Metal survey peg with red flag on construction site

Land Surveys: Why You Need One (Part 1 of a Series)

The information provided by a land survey can make all the difference in ownership and use.

A land survey provides a visual reference to what your property looks like on the ground and who might make a claim to your ownership based upon their use or possession of part of your property.

There are many types of surveys, but to provide title insurance coverage, a  “Boundary Survey” is required.

The Boundary Survey locates the property on the globe and in relation to the property surrounding it. It also shows the improvements located on the property including fences and evidence of occupation or use.

The survey determines what is physically present on the land to be insured and locates that land in relation to other properties in the area.

Why should you care?

Because who is in possession of all or part of the land you’re buying, determines who may have a claim to it.

Possession may not be nine-tenths of the law, but it is very important. If someone possesses part of the land you’re buying, they may have a claim to ownership of that area.

Choosing a quality surveyor is a challenge just like choosing any other professional to do work for you. Possession may not be nine-tenths of the law, but it is very important. If someone possesses part of the land you’re buying, they may have a claim to ownership of that area.

There is no magic formula, but pay attention to his or her credentials,  reputation or even better, referrals from those you already know and trust.

The cost of a typical residential survey is minimal when compared with the investment in your home or property and cost ranges from a few hundred dollars to much more if dealing with commercial or large tracts.

I’ve personally spent $1,500 for a survey of ten acres by an excellent surveyor, and as little as $300 for a residential lot by an okay surveyor.

To better understand why a survey is important, there are two elements that affect ownership:

  1. The land records maintained by the local government; and
  2. The actual occupation of the property

For a title insurance policy to be issued, the insurer searches the land records. We don’t see the actual property, just paper describing it.

That search is examined to determine who owns the property and who has claims to it.

Since we cannot see the actual land, the title commitment and policy take exception for anything that would have been discovered with a visit to the property or with a proper survey done by a surveyor.

So, if you want coverage for what might not be in the records that could affect your ownership or rights, a survey is needed.

Parts II and III of our continuing discussion of land surveys will get further down in the weeds on land survey trip-ups and issues.

But a simple look-see at what a land survey can avoid is in this simple (yet very complicated) dilemma: A buyer agrees to buy Lot 3 – a 100-foot lot.  Research of the records shows the seller owns it. No survey was done.

Later it is discovered that the lot is only 90 feet to the neighbor’s fence.  The neighbor says that 10 feet is theirs. The exception in the title policy may prevent any claim under the policy.

(If a survey was done before closing, this issue could have been dealt with ahead of spending the money for the lot.)

Or you buy Lot 3 without a survey, but the house you were shown is really on Lot 2!  No survey, maybe no loss paid under the policy since you do own Lot 3.

Stay tuned for Parts II and III – where reliability, defendability and who owes whom what gets sorted out.

Road to the own house

5 Tips for Easier Real Estate Closings

The homebuying process is filled with excitement, joy, anxiety, stress and relief. There are so many moving parts between deciding to purchase a home and actually closing on a home. Here are excellent tips to help buyers navigate the closing process and ensure a smooth closing for all parties.

Don’t make big life changes or purchases during the home buying process. Don’t change jobs or make purchases that could change your credit score. Examples include financing new furniture or a new car, moving your money around in your accounts or paying for a vacation using your open credit. Don’t do anything that will send red flags when lenders check on your credit.

Assure the title is cleared. Your real estate attorney or title company is responsible for ordering a title report to assure everything is good before the closing. Stay in close contact with them to make sure there are no liens on the property. Liens may delay or cancel your closing.

Create and maintain a repair timeline.Assuming the seller is expected to make certain repairs on the property, make sure you document those repairs (and a deadline for their completion) and share a copy with the seller. Maintain the list and verify, at least several days before your scheduled closing, that the repairs are completed. Schedule a final walk-through the day before closing and verify again that all repairs are completed as agreed upon.

Secure proper homeowner’s insurance. Buyers should shop for and secure homeowners insurance well in advance of the closing. Be cognizant of the home’s location and know if you need to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is costly, yet necessary, if you live in a flood zone. If you cannot afford flood insurance, do not purchase a home located in a flood zone.

Maintain close communication with your lender.Do not assume that “no news is good news” if you don’t hear from your lender or closing agent. Because lenders often ask for information at the last minute (i.e., insurance documents, current bank statements or pay stubs), contact your lender the day before and the day of closing to assure you bring all needed documents to the closing. You should also verify with your closing agent that he or she received all loan documents. Oftentimes, it is a case of one missing document, one verification or an email that has not been returned (or lost in a spam folder).

And, “it goes without saying,” yet we will say it: Buyers need to have all paperwork in order and present at closing, including a valid ID and most likely a cashier’s check for the down payment.

Alliant National People

PropLogix’s Title Industry Insights for 2019 Features Alliant National’s Jeff Stein

Alliant National’s Regional Counsel Jeff Stein was a featured contributor in PropLogix’s Title Industry Insights for 2019.

For the article, title insurance leaders share perspectives on topics that should be top of mind for settlement agents in 2019.

The story explores strategies and practices for title agents, including wire fraud prevention, marketing, e-closings and blockchain.

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Loading New Year 2019 on Chalkboard

Checking in with Your Business Development Plan

If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, you probably created a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 a couple months ago. In addition to the standard exercise more, eat healthier and get organized, did your resolutions include new business development?

Whether you identified a few business-oriented resolutions or you’re just considering ways to improve your business in 2019, we offer ideas to incorporate into your daily professional practices.

Developing the Mindset. If you don’t have it already, you need to develop a “business development” mindset.

Develop a thorough understanding of how new business factors into your business’s revenue and operations goals over the short-term and long-term.

Once you have that understanding, it’s much easier to develop a plan of where to prospect for that new business.

Business Development Activities to do Now. Refer to our recent blog about business development activities you can incorporate right now as a quick and effective way to get started. 10 Business Development Activities.

Think Outside the Box. Brainstorm, create diagrams, pictographs, charts or doodles—whatever it takes to get your creativity flowing.

Come up with as many ideas as you can for where you can source new business. Then, do deep dive research into each idea and prioritize them.

Make a solid plan to follow-through on your Top 3 ideas. Keep the additional ideas in a safe place and refer to them after you’ve implemented the Top 3.

Stay Positive and Focused. Face it – you’re going to run into some negativity while prospecting for new business. For your plans to be successful, it’s imperative to keep a positive mindset in the face of negativity.

Not every business development idea you have will be successful, and that’s okay. Use the unsuccessful attempts as a learning activity to improve your efforts. Don’t give up and keep developing creative new ways to locate news business for your business.

One additional note: Remember Alliant National is a great resource to advise and educate independent agents on prospecting for new business.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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