A land survey is generally recommended when buying a residential property, however, it is not a mandatory requirement in California as it is with other states.
- It can be very difficult to complete a survey given the short escrow times in California and the current workload of land surveyors;
- There are times when disclosures may not be complete because no survey has been done.
To get a complete understanding of your property, TKM Land Surveyors LP recommends both a boundary survey and a topographic survey. When property owners suspect there is a variance between the square footage shown in the Assessor’s Office, other documents, or discussions with neighbors, then TKM Land Surveyors LP recommends a boundary survey which will show the exact square footage of the property. A topographic survey includes the position of all major property elements and identifies any encroachments which result in boundary disputes, and the possible involvement of a lawyer. The combination of a boundary and a topographic survey shows that the seller is pro-active about disclosures which can facilitate the sale of a property especially if the buyer is considering building an addition.
Most insurance companies and lenders require an ALTA Survey to be conducted when a piece of commercial property is being re-financed or sold. The objective of the ALTA Survey is to highlight any boundary, ownership, or encroachment issues before the purchase of the property rather than having the owner be blind sighted after the purchase.
An ALTA Survey is one of the most detailed surveys available and is generally more costly than other surveys. ALTA Survey done by TKM Land Surveyors LP shows the boundaries of the property, all improvements, all structures, fences, trees over 6 inches, aboveground utilities, parking lots, roads, as well as the location of easements. Lenders will need to guide their clients as to whether an ALTA Survey is sufficient or whether the optional items on Table A required. Even though the sellers may provide you with their own ALTA Survey, buyers may feel more secure if they authorize their own ALTA Survey to see if the findings are consistent.