Commercial Real Estate Blog by Madison

Measure Twice, Close Once – The Importance of Accurate Survey Readings

The old saying, “Measure twice, cut once”, certainly is useful for carpenters. One should double check measurements for accuracy before cutting a piece of wood, rather than rushing to cut and making errors which waste material. Aside from carpenters and tailors, there are other industries where accurate measurements are of supreme importance. Before purchasing real estate, it is important to obtain and examine the exact measurements of the property.

Title insurance provides coverage for the legal description of the property. The deed to the property is the basis for determining its legal description. In order to confirm that the legal description is correct, a survey is conducted. A land survey establishes corners, lines, boundaries and monuments of real property based upon recorded documents, historical evidence and present standards of practice. Prior to issuing title insurance, the completed survey is compared to the deed and examined for any discrepancies.

Aside from determining the boundaries to the property, a survey is also used to note any encroachment on the property. An encroachment is a trespass or intrusion onto another’s property. An example would be a wall or fence. The survey will reveal if structures are encroaching on the property, or if the current property encroaches on another.

A close examination of the survey will affect the areas of responsibility covered by the title insurance company. A survey endorsement to a title policy contains exceptions to matters disclosed in the survey. In order to prevent disputes, it is important for buyers and lenders to carefully examine the survey before completing the transaction.

Inaccurate Survey Readings

Without a clear reading of the survey, disputes and problems can arise. For example, in one instance, a community center sold a portion of their land to a school. The survey showed that the wall of the school building encroached upon the community center property several feet. When the school applied for a loan at a later date, their loan application was declined due to the encroachment.

In places like New York City, where space is at a premium, survey issues can be acute. A cellar entrance on the sidewalk, a shared driveway, or an air conditioner which protrudes from the property will all be noted within a proper reading of the survey.

When embarking upon a real estate transaction, measuring carefully will provide the buyer with a clear understanding of the property’s lines and boundaries. A sound knowledge of the legal description of the property will help avoid wasted resources and misunderstandings. An accurate survey will provide a clear determination of areas covered by title insurance. An encroachment or boundary dispute can be avoided with an accurate survey reading prior to purchase.

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