Fall 2006
Volume 3, Number 1
Table of Contents

20 Things to Look For in a Real Property Survey
An ALTA Survey Checklist

  1. Survey is dated.
  2. Surveyor’s signature and seal are present.
  3. A north arrow is present and accurate (verify using a city map).
  4. Description on the survey matches that on the search (surveyors must survey the description of record.
  5. Acreage content is stated on the face of the survey, if this is a factor used in determining the price of the property or in permitting the property for anticipated purposes.
  6. Address on the survey matches that given by the lender (recorded subdivision plat is the authority for the street name).
  7. Surveyor’s inspection report and certificate are attached.
  8. Survey is classified, if state has minimum standards requirements.
  9. Flood-zone certification is included.  Is flood insurance required? (Zone A-usually required; Zone B-depends on lender; Zone C or X-not required.)
  10. Easements and other matters that are listed on the title search appear on the survey.  If easements are not located on the survey, contact the surveyor for an explanation.  Are there easements or other matters not shown on the title search?  These may represent potential litigation or may interfere with a plan for development.
  11. Are there any undedicated roads?  An undedicated road may evidence a claim of access across the subject property.
  12. Are there gaps between parcels believed to be contiguous?  These may prevent the purchaser from developing the property as desired.
  13. Are there fences on the property? Fences may be evidence of adverse claims or boundary-line problems.  They may also indicate agreements contrary to title information.  It may be necessary to secure a boundary-line agreement with an adjoining landowner.
  14. Are there overlapping easements or improvements that overlap easements?
  15. Does the subject property have access to a public street or have access by virtue of a recorded easement that is shown on the survey?
  16. Building set-backs are in compliance with the protective covenants.  If there is a breach of protective covenants, a waiver may be necessary.
  17. Are there encroachments of improvements onto the surveyed property?  These encroachments may have ripened into claims to a portion of the property.  If this is the case, an encroachment agreement may be desired.
  18. Does the property have improvements that encroach onto adjoining property?  This is also a cause of potential litigation.  An encroachment agreement may be needed.
  19. Review all “notes” on the survey.  Are there indications of any unusual or unauthorized use of the property or unexpected conditions?  An agricultural use may be evidence of possession inconsistent with record ownership.  Historical or archeological sites may also be inconsistent.  Existence of wetlands may be of great importance.  If any of these conditions exist, contact the surveyor.
  20. Contact the surveyor regarding any unrecognizable symbols or other information that is unclear.

If there are any problems or unusual conditions indicated by the survey, have the purchaser execute a survey acceptance letter.

Did you find this checklist helpful?  Do you think more information like this would help you?  More information is available - This checklist was republished with permission from the GP/Solo Publication: Real Estate Closing Deskbook, 2nd Edition – A Lawyer’s Reference Guide & State by State Summary; pp38-39, by K.F. Boackle.  GP/Solo members can purchase this book, which includes electronic forms, at a discount through the GP/Solo bookstore website: http://www.abanet.org/genpractice/books/index.html .


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