Potential encroachments are revealed half the time or more when surveyors go to conduct residential surveys, correct. But with the advent of technology’s big brother in the sky style aerial photography views and attendant technologies, isn’t surveying becoming an antiquated professional craft?

At least with respect to my corner of the world and how it relates to surveying, the answer is a resounding: No!

Digital Parcel GIS Maps, the technology we are talking about here, assists determination of title lines, but again the angle of observation is from the sky, which in addition to often being obstructed by vegetation, represents a limited range of angles.

For the purpose of non-written means of land transfer, those which circumvents the Statute of Frauds, much of this technology’s value is derived by the ability to look at a property at numerous points over time. This is an extremely powerful tool used to demonstrate the change or constancy of occupation.

Yet, GIS Mapping is not the only tool. Surveyors, humans trained to make judgements, are trained to not just view but calculate multiple angles where people actually experience their landon the ground. Because of this, surveyors are able to identify potential encroachments with a far greater degree of accuracy.

I believe the problem to be one of communication. Surveyors through associations ought to consider means of elevating their exposure. The when and how of this is critical.

When? Just prior to home sale. Most homeowners and their adjoining neighbors do not seek to clarify their bondaries at precisely the most practical time to do so – when real estate agents are assisting preparations for their clients’ home sales.

In my humble opinion, this is when clarity should be established. And as such this is the time that surveyors can add tremendous value.

Now it is easy to sit back and vilify real estate agents for not seeking to properly educate their clients about these matters. ‘Evil real estate agents’ are believed, perhaps in many cases correctly, to refrain from raising these matters for fear that a sale will slip away or worse be tied up for numerous months by the recording of a Lis Pendens.

However, it seems to me that real estate agents simply do not have a firm grasp of the importance of properly established boundaries and how this adds considerable value for their clients.

Think about it, if a survey for $2000 or less, the value of which redounds to the purchasers at an amortized cost over 30 years at something south of $10 a month, can significantly help to prevent discord between purchasers and their new neighbors, well the owners’ value of real property on both sides of the line(s) has gone up … . It’s gone up a lot!

Incidentally, for excellent real estate agents, that’s a whole lot of friendliness which may generate future referalls and listings.

But who am I kidding? Nobody puts a pricetag on the value of having good neighbors. Neighbors should only be considered an incidental if not inconsequential part of our lives. Right?

I don’t think so. And, I should hope that surveyors aren’t convinced of this either.

Returning, my sense of the “How” to make the perception of the surveyors value is this. Surveyors would do well if they worked to bring up their soft skills. And at the same time, Real Estate Agents would do well if they worked to bring up their hard skills in the important area of boundary recognition.

Who of these two groups needs to initiate outreach? Surveyors. Real estate agents aren’t going to encourage their clients to run over and throw money at surveyors if as it currently stands surveyors are perceived to represent negative value to real estate agents. 

But, once outreach is established, these two groups can forge better business opportunities for each other. Most importantly, this would be done at the ultimate benefit of their joint

  • joe

    land surveying will be alive for quite a while – at least until the time where ALL GIS mapping is done to the precision of a genuine land survey. with 33+ years in the profession, and over 15 as a Registered Land Surveyor, I have seen far too many people trust a county assessor map or other GIS mapping applications that do not have accurate lines incorporated into their database. No amount of aerial surveys can replace the necessary ground surveys needed to accurately determine if a found monument is representing the corner properly. there is a certain amount of wisdom that comes with years of experience performing land surveys, hours and hours of researching adjoining deeds, calculating parcel closures, that GIS mapping alone cannot replace. hire a professional surveyor for your survey needs, it’s far better to know EXACTLY where your property lines are now, and if there are any encroachments before you make any assumptions. that pipe near your fence corner may just be a goat stake and nothing more.

  • T.P. Stephens

    Registered PLS in two states for 30 years.

    If I had a nickle for every time I took a Realtor aside and tried to explain the value of Ceritifed Boundaries, I’d have a boat load of nickles. About 99% deaf ears, so what you suggest needs changing has been happening. It is not working.

    The GIS depts and Title Co’s and Realtors and mortgager’s have to get hammered with liability from courts that hold them responsible for allowing either buyers or sellers to close WITHOUT a REAL Boundary Survey, not Mortgage Inspections that look like a survey, or it will never change.

    Otherwise, I am comfortable that none of the mayhem they create will serve other than to require a Surveyor to prove the facts and advise the solution, one parcel at a time.