What is a Property Survey and Why You Should Get One Before Buying a House
When buying a home, the last thing you want is a surprise. Most people worry about leaky roofs or rusty boilers. But there may be property issues that can come to light and cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.
One way to avoid getting in over your head is to get a property survey before you buy. Also known as a house or land survey, it’s the perfect way to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with the land, so there are no surprises.
How exactly do you go about getting a property survey?
Property Survey Basics
A property survey begins with defining the boundaries of a plot of land. This clarifies the size of the property, and where the land begins and ends.
An updated house survey is also important for legal reasons. This is because municipal laws are not fixed—they change from time to time. For example, the property might have a shed or a fence that was well within the boundaries years ago but after undated municipal border it now encroaches onto a neighbor’s property or too close to the public street. A new survey will give you the confidence that the property complies with current local regulations.
It can also highlight any potential discrepancies or boundary infringements. This can help you avoid any misunderstandings in the future with neighbors or the city.
What do Surveyors Look for in a House Survey?
You might have seen surveyors poking around your neighborhood taking measurements. Most of the time, they have been hired by home buyers or sellers to take surveys, or they could be performing a survey for a property dispute (something a survey can help you avoid!)
When you hire a surveyor here’s what they typically look for:
- The legal boundaries of the land
- The locations of any buildings (sheds, storage) on the land
- Any easements and entrances to the property
- The topography of the plot, including both natural features such as trees or a river and manmade features including swimming pools or fences
An updated survey will be compared to any previous survey from the last time the house was sold. This way any discrepancies that might appear are known to all parties before the closing.
How Much Does a House Survey Cost?
When getting a property surveyed it’s important to hire a professional. This is one instance where DIY surveys or estimates won’t help. In fact, it can actually hurt you as they are not accepted as legal documentation.
So hiring a surveyor may be worth it to ensure you have records that hold up in court, if it ever comes to that. House survey costs can vary from state to state, but they typically run anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
Check your local state laws regarding costs. In some states, the seller is responsible for the survey or the fees can be negotiated between both parties.
Should I Have a Home Buyers Survey?
The last thing any homeowner wants is to plan a new project only to find out all that land they thought they had wasn’t theirs after all. You can imagine the headaches that scenario can cause!
Nevertheless, this sort of thing can sometimes happen. One way to avoid these issues is to set up a survey. A buyer’s survey can save you from a lot of potential hassles (and even more costs) down the road.