(A property survey is crucial for buyers to avoid potential boundary disputes. As a buyer you should always conduct a property survey before buying any real property as it will help you avoid potential problems in future.
A property survey helps determine the actual value of a property and may save you from overpaying for the property. Most mortgage lenders will also ask for a property survey to ensure that the home you are buying is worth the value of the loan that you have requested.
How a property survey is conducted
The first step a surveyor will take is to research the property’s title deed, maybe through a title search in order to ensure that the seller is its rightful owner. The surveyor will then research the legal description of the property and its associated history. After this, the surveyor will go to the site to professionally draw the land and find the boundary lines to accurately determine value. This process establishes property boundary lines. He will also provide a description of the home including its street address, the position of buildings, the location of nearby properties, and will suggest any improvements that the owner can make to the property.
Difference between a valuation and a survey
A property valuation is not the same as a survey given that the main objective of a valuation is to determine the actual value of a property. Property valuations are mostly used by mortgage lenders to determine the loan amount awarded to you based on the appraised value of the property you are purchasing.
However, a property survey is a more detailed assessment of the property with the goal of establishing its legal boundaries, rightful owners and determining whether there is any structure on the property that violates the law. In most cases, a property valuation will not pinpoint many of the problems that a surveyor usually identifies.
The importance of conducting your own due diligence
You should always conduct your own due diligence in order to avoid any negative surprises in future. This means that you should first ask for quotes from several surveyors before choosing the one that meets your criteria. Secondly, you must accompany the surveyor during the site visit and observe how he does the survey. This achieves two things, first, you will get an intimate understanding of the property you are buying as you watch the surveyor mapping the property’s boundaries. Secondly, you will be the first person to know if there are any problems with the property. You can always ask follow-up questions once the surveyor completes the survey and submits his report.
Top reasons to conduct a property survey
1. Boundary lines
A property survey will allow you to identify the legal boundary lines of your home before erecting fences or additional buildings on the land. In some cases, you and your neighbors may have incorrect boundary lines and you might end up building on your neighbor’s land or vice versa.
2. Gaps and overlaps
A property survey will enable you to identify whether there are any gaps or overlaps between your property’s boundaries and those of any adjacent properties. This is especially crucial if your land borders alleys, streets, roads, or highways.
3. Easements and rights-of-way
Through a property survey, you can easily identify certain conditions allowed by law that affect your property through its title report and related agreements. For example, your property might prevent access to the neighbor’s home and there may be an easement (agreement) that allows your neighbors to access their home through your yard.
4. Joint driveways
You and your neighbors might not know that you are required by law to support each other’s driveways by ensuring yours is well maintained. You can discover such obscure laws through a property survey.
5. Existing property improvements
A qualified survey will let you know if the existing improvements and repairs on the property violate any laws or restrictions pertaining to dimension, height, building lines, frontage and parking among others. He will also notify you if your planned improvements violate any local laws or ordinances so that you can correct them before building.
NB: There are many more reasons not listed above for getting a property survey of your home.