Surveys and Title Insurance

It takes a little extra time to get a survey done, but it is often worth it.  There are several types of surveys, and it can be very confusing.  Without knowing what you need, it’s difficult to get the correct type of survey.  You can get a survey for construction, as-built, topography, flood zones/FEMA elevation, boundary lines, and other specific concerns.  

A few years ago, residential purchase contracts were changed to indicate that the buyer should be issued an enhanced title policy instead of a basic policy.  On a basic title policy, one of the exceptions is anything that an accurate survey would show. This survey exception includes any easements, utilities, or encroachments on the property.  The enhanced owner’s title policy removes the survey exception and covers most of these items.  Of course, the premium for an enhanced title policy is about 20% more than the standard owner’s policy.  (The enhanced title policy is not available for commercial purchases).  

To remove any survey exception on a standard owner’s title policy, a full ALTA/ACSM survey is needed.   The surveyor will need a completed title search so they can show any easements or other items found in the title search on the survey.  A boundary line survey is good, but not sufficient to remove the survey exception to the standard owner’s title policy.  

Most commercial purchasers get a survey during the due diligence period.  Commercial purchases usually have a longer due diligence period to give the purchaser time to check zoning, do an environmental test, see the title search, and get the survey completed.  

Most residential purchasers do not get a survey done because of the extra cost and time it takes.  Although it is less common for a residential property to have an encroachment or easement, it does happen.      


John C. Bennett is a real estate closing attorney and owner of Origin Title and Escrow, Inc.. Since 2003, Origin Title has handled real estate transactions – purchases, refinances, reverse mortgages – quickly and professionally. There will be no surprises, nothing misunderstood. Title searches are thorough and well-reasoned, to avoid unpleasant surprises later down the road. Calculate your closing costs in Georgia or Florida using our calculator or contact Origin Title using this form.