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What To Do When A Land Survey Sparks A Property Dispute

by Clinton Stone

Land surveys are an integral part of the home buying process. Not only do mortgage companies typically require them as part of the financing process, these surveys can uncover issues before they become major problems. In fact, sometimes these surveys can spark a dispute over the property you're about to buy as the seller and neighbors realize someone is infringing on the other person's land. Here's how to handle this situation if this happens to you.

Get the Facts

In most cases, it will be up to the seller to resolve disputes with the property. However, it's still important for you to learn all the facts of the situation to help you determine whether you want to or even can continue with the sale. For instance, if the survey reveals the property is smaller than the seller claims, the mortgage company may decline to finance the purchase until the situation is resolved.

Get a copy of the survey findings and then talk to the seller about the issue so you have all the information you need to make your next move.

Obtain a Second Opinion

Land surveyors are highly skilled professionals who work hard to produce accurate results. Despite their best efforts, though, sometimes mistakes occur. If the seller is adamant about where the boundaries of the property should be, then have another surveyor come out to do a second assessment. Since this is a legal issue the homeowner must resolve, the seller should be the one to foot the bill, regardless of who paid for the first survey.

If the two survey companies end up disagreeing with each other, you or the homeowner will need to make arrangements for the professionals to meet and discuss any discrepancies. Oftentimes the reason why two surveyors will come to different conclusions is because they disagree on which types of evidence (e.g. deed descriptions, old maps) are relevant. Having them discuss the issue together can help clear up the problem.

Negotiate a Discount

Once the boundary for the property has been established, it may provide an opportunity for you to negotiate a discount on the home, particularly if the property ends up being smaller than the homeowner claimed. However, even if the property is as the homeowner described, you can still ask for some financial consideration if it appears the disputing neighbor may become a legal headache (i.e. sue for the lost land). It's best to consult with your real estate agent for assistance with this part of the home sale.

For more information about land surveys or to have one conducted on a home you're in the process of buying, contact a company such as Homestead Land Surveying.