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.
A 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.
Due 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.
Your Military Relocation Specialist "Serving You For All Your Real Estate Needs"
Jerry Newman, REALTOR®
US Army Retired
1802 NE Loop 410 Ste 520
San Antonio, TX 78217
Helping and Serving the real estate needs of buyers and sellers in the Greater San Antonio, Bexar County, and all the surrounding areas.
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