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Do I Really Need a Property Survey?

February 1, 2018

Real Estate

Land Surveyor

As a real estate attorney purchasers regularly ask me whether they should obtain a survey of the property they are purchasing.  My answer to this question is always “yes”.  A current property survey is a great way to identify issues with property before closing and avoid unnecessary headaches after closing.  While some people may tell you that you don’t need a survey because your title insurance will cover any issues, this is not the case.  Owner’s title insurance policies contain an exception for matters that would have been revealed by a current survey of the property.  Below are matters that can be revealed by a current survey:

  1. Access.  A property survey can help a purchaser confirm they have actual, legal access to the property.  For instance, a survey can confirm that property abuts a public right-of-way or can show that a critical private road used to access the property is not actually located on the deeded access easement.  These are issues that need to be addressed prior to closing so that a purchaser can receive appropriate owner’s title insurance coverage.
  2. Acreage.  A property survey will help determine the actual acreage of property.  Not only is acreage important when determining the value of property, but it can also be important for purchasers who intend to develop or subdivide property.      
  3. Boundary lines.  A property survey will show the boundary lines of the property.  Understanding the boundary lines of the property can help a purchaser confirm the property meets their expectations.  For instance, if you are purchasing a property because of its beautiful back yard a survey can help you confirm that the beautiful back yard is part of the property you are purchasing and not your neighbor’s property.  
  4. Setback and buffers.  A property survey can show you the setbacks and buffers applicable to the property you are purchasing.  This allows you to confirm that the property you are purchasing is in compliance with the applicable setbacks and buffers, as well as, helps the purchaser confirm they will not be in violation with any future improvements for the property.  For instance, if you are purchasing property with the intent to make an addition to the home of the property, a survey will help you confirm you have the space make that addition within the setback limits.
  5. Encroachments.  A property survey will show whether there are any encroachments on the property from an adjoining land owner or in the alternative whether any improvement on the property being purchased encroaches on adjoining property.  For instance, a survey can show you that the fence in the backyard of the property you are purchasing encroaches on your neighbor’s property.  If this issue is discovered before closing, it can be dealt with prior to closing, as opposed to discovering the issue when it holds up your neighbor’s sale of their property five years later.     

When you buy property, you don’t want to buy issues that will ultimately cost you time and/or money.  It is best to identify and deal with any issues before closing.  Property can be one of the biggest investments of your lifetime, and it’s worth the cost of a survey to have the comfort of knowing you are actually purchasing what you believe you are purchasing.

At Helms Robison Lee & Bennett, we have attorneys that can help you navigate real estate legal issues. Contact us today.

 

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