Don’t Get Caught in the Gap!

Real-world examples serve to better underscore the advice that we provide to clients. For example, when purchasing real estate that does not involve a condominium, we always recommend that one obtains a survey (either from the seller directly or purchasing a new one from a reputable surveyor).  And in most cases, our clients heed our advice. A recent situation proves how valuable that advice can be.

A buyer of waterfront property took our advice and purchased a survey. That survey revealed the fact that their anticipated waterfront purchase did not abut the water.  In fact, the survey revealed a 15 foot strip of land between the water’s edge and the lot boundary. In other words, the survey showed that the lot has no legal access to the canal.  And the gap was a full 15 feet.

Normally, when we see an issue so seemingly significant, we assume that surely someone noticed this issue before, and resolved it. So the first thing we do in these instances is go to the parties who handled transactions involving the property previously.  We were surprised to learn that the two prior owners each rejected advice to purchase a survey. In doing so, they had no way of knowing that the property they were purchasing had a significant title defect. And because they did not purchase a survey, their title insurance policy did not insure them for this issue. The reason is that when you elect not to purchase a survey, not only are you purchasing property blind, but the title coverage you are purchasing has a big fat exception for anything and everything that would have been revealed by a survey.

So in this instance, the seller will need to spend an undetermined, but significant amount in legal fees and time to resolve the issue themselves. The moral of the story…always heed the advice of someone who is recommending a survey. And as always, if you have any questions, we urge you to consult with your real estate lawyer.


Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

Article Authored by Evan Berlin, Esq.

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged. 


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