You may already know the difference between a “spot” survey–or Surveyor’s Real Property Report (SRPR)–and a “stake” survey or Boundary Survey (the official legal name). But prospective homeowners or home purchasers would do themselves a favor by learning how a title company considers either to protect your future investments.
Title insurance is a necessary component of home purchases in order to ensure that buyers are protected from any liens or other outstanding obligations that the seller may have accrued on a property. You may have heard of getting a survey insurance for title, and also may have found that different title companies offer either spot surveys or stake surveys, or both.
To be clear, a spot survey is when a surveyor drives out to your property and works up a quick sketch of the boundary lines and constructions on the property. There are no real tools used like there are in a stake survey; instead it works more like a confirmation that the property is “generally” what it ought to be. A stake survey, in contrast, brings out the full force of the surveyor’s expertise and allows them to draw up a detailed blueprint with exact measurements of the boundaries of your property. Stake surveys are called as such because they use surveyor’s stakes, temporarily buried in the ground, to measure distances.
When title companies want to supply their customers with a boundary survey, it is in order to protect them with survey insurance on their title. You cannot receive survey insurance based on a spot survey alone. If, for instance, your neighbor’s new fence is in fact taking up twelve inches more space than it should, a spot survey won’t be enough to provide protection of your purchased property via title. This is because, again, it’s just a rough sketch of the land and used mostly for confirmation purposes. On the other hand, if you have a boundary survey and subsequent survey insurance, a boundary survey will absolutely display that your neighbor went too far, and your insurance will be able to back up your claim in any legal or financial disputes resulting.
Different regions of the country–and even of the state of Missouri–have their own informal customs when it comes to surveys. In a highly-populated, organically-planned city like Saint Louis, for example, boundary surveys are considered a must. This is because so many people have lived there, and for so long, that any number of improvements may have been built or demolished over abnormal lots. In these cases, a proper boundary survey protects everyone involved in the sale, so that if a potential buyer wants to build improvements like fences or swimming pools on the land later on, they are able to do so without issue and annoyance. In a more centrally-planned city like Kansas City, in contrast, boundary surveys are usually skipped because the boundaries of a given property have not changed for generations, if at all.
Title companies can provide title insurance with either a spot or stake survey. Continental Title prides itself on taking care of its customers and building repeat business over decades of home buying and property investments. When we have your back, we know you’ll be back. This is why we examine each case individually and make to our customers personalized recommendations when it comes to the kind of survey needed.