Having worked in the Dallas Fort Worth area for a long time, I often reflect on lessons that I have learned. One thing that I learned in my association with SportStar Relocation, a Los Angeles based real estate company founded by Ed Kaminsky which serves the nation’s athletic community, is that athletes like to operate from a playbook. They count on the experience of those who came before them and those that guide their paths now.
Two important things that I have learned in real estate, are that sellers are required to disclose any known facts and at the same time buyers are to be aware of any issues. Most local real estate attorneys have always advised buyers’ agents to suggest that their buyers purchase a new survey when buying a home. Dallas is an interesting market, and as such there are some cautions to be aware of. The seller will often provide a survey which is fine to use as a baseline. However, I have seen an original survey be incorrect, evidenced by changes in floodplains and boundaries.
Representing a buyer that wanted to purchase three acres in a rural area of Dallas Fort Worth, I recommended they purchase a new survey prior to closing on the house. They did, and we discovered that the neighbor’s putting green was encroaching on their property by approximately five feet. As a result, the seller, buyer and next-door neighbor entered into a boundary agreement that would pass to futures buyers for the affected properties. Furthermore, many neighbors who had sold their homes on the same street had also experienced surveying issues. Just because a seller presents a survey does not mean it is accurate at the time of the sale.
Our nation has seen extreme flooding in many states in recent years. The older the survey, the less accurate it may be. Current surveys should reflect floodplain changes if properly surveyed. Buyers who purchase a home on a creek, lake, or coastline should always get a new survey. That new buyer may decide to remove the home and construct a new home. But what if the current structure is grandfathered on the land, and per the city, county, or state the new buyer can no longer build on that land? A current survey, if properly surveyed, should reflect the floodplain changes as well as any other concerns a buyer may have about what can or cannot be built on the property.
Boundaries change. Two neighbors may re-fence their yards and the fence line could be moved a few inches innocently by the contractor. Additionally, the fence may have never been on the boundary line in the first place. I have seen fence lines in the alleys of a new construction encroaching on city land because the builder built it that way. This may never result in any action by the City as it is an alley. However, knowing this information up front when purchasing a home is advantageous.
Whether or not you are an athlete, you should be aware of your ability to order and review a survey prior to committing to the closing of a property. In some areas it can be more critical than others. When deemed necessary, you should always seek the advice of your real estate agent and lawyer about the cost and risks associated with property lines.
Written by Debbie Murray of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, a Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate
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