Jerry Newman's San Antonio, TX Blog 210-789-4216: FAQ #7 - What is a Survey and Do I need One?

FAQ #7 - What is a Survey and Do I need One?

FAQ # 7 - What is a Survey and Do I need One?
Whenever I am explaining to my First Time Home Buyers about their expenses for buying a home, the question about the survey always comes up. Many are familiar with those data surveys that ask you for your opinions on a lot of topics of interest, but what about the property or land survey?  What is a property survey, and I do I really need one, is the question that I hear quite often from first time home buyers.

Professional SurveyorA property survey is sketch or a map of a property showing its boundaries and other physical features like easements and property setbacks. Residential property survey reports also show the relative location of a house, a shed, swimming pools, decks, other building and fences on the property, and it usually includes the position of any public or municipal easements. These property surveys are done for a number of reasons.  They may be required by local law or ordinance whenever property changes ownership.  In the United States, property surveys must be done by a professional surveyor, who is licensed in the state where the property is located. Residential surveys and especially land(acreage) surveys can be very simple or highly complex. Buyers are always encouraged to have their property surveyed by a professional surveyor.

Mortgage lenders normally require a property survey before they will loan money for a mortgage, and many title insurers require this as well. Even if a survey has been done in the past, lenders will often times require a recent survey, generally one done within six months of the closing date. In Texas, many buyers will elect to use the previous survey from the sellers, but there are risks involved accepting an older survey. The surveyor is only liable to the original homeowner to whom that survey was first issued.

Risk Management FormsDue to various issues that may arise from using pre-existing surveys, our office devised a “Risk Management Form” which all buyers were required to sign should they decide to use an existing survey from the sellers. It basically states, “In the Texas Real Estate Commission(TREC) contract form #20-7, One to Four Family Residential Contract, and form # 25-5 Farm and Ranch Contract. Written in Paragraph 6, Title and Survey, the title insurance policy lists standard printed exceptions as to discrepancies, conflicts, and shortages in area or boundary lines, etc. Buyer, at Buyer’s expense, may have the exception amended to read “shortages in area”.  Accepting a Survey from the Seller(s) to use in the closing of your home purchase may leave you liable.

I/We understand the importance of having an independent Survey. I/We have considered our options and are aware of the inherent risks.
Signature and Dated.

Now Information for the Seller(s) to Consider:
Texas Law does not require Seller(s) to allow Buyer(s) the use of their existing survey for the purpose of closing the sale of their property. If the sellers agree to allow the buyers to use the existing survey, the sellers must sign a Residential Real Property Affidavit T-47, and deliver it along with the old survey. This Affidavit is the Texas Association of Realtor (TAR) Form #1907. Sellers simply state that there have been no changes made to the property, and this form has to be notarized.

Why is this a concern for sellers? The Texas Courts have deemed that a Surveyors liability is limited to the customer to whom it provided the original survey  The sellers may be held liable for any errors on the survey they give to the potential buyers due to the fact they now have made the surveyor a third party to the transaction.

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Jerry Newman, REALTOR®

US Army Retired

Brown Realty

1802 NE Loop 410 Ste 520

San Antonio, TX 78217

Direct 210-789-4216

 

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Comment balloon 32 commentsJerry Newman • June 08 2012 10:54PM

Comments

When buying a home this is a must, end of story

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) almost 7 years ago

It is very important to get all the necessary information from the survey, you don't want to buy a big surprise Jerry.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 7 years ago

Jerry, This is very helpful for home buyers,  Thank you for the great post.

Posted by Carol Faaland-Kronmaier, PhD, e-PRO, Manville, Hillsborough, Somerset NJ (Weichert, Realtors; Hillsborough) almost 7 years ago

Very good information for home buyers and home sellers.

Have an outstanding weekend with your camera in hand.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 7 years ago

Why anyone would not have a survey is a mystery to me. Never had it happen but like your office we have the waiver form.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

I remember you writing a similar blog last year and I since asked a Title company about the benefits of ordering a new one. There is a good reason to do it, but in the end, it is up to the buyer. I was told that if the community is relatively new, with no structrual changes to the house in question, or any adjoining, there is very little risk. Its just good to make the buyer aware and to good judgment.

Congratulations on the feature!


Sincerely,

Cathy Bureau
♥X☺X☺X☺♥

Posted by Cathy Criado, Making Real Estate Profitable (Criado Realty ) almost 7 years ago

I had a friend that owned a survey company and I heard all the horror stories...

Two are memorable:

1.  The waterfront lot surveyed was entirely in the lake...none of the property was on land.

2,  Brand new townhome...attorney said they did not need a survey...and closed on the wrong unit.  The unit they closed on was a block away from the unit the buyers thought they were buying.  Numbers were originally recorded wrong.

Good post, thank you,

Eve in Orlando

Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 7 years ago

Just like Homeowner's insurance, and appraisal, a survey is necessary to clear up any concerns up front before they become problems later.

Posted by Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage, Keller Williams Land Division Specialist (Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona) almost 7 years ago

Yes, David. I even tell my Cash Buyers that they need one too, even though the title companies don't require them for a Cash Deal.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Thanks right, Tom. I caution my buyers about the need for a survey. They wouldn't want to save a few hundred dollars on something that might cost them thousands in legal fees disputing over those property boundaries and fence lines.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Yes, Carol. I just wanted the buyers to be aware of the risks involved with not getting a survey, and also using those pre-existing surveys too.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Thanks, Roy. You have placed the thought with me for always having my camera ready. I know you use a Cannon, and I have been looking at upgrading to a better Nikon.

