Who is responsible for land survey in US? Seller or buyer?

I own some property that adjoins my brother’s property. He’s trying to sell his land now. He keeps saying that he "thinks" the line is here, this corner’s there, etc. He says that no survey is required, since there is a property description on file in the courthouse. Brother insists that he’s not laying out one dime for this property sale, and that the buyer can have it surveyed. I told him that nobody in their right mind would buy a piece of property where the boundaries aren’t clearly marked. He keeps saying it is buyer’s responsibility for the land survey. I know one of his corners is off by at least 20 feet, as I can remember the old property line from when I was a child. He’s a few years younger than me, and doesn’t want to hear what I’m telling him. If he does manage to sell it without a survey, what are my rights if the new owner and I disagree about where the property line is?

7 Responses to “Who is responsible for land survey in US? Seller or buyer?”

  1. Mary B Says:

    The buyer is responsible for getting a survey, and the survey rep will interpret that against the legal description to make sure that there is a match.

    If there is what they call a "survey exception", which means the new survey doesn’t match the legal description of the property for sale, the seller, must have the legal description corrected through their own real estate attorney, or in some cases, where the lot is SMALLER, the buyer can ask for a drop in the sales price of the home…as it would be a material misrepresentation of what is for sale.

    Title CANNOT pass with a survey exception….the bank won’t allow it BECAUSE the title company will not insure it…remember the purposeof title insurance…to correct defects of title as well as ownership, and that includes correct property lines.

    That is why EVERY client needs to get a new survey whenever they purchase a home.

    Some surveys have so many errors (from years of previous mistakes) that when discovered, it renders a property unmarketable.

    You are right, your brother is wrong.

    PS: Legal descriptions change over time. Some properties may make reference to landmarks such as a creek, a large boulder, or even a tree….guess what happens when the creek moves or the tree or rock disappears? You now have a survey exception.

    I knew someone in our city that LOST 2 acres of his land because a stream that was mentioned in the legal description…shifted.

  2. acermill Says:

    He’s correct about the survey. If he can find a buyer who will take the property based upon legal description, he won’t have to get a survey done.

    On YOUR part, I recommend that YOU get a survey done on YOUR property, so that you have clear and convincing evidence of where your own property lines lie. And do it soon, before he sells, and then insure that the lines are clearly marked for any potential buyer of his property.

  3. sammy3256 Says:

    There has to be some record identifier on his property tax bill that they are using to assess his property tax. That is a plotplan at the town or city hall.

    You also have to check your property tax bill and get your plotplan number and check it out and make sure YOU know where your boundary line is so it doesnt cause a problem for you but it will be an issue for the new owner.

    They could ask you to pay half. I do not believe that you are legally obligated if you have your plotplan of your property.

  4. engineer50 Says:

    Your rights are unchanged regardless of who owns the property adjacent to yours. If it concerns you, hire a licensed land surveyor to mark your property lines.

  5. trblmkr30 Says:

    The survey will be the responsibility of whoever the contract states is responsible. In many cases, the Buyer or title company will require a survey. I always recommend a survey for my buyers, because you never know if the lines have shifted over time.

    In your case, I would probably pay the money to have a survey done of your property so you know what property is yours, and so you have a record if the buyer ever comes in and says that the property boundaries are incorrect. You can then compare your surveys, and if there’s a discrepancy, you can have the surveyors figure out who is correct.

    Best of luck to you!

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  7. William Says:

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