You have found your dream home, made an offer, and they accepted. Congratulations! Now it’s time for the real work to begin. Beyond researching the title on the property, you should seriously consider having a survey of the property conducted even if it is not mandatory by the title company.
What is a Survey?
A survey determines whether the house is within its supposed borders, whether there are any encroachments* on the property, and the extent to which any easements** on the property may affect legal title.
Do I Have to Get a Survey?
It wasn’t until a few decades ago that lenders started to require a survey when securing a loan. It starts with the title company who will research the title on the property to ensure there are no discrepancies of ownership not any liens. When purchasing a home through a lender, you will also purchase title insurance which will protect you in case anything was missed. Since an encroachment or an easement could lower the value of a property, most lenders require a survey to ensure the estimated value of the mortgage.
Even if you are not required to have a survey conducted (all cash deals), you should still have a survey conducted. Without one, you risk encroaching on a neighbors property when adding a fence, porch, or stairs down the line.
How Much is a Survey?
A “spot survey” or Surveyors Real Property Report will run about $150-250.
A “stake survey” or Boundary Report will run around$350-450.
What Kind Do I Need?
A “spot” survey is a visual guide that represents only a cursory check on the location of any improvements. It may not disclose such matters as encroachments, overlaps and boundary line unless it is visually obvious.
A “stake” or boundary survey is preformed to physically mark the title lines on the ground. Property corners are marked with iron stakes in the ground with stakes set along side. Long lines are marked with stakes set every 150 – 200 feet. This type of survey will disclose encroachments.
While there is a considerable difference it price between the two, the “stake” survey is almost always recommended. While it may cost you more, it always pays off to be a little more cautious especially with something as valuable as a your own home or potential investment.
* An encroachment occurs when your neighbor’s house, garage, swimming pool, fence, or other permanent fixture stands partially on your property or hangs over it.
**An easement is a right given to another person or entity to trespass upon land that person or entity does not own. Easements are used for roads, for example or given to utility companies for the right to bury cables or access utility lines
If you are in need of references for a survey company, I am able to provide them.
Real Estate Professional
St. Louis Real Estate. Evolved.