Survey Now, Avoid Costly Issues Later

Oftentimes Buyers purchasing property for cash decide not to have the property surveyed prior to closing. Occasionally it is because they do not want to spend the extra money or simply believe the home has been there for so long that nothing could possibly be wrong with it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Ensuring that a Buyer has a survey of the property prior to purchase can help reduce unnecessary future expenses and issues, many of which may not arise until the Buyer wishes to sell the property many years down the road.

A survey is important from a Buyer’s perspective because it provides the Buyer with important information about the property they are purchasing. A survey will confirm the legal description and legal access to the property, encroachments, show any easement or setbacks that impact the property, and provide property boundary lines. Having this information would allow a Buyer to make an informed decision about the property they are purchasing, and allow them to plan for any future improvements (e.g., addition of a pool, fence, garage, etc.) they would wish to make.

Additionally, if there is no survey available on the property, the Title Insurance policy will contain the following standard survey exception:

“Any encroachment, encumbrance, violation, variation, or adverse circumstance affecting the Title that would be disclosed by an accurate and complete land survey of the Land.  The term “encroachment” includes the encroachment of existing improvements located on the Land onto adjoining land, and encroachments on the Land of existing improvements located on adjoining land.”

This exception would mean that your title policy would NOT cover any issues that would have been discovered had a survey been completed prior to the sale. The only way to delete this exception from your Title Insurance Policy, would be to provide your title agent with a survey (prior to closing) that would confirm that there are no encroachments, encumbrances, violations, etc.

By obtaining a survey prior to closing, a Buyer can ensure that any defects can be cured prior to their purchase and ensure that their Title Insurance Policy covers them fully.   As noted above, many times Buyers just do not want to invest in the due diligence prior to buying property which can become problematic upon their resale.  For example, when a Buyer goes to sell their property and the new Buyer has the property surveyed and discovers that there is an issue (e.g., the pool was built in a platted setback or the house encroaches into a utility easement) the Buyer will be on the hook for any issues that need to be remedied.  As a result, the marketability of the property could be impacted. This means that the Buyer could end up with unnecessary expenses and potentially lose potential Buyers when it is discovered that the survey issues are either too expensive or impossible to cure.

For these and many other reasons it is important that a thorough review of the survey has been conducted prior to the purchase of any real property. As always if you have any questions about surveys, we encourage you to contact your real estate attorney.


Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

Article Authored by Natasha Selvaraj, 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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