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to get a survey or not to get a survey, that is the question.

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

While a survey is not typically required by your lender, a property survey is a highly recommended and important aspect of your real estate purchase. In general, a survey refers to the process of locating and measuring a property's boundary lines to determine the exact amount of land that a homeowner owns. A survey also locates and measures any easements or encroachments on a property.

Your options for a survey are as follows:

1. NEW SURVEY: A brand new survey marks the property lines separating subject premises from neighboring properties and is certified to you as Purchaser, the title company, title company underwriter and your lender. The certification is the surveyor’s professional promise that the work was conducted according to the acceptable standards of their profession, taking responsibility for the work product to those certified persons. Having a new survey completed prior to closing allows the purchasing party to determine whether there are any title marketability problems. A new survey completed after the closing, however, does not provide any recourse against the Seller in the event there is a marketability issue. A new survey typically takes four to six weeks to complete, but depends on the surveyor’s availability. Therefore, if you want a new survey it is up to you to call the surveyor, get the survey to our office and pay the surveyor in time to meet the closing date of the Contract of Sale.

2. SURVEY UPDATE: Often times, but not all, the Seller of the property will possess a copy of a survey previously done on the property. If the original surveyor is still in business, often times the surveyor can update the previous survey to show the most current state of the premises. The updated survey can also be re-certified to the Purchaser(s), the Purchaser’s title company, the title company’s underwriter and lender. Depending on the surveyor, the cost to update a survey can be less expensive with a quicker turnaround time than getting a brand-new survey.

3. SURVEY INSPECTION: A survey inspection provides the least protection to a Purchaser and is for information purposes only; however, it is the least expensive option. To have a survey inspection, there must be a legible, complete prior survey of the property. A survey inspection involves the title company’s visual inspection of the property by a layperson, to determine whether any changes to the premises have been made since the date of the old survey. The title company reads the inspection and may state exceptions in the title report. In other words, these exceptions are not insured. In addition, the survey inspection is not certified to the current Purchaser. The survey inspection can be completed fairly quickly depending on the title company.

When deciding whether to order a survey, it is important to keep in mind the timeframe for your real estate transaction. Typically, we recommend waiting to order a survey until your lender has issued a mortgage commitment letter and satisfactory appraisal to avoid unnecessary survey costs in the event you are denied your loan. However, it is also important to keep within the timeframe of your "on or about" closing date. In order to avoid delay in closing, it may be necessary to promptly obtain a survey quote despite your lender not having issued a commitment or appraisal report.

Should you have further questions on surveys, feel free to give our office a call at (845) 228-7040 for more information.

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