Ep. 17 | Title Commitment and Surveys 101 – Part 2 of 2


On this episode of The Mobile Home Park Lawyer, we have part two of a two-part series on title commitments and surveys. Ferd goes through an Alta Survey Table A, discusses his experience, and tells us why it is important and worth the money. Enjoy!


“Sometimes surveys can be expensive, but you’ve really got to just put them in your budget. It’s kind of the cost of doing business to keep from making a big mistake.”



0:00 – Intro
1:13 – The survey is an extension of the title commitment
1:20 – Ferd describes the base-level boundary survey
3:08 – Ferd describes a typical Alta survey
7:16 – The first item on the Alta Survey, Table A is to do with monuments placed
9:23 – Number 2 is the addresses of the surveyed property
9:52 – Number 3 is the flood zone classification
10:19 – Number 4 is the gross land area
12:16 – Number 5 is vertical relief with the source of information
12:44 – Number 6A is List the current zoning classifications and 6B graphically depicts the setback requirements
13:41 – Number 7 is exterior dimensions of all buildings at ground level
14:49 – Number 8 is substantial features observed in the process of conducting the fieldwork
15:09 – Number 9 is the number and type of identifiable parking spaces
15:45 – Number 10 is the determination of the relationship and location of certain division or party walls with respect to adjoining properties
16:31 – Number 11 is the location of utilities existing on or serving the surveyed property
22:24 – Number 12 is governmental agency survey-related requirements
22:40 – Number 13 is the names of adjoining owners according to tax records
23:45 – Number 14 is the distance to the nearest intersecting street
24:13 – Number 15 is rectified orthophotography
24:44 – Number 16 is evidence of recent earthmoving work, building construction, or building additions
25:25 – Number 17 is proposed changes to street ride away lines
25:46 – Number 18 is the location of any delineation markers
26:14 – Number 19 is any plottable offsite
26:41 – Number 20 is professional liability insurance
27:20 – Ferd recommends that the seller pay for the survey and require them to include any surveys which have been done in the past
21:25 – Surveys can be expensive, but they’re a must



Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA – NSPS Land Title Surveys



Welcome back mobile home park nation. Here again today with another episode of the podcast. Today we’re going to talk about surveys. This is part two of a two-part series on title commitments and survey, and they really kind of work together because the title commitment essentially is the seller representing and the title commitment and title company, confirming that the seller has the quality of title to present you with and basically to DG over via warranty deed, the right title interest that you’re buying, that you think you’re buying. Well the title commitment, as you know, from our last episode tells you about some of the liens and other exceptions and concerns about the property and the condition at title. Well, the survey is really an enhancement of that.

Surveys tell you the stuff that typically you can’t figure it out on your own. You need an expert in there. They’re really three levels of survey. I mean the base level of surveys is called a boundary survey, and this is basically, you know, a drawn up, one or two square rectangle or some polygon around the property. And it has a beginning and an ending, and it has to connect. You can’t have, you know, like a Pac-Man shape with an open mouth. It’s got to be enclosed. And the boundary has to close and then a surveyor can write up a legal description, but in a neighborhood, it may be like a platted lot where it’s pretty simple, but typically in a mobile home park, there’s going to be more of a unique legal description, metes and bounds directions, degrees, that kind of stuff you need a surveyor to look at for you. And a surveyor is required to make an onsite inspection. And these guys are licensed by the particular state and they will go look at where the survey stakes are, or the markers are the pins that are in the earth. And these, you know, this is like Lewis and Clark style back in the day where they’re actually nailing in a rod into the earth and that’s going to be there forever. And they’ll locate the old pins. If they can’t find them, they’ll put a new pin in and they’ll draw up a pretty picture. Boundary surveys are your cheapest of the three options. Typically, this will cost like $1,000 to $2,500. Obviously, the cost depends on where you’re at, like I’m looking at a deal right now in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska, well, it’s a little more expensive, cause there’s not as many, not as much competition. And the surveyor has to drive further. But it could be in some degrees cheaper because it’s a smaller town versus like here in Kansas City, you know, big, higher pricing across the board than in a smaller town. But in Kansas City there’s more competition, but that boundary survey is going to be your cheapest option. And sometimes that’s good enough, but typically I like to go a step higher and I like to get the base Alta survey.

