Why every buyer should insist on a new property survey

Last year we wrote a really successful post about why every buyer should insist on a permit search. It seemed like title agents, realtors and consumers got a lot out of that one, so we decided to follow up with another post geared toward buyers that touches on the importance of property surveys.

The purpose of the pLog is not only to help educate real estate professionals and title agents, but also to create more educated and savvy buyers and sellers. There's a lot of confusion and, dare I say, misinformation on the importance of a survey. What's most important to us, as a due diligence company, is that every buyer is armed with an absolute and complete picture of what they're walking into with a newly acquired property, no hidden surprises. The following list are the things a buyer should be aware of when making the decision to get a brand new survey done of the property in question. Listen up:

1. A land survey is arguably one of the most important parts of pre-closing due diligence.

This is because issues discovered by a property survey are sometimes one of the most costly. Especially if a property line runs right through your house (which is an honest-to-god thing that has been discovered by a survey.) Whether it be a costly relocation of a shed, fence, landscaping -- OR a nasty dispute with your neighbor waiting to happen, knowing exactly what is yours, what isn't yours and what is shared , is so important. The only way you can have 100% peace of mind on that is to get an updated survey.

2. No hidden surprises.

It's common practice in some places to re-use an old land survey, if the underwriter allows it, but that survey is going to be outdated. Even if the owner before you only had the property for one year, you don't know what improvements they may have made. Did that owner add a fence? Driveway? Landscaping? Any of those things could be encroaching on the neighbor's property if that previous owner paid no mind to boundary lines and it will become your responsibility to correct. 

3. It's a relatively small investment, worth far more than the cost.

I get it. You're closing costs feel like they're piling up higher and higher. But an additional $300 - $700 to be certain what you're walking into -- is that too expensive to know what you own? When you could run into issues that could cost you thousands, it's better to know upfront to protect your investment.

4. You live in an HOA.

If you plan on making any improvements, you're going to want to know what's yours and what's common property. We've heard about people buying a house and then later finding out they have a fence that encroaches several feet into the HOA's common space. Plus, some HOAs will require that you get an updated survey to make any improvements so that you can prove they're within the bounds of your property. 

5. Happiness for years to come.

 Hey, maybe you're moving into your home with the intention of building an addition, setting up that white picket fence, or putting in a nice big pool. If you don't know what you own, how can you be sure your plans fit into that? Also, easements and encroachments can be a huge neighborly disputes. It's better to just know so that you can start off on the right foot. 

 Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to be interpreted as legal advice. We're just really into sharing information that buyers, real estate agents, title agents, and real estate attorneys may find helpful. :)

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