Frequently Asked Questions
1.)  Should I wait until I have a signed purchase agreement before I order a survey?

That is NOT a good idea. 

Surveys are designed to find and point out boundary discrepancies. These "discrepancies" can cause delays and even potential buyers to back out of the deal.

While some boundary issues, such as party walls are easily dealt with using an encroachment agreement, other issues require Public Easement modification or Right of Way vacation, can take months to process through the City. 

We suggest the following:
If a title commitment is available, an ALTA should be ordered and deal with these discrepancies while on the market. If a potential buyer comes along, the seller/seller's agent will hopefully have a game plan ready to remedy the situation. You don't want to be stumbling around trying to make last minute fixes to meet purchase agreement timelines.

If a title commitment is not available, order a "Preliminary ALTA". The surveyor won't be able to sign and won't have all of the documents necessary to finalize, but at least you can see issues dealing with the platted discrepancies (i.e. record legal does not close mathematically, or a building into an easement that is shown on the plat).

2.)  How do the surveyor and title examiner work together on real estate issues?

The title company researches the public records to find filed documents that affect the subject property such as deeds, patents, easements, declarations, etc. The title may have attorneys on staff or will sometimes contract with an attorney to determine the legitimacy of the documents.

Once this data is collected from the public records the title company produces a title commitment. The title commitment identifies the subject property based upon the purchase agreement and deed of record and lists the exceptions to the title insurance policy.

The surveyor relies on the title commitment to determine which property to survey and based upon the exceptions to the title insurance policy will determine if the exception as described in the legal description affects the property relative to its location. The surveyor will map the easements using the legal description of the easement to determine where the subject property is affected. If the legal description of the easement is illegible, ambiguous or blanket in nature as to the location, it should be noted on the survey. 

If the surveyor determines that the legal for the exception does not affect the subject property based upon its location, the surveyor will note it and the title examiner will remove it from the exceptions to the title insurance policy.

On the other hand, if the surveyor finds evidence in the field that suggest that someone other than the owner, is using/benefiting from the subject property, it should be noted on the survey and the title examiner will add an exception to the title insurance policy removing coverage for that "title blemish".

3.)  If an easement has a waiver and release, why is it still showing up on the survey?

While certain utility companies will issue waiver and release documents, that does not mean other utility companies (both existing and future) do not have right to those easements. If that easement is specifically ONLY benefiting one utility company, and provides a waiver and release, then, the easement rights are basically removed. If after the examiner determines that the waiver and release are legitimate, they can remove it from the exceptions. Any easement that is not benefiting specific individual entities is generally considered a public utility easement. The proper way to extinguish public easement is by vacating it through the city/county process. 

It is important to understand that surveyor's responsibility to map/locate, if possible, any exceptions that pertain to the subject property. If the exceptions list an easement and a waiver & release, the surveyor should show the locations. If the title company determines that the waiver/release extinguishes rights to the easements and wishes to remove that easement from the exceptions. The title company needs to re-issue to the surveyor, a revised commitment not reflecting that easement or release/waiver. 

4.)  What is the difference between an ALTA survey and a Boundary Survey?

A boundary survey is defined by the NM minimum standards and has requirements that must be met according to those standards.

An ALTA survey is a survey defined by ACSM/NSPS and has requirements that must be met according to those standards.

In New Mexico an ALTA survey must not only meet the requirements as set by ACSM/NSPS, but also the requirements as set for a boundary survey as defined under the NM Minimum Standards for Surveyors.
Here are 7 specific differences between Boundary surveys in New Mexico and an ALTA Land Title Survey. 

a.) An ALTA survey must be titled "ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys"

b.) If the record description does not close mathematically, it should be noted on the survey.

c.)For adjoining unplatted parcels, the names and recording data shall be noted if possible.

d.)An ALTA  shall indicate building setbacks if shown on the plat.

e.)An ALTA survey should note any overlaps, gores along the exterior boundary where ascertainable from field evidence or record documents.

f.)Where only a portion of a parcel is included, the balance of the parcel should be indicated.

g.)The character and location of all walls, buildings, fences and other visible improvements within five feet of each side of the boundary lines shall be shown.

h.)Specific Surveyor Certification language must be used on ALTA surveys.

5.)  Why do ALTA surveys have options?

Perspective buyers/lenders usually at the direction of an attorney will require specific options as shown on Table A. In New Mexico an ALTA survey must meet all of the requirements of a boundary survey as established in the minimum standards. So in NM, some of the options such as setting the property corners are already a requirement, such as items 1,2,4,8 and 11(a).

6.)  Why was my survey not done faster?

There are two reasons that affect the timeliness of a survey.

First, because field work is required for any boundary or ALTA survey, outside conditions such as weather play an important role. If more than one bad day is involved, work can be substantially backed up quickly. Obviously, smaller companies with only one or two crews can find themselves overloaded with work very quickly. Obviously, a company such as CSI, having 5-8 field crews, can recover much more quickly.

Second, when a surveyor initially looks at a project to determine cost estimates and time frames he/she bases those estimates on the legal description provided  by the owner or the title company and past work done in that area. Once the project  begins, issues may arise that indicate problems. For example, a fence encroachment could indicate an overlap in deeds/plats. To make a determination and extent of the encroachment, the surveyor may decide to survey the adjoining property as well. The surveyor will then need to obtain adjoiner deeds/plats and survey the adjoining property, thus taking additional time.

7.) Why do I have to provide documents to the surveyor before he/she can get the job done?

The surveyor is responsible for surveying the correct property. At Cartesian Surveys Inc., we require either a deed of record, or a title commitment to get started. This eliminates the possibility of the order giving the wrong lot number or someone taking the order accidentally transposing numbers. Beware of a company that does not take steps to avoid a potential, and costly misunderstanding.

Additional Info