When buying any type of property backing onto agriculture or other undeveloped land, it can be easy to become captivated by the views and tranquility while forgetting the important fact these views and quietness may not last more than a few months or years if suddenly the areas become developed.
Types of future development can include but may not be limited to the following:
- Busy street or quiet street
- Biking or walking path
- Houses, duplexes, or townhouse condominiums
- Apartment-style condominiums
- Golf Courses or Parkland
- Commercial Shopping Centres, Churches, Industrial Buildings, Office Complexes, etc.
- Schools and Playgrounds
If you are concerned about the potential impacts of future development for a property you are thinking of purchasing (i.e. due to construction noise, lack of view, noise from new property owners, reduction in property value, etc.) you should first contact the municipality or county to determine their future plans for the area. It should be noted that governments can change their plans at any time (with or without consultation and input from surrounding neighbourhoods depending on their rules and processes) including future zoning, development restrictions, and timelines for development.
Using the City of Edmonton Planning and Development Department as an example, many important documents are constructed that give insight into the future development plans of the neighbourhood
- Area Structure Plan (ASP)
- Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan (NASP)
- Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP)
- Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP)
- Servicing Concept Design Brief (SCDB)
- Outline Plan (OP)
The first step: determine the potential zoning in and around the neighbourhood. Municipalities have restrictions and rules based upon what the land is zoned for. No other type of development can occur without the municipality first approving the change or else changing land use zoning (e.g. RF1 - single family residential would prohibit commercial shopping malls or apartment buildings).
Secondly, it is a good idea to review the detailed Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP). This document gives great insight into the utility zones, development plans, and future considerations.
Finally, in order to know what other restrictions are imposed on a property, my advice: hire a good real estate lawyer to pull and explain all instruments on title including but not limited to the following:
- Utility Rights-of-Way
- Encroachment Agreements in place
- Restrictive Covenants (which can include development restrictions imposed on the property)
- Crown Corporation (Government of Canada) Restrictions
In summary, buying a property backing onto undeveloped land can be a nervous yet exciting experience. Before removing conditions on your offer to purchase, contact your REALTOR® and real estate lawyer for advice and consider the above key steps I have mentioned in this article.
[Article written and ©2011 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at Maxwell Devonshire Realty in Edmonton, AB]
Disclaimer: for those readers not currently represented by another licensed REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you are serious about selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100 (pager) or send Kelly an email to SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.