A recent article in Realtor.com has outlined why land surveys are a good idea when buying a home, how they are made and what they can do for you. Simply put, a land survey is a little like a map of a property showing its legal boundaries.
Although land surveys aren’t necessary during a real estate transaction they can be useful in avoiding confusion as a land surveyor will determine the exact dimensions of a property using the deeds. While many deeds will include descriptions about the property these can often be outdated or vague which is why it’s necessary for a surveyor to properly measure the land. Tools that may be used during a survey include GPS and an altimeter, but this largely depends on the property in question. Once the boundaries have been determined then it’s often quite usual for them to be identified with Rebar or with magnetic nails or marks.
People need to get land surveys for a number of different reasons, the most common of which is to resolve boundary disputes. A land survey will show exactly where one person’s property ends and can be very useful if there is a disagreement as to where a fence is to be situated. Another reason for getting a survey is to exactly identify the size of a plot so an accurate price can be determined. The article points out that this can sometimes be a good negotiation tool if the survey finds the plot is smaller than advertised. When building a new home, most states require a land survey to help determine the best place to build a structure and to establish good drainage.
Apparently, a land survey should show the location of the property and its boundaries, as well as any improvements that have been made such as fences or paving. Another purpose of a survey is to identify any restrictions that could affect future use or development of the site. It will also include a written description for the deeds. Determining if a property is in a flood plain is also important. When a house is situated in a flood plain, a surveyor can provide an elevation certificate, showing the property’s floor elevation and the highest and lowest elevations on the plot.