In Florida, the title underwriter will usually accept the seller’s land survey, and most people don’t take it any further. Why should they, if it’s one less cost for the buyer to have to be worried about? Well, there are a few reasons that someone might want to be more prudent.
A new boundary survey is typically considered a closing cost that a buyer will cover. Sometimes, when a buyer is under the strain of a tight budget, they may want to cut down on closing costs.
Here are four major reasons why real estate and title agents should convince home buyers to get a new survey:
1. Your client has plans to make improvements to the home.
The best way to be sure that your client can make this new property into their dream home is to ensure that all the grand plans they have are feasible. If they’re buying a property with hopes of constructing an addition, building a greenhouse out back, and putting a pretty picket fence up — it’s important to know if they can do these things. An updated survey will ensure that their high hopes fit into the bounds of what they’re getting. It’s important to note that if they have plans for improvements, they should be getting the correct type of survey.
2. There’s a chance the seller made their own improvements and ignored the survey.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Sellers are great, but many are operating in the interest of making sure that their home sells. That means it’s possible some sellers may not disclose changes made. Or maybe the current seller didn’t realize the person they bought the property from made improvements that could be problematic.
3. Sometimes land surveys are wrong.
Not every surveyor is created equal. Some are more thorough than others. If you really want to know what you’re working with, does it really hurt to get a second opinion? If that survey you’re going to use is 10+ years old, that means the property hasn’t had a fresh pair of eyes in so many years. Even though the title insurance still covers it, do you want your client to go through the headache of finding it was wrong and having to live through the hassle of fixing it (i.e. listening to a jack-hammer blast through a concrete parking pad that’s 3 ft into their neighbor’s yard)? Also, this is a huge investment for a buyer, and there is no replacing doing your own due diligence.
4. The owner’s title insurance won’t cover boundary issues.
Even though an underwriter may still issue a homeowner’s title insurance policy with a survey from the previous owner, this doesn’t mean that the new owner will be covered for title claims relating to boundary issues like encroachments, land use obligations, legal description errors, and undisclosed easements. These issues will be listed as exceptions in the title commitment. Usually, the only way to remove these exceptions with your title insurer is to obtain a new land survey.