When you are considering purchasing a home or property, you have to manage a lot of moving pieces: the mortgage approval and terms, a home inspection and more. One of the things that may not cross your mind is to secure a land survey.
Most people assume that a land survey is only important when determining whether you can build a structure (like a pool or a fence) on a property that you already own. However, a land survey can be an important part of doing your due diligence before you buy a home or vacant lot to ensure that you do not suffer a significant financial mistake.
What Is a Land Survey and What Does It Do?
A land survey is the process in which a professional checks the history of the property’s ownership and evaluates its current state. This usually starts with looking at records to see how the property has changed hands and who owns or has say over which parts; the city may possess an easement to run water lines near the road-facing side of your property, for example. After this information has been collected, a surveyor will appear in person at the property to create a map that details all of the features of the land, from fences to very large rocks.
Land surveys are important because they accomplish vital tasks such as clarifying existing property boundaries and ensuring that existing features are sufficiently distanced from the borders of the owned space.
A land survey can also ascertain whether the property is owned by the correct individual. This may seem like a rare hiccup unlikely to happen to you, but it is not as uncommon as you may think—many people have purchased property that, in reality, was not located at the plot of land they were viewing!
Situations That May Require a Land Survey
Land surveys may sometimes be required as part of the home buying or mortgage acquisition process. For some mortgage lenders, mandating a completed land survey protects their investment by showing that things are lined up and as expected.
However, other lenders may accept title insurance as an alternative to a land survey. If a title search or attempt to review past property transactions reveals legal documents that mention landmarks or other features that are no longer present, you may be required to secure a land survey in order to proceed with your transaction.
You will likely also be required to get the land surveyed if it is a vacant lot and you intend to build a structure on it; this is to ensure that you do not encroach upon the neighboring property lines and abide by all regulations.
Should You Get a Survey Even If It’s Not Required?
A land survey is a powerful means of protecting your investment when you purchase a home or even a vacant lot. For the greatest protection possible, consider both a land survey and title insurance; the land survey can tell you right away whether everything appears to be in order, and the title insurance provides long-term protection for a one-time fee that will safeguard you against any potential issues that arise later.
Without a survey, some buyers without a survey have found, for example, that the property they were intending to buy was actually part of a city park or owned by someone else or had an easement where they wanted to add an addition or pool.
Work with the Expert Title Company to Ensure Your Land Is Free of Issues
As you consider how to proceed with your home or property purchase, remember that you are investing a significant amount of money. It is important to protect this investment from potential pitfalls, and issues with the property and title are some of the most dangerous; you may be forced to move your entire home to a new plot, pay outstanding debt or even give it to someone else depending upon the issues that appear in the title.
This is why both a land survey and title insurance are vital to keep your investment safe. Mathis Title Company would be happy to help you understand whether a land survey is right for you and how to secure title insurance before you close. Reach out to schedule an appointment to discuss your options!