Land Survey’s and Refinancing
By Joseph G. Couvreur, Esq.

The refinancing of a cooperative is a expensive and time consuming process. One of the cost associated with refinancing involves the purchase of land survey which is known as an ALTA survey.    Lenders commonly require such a survey. ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and an ALTA survey is a very detailed map which is drawn to specific specifications. Boundary line locations and a   description of all the main and   ancillary buildings are included.  All easements are detailed and such easements include access rights for water, gas, phone, cable and any other utilities which service the property and sometimes adjacent properties. Parking Lots, roads, driveways, sidewalks, fences, patios, pool and any other structures which exist on the premises are also shown.

We have reviewed many surveys and have discovered problems which needed to be resolved in order to be able to refinance the property. However, some problem are minor and did not need to be cured for refinancing to occur and where deemed necessary were cured after the closing occurred.  Improperly installed fences are a common problem. Roads and parking lots sometime encroach upon adjacent properties. Buildings are sometimes built over easements and may need to be moved or the easement agreement revised. Legal descriptions sometimes do not correspond with the tax records of a municipality and thus we have worked with various municipalities to correct the problem.

In addition to working with borrowers, many if not most surveying companies derived most of their revenue working for builders and real estate developers. Due to the lack of real estate development these past few years, many surveying companies are no longer in business.  It is now more difficult to find qualified surveyors who are in competition with other qualified surveyors. Thus, the cost of obtaining a survey is not as competitive as it was in the past. The size and amount of structures, improvements and easements will affect the time necessary to prepare the survey.

The survey is just one component of a refinancing transaction. However,  due to the cost and time involved, it is important to address this part of the refinancing  process in the early stage. A surveyor will need a legal description of the property in order to provide a quote.