On The Move... A Blog for Buyers & Sellers!

Golden Plains Realty

Friday, December 06, 2013


The survey is not typically ordered until a week or so prior to closing and usually the buyer does not see the survey for the first time until they are at the closing table. You don’t want any potential issues to come up right before closing that could potentially throw a wrench in your deal.

Do you have the survey from when you last purchased your home? How old is that document? If you don’t have one, you may be able to contact the title company or attorney’s office that handled your closing to see if they can pull it from their archives. Since you have owned your home, have any changes been made to your property or to the neighboring properties on either side or behind you such as fences, pools, property additions, docks, bulkheads, etc.? If you have any concerns about improvements that could affect your property lines, order a survey BEFORE putting your home on the market – the cost generally runs around $300 for a typical size lot – something larger or more involved will be more.

You can use this survey when you close on your property so long as there are no encroachments or issues that arise that may need to be resolved. The survey document will verify your lot size and define what the boundaries of the property are. This way you can market your home with confidence as to your lot’s dimensions. There is nothing worse than noting that your property is a certain size, only for the survey to reveal it is smaller and the buyer wanting to renegotiate the purchase price of the home or possibly not want to move forward.

If your property is located on a body of water, a survey can also be extremely helpful to verify if any of your property rights extend into the water (also known as riparian rights).

Fences can be another potential issue. Fence companies require a copy of a survey before they will install one, but if a fence was put up by a handyman type and a survey was not used, there could be issues if the survey reveals that your fence or the neighbor’s is encroaching and not within the boundaries of the property it belongs to. Again, you don’t want to find all of this out on the day of closing as some of these issues do not have a quick fix.

A home’s lot size can easily be misrepresented by fences that do not conform to property lines. In visually looking at a lot, sometimes property lines appear as if they extend beyond the fence line or the yard has been fenced to include an area that is legally not part of the property (preserve areas, easements, etc.). A survey is the only way to verify what a true picture of the property lines are.

Even worse, when a permanent type of structure has been erected that sits on a neighboring property line. On one of the first transactions that I was involved with, the house my customer was attempting to purchase had the garage unknowingly expanded onto a city easement between their soon to be house and the next door neighbor’s property. The garage would have had to have been chopped to bring it within the home’s property lines. A big part of the reason the buyer was buying the home was for the garage – needless to say this purchase did not happen!