One of the first recommendations that the BoltNagi Real Estate & Financial Services Group makes to a purchaser of real estate is to obtain a survey and “walk the land”.
For just about any real estate purchase, your real estate attorney's standard advice will be to "get a survey, get a survey, and get a survey!" This is not conspiracy to drive up the cost of your real estate purchase. It is common sense, though, particularly for a big-ticket purchase like real estate. Obtaining a land survey of the property you plan to purchase will identify potential problems and give you peace of mind.
A survey of the proper scope and detail can tell you:
1. Whether there are any encroachments across the boundary lines. Does your building, septic tank, fence or driveway impinge on the neighbor's property? Does the neighbor's building, septic tank, fence or driveway encroach on yours? If so, the best time to fix the problem with an appropriate deed, easement or license is prior to the real estate closing. Not after the purchase price has been paid and the seller is nowhere to be found.
2. If you have roadway and utility access. Does a public road right of way abut the property? If not, does a private driveway easement connect the property to a public road? What about utility easements? Are the electric, cable and other utility lines all located in easements benefiting your property? Or is your property in danger of having its access cut off? A property with deeded roadway and utility access is a lot more valuable than one you can only visit by helicopter or boat.
3. Whether you are really buying what you thought you were buying. The boundposts the surveyor places in the ground will permit you to eyeball the property's boundaries. Is the building located on the property? Does the property extend all the way to the ocean? Is the mahogany tree screening your property from the road yours, or can your neighbor chain saw it to the ground without your consent? You may find that the boundaries aren't where you thought they were.
4. If the property meets zoning requirements. Does your building meet the setback requirements from boundaries and roadways as required by Virgin Islands law? Are standards for lot size, building coverage, height and minimum number of parking spaces met? The best time to seek a variance from the Virgin Islands Department of Planning & Natural Resources that would permit you to use your property as planned is before you spend the money to buy the property, not after.
With survey in hand, the BoltNagi real estate team always recommends that the prospective property owner “walk the land” and review the flagged boundposts so that they can understand the boundaries and assure themselves that they purchasing what they originally contemplated.
For your next real estate purchase, ask your real estate attorney to recommend the scope of land survey you need. Have your attorney solicit quotes from reputable licensed Virgin Islands surveyors, so you can make an informed decision as to cost and time to perform. And then get a survey!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ron Pennington at (340) 774-2944 or firstname.lastname@example.org or a member of the Bolt Nagi’s Real Estate & Financial Services Practice Group