If you’re looking to purchase property or land in Florida, you should receive a Florida property survey. A Florida real estate attorney can review the survey, informing you of any complications before you decide to close the transaction or not.
Do I Have to Survey Property in Florida?
In Florida, you are not legally required to secure a property survey before buying or selling a property.
However, lenders may want a survey to be performed as part of their loan process.
Regardless, it’s strongly recommended so you avoid problems later down the line.
To avoid complications and to ensure you do everything in your best interests, you should contact a Florida real estate attorney.
What is a Property Survey?
A property survey in Florida (also referred to as a ‘certified property boundary report’) is a study performed by a licensed property surveyor.
The study defines and outlines the boundaries and characteristics of the land, and also documents any improvements that have been made.
The property surveyor may rely on property and country records to compare their observations with the land’s previous condition. They will also likely use the assistance of GPS, Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) and Robotic Survey Systems (RSS).
In Florida, property surveys are carried out by surveyors licensed by the State of Florida. They will make an independent and unbiased determination about the land.
What Do Property Surveys Reveal?
- Boundary lines
- Notes on any improvements that have been made on the land.
- DIsclosure of characteristics of the property, such as boundaries, encroachments, utilities and easements.
Here are the top ten benefits of a property survey in Florida:
To Determine Boundary Lines
Real estate attorneys are regularly seen disputing boundary lines. Property owners can spend years assuming boundary lines are in a different place than their actual legal positioning.
That can pose a serious threat for any new buyer who wants to install a fence or make changes to the surrounding land – as a neighbor might dispute it.
A property survey takes care of that. When the land is purchased, you’ll know exactly where the boundary lines are and have admissible expert evidence.
This can give the buyer supporting in making changes to the land and also the chance to object the title to the property before closing if there are inaccuracies in the legal description.
To Check Property Violations
A property survey will detail everything and anything that exists on the land – from buildings and fences to roads and lakes.
This will allow them to discover if any improvements or characteristics of the property are in violation of state law.
That can protect you as a buyer and provide you with crucial information before your closing.
Violations may include the height of buildings, frontage requirements, federal environment agency regulations, or safety concerns.
To Understand Environmental Regulations
In Florida, the state’s unique environmental characteristics require the careful placement of residential utilities.
A property survey will reveal the existing utilities, such as drains, sewer systems, utility poles and power cables.
As a buyer, you should be aware of any violations and also to foresee any potential changes – such as if a utility provider has access to the site and needs to cut back trees.
This information can also be crucial in future improvements such as swimming pool installations.
To Clarify the Location of Easements
Florida Statute 704.01 describes easements as an ‘implied grant of access’ on land to another person or entity.
A common example of an easement is a utility pole or Florida drinking water pipeline.
As a buyer, you need to know this to understand who has access to the property and to the easement.
A property surveyor will provide this information alongside information on the easement, municipal orders and deed restrictions.
Although some easements will be easy to spot with the naked eye, others will require expert equipment or deep dives into records – for example with underground pipes and cables.
To Reveal Any Right of Ways
Once the easements have been identified, a property survey in Florida will also reveal who has access to the land.
For example, right-of-way easements may be owned by a neighbor or local electric utility company when they have no other way to access their land or easement except by crossing the land.
As a buyer, you don’t want to purchase a property without knowing this crucial information, so a survey will keep you from nasty surprises later.
To Reveal Anything That May Affect Use of The Property
A survey will also make observations of natural characteristics that may affect its use. For example, ponds, creeks, lakes and rocks.
Manufactured objects will also be noted. For example, fences, walls and old foundations.
It should be noted that some natural characteristics, such as wetlands, may require observations from environmental agencies as they go beyond the scope of work provided by a property surveyor.
To Update Inaccurate Recordings
Land records and existing surveys may be outdated and inaccurate with the present day. Technology has advanced massively in the last decade and old surveys may not correlate with more accurate measurements of today.
This can potentially make a big difference in the understanding of a property before a purchase or sale.
Topography surveys can be carried out to determine a detailed picture of the property’s elevation changes. This is extremely important if you want to ever construct new buildings.
Florida government agencies and city departments tend to require topography surveys before granting building permits and construction.
A setback is a type of zoning requirement that prohibits certain uses of the property. For example, where a fence can be placed or how far from the street you can build.
A property survey will reveal if any violation of ‘setbacks’ exists already. If so, it will need to be resolved by the seller before closing.
To Avoid Problems Further Down the Line
In summary, the main reason you should get a property survey in Florida is to avoid problems further down the line. From violating state laws to disputes with neighbors and utility companies, you deserve to know the fine details about the property you’re buying.
Closing a purchase without a property survey in Florida may leave you in shock sooner or later.
Contact a Real Estate Attorney in Florida for Property Surveys
Real estate attorneys ensure your rights are protected when closing a purchase. Property surveys are just one example of that.
A real estate attorney will help you find and communicate with a property surveyor in Florida, to ensure you’re not buying a property that violates laws or something unexpected.
They’ll also review the documents to provide experienced, expert advice on whether you should decline or close a transaction.
If you’re purchasing property or land in St Petersburg, Florida then contact us today. Our attorneys, Ross and Purdun at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. have extensive experience that can help you through these tricky moments, reviewing your document and advising you on the next steps to secure your transaction.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.