Home Survey

surveyThe buyer’s lender will require a survey as a condition of making a loan. The lender may require a new survey with a seal, a signature and the correct certifications.

What is a Survey

A surveyor measures the boundaries of a parcel of land and delineates the exact location of all improvements, encroachments, easements, zoning, permitted uses and other matters affecting the title to the property. The survey will also look at a property’s FEMA elevation certificate and flood zone designation. The lender uses this information to determine how much, if any, flood insurance a buyer will need to purchase.

Who Orders a Survey

Homebuyers will order, or instruct a title agency to order, a survey of the property. Buyers pay for the survey.

Potential Issues

If the survey shows an encroachment or a violation, the contract would regard the encroachment or violation as a title defect. Title agencies and lenders may refuse to close if the survey finds certain issues. Florida real estate contracts have language about curing survey and title issues.

We have had to negotiate for releases of encroachments and easements with: utility companies, neighbors, home owner associations, CDD boards and municipal agencies.

For example, if the survey found that a fence was partially on the neighbor’s property, the owner would have the opportunity to move the fence. If the survey finds that an improvement, such as a pool, was built partially upon land reserved by the home owner association or a utility company for an easement, we would need to gain a release. Or if zoning setback violations were found, the curing provisions give the seller an opportunity to seek a variance from zoning authorities.

We have also seen surveys that show (correctly or incorrectly) that a property is located within a flood zone – a contention that may be news to the current owner. All of this sounds straight forward, but we have seen survey issues and incorrect flood zone designations jeopardize closings. We have become all too familiar with FEMA Elevation Certificates. We have sought licensed Florida engineers to perform flood risk analysis that were used to dispute flood zone classifications or misinformation. We have learned that some properties might be grandfathered into a different classification if the permit was issued before the zones changed. We have learned that the current owner’s flood policy may be assumable if more than six months remain on the policy.

Issues arise all the time during real estate transactions. After closing over 4,600 homes, we have seen all types of turbulence and have learned some lessons that may benefit you.