During your settlement, you’ll see many, many documents. One of the papers you’ll see is the house location survey. This is a drawing of the property that shows any improvements on the property and where they’re located. The location survey just looks at what is above ground, such as sheds, barns, or fences; it won’t show the well or septic tank if the property has those.
The location survey will also show property lines. This tells you – and your lender – that the house and improvements are located within the property lines.
When you are planning to add a fence or building to your property, you want to have a boundary lines survey done. A surveyor will come out and do the calculations to put pins in the property marking the boundary lines. This is a more detailed report than a location survey.
Your lender wants to make sure their loan with you is secure, so they want to know ahead of time whether there are any hidden problems with the property. A location survey tells you and the lender whether any of the improvements on your property encroach onto a neighbor’s property – or whether a neighbor’s improvements encroach upon yours.
Most lenders, though, won’t require you get a location survey done anymore as long as your title company assures them that there will be no problems for the lender should the home need to go into foreclosure. Your title company will also issue a lender’s title insurance policy to protect the lender’s interest in your home.
A word of caution: Your title insurance will not protect you if there are unknown encroachment issues and you did not have a location survey done before closing. They may not appear to be major problems, but you should know about them before you close.
A location survey typically costs $150-$250, though it may be more if you’re buying a large property. We can help you get in touch with a surveyor; we have some with whom we work, and we can help you get estimates. Though it is not required, we do recommend you have a location survey done before closing. You want all the information you can get about the property you’re buying, and you want to make sure your title insurance will cover you in the event there’s a dispute over where an improvement is located.