Buying a house - survey necessary?

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htdrag11
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Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by htdrag11 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:16 am

Dumb question.
In the process of buying into an existing home of 15 years old in a 55+ community with a lot size of about 1/10 of an acre (rectangular shape). It's $725, separate from the title insurance.
What am I paying for, piece of mind?

WJW
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by WJW » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:20 am

A land survey will help protect your investment. A survey can reveal the exact property dimensions, size and location of the home on the property, as well as any other improvements on the land, such as a driveway that may be crossing a property line. Sometimes a lender will require some type of survey or certificate from a surveyor before a title company issues a lender's title insurance policy, but that's not the case everywhere. Often, the survey used in a new real estate transaction is an old one conveyed by the seller.

Mako
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by Mako » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:22 am

The lender often requires it. If paying cash and/or not required, it just seems useful to see what exactly you own. Fences and the like can simply be wrong. It can get rid of potential headaches ahead of time.

tim1999
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by tim1999 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:24 am

In the case of a small lot with an existing house in a large modern subdivision with a recorded plat/subdivision plan, I would not bother with a survey unless there was some questionable potential encroachment from a neighbor (i. e. a fence where it is not clear which property it is a part of, neighbor's driveway appears to extend onto this property, etc.). That would help clear up who owns what in terms of existing improvements near the property lines. You may need to specify that you want existing fences, improvements/large trees, etc. shown on the survey as it is not always put on there unless asked. If the surveyor puts new pins in the property corners, it might help during any future property line disputes with neighbors. The only time I bothered with a survey on a small residential property was when there were very large rows of arborvitae trees that provided good privacy on three sides of the lot, I wanted to be certain that those were part of the lot I was buying and not on the neighboring properties, so some neighbor could not decided to legally cut them down on a whim.
Last edited by tim1999 on Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

daheld
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by daheld » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:24 am

Yes. Get a survey. Don't even consider not getting one.

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htdrag11
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by htdrag11 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:28 am

No fence is allowed in this community. However, my broker advised me to do so, so is my lawyer, though it's a cash deal.
Arggggh!

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:31 am

What could possibly go wrong? I have a neighbor who built a garage on what he thought was his land. When I sold the second neighbor some land, a survey was required. In the process, it was found that the garage was about 25% on that second neighbor's land. He could have forced the issue, but hasn't. A coworker years ago found that his house was built over the property line. The owner of the land being encroached demanded many hundreds of thousands of dollars for the 25 square feet of land that the corner of the house encroached.

Just get a survey so you're protected and so you actually know. If this were me, I'd want permanent markers placed and would be more than willing to pay for that. Avoid future fence or other boundary issues. $725 is nothing. I'd like to get good markers set up on my own land. I would not be at all surprised if it costs me $10k to do so. But my property is bigger and irregularly shaped. Although the good thing for me is that the land is registered, so it's officially described and accepted.
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tennisplyr
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by tennisplyr » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:35 am

Yes get one, in the grand scheme of things it's not expensive and worth it.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by jabberwockOG » Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:13 am

I did not get a survey in purchasing my current home - a cash purchase, 8 year old home, rectangular sized lot, and I regret it. Turns out some of the existing fence on either side of our yard is over the property line by 12-18 inches - on one side encroaching our yard , on the other side we encroached our neighbor. Also some trees thought to be on one side of property were actually on the other lot. This has caused issues that were a hassle to deal with and needlessly expensive to correct.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:43 am

You do find out if there are significant encroachments that could cause difficulties later.

On a previous house- I probably should have had one done- maybe it would have influenced decisions about paying for a wall replacement. Close spacing of houses and/or zero lot line construction argues for having a survey done. Or if you have a garage structure very close to a boundary.

BobTexas
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by BobTexas » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:00 am

Not sure if this was mentioned, but the seller may have one from when they bought the house. I would be tempted to not get one for a standard lot in a subdivision

wfrobinette
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by wfrobinette » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:15 am

htdrag11 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:28 am
No fence is allowed in this community. However, my broker advised me to do so, so is my lawyer, though it's a cash deal.
Arggggh!

HOA? Over 55 where they do all of the landscaping and mowing? If yes, then I wouldn't be so concerned but I'd get one. . Lawyer is telling you to do so because he has to or risk malpractice later on. I don't trust brokers as far as I can throw them when it comes to recommendations on contractors. They have friends, family and likely get great deals due to all of the referrals when they need work done. I'll take their advice but I will also shop. I paid $400 for my survey in NJ(.40 acre lot not in a planned subdivision) just 3 years ago.

