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Location Surveys: When Are They Needed?

When purchasing a property, there are many different expenses, a lot of which seem to overlap. One expense that is frequently questioned is whether it is worth it to obtain a location drawing, a boundary survey or no survey at all.

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Most buyers choose to purchase a location drawing. A location drawing typically costs $325 to $475 and provides a basic drawing of the property. The main purpose is to point out encroachments and easements that may not have been obvious from a visible inspection of the property. 

Sometimes we have discovered that a purchaser is buying more property than what he or she thought and sometimes we have discovered just the opposite. Since a location drawing is relatively inexpensive, making sure that you know the property lines of what you are buying is typically worth the cost.

Surveys becomes more complicated when there is a boundary dispute. A typical location survey includes the following disclaimer: This is not a property line survey and should not be used for the erection of fences or any other improvements or for permit applications. 

If you are intending to construct a fence, or if you know there is a dispute or a potential dispute with the neighbor over the boundary lines, you should consider obtaining a property line survey, also known more commonly as a boundary survey.

For this type of survey, the surveyor will measure and mark the property, providing a much more precise measurement. 

However, since this requires more work and exposes the surveyor to more risk, the costs are significantly higher, ranging from a thousand to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the property. Because of the higher cost, this type of survey is less common.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to obtain a location drawing, a boundary survey or no survey should be based on how comfortable the buyers are with the property they are obtaining. 

Federal Title always recommends obtaining at least a location drawing, but if the buyers are considering having work done on the property or are uncertain of the property lines, a boundary survey might be the best choice.

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