well performed survey is one of the best tools
a landowner can have to maintain his "domain" over the
Your purchase of a home or other real
property may be the biggest investment of your life. Having the
protection of a land survey and having the assurance that your ownership
is secure against land title problems, will mean tremendous peace
A Land Survey
You may believe that a casual inspection
of your property will be sufficient to determine its boundaries
and assure that all buildings, fences and other improvements on
both your and your neighbor's, land are properly located. However,
if you purchase or improve your property without an accurate land
survey, you may find that, for instance, your home actually is partly
located on the lot next door or your neighbor's garage is on your
lot. These problems can be avoided with a proper land survey.
Don't rely in haste on just any physical
measurement of the property that may be called a survey. Your mortgage
lender or other party may have had some physical measurement performed
that is less than a survey and which reveals less information about
your property boundaries and other matters than a valid land survey
A survey is the measurement by a licensed
surveyor of real property that delineates the boundaries of a parcel
of land as further defined under state law. A survey for land title
purposes additionally designates the location of all visible evidence
of improvements, encroachments, and easements. Among things found
on a valid survey are
- Signature and seal of licensed surveyor
- Description of property corners
- Any visible matters which would affect
your use and enjoyment of the property
Remember not everything called
a survey is a survey. If anything appears on your survey, or in
connection with it, which in any way limits its uses such as might
be suggested by the language, "For Mortgage Loan Purposes Only"
or "Preliminary Plot," you should question it. If the
document referred to as a survey in your transaction fails to contain
the above listed information, you should strongly consider requesting
a survey from a licensed surveyor.
ALTA and ACSM have jointly adopted standards
for land title surveys, to encourage the best possible protection
for those who buy homes and otherwise invest in real estate.
Selecting a Professional Land Surveyor
When it is determined that a land survey
is needed, only a Professional Land Surveyor, licensed by the North
Carolina State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers
and Land Surveyors, is legally permitted to survey the land in North
Every Professional Land Surveyor follows
the requirements listed in the "Standards of Practice for Land
Surveying in North Carolina." The State Board publishes these
standards and the Professional Land Surveyor you hire can provide
a copy upon request. The Standards of Practice lists everything
the land surveyor MUST do during a survey and what MUST appear on
the final survey map.
It is best to select a Professional Land
Surveyor by qualifications. A well qualified land surveyor will
take the time to ask you about your needs for the survey. The surveyor
will then explain what is required to complete your survey and will
answer all of your questions in a helpful manner so that you understand
The Professional Land Surveyor constantly
updates field equipment and office computers in order to provide
you with the best service.
If you needed heart surgery,
would you select the cheapest... or the best surgeon? The same
principle applies when selecting a Professional Land Surveyor.
Remember, many times, the "cheapest" survey costs the
most in additional surveying and legal fees.
Chances are a low bid means the surveyor
must cut corners and sacrifice quality. Incorrect surveys can cost
you way more money than you would have saved by selecting a surveyor
based on price alone. As a consumer you should shop for the best
value, not the cheapest price.
When is a Survey Required
Before title to land is conveyed, it
is desirable to have an adequate description of the property for
the deed, including an accurate determination of the acreage. It
is also important to know if there are any physical features or
title overlaps which might constitute encroachments or, in some
other way, adversely affect the title to the land. Only an up-to-date
survey by a Professional Land Surveyor can give you this information.
Most North Carolina cities and counties have subdivision ordinance
procedures which must be followed. For any subdivision, the Professional
Land Surveyor can work with you to prepare the required maps. This
may be a simple procedure, but may, depending on the situation,
involve: a boundary survey, a topographical survey, site analysis,
road and lot layout, road grade design and the calculations for
the necessary erosion control features. The Professional Land Surveyor
can also prepare, for review, the subdivision plat for recording
the road plan & profile maps and the erosion control plan.
The Professional Land Surveyor can explain
the requirements of the local Subdivision Ordinance and assist you
in getting the necessary approvals for your development.
Before land is improved by constructing
drives, fences, walls or buildings, it is desirable to know the
location of the property corners and boundaries. Using the services
of a Professional Land Surveyor, for staking and grading the locations
of the improvements, avoids encroachments upon adjoining property
and possible litigation at a later date. It also insures the improvements
will be constructed according to the design plans.
Before land is divided by will or by
Court Order, a survey of the land is needed. In the case of a will,
the boundary of the property, as well as any improvements such as
buildings, roads and drives on the property, need to be located.
When the land is divided, the heirs can easily decide on the location
of the new property lines. The Professional Land Surveyor can provide
the necessary maps.
Before the Court can establish a disputed
boundary line it needs an accurate survey of the land. When a question
arises as to the location of a boundary line between you and your
neighbor, the first thing you need to do is get an accurate boundary
survey. When the survey is completed, the Professional Land Surveyor
can explain the location of the boundary line. In some cases, the
surveyor can help solve the problem between you and your neighbor;
at other times, the surveyor will appear in court as an expert witness
on your behalf.
