We recently attended a training hosted by one of the largest associations in the DFW Metroplex. While the content was good overall, we walked away with concerns about several glaring points of misinformation shared during the event.
One hot topic concerned the subject of residential property surveys.
To clear things up, we polled our title, surveying, and lender partners to confirm understanding of how the cow eats the cabbage in Texas.
Statement: "A T-47 (survey affidavit) is not a requirement for existing survey provided by a Seller."
Survey Says: A T-47 is not only a standard requirement in order for Title to issue coverage against an existing survey, one is commonly signed in conjunction with closing when a NEW survey has been ordered for a transaction. A T-47 and a survey are a paired combination.
Statement: "A 10-year old T-47 (survey affidavit) is acceptable to reuse for a subsequent transaction."
Survey Says: That won't fly. A T-47 attests to the date it was signed. A new attestation would be required.
Statement: "Surveys older than 10 years cannot be used."
Survey Says: That's not a fact. The age of the survey isn't the sole determinant in the validity of a survey. If the property hasn't changed and the survey information still accurately reflects the property, a Title company may accept and insure against it. In the DFW area, original surveys dating back to the 1940s have been accepted. If you have questions, check with the Title company parties plan to use.
Statement: "It isn't permissible for a Seller to draw items onto an existing survey to reflect a change."
Survey Says: That's Title's decision. It isn't unheard of for a Title company to permit a Seller to draw in changes (e.g., the addition or removal of a pool, a modified fence line, the placement of an outbuilding or structure) and be willing to insure against it.
Statement: "An existing survey produced within the past 10 years is insurable."
Survey Says: That's not a fact. While newer surveys are presumed to be accurate, a Lender or a Title company could require a new one if one or more of the following example conditions apply:
- the Survey company has been blacklisted by the Title or Lender vendors (can occur when loss has been incurred against claims from a particular company or surveyor)
- the existing Survey and T-47 are not delivered by Seller parties within required contract deadlines
- the Survey lacks the legal description or is missing elements (e.g., stamp, easements, etc...)
- the property has changed (pool installation / removal, moved fence lines, structural modification or additions
- encroachments or other defects are uncovered (this includes discoveries with brand new surveys)
- other extenuating circumstances not included in this list
Statement: "A Broker, Agent, Seller or Buyer can order a Survey."
Survey Says: While parties are absolutely allowed to shop for Survey services, it is best to let the Title company order the survey, as they will supply the Surveyor with the title work he/she needs to complete the order, and reconcile the final production with legal to ensure insurability.
Statement: "A plat map can be substituted for a survey."
Survey Says: Consumers and agents alike can easily confuse plat maps -- and even builder site sketches with surveys. They are not interchangeable. When in doubt, send a copy of any documents to the Title company parties plan to use, and get clarification / approval before getting under contract.
Statement: "A brand new survey is always required."
Survey Says: If the property has changed, there can be an option to "update" a survey for a lesser cost than ordering a brand new one. Check with the original surveyor for pricing, feasibility and availability.
Statement: "Title insurance will automatically insure against boundary line disputes."
Survey Says: Nope. Not unless boundary line coverage is ordered prior to closing.
Statement: "A property owner can subdivide property with a survey."
Survey Says: Surveys are not the legal instruments used to parcel out or subdivide property. Contact your local Title company about the Title work and process that would be required for a particular parcel.
More Where This Came From
For more interesting, fun facts and colorful information about Texas residential surveys, visit the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying, or consult with your favorite local Title company. A smart man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.