And the base Alta survey, Alta is the American land title association. This is a higher quality of survey cause the licensed surveyor has some more representations and warranties if you will. I mean, basically more due diligence he has to, he or she has to do when signing off and the surveyor, you can find a survey company. Typically, I get three to four bids, in any municipality for the cost of these things. Sometimes surveyors are, they work under an architect or an engineer, but they can also work under their own shingle, their own license, but they sign off on these things. So, in addition to getting a PDF of the final work product, I always ask for a physical copy of like plotter size. I can obviously print the PDF on 8 and 1/2 by 11, but I want the big one, you know, two feet by three feet or whatever, whatever the dimensions are. I think it’s like 25 by 36 and then I can, it is in color and it’s got their signature and their seals stamped on it. And that’s nice to just pull out on a desk once in a while and really just look and think about it. Especially as you get into phase three, which is the full, is an Alta Survey with additional Table A items. And that’s going to be the crux of today’s issue is going through what those Table A items are and why you need them, but always request a hard copy. If you do it at the beginning, they won’t charge you, be part of their bid. But if you do it later, they’ll say oh, I need a hundred dollars to print you a copy and it’s annoying. And even more importantly, it’s important to get a copy of the AutoCAD file. And this is basically like a kind of computer program that shows all the survey stuff you need. It’s like a dot DWG file, which you probably won’t have the software to even open it, but it’s good in case you have to use it later. So, I have one park I’m under contract for, another park I bought about a year and a half ago that both have development potential. Well, right now I’m getting bids for the civil engineering to expand. I’ve got a, it’s about an 88-unit park, but I think I can get it over a hundred and those of you in the business now, once you get over a hundred, it attracts a lot more institutional buyers. So that’s going to be, I’ll get a premium value-add if I can get this over a hundred. And I think I can pull it off of in the municipality because it’s in county unincorporated grounds. So, it’s, there’s not very much in the zoning code to make development onerous, but I want to see if I can get to a hundred. I want the layout. I want the civil engineering to draw it out and give me bids for the cost of construction because development is not cheap. And this is not a $400 lot rent market. This is $220 a lot rent market. So, it’s going to be a lot harder hurdle for me to determine if the juice is worth the squeeze, so to speak economically.

But what’s good for me is I hired civil engineering firm A to do the original Alta Survey, but I negotiated for this AutoCAD file. Now I can get the civil engineering work bid out from numerous firms. But if I didn’t have the AutoCAD file, the second company to say, well, we’re not going to start from scratch. We need to start from a survey. Well, they want to start from the AutoCAD version. So as a result, I have ownership rights to that file. I can more easily get competing bids for phase two, which in this case is development. And even if we don’t do a phase two, it doesn’t hurt to ask for that AutoCAD file. They’ll typically give it to you for free If you ask at the beginning. If you ask later, they’re going to have you over a barrel. And one of the companies that was involved in this basically tried to do that. And I reminded them of the executed scope of work for the first engagement and said, no, I need that file. And I have the right to share it and bid out phase two against you. And you know, I’m not trying to like be disloyal here, but same time I’m not trying, I don’t want to get taken advantage of, or sometimes engineering firms will give you a sweetheart bid on a project like this on development, because they’re like, okay, well we’ll do a loss-leader on the survey, but then we’re going to have more of a barrel when it comes time for the civil. And then we’re going to get all the civil work, which is going to be $25,000 or $30,000. And then they get to construction management work. If it’s a $300,000 development, they’re going to take 15% on top of that. And there’s, they are basically betting for the future. But by me getting the AutoCAD file up front I’ve neutered that possibility. And they still may win the bid, but they got to go at it honest.

Okay. With that all said, we’re going to dive into the most advanced type of survey, which is the Alta Survey, Table A and I’m going to give you my advice and opinion on whether or not you need any of these items and it’s going to depend on the property. So, I’ll try to go through that. So, the first item on Table A is going to be, they’re numbered.

