On today’s show we are talking about another form of situational awareness.

When you buy a property in a neighborhood it’s pretty common to drive up and down the streets and look around.

Are people leaving trash on the front lawn? Are there broken down cars in the lane way?

Are people taking care of their property?

That’s one form of situational awareness. We live in a physical world.

But that form of situational awareness is a bit like looking in the rear view mirror.

What if you could look at a property and see into the future?

Well it turns out that you can. When I look at a neighborhood, I want to see who owns each property and what zoning applications have been filed.

Let’s imagine that you drive down the street and you see homes, one after another. There is nothing particularly remarkable to see. Some driveways have kids bikes. Some driveways have a basketball net. You might conclude that young families live here.

But a search of title might tell you something that is not readily visible to the naked eye.

You might discover that one group of houses are owned by the local housing authority. The people living there are receiving some form of social assistance. There is nothing wrong with that of course. But if you were making assumptions about how property values in the area would appreciate, your assumptions might be incorrect.

If you found a group of properties that were all owned by the same company, that might point to future development of those properties.

If you found a property where the ownership had 5 names on title, you might research the ownership further. When did the property change hands? Was there a death in the family? Ownership by multiple next of kin is rarely a stable situation. Chances are high that the property could appear on the market for sale in the near future.

You’ve probably heard investigative reporters use words like “Follow the money and you will understand the motives”. This can be true when you’re looking at property as well.

When you look at the chain of title on properties in the area you get to ask questions. Questions like,

Why did that commercial property change hands five times in the past three years? Why did that property change hands for $10? Clearly it didn’t change hands for $10. What’s the real story behind what happened?

Why is there e mortgage recorded on a property that is clearly above the market value of the property? I wonder what’s happening here?

Why did this property have three mortgages recorded on title in less than a year? Who are the lenders? Are the lenders traditional banks or private citizens? That tells you something about what might be happening on a property.

You see none of this is visible by driving down the street.

A recent search of neighbouring properties uncovered that one of our neighbours could be considered a really good neighbor. The owner of this property has not initiated a zoning application, nor have they done anything to the property. But this particular owner has a reputation for development. Could new development next door add value to our property?