September 20, 2016
Recently I received this question: “Do Residential condominiums require a survey like gated community homes?” The question actually requires answers on a couple of levels. First of all, I have to assume the question is referring to the time when a condominium is being sold. Hawaii is an escrow state; so we refer to that time period as “in escrow”. For information on escrow, see my April 4, 2015 blog “Hawaii Property Purchase, Contract Status and Escrow”.
So I’ll rephrase the question thusly: “When a condo sells, during the escrow process, is there a contractual obligation on the part of the seller to do a survey? Answer: No, condominiums do not need to be surveyed. The property lines around the perimeter of a condo project will include all the common area, parking lot, pool, etc. and all the buildings on the land. How would you survey an individual condominium unit within a building? So no, condominiums are not surveyed when they sell.
Now I have to ask: “Why did the person asking the question think only residences in gated communities would need a survey”? When single family residences, farms, raw land and the like sell, they are usually surveyed while in escrow. But a survey is never actually “required”. During a sale, a survey is an option a buyer can ask for. The seller has to pay for it and they can refuse. If the seller refuses, the buyer can pay for their own survey, but run the risk of putting out the money only to have the deal fall apart for some reason. In situations where the seller doesn’t want to pay for a survey, I try to get them to do the survey and add the cost on to the sale price. That way, if the deal falls apart, the buyers isn’t out anything and the seller has a survey they can use for the next buyer.