Number one, monuments placed, or a reference monument or witness to the corner at all major corners of the boundary of the property, unless already marked or referenced by existing monuments or witnesses in close proximity to the corner. This is always a yes, because the base Alta Survey, survey is required to give you these first four. So, number one, yes, you check that box and then as you’ll go through here, when you get bids from surveyors, you want it to get an apples and apples bid. So you got to give, figure out the scope working need, which is easier done after you have your title commitment and after you’ve seen the property, and then you get, you send out your scope of work to different bids. So, you get the apples to apples price. And every time you check the box, this thing gets more expensive. So, I think I mentioned that the basic boundary surveys, anywhere from like 1,500 to 3,000, the Alta Survey is going to be more expensive than that. So, I’ve got a deal going right now in Nebraska. I think the boundary was 1,200 bucks. So, it was along the low end. And, you know, all told there are 20 which is actually pretty reasonable. And then the full Alta, full I checked a rattle off of I’ve got it handy here. The number of boxes I checked off, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 8, 9, 11, 16, 18, 19, 20. And that was $6,000. So, there’s a lot of boxes I checked. So, $6,000 was pretty good. The survey I’m looking at in front of me was differences for a deal in the past. This one was in a property in Illinois and it had some hair on it with some utility lines and things like that. This was like an $11,000 Table A Alta Survey. It was pretty much those same check boxes; this is kind of my go-to as modified by a site visit. Now it’ll make more sense when I go through them. So, number one, always check it.

Number two is the addresses of the surveyed property if disclosed in the documents provided. That’s always a yes, basically the surveyor, they don’t get started until you give them the title commitment. So, they’re going to basically cheat and are going to piggyback on the title commitment. And if the title commitment has an address, they’re going to put it on there and they are required too. But sometimes there’s not an address. It’s just like Bob’s farm in Olathe, Kansas, and okay, now that’s why we’re hiring a surveyor, frankly, but they’re not going to put that on there unless they can find out a real address.

Number three is the flood zone classification with proper annotation based on federal flood insurance rate maps or the state or local equivalent depicted by scale map, location and graphic plotting only. Yeah, you want to know where the flood level is if this is in a flood zone and your lender is going to likely ask that, you may not be able to tell just with the human eye, if this is in the flood zone. So, it’s important to check that box. And in the, generally there’s not much cost for doing that. And number four is the gross land area. This isn’t that much work for them either because they’re already marking all the four corners of the property. And I say four corners as if it’s a square, but I’m talking four corners, all sides, all shapes of the polygon. So, they’ve already marked it. So now their computer program just tells them how big it is. So that’s an easy, yes check box for tell you how big it is, which is important in the MHP world, because sometimes you have a density per acre. Like if you’ve got a mobile home park, that’s five units per acre. That’s not dense at all. Not going to be a problem. If you get up to like 12, 15, 18, 20 units per acre, that could impact your ability to sell down the road and impact some agency financing. And it could, it makes it, you know, indirectly, but can impact based on the setback, allowances, your ability to bring in newer used homes in accordance with the city code of ordinances or city municipal code. So, it’s always good to have the Lander. It’s pretty easy.

Number five, this is kind of an, I say it depends, but I usually check it. But it goes on price. A lot of times I’ll buy just the base Alta 1 through 4, I stop. And then if I have other reasons or other problems down the road, I can enhance this, especially if I’ve already got that AutoCAD file. Sometimes I’ll do just a boundary survey typically should do at least that, because the survey boundary will show you, you know, in relation and in coordination with the title, if the person owns what they say, they’re owning, if they say, Oh yeah, that road, the entry road, that’s on my property. Okay, well, let’s prove it. If the survey shows that’s outside the property or the survey shows, there’s an easement and neighbor John has the rights to use that road. You need to know that. And then you sort of look into things deeper in the weeds is who has the maintenance obligations on that road, you know, what if they stop using the road, can I put a fence in front of the road? And that stuff gets, that stuff will come up either in your title work or in your title exceptions or in your survey. So, these items are all important to review in concert together.

But number five is vertical relief with the source of information. For example, the ground survey, aerial map, contour interval, datum in original benchmark identified. This is kind of like your topographical stuff. You know, what’s the, you know, I feel like the times this can be helpful for the floodplain, but this is one that, if you have potential development, this is more important. If you’ve got a park that’s, you know, full, fully occupied, and it’s pretty plain Jane, this is less important.