Have a Blessed Weekend!

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Hi Gary, I have had a few investors who paid cash for homes they were planning to flip, and they didn't pay for a survey. Most of them thought when they flipped the house, that the next buyer would end up buying that survey.

 

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Yes, Cathy. I would agree that we need to keep our clients informed on the risks, and just let them make those final decisions on buying a survey, or using a pre-existing one from the sellers. But, I do remember some surveyors complaining about copyright violations when using those old pre-existing surveys.

Have a Wonderful Weekend! Now, I need to write three more posts to make Anna's deadline tonight.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Hi Eve, These horror stories kind of make you wonder, why would anyone not want to buy a new Survey. Mistakes can be made, and they need to certain of the location of their property.

Have a Wonderful Evening in Orlando, FL!

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Yes, Kevin. Having a New Survey can possibly save a buyer thousands of legal fees whenever a dispute comes up about those fence lines and boundaries. Who is to say that your neighbor did not encroach onto your property when he erected that fence in the backyard.

Have a Great Weekend!

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Jerry, we recommend a new survey even in subdivisions, but there are times, especially with military buyers and sellers, where the old survey is used. Our contract states that it must be sufficient to convey marketable title, so that takes care of encroachment issues should they crop up. Excellent post!!

Sharon

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 7 years ago

Texas purchase contract is one of the worst written ones I have seen. Although they allow for buyer objections, the contingency restrictions are appalling at best.

If I was conducting business in Texas, I would definitely have some addendums in place, like you do!

Posted by Satar Naghshineh (Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp.) almost 7 years ago

We don't do surveys here since it's redundant.  The preliminary title report has the plat map attached with the legal description of the property. We use the lot and block/metes and bounds and it's already been done and platted.  Unless we're doing rural, or if there's a question of a lot line descrepancy, we don't order surveys and the loan funds fine. ;-)

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 7 years ago

Jerry this is very valuable information for not just San Antonio TX Home buyers and sellers but home buyers and sellers period. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

Posted by Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan, I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES (Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC) almost 7 years ago

Interesting information on the nature of Land Surveys in Texas. Here in CT, many buyers use the maps available from the town halls unless it's a new build in the country and we don't have a lot of those right now

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 7 years ago

Jerry - It is interesting how the nature of surveys vary in different parts of the country.  Several years ago, I sold an upscale house on a 1/2 acre of land in a rolling area to one of our Greater Sacramento communities.  It was assumed at that the fence lines were the property lines.  The back "boundary" being the center of a creek which meandered through the area.  On the opposite bank to the creek, was an elaborate gazebo thought to belong to the neighbor that shared the creek boundary.  However, after close of escrow, my buyer decided to have a survey performed.  The buyer gained 9 feet on the left side of his house.  Gained 0 feet on the right side, BUT the creek was not the back boundary.  Actually all of the creek was on buyer's land, including the gazebo resting on the other side.  Fortunately, all ended well.  The neighbor to the left moved the fence.  And the back neighbor had the gazebo taken down in sections and moved to their property. 

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 7 years ago

Hi Sharon. I with you on ordering a New Survey, but I noticed that many would prefer to use those pre-existing surveys from the sellers. That's when I have to remind my buyers of the risk involved. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Thanks, Satar. I use as many addendums and other Risk Management Forms that our office provides. No one likes to get involved with any future legal battles between the principals. Our present Texas contact was just recently amended, and will most likely be amended in the future as these different issues arise.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Hi Carla. Your are the first state that doesn't require a survey. Our lenders and title companies don't like using those plat maps. and will always insist on a Survey with from all buyers.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Thanks, Lanre. I would image most of the lending institutions in other states would require surveys too. It's normally in their Best Interest to have one to settle any boundary disputes on the property.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Yes, Ed. Here in Texas Surveys are required for both urban and rural properties. Farm and Ranch surveys are normally double the cost of residential property surveys, but every lenders requires them in Texas.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Hi Myrl. Thanks for sharing your experience with your buyer. Surveys are very important, and as your client discovered, neighbors will build on your property unless they know where those boundaries lines are. Having that survey done was a great idea, and I always recommend them here in Texas. It is amazing how this issue differs across the the country.

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Jerry~ Great explanation.  Buyers and sellers in the San Antonio have a great resource for their real estate needs....Jerry Newman!

Posted by Donna Foerster, Metro Denver Real Estate Agent (HomeSmart Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Thanks, Donna. This is a real concern in Texas, and especially in rural areas with those fence lines on acreage property. Have a Great Day in Denver!

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) almost 7 years ago

Jerry,

Great info.

Thanks for posting.

Kevin

Posted by Kevin A. Guttman-Author, Reverse Mortgage Advisor, 877-251-9709 (NMLS#384936) almost 7 years ago

I have been involved in several transactions where surveys uncovered critical encroachments or violations of minimum setbacks. In new construction, a survey is especially important. The boundaries of undeveloped lots are often unmarked and buyers sometimes end up with a much smaller lot than expected. I would press the builder to pay for a staked survey. 

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) almost 2 years ago

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