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Title insurance on farm land: a growing industry

Farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses form a keystone of Alberta’s economy and culture. These properties may have a simple, pastoral image, but Alberta’s commercial lawyers understand the unique needs and challenges of agricultural real estate. How can they best protect their clients’ interests through closings, transfers to heirs, or sales?

Why are farm land titles so complex?

Farm properties can include more than one parcel of land. The parcels can sometimes be separated by roadways or even other strips of land, which can make right-of-way easements and access agreements important considerations—if a third party blocks access between two fields, your clients could take on significant losses. These factors can make survey errors and encroachment issues more likely as well.

Buyers also face risk from municipal by-laws. If a client buys farm land with the intent to continue farming it, and then discovers it has been zoned to prevent agricultural development, their recourse is extremely limited. Their business could fail before the first building goes up. But protection is available.

Closing the gap

Alberta’s agricultural deals face a uniquely risky situation when it comes to the registration gap. Alberta’s gap is longer than in many other provinces, allowing more time for things to go wrong. With titles now taking as long as two months to register, what are buyers’ options?

Western Conveyancing Protocol (WCP) can apply to agricultural property deals in certain cases, such as a house on the property making the deal a grey area between commercial and residential.

But WCP is often not enough, and compared to the residential transactions it covers, commercial deals have more limited options during the registration gap. You could opt for gap-only insurance, but your clients’ interest in their land will last years, so is insurance that only lasts until registration worth it?

Only title insurance offers protection both during and after the registration gap, while covering over hidden, as well as some known, title defects. It offers a faster, safer, more efficient alternative to writing a legal opinion on each commercial real estate deal. Give your agricultural clients more protection with a commercial title insurance policy from FCT.


Subject to certain exceptions, commercial title insurance policies equal or below $10M CAD are provided by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Commercial title insurance policies above $10M CAD are provided by First American Title Insurance Company. Reference should be made to policy documents to confirm the insurer on any individual transaction. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice.


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