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Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Fullmoon » Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:29 am

When I bought my 60 acres it had recently been surveyed and the survey duly recorded at the county court house. We had the land surveyed again before signing the land contract and the original survey was WRONG by 60 feet along the southern boundry!! This particular land is steeper than a goats face so survey errors are common. This was before the advent of GPS systems so it was surveyed using a chain and a transit. Had to ammend the original survey and re-record it at the courthouse. The property owners behind me were distressed and dismayed at losing that 60 feet of property and threatened to suit me but they never did. Its always better to spend a few hundred extra dollars for a survey, its beneficial in the long run. Most states require all land to be surveyed before a sale and the GPS co-ordinates recorded with the plat plan at the county recorders office. That way its secure and there can be no future land disputes.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby MouseToes » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:02 am

There is a LOT of great info in this thread!
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:23 pm

MouseToes wrote:There is a LOT of great info in this thread!


Very true and I'm taking notes! This will help others who hope to one day buy a piece of property if you're looking to homestead, farm or just a retreat. Will save a LOT of heartache later on.

The parcels I looked at were not surveyed with a GPS. While we don't have DOI here we do have the Forest Service. Their markers for an easement on a property are easy to spot. Typically they have a placard attached.

I'm thinking of taking a walk next weekend. Waiting for a freeze will kill off ground vegetation and make it easier to spot pins. Been a fairly mild fall here and there's still leaves on the trees.

For those who want to purchase on a land contract or contract for deed make sure it's recorded in the proper county office. I had friends who got a nasty surprise when their property was foreclosed on and they were never notified. They didn't get their land contract recorded and were never notified of the court proceedings.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby anita » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:33 pm

Blondie wrote:
MouseToes wrote:There is a LOT of great info in this thread!




For those who want to purchase on a land contract or contract for deed make sure it's recorded in the proper county office. I had friends who got a nasty surprise when their property was foreclosed on and they were never notified. They didn't get their land contract recorded and were never notified of the court proceedings.


This sounds like it's peculiar to your area perhaps? I'm not sure of a difference between a land contract and a deed, but the deed should always be recorded.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:55 pm

Here in Mi, it's a land contract. Some areas of the country it's called a contract for deed. You're essentially recording your mortgage and your interest/agreement with the county.

Years ago friends were buying a home on land contract w/the builder. The builder took their down payment as well as their monthly payments but never paid his own mortgage holder.

Because they never recorded the land contract in the county offices when the bank started foreclosure on the builder my friends were never notified. They heard it from others in the neighborhood.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Fullmoon » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:27 pm

On the Left Coast a land contract is when the owner sells to a buyer and carries the loan himself, thus eliminating the bank. To be legal a title search and survey must be done and the plat plan and other pertinant papers recorded at the county recorders office. My land contract was for a period of 10 years and I paid it off in nine. Once payment is complete you must then file for a Deed Of Reconveyance that places the deed in your name and record that also making it nice and legal. Every state is a little different but thats the way I had to do it.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Argus » Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:16 pm

Always have a survey done before going through with a sale. Not only does it verify the lot lines conveyed by the deed, but it identifies the locations of any other interests in land that may be on your property to interfere with your use, like easements and setbacks. Nothing like buying your land, applying for a permit to build your dream home (or dream BOL as the case may be), and discovering that there is a utility easement through the middle of it. The title commitment should disclose the easement, but the survey will tell you where it is.

Always make sure any interest in land is recorded, if it isn't recorded a subsequent purchaser has no notice of your prior interest. Make sure to have any contract for deed or other conveyance document reviewed by a competent real estate attorney so you don't wind up screwed.

If there has ever been any industrial use in the area, its also a good idea to do a Phase I environmental site assessment. There may have been some contamination in the past (under ground, on ground, aquifer, etc.) They look at old records, check federal records for nearby contamination that affect your property, and inspect for any hints of contamination, like discolored soil and dead vegetation. If there are any redflags they dig deeper and can do invasive testing in Phase II. There are protections in the law IF you make reasonable inquiry into the property before purchasing. If you do nothing, then you will likely have liability should anything pop up in the future. Environmental liability can exist even where there has been no past industrial use, like the old farmer who owned it in the 50s dumped 3 drums of DDT in the back 40, or even had a leaky diesel tank thats gone now, it eventually finds its way into your neighbors well and they trace it to your land. if you had an ESA done then you may be able to limit your liability and put it on the former owner. Chances are you're OK, but the risk of potential financial liability should make you look into it.

And speaking of aquifers, have tests done to make sure your water is safe before buying. If the water is bad and you don't have public water readily available, it can be expensive to haul water in for your family and stock.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby wfduggan » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:40 pm

Look for surveyed land.

I bought land without a survey. I've regretted it since. Extrapolate from that what you want, but I wouldn't do it twice.

If you're buying from a developer, check to see if the state they're in requires surveying by a licensed surveyor. In some states, it's required by law to have subdivisions broken up by a licensed surveyor.

It's even better if the land you're buying has a fence already up for some time. then there are established boundaries.

There are books on the subject and lawyers that specialize on the subject.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby thckhf » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:54 pm

Yes, you need a survey. Typically the buyer pays. In most areas the seller will know about perk test and availability of water. Often the seller will reimburse the cost of the perk test if the land won't perk. To successfully homestead you will need ten acres or more, if you intend to keep livestock.

Lots of land out there can be bought with owner financing. I am a real estate broker and have 40 acres in western NC about available perfect for peppers.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby Blondie » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:13 am

Thanks, but I'm in Northern MI.

A couple of co-workers have gotten into homesteading but I don't have that skill level, yet.

Still haven't found what I'm looking for in a property.
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Re: Vacant Land-Do I Need a Survey?

Postby angie_nrs » Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:30 pm

I agree with everyone else - yes, get a survey.

Just a suggestion....get quotes from area surveyors. I would get at least 3 if possible. We got one that was over $3000 and one that was $800 for the same piece of property. Of coarse, you want to ask around and see who is trusted and professional. I would not only check the yellow pages, but also ask area banks who they use and also perhaps call the county courthouse and ask who they would recommend. The surveyor that gave the high quote said to check with someone else closer to our area b/c they would likely be able to give us a better price. :) So, it sure wouldn't hurt to call a surveyor in a neighboring county to either give you a quote or recommend someone.
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