We talk a lot about the extreme importance of encouraging a buyer to get a new survey as a way to protect their investment. This is an example of how prudence really pays off, as told by one of our own. Watch him tell the story.
"Hey there, all!
I'm Chris Abbott, the Chief Technology Officer at PropLogix. I wanted to share a recent land survey "incident" that happened to me that could happen to anyone, pretty much anywhere.
Three years ago my wife and I purchased an investment property together. At that time, we elected to get a survey done of the property. This is something we always do. Why do we always get a survey?
- We want to make sure that what we bought IS what we bought.
- We also wanted to understand the easements, roads, and right-of-ways we have.
- We want to know exactly what we can and can't do with our property.
Little did we know, the smart decision we made more than three years ago would be paying off. Recently, my wife was driving by our property and noticed equipment on the back of our lot. We happened to be doing work on the property at that time, so she called me to ask if we had hired someone to dig a trench in the yard.
Of course, I certainly had not and rushed to see what was happening there. It turns out that a contractor that was building a home behind our property had dug a trench that was 5 feet deep and about 15 feet long. The only thing was -- I never gave anyone permission to do so, so I was pretty upset.
Not only did they rip up my yard, but they also tore down part of my fence to dig. It turns out that they were putting in a pool and the electric line needed to be 10 feet away from the pool, which meant it had to go through my yard to do it.
I went ahead and made signs to tell the crews that they were, in fact, trespassing on my property and to call me as soon as they returned. When I got a call the next day, I spoke to the crew superintendent. He said they were within the electricity utility easement, but I was nearly certain that there was no easement and told him that he must be mistaken.
I went back to the property to meet the crew working. It turns out that they were told by the same superintendent that I had spoken with to just bury the line quickly and backfill the dirt in and get off the property. I had no choice but to involve police at that point.
When the officer arrived, the first thing he asked was whether or not I had a survey. I already had a digital copy directly available on my phone. Immediately the officer saw that there were no easements indicated on my survey and that the crew was actually trespassing on my property. The officer stayed to make sure they filled the trench back in and left the property and that was that.
Unfortunately, my property still sustained damage, but at least I didn't have electric cable running through my property that would have prevented my potential plans down the line. We were lucky that my wife noticed the construction when we did and I was even luckier that I had gotten a survey and knew that there was no easement. What may have involved weeks and months of lawyers and legal fees was resolved in a matter of hours because I had the physical proof that the utility crew had no right to do what they were trying to do.
My survey was somewhere in the vicinity of $400-$500 dollars at the time I was closing on my house. I am extremely thankful that I got it. It was well worth it. If you're buying an investment property, if you're buying a home for yourself -- GET A SURVEY. Your future self will probably thank you.
At PropLogix, we understand that it's exceedingly common to use a prior survey with a seller's affidavit. However, just because the seller hasn't made any improvements, it doesn't mean there haven't been improvements to a neighboring property that would impact your property. Let's say in my case they had moved the line before I purchased the property (unbeknownst to the prior owner) and I only relied on a prior survey that did not show there were utilities running under my property. I could have been digging to plant some palm trees and hit the line and been electrocuted. Or in a less severe case, it could have meant I couldn't build a pool down the line -- it would have seriously limited what I thought I could do with my property when I bought it."
- Chris Abbott, PropLogix CTO and real life Land Survey enthusiast
A survey is arguably one of the most important pieces of due diligence. Just because a lender doesn't require you to get an updated or entirely new survey, doesn't mean it isn't in you or your client's best interest.
At the end of the day, it's important that you're looking out for your client to protect your own reputation.