Leigh Clack, a closing attorney at Neel & Robinson sends out a really informative email every month, and this month’s edition is focused on surveys. While I’d posit that $300 or so for a survey is money well spent for all home buyers, Leigh point out that there are specific situations that are absolutely crying out “”survey me!””:
When should buyers get a survey?
Most lenders do not require their buyers to have a new survey done in preparation for closing. The lenders have title insurance protection for survey problems. Keep in mind that lenders also do not require buyers to get owner’s title insurance, but they do require lender’s title insurance to protect the lender! Most buyers have learned that it is a good idea to get owner’s title insurance, and there are many situations where it is also smart to get a new survey done. What properties should definitely have a new survey?
1. New construction – the builder may have a survey in connection with the construction loan, but make sure that the survey includes driveways, walkways, boundary fences and walls, parking pads, patios, and sundecks.
2. Properties that have been rebuilt or remodeled – many builders are squeezing large houses onto small lots, and only a survey will show if any building lines and setbacks have been violated.
3. Older properties with small frontage or narrow width – many of these houses have been enlarged over time, plus there are often encroachments of driveways and fences.
4. Properties with long legal descriptions (metes and bounds) rather than short legal descriptions (lot number, plat book and page). It is very helpful if the long legal description refers to the previous survey that was used to write the long legal; in this case a copy of the previous survey may suffice.
5. Any properties that are made up of more than one “tract” or “parcel”, usually because the parcels were acquired at different times or because neighbors have “swapped” some property to accommodate a driveway encroachment or fence encroachment.
Photo Credit: Montgomery Land Survey