Title Tip: It’s Selling Time, Do You Know Where Your Survey Is?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

One of the most common mistakes and needless expenses that home sellers encounter involves the survey section of their sales contract. Despite the bold type and plain English, there are often disputes and confusion about providing a survey.

The survey section is on page 2 of the standard TREC contract. Paragraph 6C specifically addresses who will provide a survey and when it is due. Note that there are 3 options on the contract regarding the survey. One – and only one – of these options should be checked before completing the contract. The most commonly checked option is paragraph 6C (1).

Paragraph 6C (1) states that the seller will provide an existing survey along with the notarized survey affidavit within a specified number of days. If the survey is not acceptable to the title company or buyer’s lender then there is a place to check whether the buyer or seller will pay for a new survey.

This is where we see a lot of misunderstanding. Often the box is checked that the buyer will pay for a new survey in this paragraph. And sometimes the seller mistakenly thinks that if they can’t find their survey, this means the buyer will pay for a new one. That is not the case. If box 6C (1) is checked, the buyer would only pay for a new survey if the seller’s existing survey was unacceptable to the title company or lender.

All too often the seller agrees to provide their existing survey to the buyer and then can’t find it before it is due. In that case, the seller will be paying for a new survey. The Survey Affidavit is also due with the survey. This document must be notarized and signed by the sellers. Occasionally the seller provides their existing survey and forgets about the survey affidavit. They both must be provided to the buyer and title company.

Paragraph 6C (2) states that the buyer will pay for a new survey. Paragraph 6C (3) states that the seller shall pay for a new survey. If there is not an existing survey on hand, one of those paragraphs should be checked.

Regardless of which option the parties agree to, the amount of time should always be filled in. If you don’t fill in the number of days for the survey to be provided, then closing delays may occur. Either party could delay getting the survey if there is no deadline. However, both the title company or lender time need time to review and approve the survey before closing. And that review process takes time.

If you’re selling a property and don’t know exactly where your survey is, then don’t agree to provide it. Why not track it down before putting you house on the market? Make copies and have your agent upload it into the MLS so that potential buyers can see it.

A new survey typically costs $400-$600 for the average size suburban lot. They take a week or two to get. And lenders require them before issuing a mortgage on a property. If you’re a current homeowner, do you know where your survey is right now?

The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice for any particular issue or problem.

Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled, and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Carlisle Title, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.

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  1. LonestarBabs says

    I’m in the process of researching our survey’s whereabouts. Our city does not keep surveys on file past a certain date. Since our house was built in 1976 the copy at city hall no longer exists. So I’m looking through family files of 40+ years.

    Why can’t there be a requirement that surveys remain on file with a city — if storage is an issue, microfiche them or something!!!

    • Lydia says

      Sorry, but in Dallas, the city and county do not keep surveys of properties. They plat neighborhoods but don’t individually survey a property. A plat doesn’t substitute for a survey.
      When a property sells, the city and/or county do not receive a copy of the survey. The survey is the property of the owner and the owner has the right to keep it. The owner doesn’t have to provide a survey to a buyer. However, the buyer may want one and their lender will require one to fund a mortgage on the property.

    • Kevin Bittick says

      Also, even if the footprint of the house hasn’t changed since the survey was done, there’s a limit on how old a survey can be before a lender will reject it. I believe this is less than 10 years (somebody correct me if I’m wrong), so a 1976 survey wouldn’t be acceptable anyway. It’s best to just get a new one, or wait and see if the buyer offers to pay for it when the offer is made. ;>)

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