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Selling a home: Know your boundaries

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Dear Heather,

We are in the process of selling our home and our agent tells us we must have a boundary survey done. I don’t understand why we should have this done, the boundaries haven’t moved. It’s an extra expense that we don’t need. When and why should it be done and how much does it cost?

Seller

A boundary survey is recommended each time a property changes hands. The boundaries will need to be marked for several reasons:

1. To determine the actual physical extents of the property so that the buyer can clearly see what they are buying;

2. So that the surveyors can establish that the boundaries are actually as described in the legal description and on the lot plan. The deed plan and description need to match; sometimes things are in the description but not on the plan as it hasn’t been updated, or vice versa;

3. To establish boundaries in the ground, with capped steels or bolts with red witness pegs;

4. To see if there are any encroachments or anomalies with the boundaries;

5. To provide a clear plan where the boundaries are marked in red. Your right-of-way over someone else’s land are marked in yellow; other people’s right-of-way over your land are marked in green;

6. In order for good title to be passed on free of encumbrances;

7. No reputable lawyer will convey a property without a boundary survey being done, in order to protect the buyer.

At some point Bermuda will be implementing a new land title registry. This will bring new requirements for surveying. Most specifically, older plans, (say pre-1970), that are drawn in imperial or are not to scale or are of poor quality, will need to be updated as metric plans.

Cost can be quoted by the survey company prior to starting work on the property providing you supply them with a lot plan and legal description and any covenants or zoning orders that might be relevant. For an average quarter-acre lot, to establish boundaries and prepare a survey report could cost in the range of $2,000 to $2,500. However if there are issues that need to be resolved with Planning, for instance an encroachment, this cost could be quite a lot higher. A survey is part of giving good title to your property, therefore the cost is always borne by the seller. In many instances a new lot plan is required, particularly if it is measured in feet and inches or, before that, “metes and bounds” and before that, “roods”. Depending on the size of the property a new lot plan can cost upwards of $800.

Ideally, I suggest my sellers have their property surveyed prior to listing or at the very beginning of listing.

Then if any encroachments or problems are found they can be sorted out before a buyer is found.

The timeframe to “correct” any anomalies with planning can take 4-6 months, or longer.

Therefore if surveying a property is left until your property is in contract, and there is a problem it will definitely cause a delay in closing, and usually affects the sale.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

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