By: Erin Auld


Buying a home can be overwhelming especially when you are inundated with charges from lenders, title insurance companies, tax offices, and homeowner’s associations. In addition, the cost of buying or building a house can be excessive – especially when you’re paying over asking price, as you often are in this area. So, when asked about ordering a survey, the thought of spending more money is downright unfathomable. However, that survey could save you more trouble and money down the road than you can imagine! I’ve seen it firsthand.

Surveys are significantly more detailed than the neighborhood plat map recorded with the county. Not only can a survey tell you the exact lot lines of the property, but also what easements or encroachments are present. Easements are access, not ownership. The homeowner owns the land and another entity has access to it for a specific purpose such as fixing a utility line. Easements are quite common but are good to be aware of, especially if you hope to build a fence in your beautiful new yard.

Surveys can also identify encroachments. An encroachment is something like a fence, driveway, or retaining wall that either infringes on your property from a neighboring lot or extends onto a neighbor’s lot where it should not be. There are ways to fix or address encroachments, but without a survey, you may not be aware that there is an issue. A buyer will want the encroachment addressed prior to taking title to the land, and it’s the seller’s responsibility make sure the required legal documents are drawn up and recorded with the county.

While rare, I have seen other weird situations arise like gap or overlap property which have the potential to significantly impact a transaction. Therefore, the earlier in the process you make your attorney aware of issues, the less likely there will be any delays. If, in the alternative, the seller provides you a recent survey prior to closing, still give that to your attorney to advise to potential hurdles.

Bottom line – we strongly encourage buyers to order surveys. It could save you time, money and stress down the road.

With this knowledge, now you can Rest Easy.