What is a Property Survey?
By Cody McCaughan, Esq.
When you order a survey, the property surveyor researches your property’s legal description, sketches out the land, its boundaries, and different elements that make up the property – this is called fieldwork. After the fieldwork, they provide a detailed map of the property’s legal boundaries. The survey includes a written description of the property, the street address, the location of buildings and adjacent properties, and any physical improvements made to the land. The survey will also include right-of-ways and easements, which are features of a property that detail what to do with shared yard, driveways, or if utility companies are allowed to use your property to access equipment. Confirming your property’s boundaries is essential to the home buying process.
Implications for Title Insurance
Title insurance policies will have an exception excluding coverage for encroachments, overlaps, boundary line disputes, or other adverse circumstances that would be disclosed by an accurate and complete land survey. Closing attorneys are permitted to remove the exception if a survey is provided for review. If the property is being financed by an institutional lender, a lender will require a survey to obtain any financing. Lenders require a specialized endorsement on the title insurance, Form 9 endorsement, which cannot be issued without reviewing a current survey.
What is a current survey?
A current survey for title insurance purposes is a survey that has been acquired within 90 days of closing. An older survey may sometimes be relied upon if an owner’s affidavit is obtained certifying no improvements have been made on the property since the survey completion date. Essentially, if you are receiving bank financing, you will need to purchase a new survey unless the current owner certifies that an older survey is current and accurate, i.e., no physical structures such as fences have been constructed.
What if the property is being refinanced?
In a refinance transaction, similar to a purchase, the requirement for a new survey can often be waived if there have been no changes since the date of the last survey and the owner signs an affidavit certifying as much.
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