Oftentimes Buyers consider foregoing a land survey to speed along a transaction, cut costs, or simply because their "dream home" couldn't possibly have anything wrong with it. However, considering the typical survey cost ranges from $300-$400, this is a risky gamble to take and not obtaining a land survey could result in costly and troublesome problems to the Buyer after closing.
Surveys identify key features such as:
• The legal description of the property
• Exact locations of fences, buildings, pools, sheds, and roads in relation to the property
• Specific property boundaries & size of the property
• Location of Improvements made to the land
• Zoning regulations, setbacks that apply to the property and easements
Having this information allows the Buyer to better understand what is being purchased, and to help plan for any future additions or improvements (e.g., addition of a fence, pool, garage, etc.) to the property. A survey would identify for example, problems such as a driveway encroaching on the neighbor's land; or that the backyard shed actually encroaches 2 feet into a drainage and utility easement. Such issues can become major issues when a Buyer finances or refinances the property, or when the Buyer subsequently resells the property.
Unless a land survey is obtained, the following standard survey exception will be contained on the Buyer's title insurance policy:
"Any encroachment, encumbrance, violation, variation, or adverse circumstance affecting the Title that would be disclosed by an accurate and complete land survey of the Land."
This standard exception means that the Buyer/Owner's title insurance policy would not insure or protect the property from any issues that could have and would have been discovered had a survey of the land been completed prior to closing the transaction. Further, if a survey is not obtained and the Buyer subsequently contracts to sell the property to a potential purchaser, the Buyer would be responsible for remedying any issue identified by the survey obtained by the potential purchaser.
In addition to obtaining a survey, a Buyer should have an experienced real estate professional review the survey and handle the closing and insurance of the title insurance policy. Timely identification of such issues is essential as real estate contracts only allow a limited time after receipt of survey for a Buyer to make objections and protect their rights. If you have any questions about surveys, title insurance or closings, we encourage you to contact a Florida licensed real estate attorney.