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Do I Need a Land Survey?

November 15, 2019 — 4 min read

Have you ever heard of a land survey? Well, chances are, if you're currently buying a home, or already a homeowner, you might need a land survey. Even if your mortgage lender or title company doesn't require it, the extra steps may be worth the time and money spent. In basic terms, a land survey is a graphic depiction of a property, outlining its legal boundaries and other features. It's a helpful tool that uses physics, mathematics, and engineering, intended to clear up any confusion for home and landowners. According to BankRate, there are five main types of surveys that are beneficial to homebuyers/owners:
  • Topographic Surveys: These show the plane as well as the elevation of the land.
  • Monumentation surveys: These are done if you want to add a fence to your property.
  • As-built surveys: Determine property lines but also where improvements can be made, like driveways and sidewalks.
  • Mortgage surveys: Like as-built surveys, these show property boundaries for an entire property that will be mortgaged.
  • Floodplain surveys: Show flood hazard areas.

Do I Need a Land Survey?

Even if you aren't homebuying anytime soon, knowing the land surveying process is still an important part of being a current or future homeowner. Reasons to get a land survey include: Settling a boundary dispute. One day you might be interested in putting up a new fence. Do you know where your land begins and your neighbors' ends? Putting in the time and money to fence off your property, only to be legally obligated to tear it down, is reason enough to avoid dispute and just have a survey done. Pinpointing plot price and size. Another helpful feature of a land survey is being able to accurately determine how large a plot of land is. If the land is being sold, this could be a great negotiation point for either side of the transaction. Building a new home. In most states, a land survey is required to build a home.

How Does It Work?

Before a surveyor even comes to the property, they will do research on the land, the history of the deed, and may even do a title search. The home's deed will help the surveyor lay out the exact dimensions of your property if you already own it. Unfortunately, landmarks, such as trees or water, can change over many years, so the surveyor will physically measure the land as well. Once the property boundaries are determined, monumentation must be placed. Each state has a minimum standard for what must be done to mark the surrounding boundaries.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of a land survey will vary by the size and complexity of the lot. In general, a survey will cost anywhere between $200-$1,000 but the price could always be more. It's best to do thorough research and ask for recommendations before choosing your surveyor. To search for a surveyor by company ethics, education and more, start here. For a better land survey result, give your surveyor as much information as you can about the property, such as:
  • Title Reports
  • Past Surveys
  • Maps of the Land
  • Locations of Monuments

Benefits of Using a Trusted Professional

There are plenty of reasons to hire a professional to do a land survey, but one of the most important is the fact that the surveyor will keep accurate records of the services they perform for you and the data/measurements they calculate. If end up facing any legal issues with adjacent properties, the surveyor can appear in court on your behalf as an expert witness. The surveyor can also advise you of any defects in the land description or evidence of conflict ownership. If need be, the land surveyor will prepare a map of the boundary measurements.

Still have questions? We're here to help. To learn more about homeownership, contact a Mortgage Advisor today.

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