Do I Need a Home Survey Before Buying a Home?

If you are reading this article you are probably well on your way to purchasing a home or property. As you may already know, there are dozens of fees and costs associated with the Closing, one of which is a survey. Because surveys are typically not mandatory, (unless your Lender requires one), and because there are so many other expenses that are mandatory, you may be thinking to yourself,

“Do I really need a survey?”

The answer to that question should always be a resounding “YES!”

While you are working with your Realtor and your Lender on the various moving and loan details, the Title Attorney is working hard to ensure that all liens and encumbrances on the property are removed, so that the Seller is able to convey the clearest form of title to you at Closing. Without a survey however, the Title Attorney does not have the information she needs to protect against the potential physical defects that may be present on the property, and consequently, she will be unable to remove the survey exception from your Title Policy. Meaning that, any boundary line disputes, encroachments or easements that would have been discovered if a survey had been provided, will not be covered by your Title Insurance Policy. The following are just a few examples of the types of information surveys provide:

Boundary Lines: Understanding the exact location of your property lines is essential to adequately protecting your interests in the property as well as in any structures or improvements you add to the property.

Encroachments: Once you have the exact legal boundaries, the Title Attorney is able to determine if there are any existing encroachments. For example, if there is a structure such as a house, fence, deck, driveway, or shed encroaching onto the property, it is best to know before you buy, so that you can consult with a Real Estate Attorney to determine whether it is in your best interests to proceed with the purchase at the current contract price.

Property size and exact acreage: This factor is important for many reasons, one of which is the value of the property. The size of a lot is one of the many factors that determine the Seller’s asking price. If you purchase a home based on representations that the lot is a specific size, without obtaining certification by a surveyor, you will not be protected in the future if you try to sell the home and the future buyer discovers that the lot is smaller than you believed.

Easements: It is imperative that you are aware of any easements that may affect your intended use and enjoyment of the property.

Purchasing real estate, whether it is a home or an investment property, is one of the most expensive purchases most people ever make. And therefore, if not for all of the aforementioned reasons, I advise my Clients to spend the extra $300.00 or so on a survey because I believe it is imperative that Buyers know exactly what they are getting before they buy.