Survey in Question – Need some direction

  • Survey in Question – Need some direction

    Posted by Adivita6713 on December 27, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    Hi there,

    I am looking for some recommendations from the group regarding a parcel of land I purchased (roughly 29 Acres of wooded land) about 3 years ago. The land is located in Virginia. This parcel of land I have been hunting for about 20 years and my father-in-law has hunted for about 40 years. The land is clearly marked with paint and timber growth changes from past cutting. Also, there are a few chopped trees along the paint lines and a couple monuments at corners of adjoining land owner’s parcels. My Father-in-law witnessed the harvesting of the timber 40 years ago on the land.

    I purchased the land knowing there was not a survey and worked with an attorney who did his due diligence. Fast forward a couple years and I decided to have the timber harvested. The timber company came out to flag the lines and that is when I noticed his flagging was WAY OFF. I started to ask questions to the past owner who inherited the land from his grandfather. He went through his grandfather’s old records and found a survey from 2006 (company is no longer in business). The survey matched what the timber company was flagging which was no where close to the historical boundaries observed.

    So I went to the courthouse to find the original deeds for the land. The deed denotes “cart paths” and measurements of chains with directions which related to the adjoining land owner’s parcel. There are physical markers mentioned (pine tree/cedar stob/ravines), but this goes back to the 1920’s and I could not locate any besides the ravine. It appears the 2006 survey ignores any of this. The lines the surveyor made are straight lines in the woods and seems arbitrarily constructed.

    What I have done so far:

    I have spoken to a surveyor who I paid to mark off the physical evidence of my parcel. I have also met with the adjoining land owner. I met him on the land and showed him the lines and asked questions. He is dragging his feet and has asked his local surveyor to investigate – this has been about 6 months ago. While at the courthouse, I noticed the survey from 2006 had NOT been recorded there. I had been told anecdotally that “if the survey is not recorded, then it is not worth the paper it written on”. I contacted a real estate attorney who disputed that statement. However, the attorney does A LOT of work for the adjoining land owner and he made that statement up front.

    Sorry for the long story – I am looking for some direction from people who have seen this type of scenario. I do not want to go to court. It’s too expensive and I would like to keep good relations with my neighbors. I am leaning towards to speaking to a different real estate attorney for a 2nd opinion. I am also wondering if I should have a surveyor do another full survey of the land. I just do not know if that will be fruitful to have the same outcome.

    I tried to attached pictures but do not have permissions for that.

    Thank you in advanced for reading all of this!

    BStrand replied 4 months, 4 weeks ago 8 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • holy-cow


    December 27, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    You should start getting some intelligent responses to your questions from Virginia area surveyors once most return from long Holiday absences. The one negative I can see is that you effectively put your neighbor’s attorney on notice to get prepared for a battle—so he can charge his client plenty of new expenses. Surely someone has acquired the prior survey firm before it closed. Finding that new firm may take a little time, but should be worth it in the long run. However, don’t take your problem to them. Just prepare yourself for the expected reasons they will deny any responibility and justify the prior surveyor’s solution as an act of self-defense.

    You need fresh eyes on everything you have already learned.

  • dmyhill


    December 27, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    It might be helpful if you supplied the parcel number or some sort of link. The short answer is simply to hire your surveyor to survey the land, make a map, write a narrative, and record their work. And I think it would be helpful to find a lawyer that doesn’t do work for your neighbor.

    I assume that the line the neighbor wants benefits him, and so at some point this becomes a legal question outside what a surveyor will advice you on. I do think it was wise to have your surveyor locate the monuments and bounds as you know them to be.

    -All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
  • OleManRiver


    December 27, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    Virginia is somewhat a race to the courthouse state. You need to get your surveyor to do a boundary depending on the county i can give you some good contacts if you need. Many good surveyors here in Virginia. What little time I have been here in this state most loggers foresters are usually close again this depends on who and which county. I am personally involved at the moment with a timber tract that the wife and i are looking at purchasing. Thank goodness the timber company had it surveyed in the 90’s before they started timbering. They have there lines marked and I found the surveyors work as well. Caught up with him and he was great and remembered the tract and such. He was actually on the ground and notched the trees and set a pin that was missing. I will actually hire him to do the work of a boundary line adjustment as i will purchase additional acreage from an adjoiner. I say all of this. I could get it done way cheaper as I am in the business and my company would be willing to do it. But. I am smart enough to use him as he has already done everything. And understands the issues i have seen. Same type deal. No cart roads but old abandoned row roads and access prescriptive easements and a creek etc. i say get the professional involved and let him or her advise you. These professionals most all know and respect each other and can usually figure it out. Yes sometimes they go to court but i am sure they will advise when that is a needed case.

