“They’re so expensive!” “We’re already spending so much.” “Can’t we just use the one the seller has?” If you’re used to working with homebuyers, you may be familiar with getting pushback when you recommend a land survey.
How do you help a buyer understand why it's so necessary? We sat down with Florida-based Realtor, Corbett Donovan, to talk about how he faces those challenges and effectively helps protect the rights of his buyers. Catch the full interview.
Since purchasing a home is already an expensive and stressful venture for a buyer, there’s a special talent needed to helping guide a homebuyer in the right direction while making them feel confident about their purchase.
A quick introduction to Corbett "Cor" Donovan
Corbett sells with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in the Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch communities and has been selling real estate since 1998. His wide breadth of experience ranges from selling luxurious waterfront and golf course properties to short sale and bank-owned properties. He spends a lot of time teaching, speaking and helping to educate new agents on the intricacies of Florida real estate.
Does a buyer need to obtain a new land survey? Isn’t the existing survey good enough?
Cor: What I normally recommend is to get a new land survey. This is a large investment that you’re making. You should have the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding the definition of exactly the property that you own. Who’s to say that that previous survey has all of the correct information?
Do you still need a land survey if the home is in a subdivision?
Cor: The typical reaction--especially when you’re in an existing planned unit subdivision is ‘well how much could have changed? Do I really need to add this expense to an already expensive endeavor?’ What I typically tell them is that this is the largest investment that many people make in their lives. Wouldn’t you like to have the best of everything as far as the definition of the property you’re acquiring? And your new title insurance policy will have a certain bundle of rights that are protecting you within the definition of that survey.
Could a buyer skip the survey to save some money?
Cor: Whenever somebody has an initial reaction of “Well, where can I save money on the purchase of my home? Do I really need a new survey?” While it is an optional item, it’s such an important factor to have attached to your new title insurance policy and reviewed by your real estate professional and your team as far as your closing attorney, or title company. It’s a small amount to pay for peace of mind.
Why don’t more buyers know the value of a land survey?
Cor: A survey is something that almost comes across as a second thought. They’re so focused on the contract, the financing, the title insurance, the home inspection, and one of the parts of due diligence is to actually obtain an accurate survey. Since it seems like such a small matter, I think that often times it’s not brought up until much later in the transaction.
What issues have you seen a land survey uncover?
Cor: One particular instance that I experienced with a survey in a newer planned subdivision--where you wouldn’t think you would run into this issue--the seller provided us with the original survey from the builder. It included a pool and the lanai and all of the building structure that we assumed were built as new. In this one particular instance, there were some additional paved areas including a shed that was built within a setback that was later discovered by the new survey to be an encroachment within the setbacks required by the homeowner’s association, which were more strict than the county regulations at that time. This protected the buyer in that the attorney was able to secure a variance to permit the additional structures that were built so that the buyer would not run into this problem whenever they go to resell the property or face potential homeowner’s association violation fees.
How can title agents and agent attorneys help to educate buyers about the need for a new survey?
I think the best way that title companies and attorneys can advise their clients with respect to obtaining a new survey as opposed to using an existing survey, or by-passing it all together should they be paying cash in a transaction, is to really discuss the importance of what the survey is. Educating them that a survey attached to a title insurance policy will protect their full bundle of rights as defined in the survey and that’s something that can be looked over by several real estate professionals within a given transaction. But ultimately it’s going to come down to the title agent or attorney that’s providing that service to protect, once again, that bundle of rights for the purchaser.
Florida agents and real estate attorneys! Don’t miss your chance to get a CE/CLE credit and learn more about protecting homebuyers with the right land survey. Click below to sign up for our upcoming webinar!