Posts Tagged ‘Mortgage Survey’

Florida’s Minimum Technical Standards

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Site of a recent boundary survey

When you purchase a survey of your property, you can expect it to be done to fairly robust technical standards prescribed by Florida law. These laws are crafted to protect the consumer and are published in the Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 61G17-6 as the Minimum Technical Standards. They are, however, minimum standards; you should, of course,  expect to receive services meeting these standards.  You can also expect to receive services exceeding these standards.

Since being adopted in 1981, the rules have undergone a number of revisions. One of these is the elimination of the requirement that a survey must be certified as to meeting the Minimum Technical Standards (MTS.) Many surveyors still include that statement in their certificates.

To meet the objectives of MTS, a surveyor must produce a survey that is “full and complete,” meaning that it meets all requirements of the MTS– including accuracy, completeness, and quality– and falls into one of the following categories of survey type: As-Built; Boundary; Condominium; Construction Layout; Control; Hydrographic; Mean High Water Line; Quantity; Record (same type as As-Built); Specific or Special Purpose, and Topographic.

The first section of the rule deals with the map or drawing of your property. The land surveyor must be fully identified, with licensing and contact information. Next, standard content is required regarding map information, like accuracy requirements of both the field survey and the map, a map scale and north arrow, and a bearing reference, relating all directions shown on the map to a monumented line. Surveyor’s notes, a legend explaining symbols, and a list of abbreviations are also standard map content. Equally important are the date of the survey field work, and the date of any map revisions.

Requirements specific to a boundary survey ensure that the surveyor determines the correct position of the property, in accord with the property drescription, and that monuments exist at all of the property corners. All boundary surveys must result in a map. The map must fully describe the lines and curves of the boundary in the same fashion as the land description.

Subdivision lots must include a measurement to the block corner, and metes and bounds (long, written descriptions) must have a measurement to the Point of Beginning of the description, although there are alternative measurements allowed in both cases. The adjoining lots or parcels must be described with the lot and block numbers or parcel numbers associated with them.

Any boundary line problems, like gaps between, or overlaps of, adjacent property lines have to be shown on the survey and explained in a factual manner. If no research was done to discover potential boundary conflicts, this must be stated on the map. An example of this would be  not to look up adjoining deeds in a metes and bounds situation and plot or not to compare the deed calls with those of the subject parcel.

Your survey should show the fixed improvements located on your property along with dimensions from the improvements to the nearest property line. Property line indicators, like walls and fences, should also be dimensioned relative to the property lines.

A final point to look for on your survey is access to the property from a private or public right of way. This is especially important with metes and bounds descriptions, where a parcel could be located away from a road. Open and notorious evidence of public or private easements must be shown on your survey. If you have a line of trees along your rear lot line for example, you might discover that the power company also has an easement there and a right to trim your trees.

The MTS no longer requires the surveyor to call out any encroachments on the survey, something that has been a standard of practice for as long as I can recall. Only the failure to locate foundation lines that may encroach is required to be stated on the drawing. You might have to examine your survey drawing closely for visual indications of encroachments. An example would be where a building or concrete slab crosses into an easement or setback line.

The MTS applies to the other types of surveys listed earlier in this post, as well as to legal descriptions and air photos. This post is limited to boundary surveys. If you have a question about the MTS, please leave a comment on this post or call us at 941-377-3157. You can email us at or visit our website at:

Your crew was here this morning, but they didn’t come back after lunch.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

3465 Gulfmead Drive, Sarasota, Florida

 This post will try to explain some of the other time spent by a land surveyor on the process of completing a land survey. A good 50% of total time is spent away from the job site. Administrative tasks such as logging an order, billing,and record keeping don’t take a lot of time, and are common to most businesses’ work flow. The rest of that non-field time goes into research, surveying calculations, and drafting. We like to do our field work in the morning, then head for the office when the temperature goes up.

A project like a FEMA certificate can use up more field time than time spent in the office, but a majority of that time could be spent off the site. A surveyor must complete a closed, mathematical loop, from a published benchmark elevation point, to the site, and then back to the benchmark. Sometimes benchmarks are located a mile away from a site, and the survey crew will spend most of its time off the job site, completing the level loop. This can be a problem when trying to arrange for an inspection of the building with a client or realtor.

Good research always leads to a good survey. Time spent tracking down complete land descriptions, easement and setback information, and factors  like homeowner or neighborhood restrictions is necessary for a complete and competent survey. Information like road right-of-way maps from local or state governments may need to be collected. Rights to submerged land or riparian rights may need to be researched. If this information can be assembled before the field work is started, then the field work can go much more smoothly.

Once the field information is gathered, the surveyor must perform calculations on the data and compare that data to any record data that he or she has collected. Then the surveyor can make a determination of the position of the property and formulate an opinion as to how well that position conforms to the record position of the property.

The next step is drawing a survey map. Most people today use computer assisted drafting programs (cad). Here, a visual representation shows the position of the fixed improvements relative to easements, rights of way, and setback or restriction lines. The structures are shown with measurements to the adjacent property lines. Driveways and concrete slabs are added to the drawing and any encroachments noted or shown on the map. In some cases, variables such as  docks, seawalls, and mean or seasonal high water lines are shown.

The drawing is finished by adding a number of points of information required by the State surveying laws, and specific facts relative to the site and client. Surveyor’s notes explaining aspects of the survey, a drawing legend, and list of abbreviations are  required by law, as well as information about the surveyor and surveying  business. Finally, there is the drawing certification, as required by law, and a list of preparees.

