Surveys are a map of the property that you’re buying. Survey companies will come outs and set up their equipment, calibrate their tools and will establish exactly where the property lines are by using GPS coordinates.
If you are considering putting a fence up, or making an addition to the house, or even adding a shed to the backyard, we strongly recommend getting a survey. While your neighbors may seem like the nicest people in the world, if you build a fence that encroaches their property or if your shed sits over the property line, if you go to sell… Or if they go to sell… Then there will be a problem.
I have found that when people buy properties in the historic district of Charleston, many decide to get a survey even though the homes of been there for hundreds of years. I asked a recent homebuyer why they were making the decision to get a survey because it was not required in order to obtain the loan.
He stated that he wanted to make sure he knew exactly what he was buying because it was a big investment, and the price per square foot of the land he was buying was very valuable. There was also an old brick wall that seemed to dip in meaning in his direction, and he wanted to understand what would happen if changes needed to be made to protect the integrity of his property. Long story short, he wanted to know who owned the fence and who was responsible for its maintenance and upkeep.
When we write real estate contracts for buyers, many times we request a copy of the survey if the seller has it in their possession. This is a way to save money, and get quick answers. There are no guarantees that the seller will have it to provide, but it is certainly worth asking.