"Oh, I had no idea it would cost that much"
Unfortunately, the "low ballers" are the ones that get the lion's share of the projects. They are usually the ones that cut so many corners that they produce a bad boundary, yet insist they are providing a valuable service to the public. Those are the ones that need to be reported to the licensure boards every time they fail to comply with the reasonable standards of care and/or the standards of practice. Eventually they will either get a clue or loose their credentials.
This is an issue in the area that work in, there are numerous firms charging dirt prices for garbage work. On occasion we'll survey a lot one of these companies previously did and sometimes the property owner will have the old plat - those that I have seen look almost like a sarcastic caricature of a plat.
Those are the ones you need to get a copy of and send it to the board of licensure as well as file a formal complaint. We have to police ourselves otherwise, the bad apples will continue to spoil the barrel.
"Oh, I figured it wouldn't be more than about $150".
Heck, I've run up $150 just talking to you on the phone.
What I tell people is that despite the cost, almost no one regrets getting a survey. Some people may get news they don't like, but more information is always good, always valuable.
Another analogy I picked up somewhere (possibly these forums) is that a land survey is like buying new tires. It's more expensive then you think it ought to be, once it's done you don't really notice much of a difference, but it's something you know you need to do.
To add to the analogies: it takes as much planning, preparation, and equipment to camp overnight as it does for a week.
I guess that is the long way of saying we need to be more proactive in educating the public on the services we provide.
Fortunately, the cartoon artists have all retired or died in my area. However, sometimes their work is the only information we have to run with. Found one of those yesterday in the next block over from my client's property. Searched through 16 blocks in that town plat and that was the only thing filed. In 1979, with no explanation as to how the locations of the set monuments were determined.
I was told very early in my career that it is proper to charge what the Professional Service is worth.
That means, in the simplest terms, that if I surveyed Lots 3 and 5 in a Subdivision, the value of a survey of Lot 4 is no less than the value for the survey of Lots 3 & 5.
Some prospective clients appreciate a thumbnail education of what goes into a survey, and once you make an explanation accept the fee. Some will google "average survey price" and send you a screenshot saying their survey should be $400.00. I simply never call those people back. Why argue? I don't want to work for them anyway, and I damn sure do NOT want to be known as the area's cheapest surveyor. I am happy to let someone else have that thorny crown. I do have a minimum call-out fee, but I don't tell anyone what it is - professionalism. You can't feel guilty about making a little money on an easy job, because somebody has to pay for the rain days, the days the truck gets a flat, and the days a little old lady calls because her neighbor is bullying her over her begonias; and she is caring for her cancer-ridden ol' man. You have to learn to not feel bad about the jobs you miss. Some jobs you are better off if your competitor gets!
I'm pretty strongly opposed to turning anyone in to their licensing board. Especially if your opinion is that they are taking your work with low fees. I live and work in a small, somewhat isolated community. Sixty or seventy odd years ago, the local surveyors (who knows why, they're mostly all passed on) began to feud, and it carried on to just about 10 years ago. It led to a lot of badmouthing, undercutting, double irons and all sorts of unproductive results. Took 2 generations of surveyors since to get back to cordial, professional interactions between us. They all worked too cheap for all those years because of spite and jealous competition.
When you make a mistake, and you WILL make a mistake, what you would really like is a polite call from your competitor and a discussion over how to rectify it; rather than having to answer to your licensing board. You reporting someone else will never be the end of that course of action.
#1 question I have learned to ask before doing any significant research (i.e. literally anything beyond looking up the parcel number and the tax assessed value) is:
"Are you aware of the cost of a proper recorded survey, and do you have a budget for this?"
"3rd, for a new buyer of property, the survey is an inconvenient hurdle"
They have no problem with a 6% -7% Realtor charge for nothing except some minor paperwork, closing costs, title insurance, mortgage fees and interest, yet balk at the fee for a survey because "it costs too much", (insert your price here) while the Realtor walks away with huge profit. Go figure.
They have no problem with a 6% -7%
Most real estate agents are members of the price-fixing cartel that they somehow get away with.
It must be remembered, however, that there is a surplus of real estate salespeople so many do not make a good income.
- They've been told; realtor fees are something they "have to" pay, surveys are optional.
- They don't need to write a check to the realtor, it's paid out of closing, so they don't really even see it. That's why they're surprised when a surveyor wants to be paid whether it closes or not.
Realtors assume no liability; when asked about anything they give you some vague response and tell you to hire an expert.
My buddy is looking at buying a piece of property in Bug Tussle TN; one place says it's 25 acres, another says 30. When he asked the real estate agent which one is correct, she told him: they usually go with the lowest number, that way you're not disappointed when it's 30. he didn't get a straight answer to his question, and was told to hire an expert...
@bill93 It should also be remembered that the 6-7% is only that amount if the realtor is the broker, listing agent, and selling agent. Other wise it could be a three or four way cut. And if they are doing a bunch of showings, but no closings it is a 0% commission. I doubt any of us would be willing to do 3 or 4 surveys and then charge only for the 5th.
Realtors do a heck of a lot better job of convincing people they are necessary to the sale process - and frankly they are very helpful. It is possible to list as a for sale by owner. Lately (with a very hot market), I've seen four separate properties listed by owner that sat for a good while. All of them were pretty nice places, so they should have gone fast. Finally the sellers bit the bullet and listed with an agent and within a few days the houses sold at full or above asking price.
Since the pricing has been so high, I just sold 2 tracts and 4 lots I've been holding for a while. I had a regular client list them for me and within a couple of days they all sold for the ridiculous price I was asking for them. The realtor I listed with is constantly keeping in touch with people he knows are looking for properties and knew exactly who to contact to get the properties sold. It was very nice to just have someone else deal with all of the people that were involved in the process as some of the buyers were financing. All I did was sign a listing contract via email, sign an acceptance for offers via email, and then show up at the attorney's office to sign a few closing documents and pick up checks. For me - the commission was money well spent as I had other things to do.