When you buy a home, you'll want to know everything about it before you sign on the dotted line.
And while an appraisal and a home inspection may tell you what the home is worth and whether there are any major issues with the property, respectively, you still may want to know more details about the actual property and the land it sits on.
A land survey can give you that information.
What is a Land Survey?
Simply put, a land survey is a graphic representation of a property, which usually includes a map that shows the exact boundaries of your property relative to others around it. They're not mandatory parts of a real estate transaction, but they can be useful, especially if there is any confusion about where your land ends and where the neighbour's land starts.
Land surveys are conducted by professional surveyors who measure out the precise dimensions of the lot. While you might be able to get such information from the deed, certain pieces of information might be out-of-date and not reflect updated information that might be pertinent to a real estate transaction.
As such, a land survey can give you more up-to-date details about the property and any relevant features on it.
What Does a Land Survey Show You?
A land survey will identify some important details about a property, including the following:
- Property boundaries
- Street address
- Location of buildings, including the home, shed, etc.
- Location of fencing or other related structures
- Presence and location of easements and rights-of-way
- Details regarding building setbacks
- Details on restrictions related to the property that could impact any construction on site
- Description of the deed
- Floor elevation if the property is located on a flood path
- Boundary descriptions of adjacent properties
Essentially, a land survey will tell you what's legally yours and whether or not you have any restrictions on what you can and can't do with your property.
It will also tell you if you have any obligations, such as allowing anyone to pass through your property as per any easements that may be present.
Why Request a Land Survey?
As mentioned, it's not required to have a land survey when you purchase a home.
However, there may be certain situations in which a land survey will clarify uncertainties. Here are some reasons why you may want to get your hands on a land survey:
To verify the size of the lot - If there is a lack of clarity about the actual size or dimensions of a lot, you may want to see a survey to verify the exact size.
To clarify any easements or rights-of-way - If you have reason to believe that the property has easements on it that could impact your enjoyment of the property, you may want to see an updated survey.
If improvements are desired - If you have plans to make improvements on the land - such as installing a pool, building a shed, building an addition to the home, or even tearing down the present structure and building an entirely new house - a land survey might actually be required before any of this work can start.
To settle disputes - If you're already a homeowner and are having disputes with a neighbour regarding your lot - such as where the boundaries actually exist between lots - a land survey can help clarify exactly where the boundaries lie to help settle any disagreements that may arise.
If you choose to have a land survey conducted, make sure to work with someone who is experienced in this specialty and has a track record of conducting accurate surveys.