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Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

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Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:30 pm

I've bugged out but I'd like to get out farther, settle in with a white picket fence around my BOL. :D

Looked at one parcel and not much has gone on in the area in about 25-30 years. No building, new roads, etc.
I found a GIS map online but question is, when do I need a more recent survey? Do I even need one? If I need a more recent survey who pays for it? Buyer? Seller?

I know I would have to have one when I put a home or other structure on it.

Thoughts??
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby MouseToes » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:38 pm

You (buyer) would pay for the survey and you would pay for the perk test for the septic system and testing for a well. The survey is important, you need to know the boundaries of the property of course as this will determine the size house, shape etc.

Moved into a house we built on raw land in Dec 2012 and looked at MANY pieces of land that would not even perk. That of course made them "unbuildable" BUT they were still for sale. NONE would have allowed an above ground septic system either.

You would be surprised at the odd shapes of many of the pieces of land out there for sale. Some had been large tracts divided up for family to build homes or use for hunting only.

You are also going to pay taxes on it even if you don't build. Many pieces are in two different counties.

For me, surveys are epic to protect your investment! And a title search is beyond important too, many pieces of land are sold that the person who sold it does NOT even own.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:01 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience! I had wanted to build years ago but so many foreclosures made building and all it's headaches less attractive. I think you're right to look at a LOT of properties.

Acreage I'm looking at is all in one county. I haven't asked about the water tables in that area. I know septic must be underground and I'm not sure if I can have propane tanks that are below ground or not. I'll talk to the zoning inspector before I make a bid.

I know what people and real estate agents try to sell! :x
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby MouseToes » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:29 pm

Best of luck to you and I sent you a PM.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby anita » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:23 pm

Who pays what depends on the local traditions and what you agree upon in your contract with the seller. There's no nationwide rules.

When we bought our lot (SE PA) the seller had let the perc expire. He would have typically had the lot perced prior to putting it on the market, but we agreed to pay for the perc, because he really didn't want to deal with it, and we got the lot for less than we might have otherwise. We also needed a topographical survey as well as a regular survey. We live in a rural area of the suburbs, and it's got a lot more rules than some other areas of the country.

Your best bet is to contact someone knowledgeable in your area as to what is required to build. I think some areas of the country require proof that you have water on the lot. We needed a permit for a well.

I sold real estate back in the day.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:34 pm

Thanks anita! I didn't know a perc test could have an expiration. I don't believe anything recent has been done. One plot of land sold and the following week a sign went up on the neighboring plot by another owner.

I called the township office and got the number for their zoning inspector. I'll give him a call when I'm ready. I don't want to sound like a tire kicker with "what if, what about, how about this area?".
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby JC1 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:50 pm

Blondie wrote: I don't want to sound like a tire kicker with "what if, what about, how about this area?".


Why not? use all the resource you have to get the best place at the best price you can.

I've not had to do this myself but I did have a neighbor that spent a lot of money installing a nice fence. After he spent the entire summer and was completely done the neighbor on the other side said "you're two inches on my property" they had to tear the entire fence down and start over. Yep I'd get a survey.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby anita » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:03 pm

We bought our property from our neighbor, and his pool fence was 10 feet onto our property, and his driveway was 20 feet on our property. If he had a survey done before he sold the lot, he could have just had a lot line change done, but instead he had to rip it all out.

Assume nothing.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:32 pm

I understand what you're saying about lot lines and fencing. There's nothing to be torn down, here. Vacant land as far as the eye can see. I don't think there are any expansion plans if the township has a Master Plan for the area.

You are bringing up really valid points. While I doubt anything is going to get built in the future on either side it's better to spend a few bucks and be safe rather than sorry. The topography survey may be worthwhile as well.

I did talk to the gas company to see how far away natural gas was to avoid propane and the closest natural gas lines are 2 miles away. The gas company plan didn't include expanding service. Not enough customers.

I don't want to be a PITA until I'm sure of what I want. :D
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby contrarian » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:32 pm

I just moved into the BOL in May and have already put up one fence. A survey is critical at some point. If you can find the pins / markers from the past survey, that will "good enough" especially if you get your neighbors to acknowledge your proposed fence lines.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:07 pm

Congratulations on bugging out!! What I'm now looking at has vacant land on each side.

I had previously looked at a foreclosure closer to town with neighbors. It struck me that everyone had a 6' privacy fence around their yard (1/2 acre lots). I thought about that for awhile and decided against it.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby TaffyJ » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:44 pm

It's always good to have a recent survey on hand. When we found property to buy, we got the most recent survey (only 2 years old) at the courthouse. We walked our land before we bought it, and found all the survey markers so we knew exactly what would be ours and what wouldn't be. After we moved onto it, a new guy moved in along side our driveway and was raising all kinds of heck about our fence being on his land. We knew very well that we had set our fence 2 inches inside our property line by finding the survey pins and stretching a string between them to put the posts in just on our side of the line.
The neighbor made a big stink about it, but we knew we were correct, so we told him to call the surveyor to come out and check it. They never did, because it would have cost them about $450 to get him out there. Because we had a good survey, we knew we were right, so we didn't have to worry.

A good friend of ours bought vacant land and took the sellers word for it about where the property lines were. Without a survey, they moved their doublewide onto the land and had it put together and anchored down. The next day, an angry absentee neighbor showed up and demanded they move their home off her land. Finally, they got a survey, and found that they had indeed put their home 4 feet onto the other person's vacant land. It cost them $5000 to get the crew back out there and move the house again. Surveys are a lot cheaper.

You may not think you need a survey now, but you never know what wallet ache it may save you.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby daaswampman » Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:17 am

Even vacant land needs a survey and a complete title search. You also need to know your local laws. A case in point is the land behind some I own has no access. None of the owners wish to give access nor can they be forced to in this area. It may seem mean, but I have no desire to give anyone lifetime permission to cross my land. He should have done his due diligence and knew the local laws. The old road was legally abandoned and I have no desire to reopen it. He sued, lost, and paid all legal expenses. If he had just asked the neighbors, then he would have know that the whole area was mined for gravel in the 50's and that whole area floods every few years. There may be reasons land is vacant. Swamp
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Alaska Rose » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:33 am

A survey is always a good idea. I didn't have to as this property was surveyed by the Dept. of the Interior, the lines are 4 feet wide and the markers are all metal posts with large caps with the coordinates on them. It is a Native Allotment, so has different rules.
Anything else, get a survey. In Alaska, all section lines are right-of-ways, but every State has different Laws. Not sure about anywhere else, but if you allow access across your property, here, in 7 years, they can claim adverse possession and you lose the area they use as access.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Permafrost » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:41 am

Just my 2 cents but I always go through a title company, they have the insurance and take all the risk for $500. In Alaska there is no building code outside of towns, so little attention is paid to that. I would check for the survey stakes and double check the measurements, we discovered we have 2' of extra land by the stake at one property. The neighbors have yet to do a survey so it does not matter but 1 stake is wrong. Get a tape and rent a survey station to double check your purchase, a station can be rented for $30 here and it is a lot cheaper than a surveyor. On the flip side the family has land up river that was surveyed but no government official has been there for 30+ years, we have a 20'x80' wood shed on state land and a ATV/snomachine bridge across the slough. At this point we could claim squatters rights. Land rights go both ways, it all depends on the area.
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