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, Playgrounds, or Other Recreation
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 < Open Link to View City of Edmonton Projects - Plans >, 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)
Note: the detailed Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) gives great insight into the utility zones, development plans, and future considerations.
< View Example City of Edmonton Neighborhood Structure Plan (NSP) >
Next, determine the potential zoning in the neighbourhood. [For more information on zoning, review Kelly Grant's related article: The Importance of Municipal Zoning for Investors ]. Municipalities have restrictions and rules based upon what the land is zoned for. No other type of development or other uses of existing structures 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).
< View Example City of Edmonton Zoning Map >
Finally, in order to know what other restrictions are being imposed, important advice: in addition to hiring a good Buyer REALTOR®, it is also critical to hire a good Real Estate Lawyer to legally explain all instruments on title including but not limited to the following:
- Utility Rights-of-Way
- Encroachment Agreements in place
- Restrictive Covenants (including development or usage restrictions being imposed)
- Crown Corporation (Government of Canada) Restrictions
- Other Registrations or Instruments (e.g. Financial or Liens) that may Restrict the Seller
In summary, buying property backing onto undeveloped land can be a nervous yet exciting experience. Before making and finalizing an offer to purchase, consult your REALTOR® and Real Estate Lawyer for advice and consider all key steps mentioned in this article. This will help identify any risks (and relaxations of what not to be concerned about) to help make your upcoming purchase a positive and rewarding venture.
[Article written and ©2011, ©2020 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at MaxWell POLARIS 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 will be 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.