An interesting case in an Ottawa-area development shows what can happen if you don’t.
Some people who bought new homes from Monarch Corp. in the Sandgate Ridge community in Nepean, are upset by plans by Monarch to rezone the greens space behind their homes. Monarch wants to build 11 more homes just behind the fifth tee of the Stonebridge Golf and Country Club. The owners of the existing houses claim that they paid a premium for their lots (in some cases $100,000 more than for other homes in the development) because Monarch promised the other land wouldn’t be developed. They say the reason they purchased was specifically for the tranquility that these lots offered.
Calls to Monarch Corp. for a comment were not returned, but according to a CBC report, it does not appear anything was put into writing that promised that the land would not be redeveloped.
In most cases when you buy a new home, the developer cannot make these kinds of guarantees, often because they do not own all of the surrounding land. Nor do they have control over what neighbouring owners might apply for in the future.
If you’re a buyer, look around the development and try to imagine what might happen in future. For example, if your neighbour decided to build a second storey addition, how would that affect you? There is also the possibility a developer could buy neighbouring older homes and apply to build a condo. Is there vacant land nearby?
Then go to City Hall and ask whether anyone has applied to rezone the land in your area. A rezoning application takes time, and there are opportunities for the neighbours to object. The Stonebridge Community Association submitted a letter to the City of Ottawain opposition to the Monarch plan, raising traffic and safety concerns.
Still, there is no guarantee that these homeowners will be successful. For the city, new homes mean more fees and taxes in the future from the new owners.
The homeowners may decide to sue Monarch, but if they do not have anything in writing, it will be difficult for them to win. Sales people often talk about the wonderful view you get, but they usually don’t guarantee that these views will be there in the future. New home agreements are typically full of warnings that there may be noises from elsewhere that may affect your enjoyment of the property.
Do your research before buying and you should have the comfort of enjoying your home and the surroundings for a long time. Just don’t expect any guarantees.
Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org