And number six A, and if set forth in a zoning report or letter provided to the surveyor by the client list, the current zoning classification set setback requirements, heightened floor space, area restrictions of parking requirements. So, this is pretty easy for the surveyor, because they’re not going to do anything with this, unless you give them a zoning letter and we’ll give them a zoning report. But if they do, they’ll put it on the document. So, if you get a big, nice surveyor, it’s nice to have lots of information in one place and have this all on the survey.

Six B, So I typically check that if I’m going to, and I always get this, I always get a zoning letter, but if I get the more enhanced survey beyond the top four Table A items, I’ll check 6A, and I’ll check 6B which 6B is, if the zoning setback requirements are set forth in the zoning report or letter provided to the surveyor. And if those requirements do not require an interpretation by the surveyor graphically depict the building setback requirements, identify the date and source of the report. So, this is them actually showing where the setbacks are on your map. So that’s kind of cool.

Item seven, exterior dimensions of all buildings at ground level. When I used to do retail redevelopment, this was more important, but frankly in mobile home parks are buildings that are not going to count mobile homes typically. So, the surveyors are not going to do the mobile homes, it is going to be like an extra add on even beyond this number seven. So, if there’s a, I typically don’t need it. If there’s like, I got a duplex building, it’s like an old laundry mat and community center in one park. I got some band and garages and stuff. Sometimes there’s a site-built house, but then my opinion on mobile home parks, that’s less important.

You can then check 7 B if you like, you know, square footage of the extra footprint or other areas, 7 C is the height of the buildings. That’s more important if the height is going to come into play. Like I was pursuing at one point like an old Bank of America building, and we were debating buying it. It was really crappy buying it, demoing, and putting in a hotel. Well, then we want to, we had a grandfather issue, we can’t go higher than the current building. We needed to know how tall the current building was. So, you want to get a surveyor to do that then to figure out if a hotel is feasible, but in MHP world, I rarely check that box.

Okay. Number eight substantial features observed in the process of conducting the field work. I check this. It’s like, Hey, surveyor, if you see anything substantial, write it down. Things like parking lots, billboard signs, swimming pools, landscape areas substantial areas of refuse, you know, put that on the map. And I say, map put on the survey, draw the picture of it for me, draw the location.

Number nine is the number and type of clearly identifiable parking spaces on surface parking areas, lots and parking structures. Sometimes in the MHP world is not as, as important, but I like to have it. I mean, if I’m going to, if I’m going to spend the money on the Table A with a bunch of these enhancements, I might as well have that guy out there counting them, and I’ll have it in there for forever, which lets me kind of gives me a better vision of the total project for when I’m bringing in new homes or if I’ve got a density issue and then you can then see it visually and you may be able to make some alternative plans or modifications. So that’s Table A, item number nine.

Next number 10 as designated by the client, a determination of the relationship and location of certain division or party walls with respect to adjoining properties. That’s pretty much irrelevant in the MHP world. A party wall It would be like, you know, we had a, like a Ross clothing store and a Marshall’s clothing store and they were in one strip center, but there was a party wall between them and had to be fire rated and heavier duty. You want to know that boundary. That’s like almost like condominiumization within a real estate parcel. I don’t think I’ve ever checked it on an MHP, frankly. And then same thing as 10 B is determination If the walls are plum. Plum meaning basically perfectly straight up and down and again, not really relevant for this asset class.

