The Price of a Land Survey Can Save You Many Headaches and Unforeseen Costs Later

Many, if not most lenders require a new land survey each time land changes hands. However, not all lenders do, and cash buyers are exempt from this requirement. However, the price of the land survey is well worth the cost.

Property lines don’t change, do they?

Many potential homeowners mistakenly believe that the original property lines set during property development (or possibly before) will remain unchanged. However, there are many reasons property lines can, and do change over time.

Natural causes of property line changes

Property line movement due to natural causes is addressed in real estate law by three main terms: accretion, erosion, and avulsion. Accretion is defined as the gradual build-up of soil or sand that increases the lot size, usually from water near a seashore or riverbank. Erosion, similarly commonly an issue near shorelines and riverbanks, addresses gradual property line changes due to the washing away of soil and sand. Avulsion, on the other hand, addresses abrupt changes in the land, often due to hurricanes and other storms. In cases of accretion and erosion, the property rights riparian rights usually are transferred. One common exception to this is mineral rights are often not transferred under these methods. Avulsion, however, usually does not shift the riparian rights of said property. When these conditions apply, it is essential to contact a real estate attorney to ensure you know your rights.

Easements, encroachments and adverse possession

Other possible causes of property line shifts are not natural, but rather manmade constructions borne of real estate law. Easements may be registered or non-registered. Some are public, such as utility services. Others are private, such as passages utilized to reach other destinations. Encroachments can reduce useable space and can affect property value. Adverse possession rights can shift property lines permanently. Sales of portions of properties as agreed upon by neighbors can also change these lines. Easements and encroachments can affect the use of your property, thus affecting your property value. Encroachments may need to be moved or removed, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Inaccurate prior surveys can change the property lines

Upon survey completion, the legal description will be filed in the new deed, however, the survey itself is not recorded in the public record. Previously, survey measurements were less exact due to less accurate survey equipment. Land surveyors research the original property lines and all subsequent filings of surveys and deeds to locate the correct property lines. Areas believed to be part of the owner’s property rights may be inaccurate. Fence lines often do not follow exact property lines.

Title insurance protects both the bank and you from inaccurate property lines, doesn’t it?

The title insurance required by your lender protects your lender from problems with the title. Property owners need to purchase separate title insurance to protect themselves from title issues. However, most buyer’s title insurance contains exclusions in their fine print. Standard exclusions include survey matters, taxes or assessments, rights or claims of parties in possession not shown by public record and mechanic’s liens not shown by public record. If survey matters are not covered by title insurance, who assumes the risk? You, the buyer, of course.

Conclusion—Don’t assume you know where your property begins and ends. Protect yourself with a land survey

With all these possible causes of unclear property lines, getting a land survey every time land changes hands is critical to ensuring your rights and property values are protected. Save yourself headaches later. For an accurate property survey at a reasonable price, no surprises, call Realsearch of Texas, today.