Top 5 Reasons to Obtain a Land Survey


Guest Post by Will Schnier, P.E., President of BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting Land SurveyThere are many reasons why somebody purchasing property would want to obtain the necessary survey products. For this discussion, at a minimum, I recommend that you should always obtain a current title survey, based on a title commitment less than 30-days old. A title survey will include information regarding property lines, location of improvements, easements, utilities and other conditions affecting the property.

I would also suggest that you consider obtaining a full tree, topography, and boundary survey in addition to the title survey if it’s appropriate for your purchase and project/investment intentions. The tree, topography, and boundary survey is also referred to as a design survey, and may be used by an engineer or architect to develop site development and building plans.


My top five reasons for you to obtain a survey are as follows:

1.) Know what you’re buying – the survey will identify the exact limits of the property boundary and improvements on the property.

Real estate can have title and boundary disputes (unfortunately it’s more common than you’d expect), which a title survey would help to uncover. Furthermore, relying upon tax district information on the lot or building size, or seller furnished documentation can be a recipe for expensive trouble without proper due diligence.

2.) Discover the presence and exact location of any easements, restrictions, or other encumbrances that may be imposed upon the property.

You may look out on a piece of property and see a green field, or a paved parking lot, and simply assume that that land is available for you to develop easily. How does that change if there are drainage or utility easements in that location? You may still be able to develop, yes, but your cost just went up a lot more than the cost of the survey.

Or suppose, you’re out in the county, not under the jurisdiction of a municipality that can impose zoning and land use restrictions. So you can build what you want right? What if a former owner of the property restricted its use, in an effort to promote a certain type of community? That 10-acre tract you intended to use for your commercial construction business may not be feasible if there is a deed restriction from 30 years ago limiting the use of the property to residential.

3.) If you’re spending significant money, it makes sense to an additional thousand or few thousand on a title and design survey.

Obtaining a title survey is an affordable way to obtain some more peace of mind with the transaction. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. You should do everything you can to protect the investment you’re making. A title survey could be as little as $1,000.

4.) The title and/or design survey can be used in the future to prepare drawings and exhibits, and to apply for building permits.

If you’re buying an office building for example, your prospective tenants may ask for a site plan showing the parking locations on the property – well now you have a survey you can supply them. Suppose again you want to apply for a minor building permit to expand the same office building - having a survey in hand will be a necessary step in that process.

5.) You can make the other guy pay!

All real estate contracts, residential or commercial, contain a clause specifically assigning the cost of the tile survey to either the buyer or the seller. Check the box next to the other guys name; this point is rarely an issue of significant contention during the negotiation process.


For more reading, I would encourage you to visit the BIG RED Blog.  On you blog you will find very useful information on the land subdivision and site development permitting process, and highlights of specific BIG RED DOG projects, such as our new downtown Austin hotel at 416 Congress Avenue.Survey

About Will Schnier, P.E.:

Will Schnier is the President of BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting. He has been responsible for the project management, engineering design, and regulatory permitting of numerous multifamily residential, retail, office, and industrial site development projects throughout central Texas. He can be reached by email at Will.Schnier(atsign) or by phone at (512) 669-5560.

About BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting:

BIG RED DOG is an Austin, Texas-based civil engineering firm specializing in land development engineering, permitting, and land use consulting. Our team of professional civil engineers and certified land planners has over 100-years of combined experience in the Austin and central Texas market. Our commercial project experience includes multi-family, hotel, office, industrial, retail, and single-family subdivision development projects throughout central Texas.

Guest Blogger: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing and Financing Your Single-Tenant NNN Property


Guest Post written by Colin L. Paterson, Commercial Mortgage Banker, BMC Capital, LP 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing and Financing Your Single-Tenant NNN Property:

Single-Tenant NNN Properties can be a great investment for investors seeking minimum management and optimum cash flow of their investment real estate. However, it is important that investors understand their risk when buying and financing a NNN property. While their are many variables to consider, there are 5 things that are of utmost importance to consider before purchasing and financing a Single-Tenant NNN Property:

1) Know your tenant and understand their financials. Since your property's value is directly related to the lease income, it is paramount that the tenant paying the lease income is financially viable. An investor should conduct a thorough analysis of the last two years and YTD balance sheet and P&L statements to make sure that the tenant has enough cash flow to cover it's fixed charges (rent and interest payments), and is not overburdened with debt.

2) Make sure the rent/sf is in line with market rents. Just b/c a NNN property has a high cap rate, does not necessarily mean it's a good deal, if the tenant is paying a much higher rent/sf than the market. Consider what another tenant would pay to lease the subject property if the existing tenant were to leave. Your real estate broker should be able to give you market rent comps.

3) "Location, location, location". This famous maxim holds true whether you're buying a single family house or commercial real estate. Thus, it is vital you understand the location, demographics, traffic counts, traffic generators, and what will drive supply and demand in the future. Note: a general rule of thumb for most lenders financing NNN properties is that they require the 5 mile population to be 50,000 or greater.

4) Length of the lease term: It is important to understand the lease term length and what your outstanding loan balance will be at the end the lease term. Most lenders who lend on NNN properties, require at least 15 years remaining on the lease in order give a 25 year amortization, if the LTV is 50% or greater.

5) Keep a reserve account. This is line with another famous maxim in real estate investing: "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best". Yes, even though you're buying a NNN property, it is essential that you are financially prepared if the tenant were to leave. The reserve account should be kept for 1) replacement reserves, in the event you as the landlord are required to make a capital improvements; 2)Tenant Improvements and Leasing Commissions (TILC), in the event the tenant were to leave and you have to find another tenant to move in. Yes, even though you're buying a NNN property, it is essential that you are financially prepared if the tenant were to leave and stop paying rent. Note: a general rule of thumb most lenders require is for the borrower to have a least 6 months of mortgage payments available in liquid assets to be used if the tenant were to leave.

While there are other variables to consider, keeping the above 5 things in mind before purchasing and financing your NNN property, will greatly increase your likelihood of investment success. Happy investing!

Guest Posted by Colin L. Paterson Commercial Mortgage Banker BMC Capital, LP Colin can be reached at 916-646-6334 or : cpaterson(atsign) or

Permanent Financing for Retail Properties

Authored by TMO guest blogger: Mark Jeffries, Vice President, Q10 | Essex Financial Group Over the past 9 months or so, the credit markets have experienced a shake-up unlike any in recent memory. The main impact of this on retail property permanent financing is related to the fall-out of Conduit or CMBS (Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities) lenders.  As recently as the summer of 2007, retail property owners and purchasers were able to obtain 80% loan-to-value financing from a CMBS lender without much difficulty.  Life Insurance Companies were typically offering 70-75% financing with similar fixed rates to CMBS.  Today, without the need to compete with CMBS, Life Insurance Companies have scaled back to leverage levels in the 65-70% range. The good news is that fixed rates from Life Companies are currently in the 5.75% to 6.5% range, are most often non-recourse, and can offer fixed terms of up to 25 years.  One of the potential dangers on the horizon is inflation, which could lead to higher interest rates across the board.

If a property owner is considering a refinance it makes sense to lock in a rate soon rather than later in my opinion.  We’re happy to provide financing estimates and analysis to assist borrowers in making difficult strategic capital decisions.  Retail properties continue to be viewed favorably by Life Companies as vacancy rates remain low in most markets.  We anticipate the capital markets will stabilize later in the year, and CMBS will return to the scene but likely on a more limited basis. Mark can be reached at 303.843.4023