What to Do if There’s a Problem with Your Survey
Yesterday, we covered the basics of what a survey is and what information they contain, so today let’s talk about what to do when there are problems or issues with your survey. After you have looked over the survey of a property and realize there may be a problem, there are some steps you can take to get those items corrected.
First thing’s first – call the survey company that conducted the survey to verify that what you’re seeing as a problem is correct. On rare occasions survey companies do make mistakes. If they have indeed made a mistake, you have several options.
- If the lender or title company has an issue with a fence line or similar issue, they may call exception to it on the title policy. What this means is that it becomes akin to a “pre-existing condition” in health insurance (the way they used to be handled) and it won’t get covered if there’s ever an issue or dispute over the matter. All parties sign accepting that exception as a part of their closing documents.
- You can contact the seller and ask for the fence or violating structure to be moved. Sometimes this is an easy fix and other times it can be very complicated. The seller may also need to contact neighbors to make the adjustment.
- If the issue is an utility easement, you can apply for a variance. This is basically a waiving of the utility company’s right to access a certain portion of the easement area. It can be time consuming, so the sooner you can begin to address these issues the better.
- Back out of the deal. If your concerns over an improper building, property line, etc. are not something that you feel you are willing to live with or something that cannot be properly corrected, the buyer may have the right to terminate the contract. As always, we recommend consulting a legal professional before terminating a real estate contract because there could be complicating factors.
A fun story in terms of dealing with this type of issue: Our company once represented a buyer who contracted to purchase one end unit in a newer townhome complex. When they went to get a survey of the property, it was discovered that the actual walls of the townhome extended a few inches into the property line of the neighboring unit. In theory, the neighbors could tear down the wall on one side (let’s say it was a living room) and there would be nothing the owner of that unit could do about it. Because it was a townhome where all of the units had shared walls, basically the whole structure had been built a few inches out of line and every single unit in that building was impacted with the same problem, right on down the row.
Eventually, with a lot of phone calls, door knocking, and paperwork, the issue was resolved. Basically everyone in that entire row of townhomes signed documentation giving those few inches of property back over to their neighbors in keeping with the building lines (not the property ones). As you can imagine, a situation like this could easily turn into potential for disaster. Luckily, all the owners were able to work it out with a bit of compromise and the problem was resolved.
image courtesy of edillalo