A property survey is a document that maps out the boundaries and shape of the land in question and highlights the topography as well as manmade features.

A property survey provides homeowners with information about their house-to-be's location, dimensions, boundaries, restrictions, and conditions. A land survey can increase your chance of getting a mortgage at low rates and help you resolve property disputes in the future. Keep reading to learn more about property surveys, what it is, how much it costs, and how to get one.

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What Is a Property Survey?

When you buy a house, the most difficult part is knowing your limitations – what is yours and what isn't. This is where a property survey comes in. It is a legal property description that helps you determine the easements and restrictions. While you can get the house surveyed whenever you want, knowing the established land boundaries is important to the property purchasing process.

You might or might not need a property survey, depending on the property's location and the mortgage provider's requirements. However, getting one can help you settle boundary line disputes, locate easements, build another structure, locate utilities, get title insurance, and meet the home loan requirements. Different types of property surveys provide different information. Some important characteristics of property surveys are listed below:

Property Lines

Knowing starting and ending points of your land can either make or break a deal. A property survey eliminates all confusion about the area that comes under your ownership, allowing you to avoid encroachments and expand the house however you like in the future. This helps avoid legal issues and gives you a clear picture of what you are paying for.

Topographical Features

The property survey highlights natural and human-made features such as streams, utilities, ditches, buildings, roads, gardens, and hills. This survey is usually requested by building contractors and architects to know the land plan. Investing in a topographical property survey and flood certification can help you save thousands of bucks in the long run.


An easement can legally permit another person to use your land. For instance, you might be required to share your lawn area with the neighbors, or the electricity company can have the right to install wires under your house. Fortunately, not all easements are bad. But having a property survey will let you know your easement rights, preventing legal battles.

Hazard Areas

A professional surveyor will inspect every nook and corner of the house or land to identify any hazardous areas and problems. This will help you and the architect create a full-proof blueprint and avoid any costly mistakes.

Types of Property Surveys

Refer to the table below to learn about the five types of property surveys:

Name of Property Survey Description
Boundary Survey Locates and marks the boundary lines and corners of the property
Topographical Survey It helps you understand the features and location of the property.
ALTA (American Land Title Association) Survey Provides the title company or lender with property survey data for the ALTA insurance policy.
Mortgage Survey Used for qualifying for a home loan, a mortgage survey includes information on the property structure, title owners, and zoning codes.
Location Survey Details site improvements.

How Do I Acquire a Property Survey?

Although hiring an accredited land surveyor is the best way to get a legal report on a potential piece of land, you can also find it on your own. Here are some ways to conduct a property survey:

1. Hiring a Land Surveyor

If the property is old or located on a crowded street, the line markers may have faded, increasing the likelihood of boundary disputes. In this case, your safest bet is to hire a professional land surveyor. Expert in the field, a land surveyor will use their industry knowledge and skills to inspect the property and create a well-researched and legally binding survey.

The land surveyor's fee can vary by the time of year, type of terrain, size of the land, survey type, and travel and research time.

2. Reading and Understanding the Property Deed

A document that states the legal transfer of the house from the previous owner to the new one, a property deed will provide you with accurate information about the owner's name, tax map number, address, legal description, and restrictions.

3. Searching for Property Survey Records

While in some states, it is a rule to submit the property survey to the local government; others have no national archive. You can easily get property surveys from the assessor's or realtor's office and the courthouse.
Even though time-consuming, as you might need to manually check the transfers and understand the restrictions and requirements of the land, this is a free-of-cost way to get property surveys. It also gives you the chance to learn about the history of your new house.

4.Finding Property Surveys Online

If visiting the courthouse isn't possible, you can easily find the property survey records online. However, to get accurate information, you need to know the following details about your land:

  • Date of the most recent property survey.
  • Boundary descriptions.
  • Street address.

However, not all property surveys might be available in digital form. At best, you can narrow down your search and locate the office with records.

5. Contacting the Previous Land Surveyors

Most land surveyors already have a copy of their property surveys. Therefore, if you know the contact information or name of the previous land surveyors, you can ask them for the records. They will charge a small fee to email a copy of the property survey. However, if the last property survey was done 10 years ago, it is better to get a new one as the old record may not include the recent land developments.

What Is the Cost of a Property Survey?

The property survey cost varies depending on the size, shape, location, terrain, and property type. If you are a first-time property owner, a professional land surveyor can charge you anywhere between $400 and $700.
For example, if the house is located in a wooded area, the land surveyor fee will be more than what they would charge to survey a property in the city. This is because professional surveyors charge extra for the time they spend researching the property. Thus, hiring a professional land surveyor to inspect a well-documented property will cost you less than requesting them to travel to survey a house in a remote area.

Property Survey | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you still have questions about property surveys? In this section, we will be answering some common questions regarding property surveys:

Q: Can I Purchase a House without a Property Survey?

Yes, while you can purchase a house without a property survey, it can be very risky. A property survey will give you an idea of your boundary lines, minimizing problems in the future.

Q: Is a Property Survey Important?

Not all mortgage lenders require a property survey. But you will need one to construct or buy a new house. You can get a property survey anytime.

Q: I am Using Cash to Buy the House. Do I Need a Property Survey?

You don't need proof to qualify for the lender requirements when purchasing a house using cash. Thus, a property survey isn't required. However, you will need a property survey to buy title insurance in the future.

Q: What Is Included in a Property Survey Report?

A property survey report includes the dimensions of the house, information on the general topography (manmade and natural landmarks), the location of the utility fixtures, an assessment of land elevation, and confirmation of encroachments or easements on the property. The information can vary depending on the type of property survey.

Q: Who Pays for the Property Survey?

The person who requests the property survey is the one who pays for it.

Property Survey: Wrapping It Up

When buying a house, conducting a legal property survey is a smart decision as it helps you get to know your future home inside and out. A property survey is a document that tells you where the house is located and defines the property line, providing you with all the information and guidance you need to make decisions in the future.

Even though you can easily find information about the property lines online, having a property survey document in hand can help you win legal disputes against neighbors and resell your house for a profitable value. A property survey will increase your chances of securing a mortgage. We recommend hiring a licensed land surveyor for the job. Remember, the cost of a property survey can vary depending on the size and type of land. Ensure the property survey is accurate, up-to-date, and includes all new features or improvements. We hope our guide helped you understand the significance of a property survey and its role in the modern-day house-buying process.

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