What the Professional Land Surveyor
Needs From You
The Professional Land Surveyor needs
- Your Name
- Your Current Address and Phone Number
- Name of the Current Owner of the Land
- Parcel Identification Number (PIN)
of the Property
- Deed Book and Page Number of the Current
Any other information you can provide,
such as deeds, wills or maps, may be of help.
It is not necessary for you to search
for or get copies of neighbors' deeds. The Professional Land Surveyor
is an expert at this research and is required to do so by the Standards
The information you submit to the Professional
Land Surveyor can be mailed. This is preferred because it gives
written authorization to proceed. A retainer may be required for
certain surveys before the land surveyor will begin your survey.
Why Survey Costs Vary
The Professional Land Surveyor's fee
will include the time to search for deeds or court records, locate
the physical boundary evidence at the property, make the necessary
computations to check the boundary, place appropriate markers on
the property and prepare the survey map.
The cost of surveys can vary because
of missing corner evidence, disputed boundary lines, rough terrain,
heavy underbrush, poor land descriptions in the deeds and travel
time to and from the property.
Because of these varying conditions,
it is difficult for the Professional Land Surveyor to predict an
exact cost. The same conditions and the number of jobs pending will
affect when your survey can be completed. This time can vary from
days to months.
A survey is a highly technical and complex
service utilizing the art of measuring, mathematics and the proper
interpretation of real property law.
A Title Insurance policy is generally
issued when property is purchased. This covers the title of the
property protecting the owner; or the loan protecting the lender.
It can also cover the survey if specified. Discuss the provisions
of title insurance with your lawyer.
The Professional Land Surveyor can survey
your land ONLY according to the deeds and other available information.
The location of the boundary lines marked by the surveyor is ONLY
a professional opinion based on the evidence found in the records
and on the ground. However, the accuracy by which the Professional
Land Surveyor accomplishes this service is backed by his professional
In today's business world, lawyers, engineers
and architects rely heavily on the Professional Land Surveyor's
integrity and accuracy.
In the case of litigation, the Professional
Land Surveyor will appear in court as an expert witness. The surveyor's
testimony is accepted by the court as professional evidence.
Your Surveyor is Part of a Team
Your Attorney, Realtor, Lender and Title
Insurer are the other members of this professional team. All rely
on input from each other in order to serve your needs.
Owners Title Insurance
There are many real estate title problems
that can arise to cause you financial loss which could even include
the loss of your property. These title difficulties include those
that will not be revealed even by the most careful search of public
records which are called hidden hazards. When hidden hazards are
present, the title search of the public records may reveal no problems
whatsoever even though the title to real estate is seriously flawed.
Your attorney's examination of title evidence from the records may
be based on great skill, experience and legal knowledge but the
title still may be defective.
Here are examples of land title problems
that can affect your real estate ownership. They may not emerge
until long after you buy property but they nonetheless can result
in claims and financial loss.
- Claims by children born or adopted
after date of will
- Claims by previously undisclosed heirs
- Deeds by minors, aliens or persons
of unsound mind
- Administration of estates of persons
absent but not deceased
- Claims of creditors against real estate
sold by heirs
- Forged deeds, mortgage releases and
- Mistakes in public records
- Fraudulent acts
- Misinterpretation of Will
- Descriptions of property that appear
accurate but are not
Protection against land title problems,
including hidden hazards, is offered by title insurance. The purchase
of title insurance does not assure that you, the home buyer, are
protected. In virtually all parts of the country, the lender requests
that the home buyer pay for a "lender's policy" of title
insurance to safeguard the lender's security interest in real estate
being purchased. Such coverage does not protect you, as home buyer.
"Lender's title insurance" is issued in the amount of
the mortgage loan; its amount of coverage decreases as your loan
is paid off.
It is therefore necessary for the home
buyer seeking protection of his or her interest to obtain an "owner's
policy" of title insurance. Title problems affecting the buyer's
use and enjoyment of property may not affect the lender's security
interest, so "owner's title insurance" should be given
serious consideration. In some areas, "owner's title insurance"
must be requested and paid for by the home buyer if this coverage
is desired. In other locales, an "owner's policy" is customarily
paid for by the seller of the real estate.
Title insurance is paid for once, normally
at the real estate closing. There are no annual renewal premiums
as with casualty type insurance.
"Owner's title insurance" normally
is issued in the amount of your real estate purchase price. Under
its coverage, the title insurer will, when necessary, pay for defending
against an attack on the title as insured and will pay valid claims.
Coverage lasts as long as you or your heirs have an interest in
the property concerned.
Remember before you buy
that you are making a substantial investment when purchasing a home.
The time for precautions,
is before you complete your real estate transaction.
To protect your interests, insist on
a land survey by a licensed land surveyor and an "owner's policy"
of title insurance.
|American Congress on
Surveying and Mapping
5410 Governor Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814
|American Land Title
Suite 705 1828 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036