Number 11, location of utilities existing on or serving the surveyed property as determined by an observed evidence collected pursuant to section five. Evidence from plans requested by the surveyor and obtained from the utility companies or provided by client. Marketing’s requested by the surveyor pursuant to an 811 utility locate or similar request. This goes on to talk about some representative examples of utilities, such as manhole covers, wires and cables, utility company installations, etc. So, this is one, this is one of the more important ones, location utilities. And it’s one of those. It depends based on your site inspection. So, the base Alta Survey, one of the best things about that is the survey is going to include the locations of the easements. So, I think on the last podcast I talked about if the easement for the gas company is something that is in crystal clear English like the 10 easternmost feet of the property along Main Street. Well, you know that that’s where the gas lines are allowed to be, where sometimes it’ll say like blanket easement, or I have a big complicate legal description and the easements can, the gas line can be anywhere. Well, if the actual gas lines can be anywhere, but you need to know more than the easement. You need to know where they are and the guys come out there with a tool, I think it’s called a Geiger Meter. And they basically, it’s like a metal detector and they identify where the actual lines are. This gets expensive. Now this number 11 is probably one of the more expensive things as a cost. But sometimes it’s absolutely vital. So, I had a property in Illinois, one time where I had to pay for this thing and I got the location’s easements, but easements didn’t give me exactly what I needed. So, I went and got the location of the lines. Well, as it turns out the utility company, which was the gas and the electric company, they had put the gas lines in what appeared to me by the human eye to be in the wrong spot, like basically a shortcut. So normally the lines, if it goes down like the alley between the back of the two homes and it would be, you know, run north-south, and then jut to the west, did service to home and then jut immediately back east and then north and then west and then east and then north. But that’s not as efficient is going just at a 45-degree angle to the house and then straightened north of the next house and then jumping back and easement when it’s convenient. But I had an interest in bringing in like 30 homes in this park. And if there were gas lines in the middle, that would be a big problem. So, I ended up getting out there with the surveyor, with some city officials, with the Amarin, the utility company and with the big map in my hands, and the easements in my hands. And I said, I don’t think you guys did this right. And they went round and round and argued. But eventually I think everybody kind of agreed that, yeah, we were kind of aggressive in the line placement. They’re in spots that they probably shouldn’t be, but it’s okay. And I said, well, I’m going to bring homes in. And then the city said, you can’t put them right there. Well, then the utility company said, well, we are going to require you to move the lines and upgrade the lines to which I said to hell, you are, it is like a $105,000. I said that’s your problem. They said, no, it’s your problem. I said, you guys are illegally in the location of the current lines, as opposed to legally in the location you’re supposed to be. And they just kind of bluffed at me and said, well, if you make a stink of it we’re just going to cut off service to your park. And we’ll tell all your tenants. I go, really, you’re going to cut off heat to a bunch of lower income families. And you know, this was summer, but are you going to let them freeze that this winter? I said, what happens if one of these lots that it currently has a gas line underneath the home, what happens with those gas lines has a leak and it blows up. It’s going to kill the entire family above that. I said, that’s bad news for me, it’s really bad news for the family, but it’s also really bad news for Amarin because you’re going to be on channel nine and you’ve got the deep pockets and I’m going to have a record here. So, this is the kind of stuff that I put on my lawyer hat. And I send them a written notice. Like you were on notice that your lines are in an illegal location, and this could result in greater danger and harm. Well, long story short, they caved, and they put in new gas lines. So, this one was like a triple whammy for me because I got, at the time, I got to go back to the seller and say, there’s a major infrastructure problem. I need a price concession. But then I ended up dropping the contract because the utility company was taking too long, and my due diligence was running out. So, I dropped the contract. Well, the seller came back to me after two or three more people dropped the contract and they ended up offering me an opportunity to buy it again. And you put a lot of work into this, what’s your price? My new price was several hundred thousand dollars cheaper. I said, I close cash in 15 days or 10 days, because I knew since the time I had dropped a contract until this new date and time that utility company had gotten back to me and they had caved. So, I now knew that my problem was not as big a problem because the utility company is going to pay for it. So, I got paid once in the sense of price reduction, I got paid twice in the sense that the utility company had to eat this cost. But then I sold the park about two years later and I was able to represent to the new buyer look, I’ve got upgraded gas lines throughout the community. And I had done upgraded roads and sub-metered water or some other tasks, some other bigger projects, but I was able to say, look, you have a good infrastructure. So, I got paid a premium and got paid a third time for the same work. And the only reason I was able to pull that off was because I used all these skills and tandem of the title commitment combined with looking at the easements and the ease and exceptions. And then as drawn out by an expert surveyor, which in this case, I needed that Table A, item 11, and I was able to, you know, this was a six-figure move or most people are going to miss this or not object to this. And then you don’t want to find out you’ve got an easement problem or an aligned problem the day you’re trying to bring in your first home or even worse after you’ve ordered your first 15 homes and they all show up and you can’t put them somewhere. So anyway, Table A number 11 has been good to me, but it is more expensive to get it.