You should already have pins when this thing was laid out 15 years ago so their job should be much easier.

I would see if original owner has one and if so skip it.

smitcat
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by smitcat » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:23 pm

htdrag11 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:28 am
No fence is allowed in this community. However, my broker advised me to do so, so is my lawyer, though it's a cash deal.
Arggggh!
Have you asked the title company how it would affect that insurance without a survey in your name?

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:10 pm

htdrag11 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:28 am
No fence is allowed in this community. However, my broker advised me to do so, so is my lawyer, though it's a cash deal.
Arggggh!
If you can find official corner markers, the survey would not do much except confirm they haven't been tampered with (which would be a crime). I think it's low risk, but I hesitate to contradict the advice of your broker and your lawyer, especially if you can not locate the markers. The only observation I have about their advice is that people in those fields will (and generally should) default to the position that controls risk the most. That often means taking on modest discretionary costs to guard against getting surprised by a major unforeseen, compulsory cost.

I'm uncertain on this, but from things I've read elsewhere I'm under the impression in many platted subdivision that are built by a single developer, corner markers for individual lots don't actually get placed - everything remains referenced on paper to the monuments for the parent parcel. Some of my above thoughts might not be relevant in that case.

It is an option to skip the survey, but others in this thread are contributing experiences that illustrate what some of the risks are. You should at least be aware of those risks to make sure you'd be able to absorb their impacts.

$725 doesn't sound too bad as assurance the property lines are known.

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htdrag11
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by htdrag11 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:50 pm

BobTexas wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:00 am
Not sure if this was mentioned, but the seller may have one from when they bought the house. I would be tempted to not get one for a standard lot in a subdivision
That was the case with my buyer which we've a copy of. Their lawyer asked if one existed.

Bottom line, I just approve to have the survey done for $725; the 4 corner markers are an extra $350 which I did not.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by KyleAAA » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:22 pm

If only surveys cost just $725 here...

Probably should get one. Finding out there's an encroachment after the fact is a massive headache. In many urban areas, there's sometimes a complex patchwork of easements that can be confusing as well.

stan1
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by stan1 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:33 pm

This may vary by region. In some states or localities it might be more common than others.

Your realtor and attorney really have no choice but to advise you to get it done. Neither wants to be liable for telling you its not necessary only to find out there's a problem.

Scooter17
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by Scooter17 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:44 pm

Yes, get a survey. I just had one done on my property

Carl53
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by Carl53 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:12 pm

I recently rented a metal detector and found 6 stakes that delineate my property boundaries. I previously only knew where one was and thought that there might have been four total. Big surprise was that my neighbor, recently deceased but had lived here over 45 years and was the first owner in the subdivision, recalled that the stake between us was now surrounded by a bush. Turns out it was a few feet my side of the bush but there was another stake 33 feet towards his driveway. Wife says that's a lot of grass I did have to cut over the last 30+ years. Prior owners too, as the original owners planted bushes on a line that is now quite a bit in from the property edge. Land in question is about .1 acre out of a 1.8 acre lot.

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snackdog
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by snackdog » Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:19 pm

If you are confident the result would not change any aspect of the sale, then skip it.

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htdrag11
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by htdrag11 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:09 am

It's just the cost of moving in a litigious society like ours. The $725 is considered my CYA fee. Thank you all.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:46 pm

smitcat wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:23 pm

...Have you asked the title company how it would affect that insurance without a survey in your name?
There are many types of title insurance policies. The most common ones only insure that you have title to the lot and house, not the location of the lot. There can be serious encroachments and you will still have clear title to the lot.

A title insurance policy that insures the location of the lot will require a survey and will be much more expensive.

