And the Survey Says?

Originally Published: 5/12/2012

Survey review is a prevalent part of our practice whether we do so for purposes of property due diligence, removing or confirming title issues, etc. More often than not Buyers are unclear as to the necessary requirement that a survey must include to be used for purposes of removing title exceptions and insurability. Below are a few key items that Buyers should be aware of when ordering and reviewing a survey. This by no means is an exhaustive list, and we would recommend speaking with an attorney to understand all statutory requirements (e.g., Chapter 177, Florida Statutes) and regulations that a surveyor and survey must follow and reflect.

  • Make sure your surveyor is a licensed “professional surveyor and mapper” with the State of Florida. You can obtain surveyor information online at http://www.800helpfla.com/psm/psm.html (the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Consumer Services, Professional Surveyors and Mappers) or call 1-800-435-7352. On the left hand side of the page you can search for:
    • Licensed Surveyors
    • Disciplinary Action
    • Suspended Licenses
  • Prior to retaining a surveyor make sure they are properly insured. Request that your surveyor provide you with evidence of insurance. We have had instances in which surveyors are properly insured but attempt to substantially limit their liability by adding a note on the survey. Make sure any and all notes located on the survey are reviewed and approved by your attorney.
  • Make sure the correct property is being surveyed and accurate data is delivered to the surveyor.
  • Understand the costs associated with a survey (and elevation certificate – if requested).
  • Confirm the turnaround timeframe by your surveyor so that you can meet contractual deadlines.
  • Make sure your surveyor is familiar with the type of work that is being requested (e.g., make sure your surveyor understands how to survey waterfront property).
  • Make sure the survey is “signed and sealed” and certified to the Buyer, closing/ title agent, title underwriter, and lender (if applicable). We have found that many surveys incorporate disclaimer language (e.g., “nothing hereon shall be construed to give any rights or benefits to anyone other than those certified”) to clearly define those parties that can rely on the survey, which is another way to limit liability.
  • Make sure the title commitment is provided to your surveyor so that all relevant title exceptions can be properly located on the survey. The survey should reflect a note that states “this survey was prepared with the benefit of a Title Commitment prepared by ______________, File number _________________, dated ______________.
  • Have an attorney review the survey (immediately upon receipt) to determine any and all encroachments, boundary line disputes, access issues, easements, setback violations, etc., that may be present on the property.

As alluded to above this is merely a quick informational summary for Buyers when engaging a surveyor and ordering a survey. There are many more technical requirements that a surveyor and survey must follow. We recommend engaging counsel to review and understand the survey prior to any contractual deadlines expiring.

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