Should You Have a Property Survey When Selling You House

The importance of property surveys for homeowners

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📝 Editor’s Note

A home property survey is an assessment done by a licensed professional to determine the map boundaries of a homeowner’s or landowners’ property line. Historical data and previous property surveys can typically be found online. If that’s not the case, you can contact a local survey company to provide a home property survey. A property surveyor’s cost can vary based on assessment needs, and there are many resources to determine what residential survey companies are right for you.

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A property survey is a critical assessment that helps determine property line boundaries. As a seller, doing your due diligence to select a qualified surveyor is an essential piece of your home sales process. This article will help get to know the importance of property surveys and what to be mindful of during the survey process.

What is a property survey?

A survey for property, home survey, or a residential property survey is a precise measurement of a homeowner’s legal property lines. The most common property survey type is a location survey required at closing. This survey type provides the basic details of parcel lines and changes made to the lot. There are many cases where a property survey can come in handy.

A property surveyor will research the history of your home before visiting your land. Then, they will explore to find the deed or title search to check for discrepancies and verify land ownership. Once the residential home surveyor completes their legal research on the description of the property, they will perform an on-site visit. This fieldwork visit allows the surveyor to create a sketch showing property lines, natural features, exterior features, and other topographical elements that make up your property.

A property boundary survey is done in person by a team of property surveyors. This team will use specific methods to determine actual property lines compared to the current property record. Although this type of survey is typically required at closing, not all states hold this requirement.

How much does it cost to survey your property?

The cost of surveying the property depends on what type of survey is needed. A surveyor can determine factors that change the property survey cost, such as land size, history of the property, and location of the property. In addition, many topographical features can alter this price, such as valleys, hills, lakes, utilizes, and other related items.

You should find a few different residential survey companies in your area that can provide quotes before accepting a bid. You can also speak to real estate agents who have experience with local surveyor companies.

How much does it cost to survey property lines?

A property survey could come in handy at any point if you are trying to validate old property markers, suspect someone is infringing on your property, want to settle a boundary dispute, or have your property appraised. Property surveys are also helpful when planning to make home improvements or building exterior features such as sheds or room extensions. The average property boundary survey can cost anywhere from $100-$600 by a residential land surveyor.

A typical scenario of the need for a surveyor could be acquiring a quote to find the cost of a land survey for a fence shared by you and your neighbor. Many residential homes have at least one shared fence with a neighbor in which both parties should be able to agree on where this fence lands on both homeowners’ land. A land surveyor can put residential property line markers in place before installing the fence. That way, both homeowners are satisfied with the result.

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How much does it cost to get a topographical survey?

A topographical survey can cost anywhere between $500-$1,200. Properties with complex histories or features would most likely be priced by survey cost by acre. Depending on the time of year and terrain accessibility, it may be difficult to properly survey land, increasing the cost of having the property surveyed. Dense overgrowth could restrict lines of sight for your surveyor or conceal property features that can strongly influence the actual characteristics of your property.

What does a surveyor do?

A Professional Land Surveyor can provide a survey of your property through many assessments determining specific factors within a property owner’s land area. Land surveyors typically have expertise in property law, public records search, and knowledge of planning regulations, among other skills that make their assessments credible. In addition, these professionals are trained to use intricate tools, engineering, and research skills to establish their findings. As a result, survey companies will provide the proper surveyor needed to determine the legal property lines of a property parcel.

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What are some common types of surveys?

Boundary Survey

A property line surveyor does an assessment to determine or validate property boundary lines on the ground to show the exact point to which the land ownership ends. This can be useful when confirming old property markers.

Topographic Survey

A representation of physical land features that depict natural and artificial elements. This type of home survey can provide information regarding trees, hills, valleys, fences, roads, buildings, utilities, lakes, or streams.

Construction Survey

When planning to have new construction or improvements on a property, a surveyor can determine and establish a proper land area to avoid restrictions with utilities, city requirements, or other challenges that could arise from building in an improper zone. Aside from building in an improper construction zone, there is also the risk of building structures unknowingly on someone else’s property.

Mortgage Location Survey

This real estate survey is typically ordered to provide information to a lender, title insurer, or residential MLS to prove that specific improvements and changes are located on the property as described.

ALTA Survey

An American Land Title Association survey is a property land survey typically contracted by involved parties representing commercial property purchases, refinances, or improvements. This type of survey is based on the standards put forth by the ALTA (American Land Title Association) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. This universal standard provides the surveyor with guaranteed results in which a title company, lender, or attorney can feel confident.

