Monday, July 26, 2010

Survey Tips

For those consumers and buyers who may not be familiar with land surveys, the topic can be daunting. When presented with the question of whether to obtain a survey, or when shown a survey at settlement, many buyers simply defer to their realtor or the settlement agent without asking questions. This is natural; we don't want to put our ignorance on display. However, at some point we have all heard the adage, "there is no such thing as a stupid question." The message is even more apt when applied to a specialized area where we have limited or no experience.

Most lenders will mandate that you obtain a survey. However, if you are purchasing for cash, or your lender does not require one, should you obtain a survey? The answer is not always yes, but the cost (usually between $150 and $350 for a location survey) is reasonable, and unless one is purchasing a property that has been recently surveyed, it is recommended.

There are two types of surveys: a location survey and a boundary survey.

A boundary survey is a full professional survey conducted by a licensed land surveyor. The surveyor must enter the actual property, locate the physical markers of the property, and identify the boundary lines. Following the survey, the surveyor then prepares the actual drawing and legal description of the land. A boundary survey can cost thousands of dollars and is rarely needed in standard residential transactions.

A location survey is prepared by a surveyor but is much less extensive. The surveyor visits the property to observe any changes or additions to the improvements (structures) on the property, reviews the prior survey, and prepares a new drawing.

If you are thinking about improving your land by adding a fence, shed or other structure, a location survey can be very useful.

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