Unearthing Ugly Real Estate Surprises

vancouverWhile the real estate prices in Vancouver and the surrounding areas are often surprising, it is often what is found on property after the purchase of a home that is the most shocking of all. Not listed on the sell sheet are items and a history of the home that is often dangerous and unpleasant.
Homebuyers, especially those purchasing older homes in historic neighborhoods, may have already endured sticker shock and paid a premium for their home. What they may not be aware of is the un-listed and often unpleasant surprises that await them. The Vancouver area settled in the late 1800’s with aboriginal tribes residing here long before that. History has played out in the area for years and often dwells right on a property today. From hidden oil tanks and prehistoric refuse pits, to marijuana growing operations and methamphetamine labs, there can be more history to a home than meets the eye. While illegal drug operations are more of a modern day problem cropping up, homes built in the 1920’s – 1960’s frequently had fuel storage tanks buried next to their foundations. With the tanks no longer in use, they pose an environmental hazard and can limit insurance coverage for a property owner.
So how exactly does a prospective homebuyer ascertain whether their home is one of these properties with hidden surprises? Here are several resources for potential homebuyers to peruse with their properties of interest:
- British Columbia Heritage Sites Inventory: With more than 46,000 registered historical sites in British Columbia, it is likely that you have or will encounter an archaeological site at some point in your life. To check if your residence is located on an archeological site, consult with the BC Columbia Heritage Sites Inventory via phone (250-953-3338) or online
- British Columbia Government’s Contaminated Sites Registry: For a fee, you can search among listings of contaminated sites. https://www.bconline.gov.bc.ca/products.html#land_n_real_prop
- Fuel Storage Tank Program: Search the website for listings of West Vancouver properties with recorded fuel storage tanks.
- City of Vancouver: You can phone the city (604-871-6231) to verify if the property has ever been used as an illegal drug operation or grow operation location.
Check your local municipal website to see if your area has additional resources not listed above. Doing the research legwork before you purchase a property may save you the groundwork of unearthing an unpleasant relic of the past.

Whether you have just bought a new home, or have just agreed to a rental contract – contact us for an efficient and expert move.