Next up Table A item number 12 as specified by the client, governmental agencies, survey related requirements. For example, HUD surveys, surveys for leases on Bureau of Land Management, lands, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever done that one to be honest, check numbers, 12.

Number 13, names of adjoining owners, according to tax records, this is pretty easy. If you want to have, you know, John Smith as next door, if you want the surveyor to put that on there, check that box. You can pull this up fairly easily yourself. I sometimes don’t even put it on there because it just clouds, clouds of documented with more black ink. When you talk, when you get that utility one, it shows every electrical pedestal, every gas pedal, every sewer clean-out every, you know, all kinds of stuff. It gets to be super busy. Sometimes I just don’t check this because I don’t really care who’s next door. Now, if it’s like, if there’s a recorded easement affecting that then I do, which is not, it does not really happen much in MHP. Now I have heard stories of the railroad company has an easement to use this portion of the ground. People, you know, these, you know, sold the road. I bought a park one time where there was a second access road that I didn’t even know existed in the current builder, owner did not build the road, but it didn’t at the moment negatively impact me, but it was something of potential impact. So sometimes you want to know your, you want to know the adjacent owner’s names in particular, they have rights.

Number 14 as specified by the client distance to the nearest intersecting street. I typically don’t check number 14. That’s not really a setback issue. That would probably be an issue if you were like, I had a bought a park one time and the previous guy had to put in two fire hydrants and they were super expensive, like $400,000 to run the city water main and pipe water for fire safety throughout the park. So, I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever paid for 14 to be honest.

Number 15, rectified ortho photogrametric metric mapping, remote sensing, airborne mobile laser scanning, other similar projects. I’ve never done this one either. And I can recently got my license, or my list here. And I got my explanation with these, not even in law school, but I had a guy that worked with us who was an in-house construction manager and civil engineer. And he walked me through all these. And he’s just like, you don’t need that. Like, okay. So, I’ll be honest, I haven’t really dug into that one. I just have never checked it.

Number 16, evidence of recent earth-moving work, building construction, or building additions observed in the process of conducting the field work. I typically do check that because if the surveyors out there, sometimes harder for them to look around. And frankly, I wouldn’t notice some of this too. At one time I found, and the seller had to disclose this. So I didn’t really find it, but I would’ve found it, I guess if I was the surveyor and it was a well on the property, where I thought it was buying the city water city sewer. Well, it turned out that it used to be a well system. So that’s something that came up in my phase one environmental also when I was required to close the well with a licensed well driller or well closer. 16 is a pretty easy one to just check.

Number 17, proposed changes in street right away lines. If such information made available to surveyor or controlling jurisdiction and then evidence of recent street or sidewalk, construction repairs observing the process. It didn’t really come up much honestly in the MHP world. So, I don’t really have a strong feeling either way about number 17. I typically don’t check it.

Number 18, If there has been a field delineation of wetlands conducted by a qualified specialist hired by the client, the surveyor shall locate any delineation markers, observed in the process of conducting the field work and show them on the face of the platte or map. This is, I mean, I would typically say, I would want the surveyor to do the wetlands thing to disclose them, but it’s really, you have to give them some other information. So, something like check it, but the survey doesn’t really do much about it unless there’s another report. So that one’s typically not as big a deal.

Number 19, include any plausible offsite or pertinent easements or servitudes disclosing documents provided to obtained by the surveyor as part of the survey pursuant to section five and six. I do like checking this one. This would be an easement that would not show up on the four corners of the real estate that you’re buying, but that impacts it. You know, things like an access even from the guy next door. So, this is important, and the surveyors will work a little harder to look for those sort of things.

Number 20 is professional liability insurance obtained by the surveyor in the minimum amount of blank. Typically, it’s a million or 2 million of insurance that the surveyor carries. If you’re buying a $50 million piece of property, you may want to ask for more insurance here, but it’s just going to be you paying an additional premium to their general liability provider. So, most people don’t pay for that. I think if there was a concern about something, then it might make sense, but basically if the surveyor screws up and they put their seal on this, you can sue them for their malpractice or you can go after their license.
So, some of that subjective as well.

