The Importance Of A Survey When Purchasing Real Estate

Young_George_WashingtonSurveying has been a part of land development for thousands of years. Today, surveys are used in all types of construction – commercial and residential building, building roads, map making – to determine legal boundaries.

Surveys are prepared by licensed professionals. Depending on the type of survey ordered, they research legal documents pertaining to a property such as deeds and land documents recorded in a county office and they visit a property and take measurements to verify the accuracy of the land documents.

When all the information is gathered, a surveyor will prepare a drawing that identifies the size of the lot, the boundary lines for the lot, and shows improvements on the land, such as the home, the garage, and other structures that may be on the lot.

Purchasing a home? Your lender may require a survey be done. If you are purchasing without a loan you should still consider having one done. If the survey shows any property improvements that are on a neighbor’s property or vice versa, you should know that prior to purchasing the home. It could be very costly to correct and you may decide to find another property. If you decide to move forward, it could be a good negotiating tool.

There are several different types of surveys that can be done. In my research, I have found different definitions of the two most common types of surveys for residential use. Different survey companies in different areas of the country had different descriptions of what they include for each type of survey, so I would suggest you ask your local surveying company what will be done in each type of survey.

A common survey ordered for a residential closing when ordered by a lender is a Location Survey. This shows the location of improvements on the property in relation to the apparent boundary lines of the property. Lenders want to be sure there are no structures encroaching on the property. They also want to know that any structures on the property meet the current zoning and building codes.

The most common definition of a Boundary Survey is one based on the description in a recorded deed. It will show where improvements are located along the boundary of the property that affect the use of or title to the property, such as fences, utilities, buildings, sheds, streets, etc. If corner markers are missing, they will be replaced. This type of survey is used for construction and permit purposes.

If your lender requires a survey, be sure to find out what type of survey they want and explain that to the surveyor. It may not necessarily be the type of survey needed for putting up that fence you want. Be sure to ask the surveyor exactly what you get for each type of survey and how much each type of survey costs.

It is in your best interests to protect yourself with a survey when purchasing both improved and unimproved real estate.

If you are purchasing a home in a flood zone, your insurance company may require a flood elevation certificate. This is a document generated by a surveyor that helps insurance companies rate properties. If there should be a flood, FEMA uses the flood elevation certificate to certify building elevations prior to giving any financial assistance.

The role of a surveyor is important in residential real estate transactions. If you need a survey or flood elevation certificate, ask your Realtor® to recommend an experienced surveyor.

If you are in the market to buy a home or just considering your options, it costs nothing to learn more. Call or email Linda  for a free, no-obligation, no pressure consultation – 910.409.3519,

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