and Utility Rights of Way

Restrictive covenants often impose stricter conditions than municipal bylaws and require careful consideration, especially in infill projects. Similarly, utility rights of way, such as pipelines running through a property, can impact property value and usage. Evaluating these factors is essential to ensure that your clients make informed decisions.

Handling Encroachments

Encroachments occur when structures extend beyond property boundaries or into easements. These can arise in three scenarios: improvements on your lot encroach onto a neighbor’s lot or city property, improvements on a neighbor’s lot encroach onto your side, or improvements on your lot encroach into registered easements or rights of way. Solutions include removing the encroachment, which can be costly, or negotiating an encroachment agreement, signed by both parties and registered on the title. Addressing encroachments promptly is crucial to avoid legal issues and ensure smooth transactions.

Survey Monuments and Lot Size Compliance

Survey monuments define property boundaries and must be preserved. Unauthorized alterations can result in significant fines. Accurate boundary definitions are mandated by the Surveys Act, ensuring that surveyed parcels match their legal descriptions. REALTORS should be aware of these regulations to guide their clients correctly.

Adhering to Setback Requirements

In Calgary, setback requirements dictate minimum distances for building placements from property lines. Front setbacks are determined based on neighboring buildings, while side setbacks are generally 1.20 meters, with specific allowances for structures like window wells and eaves. Familiarity with these requirements ensures that developments comply with local bylaws.

Updating RPRs

An RPR must be current, reflecting the latest property conditions and adhering to municipal bylaws. Updates are necessary when new structures are added, such as houses, garages, patios, or decks, or when neighboring properties undergo changes that may affect your client’s property. Updating the RPR transfers liability from the seller to the surveyor, providing an additional layer of protection for buyers.

Condominium Considerations

Building condos typically do not require RPRs except for Development Completion Certificates. However, bare land condos, which involve land and air space approvals, require RPRs similar to fee simple lots. Understanding these distinctions helps REALTORS manage transactions involving different types of condominiums.

Navigating Land Development Permits

Most land developments in Calgary require development permits. There are two types: contexture permits for developments that meet zoning rules, and discretionary permits for those seeking relaxation of certain requirements. REALTORS should be adept at identifying which permit is needed for a given project.

Addressing Compliance Issues

Common land use problems include non-compliant decks or structures, buildings encroaching on property lines, and overbuilt lot coverage. More serious issues, like building over utility lines or incorrect property markers, require immediate attention and possibly legal intervention. REALTORS should be proactive in identifying and resolving these issues to facilitate smooth transactions.

Title Insurance

While Alberta’s Torrens Land Title System ensures clear titles, title insurance provides additional protection against survey and bylaw issues. It covers problems such as survey defects, encroachments, existing work orders, and zoning violations. However, it does not replace the need for an RPR.

Understanding Land Use Bylaws

Land use bylaws govern development and zoning, detailing rules for various districts. Staying informed about these regulations helps REALTORS advise clients accurately and ensure compliance. Upcoming changes, such as rezoning initiatives, can also impact how properties are developed and utilized.

Municipal Differences

RPR and compliance requirements vary across municipalities. Familiarizing yourself with specific standards in your area is essential to provide accurate guidance and avoid delays in transactions.

By mastering these aspects of RPRs and land development, you can enhance your expertise, build trust with clients, and navigate transactions smoothly. Use this guide as a reference to ensure you are always prepared to address the intricate details of real estate in Alberta.

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.