So overall on these Table A items, as you know that, as you can tell, there’s a lot of different areas here. I like to have the seller pay for the survey. I say, it’s part of what you’re representing. If you’re representing you on the land, then you should at least pay for the boundary survey. Well, ideally the base Alta Survey too. Any of those Table A items, those are more the buyers supplemental cost kind of like title endorsements. Sometimes you got an old man seller, he just won’t pay for the survey, then sometimes I’ll suck it up and pay for it. It’s recommended that you do get at least a boundary survey with every property you purchase. Some people don’t do it. I mean, frankly, it’s not as big a deal as not getting a phase one, but it can be. So, you might as well get the boundary survey. The Table A items, sometimes your lender, especially if you have an agency loan like Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae or some conduit CMBS lender, they’re going to have certain requirements there as well. So, you want to be ahead of the game. Another quick tactic is to ask the seller in your contract or require the seller to give you copies of any surveys they have, because a lot of times they’ll have a survey.  Even if they don’t remember it, they’ll have a survey from like 20 years ago. And if it was by Jones and Company, well, maybe Jones and Company’s still in business and they’ve already got a head start on everybody else. They’re going to be, they’re going to likely be your cheapest bid, or you could at least get the paper copy and you can use it. And it might even be good enough that’s you just need to get it updated, or it might be good enough that you don’t even need to get a new survey.

But overall surveys can get pretty complex. I think I just want to make sure you first look at your title work. You do a site visit and based on that site visit, you may determine things like, man, these lots are really close together, or these homes really close together. I might need some of these other items that set forth buildings for carports or garages or setbacks, but sometimes you may say this is pretty obvious. Like I was on-site with a client, I don’t know, two or three months ago. And they’re like, do you think we need to have the survey measure the location to the exact model homes? And I said, no, because I could tell, I didn’t have to get a tape measure out. I could tell that the homes were like a hundred feet apart. And based on the current zoning in the city, it was like 20-foot interior setbacks.
So, 20 plus 20 is 40. Visibly these were way more than 40. If he brought in new homes, he wasn’t going to be bringing in homes that much bigger than the current 14 and 16 by wides at least in that direction and the width. So, in that example, it wasn’t really necessary.

I’ve got another park that I own that is very dense and some of the homes are like 10 to 15 feet apart and the setbacks were 10 feet. So, if I pull out a home, pull out two homes, throw them away because these are really old crappy homes. I may want to bring in one, two, three houses. But I may need to cobble up three loss and turn it into two. So, the current locations are the homes, and the setbacks were more important there. And then if you’ve got a project where you’re bringing in a lot of infill, that makes the, frankly that makes the locations of the gas lines and water lines and things that are more important to know. Note on the water-sewer lines, a lot of times those were installed privately. So, they’re not of record so that surveyors not even going to locate them. So that’s kind of sucks, but it’s, you know, it’s not as big a deal to hit a gas line, excuse me hit a water line or hit a sewer line, it can be a mess, but it’s generally not that dangerous. If you hit an electrical line or you hit a gas line, you’re going to die. So, you definitely want to make sure you could survey if you’re going to be putting homes over potential gas lines and electric lines. And those are typically of record, because these aren’t privately installed. They’re usually provided by government or quasi-government utility provider. And it’s just you know, kind of par for the course is looking into those things. And if you’re putting in new homes, you have to do HUD sets and the concrete installer and the mobile home installers. Those guys didn’t have licensure and risk as well. So, they’re going to typically call the dig right folks or whatever the state they call them. But the people you call before you dig, and those people will help out as well. But the surveyors are a key part of the team. And then really reviewing title and survey. These are some of the landmines that you want to avoid in your due diligence. And sometimes surveys can be expensive, but if you put them in your budget, you really got to just put them in your budget. And it’s kind of the cost of doing business to keep from making a big mistake.

So anyway, lots of detailed stuff to cover today. Hope you learned a lot. Look forward to talking to you the next time you can check out in the show notes, I’ll have a copy of this minimum standard detailed requirements for Alta and SPS land title surveys.






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