Real Property Survey Report

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 What Is a Real Property Legal Description?

Real property is any property that is affixed to, or attached to land, including the land itself. Every piece of real property is unique and can be very different from the next.

This becomes an issue when attempting to identify a piece of real property. A legal description of real property can be used in legal documents to describe, locate, and identify a plot of land or a building that is being transferred or sold.

In the legal description, real property should be described using set boundaries instead of natural landmarks, which may change over time. A piece of real property should be directly identifiable from its legal description.

In other words, there should not be a need for any additional documentation required to identify the property apart from the legal description.

What Is a Real Property Survey Report?

A real property survey, or land survey report, is a legal document that indicates the location of all of the improvements relative to a property’s boundaries. Real property survey reports usually contain an illustration of the physical features and identifying major characteristics of the property as well as a written report that details the surveyor’s opinions and concerns.

When Is a Real Property Legal Description Used?

The legal description of real property may be used in many different situations. It is mainly used when property is being purchased or sold.

Other situations in which a legal description may be used include:

  • Distribution of property through a will instrument;
  • Conflicts over ownership of the home;
  • Records of deed and title, such as those kept in a county recorder’s office;
  • Transfers of real property through gifts;
  • Many types of real estate contracts; and
  • Boundary disputes between neighbors, for example, an easement dispute.

In these types of situations, the court needs to be able to clearly identify the real property that is in dispute or is being transferred. If there is any confusion regarding the property itself, it will make it more difficult for the court to resolve any related issues.

How Does a Real Property Survey Report Protect You?

A real property survey report can protect homeowners or potential home buyers because it contains a legal description of the property boundaries, which may be helpful in the event of a property survey dispute. The property survey puts the owner or potential buyer on notice of any potential property boundary disputes.

A surveyor may also become an expert witness in court and assume responsibility for the accuracy of their report. A real property survey report should be done in conjunction with other title search techniques.

What Does the Real Property Survey Report Include?

Real property survey documents usually includes:

  • A legal description of the property including the dimensions and locations of the property boundaries;
  • The street address;
  • The location of any buildings relative to the boundaries of the property;
  • The location of adjacent properties;
  • The location and description of all improvements; and
  • The type and location of any encumbrances, for example, easements or covenants.

In many real estate transactions, the deeds will also contain a description of the property similar to the property survey report.

How Do I Get a Copy of the Survey for My Property?

If an individual is purchasing a home from someone else, they can get a copy of the property survey by asking the homeowner or individual selling the home to check with their lender or title company. If these individuals cannot access the information, it may be helpful to consult with a real estate attorney or the local tax assessor’s office.

If there is not a survey available for an individual’s property, they may consider finding a professional surveyor to conduct one. It is important to ensure that the surveyor is licensed to practice in the state in which the property is located.

What Are Property Survey Disputes?

Property survey disputes are disputes that arise between parties regarding the following related to a piece of property:

  • Boundaries;
  • Measurements; or
  • Location.

These disputes often arise between neighbors. For example, if a neighbor constructs a new fence, the other neighbor may argue that the fence is on their property.

Issues such as these may be resolved by having a property survey conducted. This process will result in a report that may be used to help resolve the dispute.

What Kinds of Property Disputes Exist?

A property survey report will frequently, but will not always, resolve a property dispute. Common examples of property disputes that arise include, but are not limited to:

  • Land use disputes, for example, neighbor X may allege that neighbor Y is using neighbor Y’s property in a way that harms neighbor X or neighbor X’s property;
  • Disputes over the location of a property border that is shared;
  • Disputes over a fence, tree or other object encroaching upon, or extending to, a neighbor’s property;
  • Disputes between the description of property in a survey report, and how that property is described in a deed; and
  • Disputes regarding whether the deed accurately and fully describes the boundaries of the property.

How Are Property Survey Disputes Resolved?

A property survey dispute may be resolved either informally or by filing a lawsuit in court. A property survey dispute can be resolved informally if neighbors agree to accept the results of the property survey report.

If one of the property owners disagrees with the results of the report, that individual can obtain their own survey report. If the results of that report do not resolve the dispute, the individuals may select a surveyor together and agree to be bound by the findings of that survey.

If the parties are unable to make such an agreement, they may choose to participate in a non-binding mediation. During a mediation, a mediator, or neutral third party, will hear the claims of each party.

The mediator will then try to help the parties find common ground so they can reach a mutually satisfactory resolution. If this cannot be accomplished, one property owner may file a civil lawsuit against the other party.

During the lawsuit, the court will evaluate the evidence presented by each party. This evidence may include:

  • Deeds;
  • Title searches; and
  • Survey reports.

The court will evaluate the evidence provided and reach a decision regarding where the actual boundary lines are. If the court finds that something on one party’s property encroaches on the other party’s property, the court can order that the encroachment must be removed and the party that constructed it must pay the costs for removal.

In addition, in order to prevent a future dispute, the court may order that the deed must be reformed. Reforming a deed involves changing the description of the property to conform with the court’s decision regarding the property’s proper boundaries.

The court can order that the reformed deed be filed with the county’s land recorder, recorder of deeds, or other government official responsible for keeping land records.

Once the new deed is recorded, subsequent owners will be bound by the terms of the new deed.

Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer for My Real Property Survey Report Problem?

Deeds and property survey reports are important documents that affect your ownership interests and rights in parcels of real property. Having a real property survey report can help minimize the risk attached to purchasing real estate by providing the exact boundaries of the property.

If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to a real property survey report, it may be helpful to consult with a property attorney. Your attorney can assist you with obtaining a report, conducting a title search, and any other necessary steps to protect against future disputes.

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