There are many things to think about when buying a home. You probably already know about the importance of completing a home inspection to make sure the home’s structure and systems are sound. Similarly, a home appraisal is important as well, because it will determine the value of the home you’re thinking of buying. Another item that should be on your home-buying to-do list is a property survey.
What Is a Property Survey?
A property survey will determine the boundaries of the land, the size of the land and where the land begins and ends. It also includes things like right-of-ways and easements that deal with shared yards or driveways. The surveyor will sketch the land, its boundaries and the elements that make up the property. Then they will provide a map of the property’s legal boundaries and a description of the property, including adjacent properties and possible improvements the owner can make to the land.
Why You Should Have a Property Survey Done
A property survey is especially important if you are buying land to build on later. A property survey will begin with a title search to determine who the owner of the land is. Doing a title search can save you a lot of headaches in case something does crop up. For example, in 2011, some potential buyers of a property in New Jersey had a property survey done on a $1.8 million home they were looking to buy, only to find out that the home had been built on park land. In another case, thousands of miles away in Utah, a mother and daughter were shown the wrong lot by their real estate agent and ended up building their home on someone else’s land.
It’s a good idea to update your property survey from time to time. Municipal laws sometimes change, causing boundary changes. A fence or shed that was previously within the boundaries may now be encroaching on a neighbor’s property or be too close to the street.
If you’re considering putting up a fence around your yard, you’ll need a property survey to determine where your property line is. Similarly, if you want to put a pool in your back yard, contractors may require a property survey before permits can be pulled.
What Do Surveyors Look for in a Property Survey?
If you’ve ever seen someone in an orange vest carrying around a tripod in your neighborhood and taking measurements, it’s probably a surveyor hired by a potential home buyer or seller. Here’s what they’re usually looking for:
- The legal boundaries of the land
- The location of any sheds or storage on the land (assuming those types of things are allowed by your homeowners’ association)
- Easements and entries to the property
- Topography of the plot, including natural topography such as trees or manmade features such as a swimming pool
How Much Does a Property Survey Cost?
The cost of a property survey depends on the size, location and history. According to data from HomeAdvisor, a simple property survey costs between $100 and $600. A mortgage survey cost an average of $500. If the property you’re buying has complex features or history, the survey may cost you more.
If you need help finding a surveyor, the Virginia Association of Surveyors lists surveyors in our area. Ratified Title Group can also assist you in finding a surveyor. Be prepared for the process to take from one to three weeks, depending on the company.
Ratified Title Group is here to answer your questions or assist you in any way we can. You can reach out to us at 571-234-5589 or by email at [email protected].