Tuesday Aug 18th, 2020


Do You Need a Property Survey?


As a prospective home buyer, you’ve probably got a lot of questions about the buying process, and you may be wondering whether you need an up-to-date property survey.  For buyers, the answer is generally, yes.  However, rather than simply relying on the short answer, you need a clear understanding of when and why you should have one done.


Property surveys are usually done for the benefit of the buyer. A property survey usually resembles a map, and includes dimensions and written details of the property and every permanent structure on it. The original survey is carried out with the construction of a house.  Over time, improvements may be made to the property, such as fences, a deck, a pool, garden shed, and so on.  Additions to the house itself, such as a porch, or even an extension may also have been built after the original construction.  


In addition to structures, certain easements – that is, the right to access the property – may have been added to allow power, water or telephone companies access for service purposes.  If such changes have occurred since the last survey was done and do not appear on the most recent document,  then the survey is out of date and thus will have little value in the real estate transaction


If the survey shows certain deficiencies, such as a fence that’s located outside the property line, you as the buyer can then ask the seller to correct the problem before completing the purchase.  Your Coldwell Banker real estate professional can prepare an offer to purchase that is conditional upon receiving an up-to-date survey that’s acceptable to you.  Also, be aware that some lending institutions require the buyer to provide a current survey of the property being purchased before they will grant final approval of a mortgage loan.  You can ask your lender about this when you arrange to be pre-qualified for a mortgage.


When a seller has a current survey for their listing, it’s a great plus, since this can help to ensure the correct information is properly disclosed, which in turn helps your transaction to move smoothly to completion.  It should be noted that not every transaction requires that a new survey be completed at the time of sale.  It depends on when the last survey was completed and whether any improvements or changes have taken place since then.  A survey that was completed a few years ago may be completely valid if there have been no further changes.


If a survey is needed, and no up-to-date version is available, you may be wondering who pays the cost to have a new survey done.  The time to raise this question is during the negotiations with the seller.  The seller is under no obligation to provide any such documentation, or to participate in the cost of a new one, unless it’s spelled out in the offer. Ask your Coldwell Banker salesperson for their expert advice on this and any other real estate matter.


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