Know the property
The survey determines your property's boundaries, size, and locates any improvements. The resulting survey plat or map will disclose all building setback lines, the location of any easements crossing your property and possible encroachments. An encroachment is any structure, fence or building crossing the property line. Surveys also show topography and water flow, the elevation of any structures, and the location of any septic and drain lines.
Without a survey, you may be unaware of encroachments or violations that exist on your property. A survey also ensures that planned improvements such as pools, fences or decks do not violate setback lines, easements, or even your own property line.
Why hire a surveyor?
You would never buy a home without a home inspection and you should not buy property without a survey. A survey will show you exactly what part of property is being purchased and any improvements on that piece of property. Don’t assume more risk than necessary when a survey can easily be included in the buying process!
There are often boundary discrepancies in real estate transactions. Problems can be minor (a fence is over the property line) or more serious (a driveway, pool, or even a house is over a property line, the deed outlining the parcel of property is incorrect, etc) and affect the property value. Some problems may be irreparable and require negotiations with neighboring property owners. These complicated situations require an experienced surveyor to find the right solution and to minimize your risk.
Minimal cost vs. substantial risk
The lender does not require a survey and thus the buyer may not be aware of the risk he or she is taking if a survey is not done.
Problems can cost many times more what a residential survey would cost. If a fence is over the property line, for instance, it must be replaced. If a driveway is over a property line, it must be cut and re-poured. If your air conditioning unit is not on your property, the unit must be rewired. A problem that may initially seem small can quickly become complicated and expensive.
More serious problems are sometimes irreparable. If the house is over the property line, for example, the buyer negotiates with the neighbor to buy a piece of their property. Problems such as these can greatly reduce the value of the property.
Considering the potential expense, the cost of our average residential survey — between $500 and $1000 — is well worth the protection. When a buyer obtains a survey and owner’s title insurance on that property, the title company will insure you for any surveying issues that may arise.
Getting a survey before closing is key. Other people involved in the real estate transaction are most interested in finalizing the deal. By getting a reliable survey from a respected company before closing, the buyer has a negotiating tool to use regarding the price of real estate if a property issue arises.