In a prior post, I wrote about the need for surveys in real estate transactions (see post HERE). I can’t emphasize this need enough. I started that post, however, with the premise that clients look for ways to save money, sometimes, and I emphasize sometimes, there is a way to save money on the cost of the survey by updating and recertifying the prior or an existing survey. To do this, you need to first obtain a prior survey from the seller. This is not always an easy task. In residential transactions, for example, sellers aren’t usually very good about keeping their paper work together in one place. Finding old commercial surveys is easier.
But just because you have a prior survey doesn’t mean you can have it updated or that an update will be cost efficient. If the prior survey is relatively new, the surveyor should be able to go back to the property to confirm the boundaries and that there are no new improvements. The surveyor will review the new title work and re-certify the survey at a cost which is less than the cost of a new survey. Keep in mind that this cost may be nominal for residential surveys as residential surveys aren’t terribly expensive. But on larger, commercial surveys, the cost difference could be significant.
If the survey is several years old of if you know or suspect there have been new improvements to the property since the date of the prior survey, then a new survey will be required. The surveyor will have to do field work to confirm the boundaries and locate the improvements. If a full ALTA survey is required, monuments and corners must be located and set so it is unlikely that an update will be possible.
Survey updates can also save time. This is important in those instances when you have to close on short notice. But if a new survey is required, delaying closing to allow time to obtain the survey is the better course.
Survey updates are useful and great tools in the right circumstances. When you can use them, the cost saving is an added benefit.