I am not making this up, though I wish I were. Maybe by sharing this story I can prevent you from making the same mistake of not getting a survey when you purchase property. (Please note that certain aspects of the story have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.)
This is the tale of an older lady who thought she was getting a deal on a distressed property with a house. She paid $35,000 in cash and closed without a survey…because she didn’t need one because she was paying cash—you only need a survey if there’s a bank involved, right? She moved into the house and lived there for six months before she found out what she had actually paid for was the four acres of vacant land behind the house.
The house had been winterized, there was a sign out front, and the buyer lady was using a Realtor. The buyer paid cash for a Bank-Owned Property (or REO), and closed without a survey. The legal description of the contract used the abbreviated tax reference. The bank had winterized the wrong house, and six months after the buyer was in full possession, the couple from California who owned the house politely informed the lady that she was in her house.
The lady had purchased the four-acre piece of property behind the one acre up front where the house was. Now she’s going to have to pay another $64,900 for a home and land she thought she already owned. She didn’t have a clue. She had paid $35,000 for four acres of vacant land worth about $11,000—an expensive mistake! She just spent $29,900 to find out what a $300 survey could have told her. What she thought was a good deal turned out to be a nightmare all because she wanted to save $300 on a survey.
For the bank, “AS IS” is “Where Is.”
Please, please, please don’t make this mistake—GET A SURVEY!!! Without a survey, title insurance can’t cover you for this kind of error. Spend a few hundred dollars on a survey, even if it’s a cash deal—ESPECIALLY IF IT’S A CASH DEAL. Spend a few hundred dollars on a survey to save thousands of dollars in a mistake.
If you are paying cash, you need a survey more than ever because your cash is the money at risk.
Really this is Reason Number 2 to get title insurance (Remember: the Number 1 Reason is because it’s expensive to be innocent!). It shows up on my true story list of “1001 Reasons to Get Title Insurance” as Number 7.