Legal Advice

Why Do I Need a New Survey? [VIDEO]

Close up Businessman in Business Suit Holding a Cute Miniature House Model Using his Both Hands.

When you’re buying property, how do you really know what you’re buying? 

We commonly refer to property, whether it’s commercial or residential, by a street address, but from a legal standpoint that doesn’t tell us enough. It doesn’t tell you if you are getting what you thought you were buying. In order to do that, you’ll need what’s called a “metes and bounds description.” That’s the surveyor’s description of the property that you’re buying. 

If you look at a survey, you’ll see there are distances, coordinates, and designations for Compass directions around the perimeter of the survey. That translates into the written legal description (the metes and bounds description). It starts out at one point and it works its way around in a clockwise direction of the property and that tells you exactly what you’re buying.

There is always a dark line around the perimeter of the property that shows what you’re supposed to be buying, superimposed onto the survey which may show a home, commercial building, sheds, fences, walls, and other permanent fixtures on the property. It’s important to know where those things are in relation to that dark line on the property because that tells us whether the existing structures are violating any local codes, whether they’re outside or inside the boundary lines of your property.

My suggestion is to always get a new survey for your property because things change. If you have a survey from the other party, the locations that are on there for fences and so on may be old, and you could be out of possession, and then you’re really not buying what you thought you were. 

In addition, your title insurance policy will not insure that you own the property described by the metes and bounds description in your deed unless a new survey is provided prior to closing. Otherwise, the policy will include an exception to coverage that in essence says “excepted from coverage is any state of facts that would be shown by a current, accurate survey of the property.” This could leave a very large gap in your title insurance coverage if you do not get a new survey and it would have shown that someone else is encroaching upon your property with fences or structures.

The bottom line is that it’s important to investigate. The attorneys at Leonick Law have handled thousands of real estate transactions over the last 30 years. My wife and fellow attorney, Lisa, and I would be happy to consult with you on any real estate transaction in order to make sure that you really are getting what you thought you were buying.

James Leonick

James F. Leonick
Leonick Law, P.L.L.C.
TEL: (631) 486-9500


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