Do I Really Need a New Survey?
When someone buys a home, the question always comes up as to whether they would like to have a new survey of the property or use an existing one provided by the Seller. To make an informed decision, the potential buyer should understand that a survey is drawing that shows the boundaries of a property, as well as any improvements, easements, building set back lines and other features relevant to the owner’s use of the property. With that understanding, and assuming that the seller does in fact have an existing survey, there are several questions that the potential buyer should ask.
- Does the seller’s existing survey accurately depict the property? The potential buyer has been to the property and should be able to look at an existing survey and determine if the drawing looks the same as the property looked in person. Google maps can also be a good way to compare an aerial view of the property to the survey. If there is a variance what is shown on the existing survey and what is actually on the property, a new survey should be ordered.
- How old is the existing survey? As long as there have been no changes to the improvements, easements or building set back lines, title companies will typically accept surveys that are less than 10 years old (and even older if you ask nicely). However, there have been huge advances in the technology used by surveyors, such as GPS, which allow for much more accurate measurements. It is not unusual for us to see a platted 50’ X 100’ lot actually be slightly smaller or larger using modern technology.
- Is the surveyor who performed the existing survey still in business? Surveyors are licensed by the State and carry Errors and Omissions Insurance to cover them in the event of a mistake. Most surveys contain language that they are only certified to the purchaser and title company shown on the face of the survey, but the knowledge that the surveyor is still in business or at least available in the event of an issue can be important.
Assuming the existing survey is accurate and acceptable to the title company, Realtors that we deal with are split on whether they advise their clients to have a new survey performed. The primary reason to use an existing survey is to save money. The price range for residential surveys is currently between $350.00 and $550.00. While this may appear to be a substantial amount, when one considers that the purchase of a home is probably the largest investment they will make during their lifetime, the cost is actually minimal. Potential buyers should also keep in mind that a new survey will be certified by the RPLS for that buyer, giving the buyer additional protection in the event of a boundary dispute.
If you would like to use a knowledgeable title company conveniently located in the Heights, please give us a call. Fidelity National Title, 1512 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77008 (713) 529-8800.