Buyer Responsible For Surveyor Bill
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM #LAW 741
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A ThinkGlink reader was in the process
of buying a home when the deal fell through. The title agency had ordered a
survey of the property and now the home buyer is wondering if he, or the title
agency, is responsible for paying the surveyor.
Q: We were in the process of buying a house when the deal fell through just
before closing. Since then, we received an invoice from a land surveyor for
a survey done on the property.
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This was ordered (unbeknownst to us), on our behalf by the title agency.
The title agency said in their order to the surveyor, they have a disclaimer
that says should the deal fall through, he is to collect the money directly
from us, not them.
We don't feel we should pay him because we didn't order the survey. He says
he did the work and that work was not contingent on our closing on the property.
Are we responsible for payment or is the title agency responsible?
A: In many states, people buy and sell property with the assistance of a closing
In some cases, the closing agent may be a title insurance company, an escrow
company, or an attorney’s office. If you signed a document that stated
that the closing agent was to undertake certain duties on your behalf that were
needed in order to close on the home, the title agent would need to complete
the list of items and you’d need to pay for them.
If it is customary for a buyer to pay for the survey on the purchase of a home
and the closing agent ordered the survey on your behalf, you probably owe the
money to the surveyor. While you did not “know” that the agent was
ordering the survey, you hired the agent to do the things necessary for you
to buy your home.
If the title agency paid the bill to the surveyor, they probably would have
the right to turn around and bill you for the survey.
You need to review your documentation with the title agency and determine whether
you gave them the right to order the survey on your behalf. If you did, you’ll
have to pay for the survey.
If you did not have a written or oral understanding with the title agent for
them to do work on your behalf, you probably don’t have to pay for the
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com