What Is A Physical Property Survey And Why Do I Need One?

There are few things in life more important than protecting your home. The following matters will help you understand why you need a new Property Survey when you purchase your new home:

What is a Survey?

  • A survey is a location drawing or a physical drawing done by a surveyor hired to complete this task. Depending upon the type of survey required, it may show: legal boundaries; location(s) and size(s) of any buildings on the property; set-back lines; easements; and other restrictions and information.
  • A survey resembles a one-dimensional, overhead line drawing of a parcel of real estate. It shows the fullmeasurements, corners and boundaries of the property.
  • A survey shows where the property is located in the subdivision, what the buyers are getting, and more significantly, what they are not getting.

Why Should a Survey be Ordered when Purchasing a Home?

The policy issued to a Lender will always be issued with no exception for matters of survey but an Owner’s policy will always issue an exception for matters of survey unless a recent and accurate survey is provided. While the survey will not reveal all issues it will provide a general idea of the location of fences, property lines, locations of easements or encroachments if there are any, government restrictions or other matters that are valuable for a homeowner to have knowledge of.

Unfortunately, with the increasing popularity of title insurance in recent years, industry stakeholders have tended to view title insurance as a replacement for the survey.

When someone says that title insurance is a substitute for a survey, an appropriate response is that the statement is simply incorrect. Title insurance is just that — insurance. It’s a backup position which can underwrite any resulting losses, but it is not a substitute for the information a survey reveals. Nor is it a substitute for the warnings a survey can provide that something is wrong with the title, such as an encroaching structure or fence, or the fact that a neighbor owns part of the land that was supposedlypart of the transaction.

The truth is that title insurance does not eliminate the need for a survey, or its value in the transaction.