Buying real estate involves more than just finding an available house or plot of land. Most buyers simply find what they want, make an offer, and go from there. But it’s wise to do a land survey first before buying a plot of land with or without a house on it. The land survey will reveal important things about the property you need to know.

The Importance of a Land Survey

A land survey tells you exactly what you’re getting. The surveyor will measure property boundaries to make sure they’re correct. Otherwise, you could actually get less than what you’re expecting. The surveyor can also determine if nearby driveways, sidewalks, fences, or other structures are on the property.

The survey is also important because someone might have a building or some other feature placed illegally on the property. For example, neighbor disputes can develop when property boundaries are unclear. A neighbor might claim that part of your property actually belongs to them. A land survey can help solve these property disputes.

Spot Potential Problems Before Purchase

A professional land surveyor should know about local zoning laws, building regulations, and wetland regulations. That knowledge will prove useful if you’re purchasing a plot of land to build on. The surveyor can help you determine if the land is suitable for what you plan to build. You’ll also learn if what you want to build is legal for that area. You might discover that you need to find a different location.

Get an Updated Survey

The real estate agent or current landowner might have access to an older land survey. But an old survey might not document recent changes. An inaccurate survey is useless and can cause problems in the future. It’s best to hire your own surveyor to make sure the information is recent. You can expect to pay around $200 to $800 for a surveyor. The cost depends on the size of the property, the age of the property, and your geographical location.

You also might want to inquire about a property profile from your real estate agent. This doesn’t replace the need for a land survey, but it can provide useful information. The profile will include things such as property tax information, ownership history, legal description of the property, and a plot map.

It’s possible that your real estate agent won’t have a property profile. But if your city has public property records available online, you can start your search there. And if the records aren’t online, you can contact the local city hall, county recorder, or country courthouse to inquire about public property records. If nothing else, they can direct you to the right department.

A Land Survey is Worth the Expense

Conducting a land survey before buying any property is highly recommended. You could rely on the word of the real estate agent or landowner, but why take a chance? Buying land is a major purchase. It’s something you should do only after you’re sure about what you’re buying.

If you’re unable to get a survey before making an offer, make sure to have one before the deal closes. The surveyor will help you determine if the deal is worth your investment. And if any issues arise, resolve them before formally purchasing the property.

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