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.

Most buyers choose to purchase a location drawing.  These typically cost $195-250 and provide 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 expense.

This 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 on erecting a fence or if you know that 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 depending on the size of the property.  Because of the expense, 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 & Escrow Company 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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