The Owner’s Affidavit of Survey

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010


Yesterday I got a call from a client whose property we surveyed five years ago. He wanted to know if I would give him a copy of his five-year-old survey so that he could refinance his mortgage. I told him that it would need to be updated first.

This happens quite frequently, actually. Usually it’s a title insurance agent or mortgage broker who calls. Sometimes they have the owner call. The reason for needing the survey copy is usually for an Owner’s Affidavit of Survey, which the title agent wants to use instead of a new or updated survey.

It’s a mystery to me why they do this, since Florida title insurance law states that a survey can be no older then ninety days to be used for title insurance purposes. This is for a good reason, as it helps protect the property rights of the buyer or refinancer. Actually, the survey might only be good for one day, since the next day a property owner or a neighbor could build a fence, pour a concrete slab, or construct an out-building which violates deed, building code, or property lines, with or without knowledge of the violation.

The truth is, the layman is not qualified to make a determination that no changes have been made regarding surveying laws, including easements, restrictions, or setback violations, which is the essence of the Owner’s Affidavit of Survey.

Asking a land surveyor to supply a copy of a five-year-old survey, which they want signed and sealed, is asking the surveyor to certify that all conditions remain the same, without even the benefit of an inspection by the surveyor. This is like asking the surveyor to commit fraud.  

Land surveyors, by law, must carry professional liability insurance to guard against errors or omissions in the  conduct of a survey, or state in large letters on their surveys and on a sign hung in their office that they do not carry insurance. Surveyors must also manage their risk and exposure to errors and actions brought against them because of possible errors or omissions.  By insisting that old surveys be updated, the landowner, surveyor, and the title insurance agent benefit from prudent and responsible conduct by all of the parties involved in a mortgage transaction..

My Own Pin Cushion Corner

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

321 E. Lake Drive, Sarasota

I thought of calling this post “Land Surveyor Eats Crow,” but decided against that. After “ranting” in a couple of posts about land surveyors setting multiple monuments at land corners, I faced the embarrassing task of setting one of my own. I don’t know, maybe surveyors are cursed for having one of the oldest professions in existence. After many thousands of years, the bad luck just adds up.

One of my mentors, Tom Bennett, of the now defunct firm of Bennett & Bishop, taught me that when I ran into corners with multiple monuments, I should take a long piece of pipe and drive the offending monuments two or three feet into the ground.  This way they would still be there (it’s against the law to remove a monument,) but no one else would be likely to find them deep in the ground.

At this site, we found two iron pipes at the westerly corner of the property, but neither one fit well with the rest of the monuments we found in the area. One pipe was almost three feet south of where we thought it should be, making the westerly lot line three feet longer than its record length. Another pipe was about one foot south and east of the corner, making the frontage of the property about a foot short of record length.

Since both of these monuments were at least a foot out of harmony with the rest of the others around the site, and the neighboring lots, I decided to set a third monument, thereby creating my own pin cusion corner. There, I’ve said it, and feel better already. From now on, I’m going to carry a three-foot long piece of pipe in my truck.

Please visit our website at: If  you have a question, or need a survey, call us at 941-377-3157, or email:

Reality Bites Back, April 23, 2010

After much thought and reflection, I’ve decided to undo my pin cushion corner. I now see that my efforts were an attempt to appease the record calls of bearing and distance, and try to ” harmonize” the property in a case that just didn’t call for harmony. The monuments I found at the westerly corner were of the same size and type as the monuments I found at the rear of the property. I think that one of the two was set at the same time as the rear monuments, and is original. Because the data for the westerly lot line of this lot (and the easterly line of the lot next door) was recorded in error on the plat (a scrivener’s error), this fact may have contributed to both the original surveyor’s placement of the monument, and my own confusion. Talk about embarrassment; I’ve removed my monument and revised the survey. The frontage of this lot will just be one foot short of the record distance.

Short Sale in Lakewood Ranch?

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

12736 Penguin Drive, Bradenton, Florida


Recently we surveyed yet another vacant house and property. Problems in the local housing market are still evident in a cross section of neighborhoods. Short sales and foreclosures seem to make up a large percentage of the residential boundary surveying portion of our business.

Most of the homes are owned by a bank, but some are still in the name of their owner. This property, like most of the others that we have seen, suffers from a lack of maintenance and care of the landscaping. The neighbors are always glad to see a piece of their neighborhood restored, and we are happy to be a part of the restoration.

Little by little, the area is recovering from a deep and painful recession. We still have a long way to go.

This survey was ordered by Pete Besio of Prudential Lakewood Ranch Realty.

Visit our website at: If you have a question or need a survey, call us at 941-377-3157 or email:

Mortgage Survey in Bradenton, Florida

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

406 23rd. Avenue West, Bradenton

The term “mortgage survey” is often used locally. In reality, a mortgage survey is the same as a boundary survey, as defined by Florida’s Minimum Technical Standards for Land Surveying. Don’t confuse it with a mortgage report, which is a scaled down version of a survey that is used in some parts of the U.S.

This survey was done for Dunlap & Moran, P.A.,

Metlife Home Loans and Old Republic National Title Insurance Company.

A boundary survey is a federal HUD  requirement that lets mortgage lenders and banks sell their mortgages on a secondary market for bundling into securities.

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