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What Is a Property Survey?

Max, making it look easy

If you’re in the market for a home and plan on financing, your lender will probably require you have a property survey done before they’ll give you a loan. The survey protects both you and the lender from becoming involved with a property that may have serious problems.

A survey is a map of the property showing its boundaries and other physical features. A residential property survey will show buildings (i.e. house, sheds) and their relative positions on the property, as well as fences and easements. A survey can help you avoid serious problems by identifying encroachments, or when part of your property extends onto the property of another and vise versa. For example, if your recently-added sun room crosses over a neighbor’s property line, they can legally force you to have it removed. Such issues can still be overcome, but you wouldn’t know they even existed without a survey. In the worst cases, a home can even become unsaleable.

Staking things out

For an average residential survey, you can expect to pay from $300 to $500 dollars. It may be possible for you to save some money by using an existing property survey. In this case, the lender will require that the survey have been done within a certain time period and that the seller sign an affidavit stating no changes or additions have been made to structures on the property since the survey was done. If you don’t have the old survey but know the company that did it, you can still save yourself some money by asking them to┬áre-certify┬áthe old survey. For a re-certification, the survey company will come back out to the property and do a visual inspection to confirm no additions or changes have been made.