Confusion over land survey
June 4, 2021 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I cannot seem to get a clear answer on the following: We are scheduled to close on the cash purchase of a 3-year old home on almost 3 acres of land in Georgia, U.S. The closing firm is pushing a land survey, which I've never dealt with. I spoke with my realtor and learned that they push a survey on ALL purchases.

I am not clear on whether it is *required* in order to obtain either standard or enhanced title insurance.

I don't know enough to know whether I should spend the extra money, which would be rough $700 for the survey and another $675 for the title.

The paper work states: "If you elect not to purchase Owner’s Title Insurance against our advice, our time will be charged on an hourly basis, with a closing fee increased from $675 to not less than $1,250, to adequately reflect the attorney and paralegal’s time spent working on your file."

Is this referring to standard or enhanced?

I feel like I'm being pushed for something I *may* not need. This is only the 2nd time I've bought a house and the first time I have bought with no financing.

Thank you.
posted by manageyourexpectations to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know the answer to whether it is required or not, but personally I would strongly, STRONGLY urge you to get a survey, especially when you are dealing with this much land. Boundary issues are so common that it's not even funny, and they can cause massive headaches down the road. I don't know how much you're paying for this land, but ~$1500 seems like a wise investment to make sure you are very clear on what you're getting.
posted by primethyme at 9:17 AM on June 4 [18 favorites]

Without a survey, the title insurance company can't establish whether the property violates existing easements. Hence, they are not able to (easily) issue a title policy, and they will have to just do that survey for you. The title policy insures that the property has no pre-existing claims, and easement violations are potentially one of them. Without a survey, they are not able to make that claim.

Get the survey. It's worth it.

(Strictly speaking, with a cash purchase, you don't *need* a title insurance policy at all - "standard" or "enhanced". You can close a purchase without one. It's just a really bad idea.)
posted by saeculorum at 9:20 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]

I also recently paid roughly $700 for a survey on a house we bought, and it revealed that there were two encroaching fences, which is a matter I'm very glad came to our attention before the sale closed. In the future, I'll be getting a survey done on any other house I buy.
posted by skewed at 9:31 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

A survey likely is required for extended title coverage. If you don’t have a survey, your title policy may contain an exception to coverage for anything that a survey would have shown. As others have said, you should get the survey unless you are willing to self-insure the risk of very significant and expensive title issues.
posted by hovizette at 9:35 AM on June 4

Response by poster: Ok. Thank you one and all. I wil bite the bullet and get the survey.
posted by manageyourexpectations at 9:37 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Ditto what others said. Land survey is to protect you and the title company, so it makes sense for the insurance company to demand it.

Land survey basically triple checks the boundaries and see if someone has a few extra feet or yards of your space on the borders (or vice versa), as well as any easements and other "encroachments". This is probably not that big of a deal on a 3-acre lot, but for smaller lots in jurisdictions that dictates you need to stay back X yards from the property line to build, this can be significant as you're supposed to be 25 ft away from property line only to find you're only 20 ft from it... and your neighbor refuses to sell you that extra 5 ft strip of land...
posted by kschang at 10:19 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Double check that what you are getting is actually a "boundary survey" and not a "location drawing." The latter is less expensive and is usually all that is required for title insurance, unless an encroachment or easement has come into question. It is based on the legal description of the property and any recorded easements. But it generally does not provide for the accurate identification of boundary lines.

A boundary survey is more expensive but worth it, for the reasons given by others.
posted by AndrewInDC at 11:10 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

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