Because You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
A survey is one of the most useful pieces of information about a property. Yet, many homebuyers do not order a new survey when buying a home. Granted, most sales of land involve a survey, even if the buyer is relying on the existing survey of the parcel. But home buyers often rely on their own assumption of where the property lies, or they will believe that an aerial photograph provided by the county’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) website is the same as a survey. While GIS imagery is helpful in getting a bird’s eye view of a how a property lies, it should not be used as a substitute for a survey.
The video below is a good introduction to surveys and how they can benefit a property owner.
A survey is able to show the true location of property lines and corners, as well as the location of any improvements on the parcel (houses, driveways, sheds, garages, fences, etc.). A survey can also show the location of setback lines, geological features (creeks, etc.), utility easements, and any encroachments onto a neighbor’s property (or by a neighbor onto your property). A topographic survey will even show the contours of a piece of land.
A Property Survey Can Protect You from Future Problems
Another reason to obtain a new survey is outlined in the North Carolina standard real estate form 760 (Professional Services Disclosure and Election).
*NOTE REGARDING SURVEYS: Situations arise all too often that could have been avoided if the buyer had obtained a new survey from a NC registered surveyor. A survey will normally reveal such things as encroachments on the Property from adjacent properties (fences, driveways, etc.); encroachments from the Property onto adjacent properties; road or utility easements crossing the Property; violations of set-back lines; lack of legal access to a public right-of-way; and indefinite or erroneous legal descriptions in previous deeds to the Property. Although title insurance companies may provide lender coverage without a new survey, the owner’s policy contains an exception for easements, set-backs and other matters which would have been shown on a survey. Many such matters are not public record and would not be included in an attorney’s title examination. In addition, if the buyer does not obtain their own survey, they would have no claim against a surveyor for inaccuracies in a prior survey.