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Surveyor: Recording Land Surveys

Certificate of Survey - Page 1

Certificate of Survey – Page 1

Land surveys are routinely performed during the property transfer process. A land boundary is usually between two or more parties. The purpose of a professional land survey is to interpret the land description provided and to determine the exact location, and monument that location on the ground. A record of survey is usually prepared to show the findings, the ground measurements of the boundary, along with any findings of occupation or easements that may affect the title of ownership or use of the land.

When buying or selling real estate, it is important to know the exact dimensions of the property that is being transferred. Consequently, the buyer or the seller will often hire a professional land survey company to perform a survey of the property in question.

Survey Results

A completed survey is the results of analyzing and weighing all of the evidence, verbal, written, and what is found in the field, coming up with a professional opinion where the boundary lines should be established on the ground. The record of survey is evidence for future landowners, the public and the courts of the level of effort and the information that was used to substantiate the position of the boundary as determined.

The record of survey also becomes a written record and history of the property and the conditions that existed at the time of the survey. It is vital that this evidence be recorded in the interest of the public as a whole. The landowner and the surveyor will not live forever or be available to share this information with those who may come long after.

Once the survey is performed, the land survey company outlines the boundaries of the land. The owners of the property keep the original survey report for their own records, and additional copies can be made for others who may have a vested interest in the boundaries of the land. In many cases, the property owner will choose to record the land survey with the clerk of the county in which the land is contained.

Recording Office – Register of Deeds

Property surveys are filed in the county property records, alongside other property records including deeds, easements, and mortgages. Current law does not specify the party that is responsible for recording a land survey. Many Michigan land survey companies skip this step altogether, or do not share with their clients the benefits of recording the land survey results with the county. This is an oversight on behalf of the land survey company, as there are many reasons that a survey should be recorded upon completion.

Benefits of Recording a Land Survey

Filing any real estate document – surveys included – constitutes providing public notice of the existence of the document. Therefore, property owners who publish the results of their land survey are, in essence, informing the public of the bounds of their property.

Recording a land survey with the county is also a great way to safeguard your survey report. Even if your original survey report becomes lost or the surveyor moves or passes away, you will be able to retrieve a copy of the survey simply by contacting the county register of deeds. This is also a great way to benefit future property owners, realtors, lending institutions, title companies, appraisers, and surveyors, who may or may not be interested in retrieving copies of previous land surveys that were performed on your property.

Recording a land survey also acts as a natural system of checks and balances. The land survey is recorded along with the name of the land surveyor. This is an important way for counties and property owners to hold surveyors accountable for their work.

Insist on Filing

Many property owners simply assume that the land survey company will file their survey with the appropriate county office. In many instances, this is not the case, even though most states require that a new land survey report be filed whenever a newly created parcel of land is created for the purpose of sale or land transfer. As a property owner, you should insist that your updated land survey be filed appropriately and request proof of recording from the survey company.

Northern Michigan surveyor David Heydlauff, owner of DpS Surveying and Mapping has all new surveys recorded with the appropriate county. As an experienced Traverse City land surveyor serving Grand Traverse, Antrim, Benzie, Manistee, Wexford and Leelanau County since 1975 he understands that this is just a part of complete a surveying project. For additional information contact David of DpS Surveying & Mapping at (231) 715-1318 or email