  • chris-bouffard


    December 27, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    Caveat emptor! Buyer be aware in Latin. The first problem you have is buying that tract without having it surveyed. Never a good idea when it comes to your own title rights.

    My best advice to you, before lawyering up, is to have another surveyor from outside the area come in and trace the historical documents, letting them come up with an independent conclusion. If you have timber and mineral rights on the property that you think you own, these could be big financial issues. I am not licensed in a “filing” state, so I know little of the value of a survey that is filed or not.

    After going back in the chain of title, provide what you have or have him/her research the deeds back as fart as they can and let them locate any monuments or other physical evidence called for. When you have the results of the independent survey in hand, show it to your neighbor, discuss the outcome and see if you can come to an agreement in writing without having to lawyer up and file that agreement while marking the true line together. If that fails, then, if what you think that you bought truly is and your neighbor disputes it as a result of your survey, weigh your options, as paying an Attorney to defend your case will be costly and most likely lead to a hostile relationship between the two of you.

    The bottom line is to hire a Surveyor and let him/her trace the property back to the parent tract. He/she may prove your conclusions based on their work or prove that you didn’t own what you thing that you paid for.

  • OleManRiver


    December 27, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Oh here in Virginia once you get it surveyed its your responsibility to have it recorded. Some surveyors here will do that for you for a fee if you request that some will advise you on how to. But again race to get it recorded after following the advice as others have mentioned. If you and the neighbors have a conflict and can come to an agreement thats the best solution as @chris-bouffard mentioned. Again more than happy to give you some good names of surveyors around the state. If I knew what county i could be more specific. Virginia Association of Surveyors has a little map on home page to find a surveyor by region., county etc. some of these may accept recommend a different person or firm based on the specifics as not all focus on the rural boundary type jobs. Usually the small solo type outfits vs the big firms will be in the best interest my opinion only as this is what they do everyday. All Licensed surveyors will do great or should. Just the smaller outfits spend more time in your situation more often is all. Glad to help just PM me.

  • not-my-real-name


    December 28, 2023 at 6:00 am

    I can understand the value of having the land surveyed before a purchase. So, is it the seller’s responsibility to have the survey? The buyer paying to survey every land purchase they are thinking of can wind up being very expensive.

    When I get requests from buyers to survey land for a potential purchase, I recommend making that the seller’s responsibility. In other words make the purchase conditional on a survey.

    Historic Boundaries and Conservation Efforts
  • lurker


    December 28, 2023 at 7:45 am

    Why do you think you were observing the historical boundaries? If as you say they were obvious why do the adjoiners disagree? Is it possible you are incorrect and the boundaries from the survey are correct? How much different is the acreage from what you believe the boundaries are to what the survey says they are? Do you really want to spend x amount of money to try and recover that acreage? You made some assumptions as to what the boundaries of the parcel were, is worth it to try and prove your assumptions correct or would it be better to accept the results of the survey?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by lurker lurker.
  • BStrand


    December 28, 2023 at 8:46 am

    So, is it the seller’s responsibility to have the survey? The buyer paying to survey every land purchase they are thinking of can wind up being very expensive.

    When I get requests from buyers to survey land for a potential purchase, I recommend making that the seller’s responsibility.

    Unless it’s an ALTA survey of course. It’s great selling the same survey to 10 different developers, isn’t it?


  • BStrand


    December 28, 2023 at 8:55 am

    I think lurker is on the right track. Just because some people were logging the parcel in the past doesn’t mean they had any idea of where the boundary was. It looks to me like what you really need is a second opinion, so… hire your own surveyor to come out and do his own investigation. It won’t be free obviously and you need to be prepared for the possibility that he agrees with the 2006 survey.

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