Questions to Ask When Buying Property in BC

Buying property in beautiful British Columbia may be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made – and also one of the most expensive. With so much money on the line, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting with that purchase.

However, this is often easier said than done for first-time property buyers, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the area. They may not know what to ask to ensure that they are indeed getting their dream property or at the very least a good deal.

If you’re looking for properties in British Columbia and could use some extra guidance, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the top questions to ask when buying property in BC.

What are the Current Owners Paying in Property Tax?

You’ll want to have an idea of the annual taxes on the property. This will help you understand the ongoing holding costs, and whether they’ll fit into your budget.

There are a few different places to find this information: the sellers themselves, the listing document, and the local municipality. If you’re looking for a detailed answer, then your best bet would probably be the local municipality. They will be able to tell the most recent tax on the property and the overall status of property tax payments.

Is There a Topographic Survey or Grading Plan?

If you want to confirm the amount of acreage, then you should ask about a topographic survey. This will give you a 2D representation of the slope of the site, helping you figure out a location for site access and a building pad. You may also be able to see trees, utilities, and other site features.

A grading plan is typically drawn up by a civil engineer and shows how you can change the current topography to make a driveway for a future building pad. This type of information is useful when you’re looking to develop a site.

What is the Zoning on the Property?

There are 3 common zoning types: residential, commercial, and agriculture. The zoning type can tell you a lot about what you can do with the property, like how many homes you can build, how high they can be, and how close they can be to the property line. 

In BC, properties located on agricultural land may face even more special requirements regarding farming and agricultural activities. Check with the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission for more information.

Does the Property Have a Clear Title?

A clear title, or a just title or a free and clear title, means there’s no question about who owns the property. It doesn’t have any levies or liens from creditors or anyone else, so no one besides the current sellers can try and claim ownership.

This is obviously the ideal situation when you’re purchasing a property, but a title that isn’t clear may not be the end of the world. It simply depends on the situation. To learn more about the title of a prospective property, consult with your lawyer, notary or real estate agent.