How do I find a survey of my property online?

Property survey records can be found by visiting your official county recorder or assessor’s office. These government offices may have an online database where you can find historical data on your land’s home property survey. There are also Geographical Information System maps that can be found online, where you can view an interactive online map of current property lines.

A quick way to find your property lines is by searching the desired address on Google Maps. You can zoom in to the specific property, but most parcel lines are viewable on Google’s interactive map. If the property you are viewing does not show boundary lines, it does not mean there is no history of your land markers online but that it was not available to Google.

Are property surveys public records?

Depending on the state and county, historical property surveys can be available online. As a property owner, you can have a home survey done at any time. If a survey was done on your home or land parcel, the details of that survey are indeed a matter of public record. Your property deed, records of prior property sales, and survey information can all be accessed by the general public through the county clerk’s office. History of a home survey provided by a residential land surveyor filed with public records can give free property maps and previous home surveys filed with the county clerk.

What does a property survey look like, and what does it include?

Property surveys are a written report that includes your street address, a physical description of the parcel lot, including features on the property, data including neighbors and nearby properties, and records of any improvements homeowners made to the land. A surveyor can also find information about rights-of-way and easements on your property. For example, a real estate surveyor could provide information about any property easements in place if a landowner and third-party persons agreed to land access for things such as natural resources, development of utility pipelines, or construction maintenance. A right-of-way allows another individual or anyone to travel through your portion of your property that you consider public.

What is an Easement?

An easement or right-of-way could alter the value of your property. An easement on your property could also prevent a future landowner from having multiple building sites. This could be seen as an undesirable trait by many prospective buyers. However, there are also situations where easements are in place but are not currently used, which does not prevent the easement from being used in the future.

Having an easement or right-of-way for a commercial buyer or business owner could benefit you. If you are a housing developer, an easement on your land could help allow you to build utility buildings or storage facilities. This could be a part of a future homeowner’s land, but since an easement is in place, it will allow this facility to be maintained. Easements can be tricky, so it is always good to be aware of the limitations and requirements to keep you prepared for the future.

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What are the benefits of having a property surveyed?

Property surveys come in handy in many cases. Some scenarios include:

  • Buying or selling a home or land plot
  • Dividing land into smaller parcels
  • Installing fences, septic systems, or other improvements
  • Land disputes or suspecting land encroachment
  • Construction or home improvements
  • Validating old property markers

If you plan to sell your home, it can be beneficial to have a survey of your property to make sure any improvements or added features are up to code. Another example is if you have a fence on your property, it is essential to know if you are not infringing on someone else’s property because it is against the law. This type of crime is considered a public nuisance or trespassing. If you sell property with encroachment, this will cloud the ownership title. However, if the encroached area is temporary, like a fence or shed, your neighbor may be willing to remove the encroachment once you adjust the disputed area.

If the encroachment is from a permanent structure like a driveway expansion or bathroom extension, you may need to have a more severe remedy such as:

  • Buying the encroached upon the property from your neighbor
  • Obtain a legal written document issuing permission to use this portion of the property.

This issue can usually be resolved in civil court but can be avoided entirely by hiring a surveyor from residential survey companies to provide a property line survey.

Sell your home faster, with no upfront cost using our For Sale By Owner solution.

It’s easy, fast and simple. List your home for free with Richr with Richr’s happiness guarantee.

With Richr:

  • You’ll get a full-service concierge agent
  • You get a Free MLS listing
  • Your Title Settlement fees are included, worth $750
  • You get HD Photos included, worth $250
  • You get a home warranty included, worth $6000
  • You get 1% cash back when you buy your next home.

Call us now on 1-844-957-4247 or Start Listing Your Home Now!

How do I get a survey of my property?

Local survey companies can be easily found online. The best way to find credible information is by a trustworthy real estate agent. A real estate agent can point you in the right direction to who can perform your house survey and also advise on what types of surveyor you may want to assess for your landowner situation. All online research will tell you the importance of doing your due diligence. Please reach out to multiple residential survey companies to get quotes prior to purchasing or selling your home. You will learn all your current or future property elements, and most importantly, you will be the first to know.


A survey of your property may not seem like an essential step in buying or selling a property, but it can save you from making costly mistakes. For example, when it comes to purchasing land, you may end up dealing with an encroachment either on your end or your neighbors, which may not make the best housewarming gift. As a seller, you could also be dealing with civil court dates and not-so-happy buyers. For these reasons, doing your due diligence in finding a residential property surveyor should always be a priority.

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