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7 min read Jul 07, 2023

What is a Property Survey in Real Estate?

As a home buyer, a property survey is the most important process between offer acceptance and closing on the house.

A property survey gives you information about the legal boundaries of your property. This helps you maintain the boundaries of your property and avoid any fights.

When you buy a house or add an extension to the existing one, survey plays an important role in it. In this blog, we will have a look at the concept of property survey and its process.

Key Takeaways

  • Why Does Property Survey Matter? Property survey is essential to know the boundaries and history of your property.
  • Keeps You Legally Secured: Property surveys can keep you legally secured in a real estate transaction to avoid any future disputes from neighbors or past owners.
  • Property Surveys are not Always Expensive: A basic property survey costs on average between $100 and $600. Surveys for properties with permanent fixtures can cost higher. Also, the prices for different surveys vary from each other.

What is a Property Survey?

A property survey is a process to examine and measure a piece of property. A qualified property surveyor identifies and marks the boundaries of your property. The surveyor also measures the dimensions and creates an accurate map of the property.

Most of the time people are unaware of where their property starts and ends. A survey helps to confirm the boundaries of the said property legally as per the records.

Property surveys are also helpful to identify and confirm the already marked boundaries. For instance, if you plan to build structures you have a clear idea about where your property ends.

Importance of Property Survey

“Property surveys are carried out for multiple reasons. The surveyor needs to establish the boundaries of the newly developed land parcel,” explains Curtis Sumner, the Executive Director of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

A survey is not always required. A survey can be necessary before you purchase a home depending on where you reside.

Mortgage lenders and title companies essentially require a copy of a survey to close on a home. However, a formal document outlining the limits of your property can be useful. It can save you in the event of disagreements about neighboring property lines or other annoyances.

A property survey gives you a clear picture of your property. It helps you to determine exact boundaries to prevent disputes. A survey also helps to detect any encroachments in the form of structures or improvements on the property.

You comply with the local zoning and building regulations, by conducting a land survey or marking the property lines.

Lender’s title insurance requires property surveys in some states. The survey provides detailed information to the buyers, sellers, and lenders to assess the value and identify potential issues.

Moreover, a survey provides peace of mind to the property owners and makes decision-making easier with full control.

👉 Title Insurance: What is Title Insurance and How is it Useful?

Types of Property Survey

There are various types of property surveys. Each survey type gives you multiple pieces of information about your property.

  • Boundary Survey: It helps to identify the boundaries to mark corners and precise borders of the owned property.
  • ALTA/NSPS Survey: This survey complies with the standards set by the American Land Title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors. It gives out detailed information about the property’s borders, improvements, encroachments, and other details.
  • Construction Survey: This survey is conducted during the construction phase of the house. It helps to make sure the structures are built aligning with the plan and within the property boundaries.
  • Topographic Survey: It helps to measure the rises and contours over the surface of the property. A topographic survey helps to identify natural and man-made features. This survey is usually helpful for road improvements.
  • Mortgage Survey: It is typically known as a title search, and is required by mortgage lenders. It provides information about the boundaries, easements, improvements, history, etc., of the property.
  • Floodplain Survey: This survey helps to indicate if the property is located within flood zones. A floodplain survey is beneficial for property owners to get flood insurance in areas prone to heavy rainfall and floods.
  • As-built Survey: As-built survey is conducted after the construction work is completed. It helps to verify that the improvements and structures are built as per the approved plan.

How to Find Property Surveyors Near Me?

You need to hire a professional surveyor to measure and conduct your property line survey. Follow these steps to hire a professional surveyor:

  • Research to Identify Surveyors: Search on the internet for a licensed and experienced surveyor in your area. You can also work with a local real estate agent to hire a professional surveyor. 
  • Get Quotes From Surveyors: Reach out to multiple surveyors in your area to inquire about their services and costs. You need to provide relevant details such as the size of the property and features.
  • Discuss the Requirements and Timeline: Discuss the specific survey requirements with the surveyor such as topographic mapping, boundary identification, etc. You also need to confirm the estimated timeline to complete the survey.
  • Verify the Surveyor: The surveyor you choose should be a licensed and qualified professional. This will help you to claim any case of error or omission post the survey.
  • Make an Agreement: After you choose the surveyor and complete the verification, sign a written agreement. This should include the scope of work, cost, timeline, and other important details such as additional fees.
  • Survey Completion Report: The surveyor will research the property history and conduct the necessary steps to execute the survey. They will complete the process within the defined timeline and submit the survey report that includes details of the property.
    ✍️ Pro Tip: Grant access to the surveyor to your property and clear any obstructions that could delay the process.

How Much Does a Property Survey Cost?

The cost of a survey varies on the type of survey, size, history, and location of the property. As per HomeAdvisor the average cost to survey the boundaries starts from $100 to $600. While the average cost for a mortgage survey is around $500.

Survey TypeAverage Cost
1. Boundary Survey$100 - $600
2. Mortgage Survey$400 - $700
3. As-Built Survey$800 - $1,200
4. Topographic Survey$500 - $1,200
5. Construction Survey$1,000 - $2,000

Source: Angi

Eventually, a property with complex features and history records will come with a higher survey cost. To save on costs you can request for the previous survey done on the property. However, you need to pay for this service as well.

» Home Inspection: Learn how a home inspection can get you a better deal for your house.

How Long Does It Take to Survey a Property?

It takes a few weeks to complete a survey. The time to complete a property survey varies depending on factors like property size, complexity, and type of survey. Other factors that can delay the process are the availability of documents, and the backlog of the surveying company.

The survey for a small property with clear boundaries can be completed in a few days. But, larger, distressed properties may require a longer time.

You can discuss the timeline with the surveyor during the examination.

Final Word 

Getting a property survey can be beneficial for a homeowner. If you are buying a property or extending an existing one you need a survey to keep borders separated.

From the various types of surveys, you can choose the suitable one for your property. So hire a licensed professional surveyor to obtain reliable survey reports.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to find a survey of my property online?

To find your property survey, you can visit the local county website that contains public records. You can also visit the county assessor’s office.

2. How to survey your own property?

You can obtain a copy of your property's plat from the county register deeds office and use the information from your deed. Use markers for boundary demarcation.

3. What does a property survey look like?

A survey typically includes boundary lines, land features, record history, legal descriptions, reference points, and a north arrow scale. Different types of surveys have their own criteria, read about them carefully before choosing for yourself.

4. How much is the property survey cost near me?

Property line survey cost depends on various factors such as location, size, and record history of the property.

5. How important is property survey in real estate transaction?

A property survey is an essential step in the real estate transaction. It provides you the accurate information about the boundaries, easements, encroachment, and other details.

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