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Cubicle
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by Cubicle » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:21 am

I don't know how prevalent or acceptable, but if there is a "recent" survey & corner pins, having both "verified", "certified" (or some word of similar) can be had at a discount. I had this done when I bought, though I forget the phrasing used. Corner pins were ~$75 each, I only needed 1, the other 3 were in place & visible. (Though I cannot for the life of me find a specific one in a corner anymore...)
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by wanderer » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:05 am

I’d recommend getting survey for the $750 if pins are placed. A family member bought a home in a new neighborhood development with no fencing. Developer did not put pins at rear lot corners, just stakes at the curbing. Other neighbors are now having a “discussion” regarding shrubbery. Seems one family was happy to let his neighbor water, cut, and maintain the builder installed grass, but is now objecting to where this neighbor is installing bushes. Go figure.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by BlindPursuit » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:06 am

I skipped getting the survey when I bought my current house and ended up having to get one anyway. Cash sale, rectangular lot, old suburban street, obvious property lines, so I figured, why bother? Well, a couple of years down the line, we wanted to do some renovations that required a permit, and when I went to apply, the town wanted a survey as part of the permit process. So I ended up paying for one after all, delaying my project for a month waiting for the surveyor to show up. Plus it somehow felt worse shelling out the $700 separately, whereas $700 at the time of sale would have just felt like a round-off error.

Bonus: the survey did show that the existing fences on all three sides were perfectly placed right on the property lines with no encroachments, which was nice to know.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by jimmyrules712 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:16 am

Every house I've ever bought the seller provided a copy of the last survey that was done and every house I've sold I provided it to the buyer.

I would check and see if the seller has it from when they bought. If they do get a copy and you're good to go. If they don't you'll have to evaluate the property and decide if there's enough risk to justify it. I would want one.

Earlier this year I bought a house built in the early 90's and the seller was the third owner and they were able to provide me a copy of the original survey from when it was constructed. My previous house was built in the 1960's and the seller had a copy of the original survey.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:29 pm

I dont see the need for a survey unless you have a reason to suspect an encroachment by the neighbors or its a big piece of land. Look at the county maps and see if looks right. Many bogleheads wont go to the bathroom without specific language in their life insurance policies covering bathroom related incidents.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by prairieman » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:46 pm

My lot lies adjacent to city park property and three private lots. When I moved in, there was no survey, but I had exact dimensions.
One neighbor claimed my underground sprinkler was on his property and another wanted me to remove a bothersome tree. I just took them at their words. Interestingly, though, the city sent out a survey crew and I was home when they found the markers between my lot and city property. From those I could find the others by measuring and using a metal detector.
It turned out one neighbor was mowing five feet into my property line - my sprinklers were, indeed, mine. The problem tree, meanwhile, straddles the line and so we agreed to share costs.
If you can’t see a potential issue - you are likely safe, but trees, fences, gardens, etc... near boundaries can be problematic without a survey. I wish we had done one earlier.
I placed metal posts by the markers now so that none of us gets confused in the future.

3of10
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by 3of10 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:32 pm

htdrag11 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:16 am
Dumb question.
In the process of buying into an existing home of 15 years old in a 55+ community with a lot size of about 1/10 of an acre (rectangular shape). It's $725, separate from the title insurance.
What am I paying for, piece of mind?
Yes, you're paying for "piece of mind". You know very little about your neighbors personalities and whether you'll get along with them. A survey will provide you with legal leverage if anyone tries to push you around as to where the property boundaries are.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by JonnyDVM » Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:57 pm

Allow me to be the one cheapo here who has declined surveys on two properties. $700 to me at the time felt quite excessive. The next door house was recently built and they had a survey done. I used those markers to replace the fence and push it over a little onto what was our property. They know the fence is right and I saved $700.
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260chrisb
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by 260chrisb » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:50 pm

BobTexas wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:00 am
Not sure if this was mentioned, but the seller may have one from when they bought the house. I would be tempted to not get one for a standard lot in a subdivision
I agree. Short of you thinking you're going to add on or build a detached garage etc. I wouldn't pay for one. I didn't when I bought my home and don't know exactly to the inch where the property lies are between my neighbors houses nor do I need to.

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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by 123 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:08 pm

Are you getting title insurance as part of your purchase/escrow? If you have nothing to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the legal title to the property you are paying for a survey may be a good idea.
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Re: Buying a house - survey necessary?

Post by seawolf21 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:31 am

260chrisb wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:50 pm
BobTexas wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:00 am
Not sure if this was mentioned, but the seller may have one from when they bought the house. I would be tempted to not get one for a standard lot in a subdivision
I agree. Short of you thinking you're going to add on or build a detached garage etc. I wouldn't pay for one. I didn't when I bought my home and don't know exactly to the inch where the property lies are between my neighbors houses nor do I need to.
Same here. Don't see the point of a survey if you are not planning to add new structure and you can get one at a later point of them if you do decide to add.

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