- A property survey reveals the boundaries and details of the home so you know your legal rights.
- Your mortgage lender may require a property survey after you make an offer on a home.
- A survey typically costs a few hundred dollars, but the amount depends on the company and your home.
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When buying a home, you have to pay closing costs to cover expenses such as your application fee, inspection, and title search. A property survey is another common closing cost.
A survey typically takes place after you make an offer on a home, but before closing. If the survey shows any major issues — for example, maybe you can’t build a fence like you wanted to — you may decide not to go through with the purchase.
What is a property survey?
A property survey, or land survey, is the process of assessing the property you’re buying. The survey reveals what legally belongs to you and what you’re allowed to do on the property. A survey is especially useful if you plan to build onto the home or make any major changes after buying it.
A property surveyor looks at the following:
- Property boundaries: The surveyor defines your land boundaries so that you don’t build a structure that encroaches onto your neighbor’s property, such as a fence or an additional room to your home. If you intrude on your neighbor’s land, you could face legal charges.
- Easements: An easement is the right to use someone else’s land. The survey will inform you of any easements, such as utility workers’ rights to come onto your property in specific situations. You also may share some property with a neighbor, such as an alley or driveway.
- Topography: You’ll find out details such as your home’s elevation. This may help you know whether you need flood insurance, or whether you’re able to make certain updates to the home.
How much does a property survey cost?
According to HomeAdvisor, a property survey typically costs between $349 and $685.
You may want to get quotes from a few companies to compare prices. The cost will also depend on how much time it takes for the expert to complete your survey. If you hire a local surveyor and buy a relatively small home on a flat property that has extensive public records, your costs will be on the lower end of the price range. You’ll pay more if you hire someone who needs to needs to spend a lot of time traveling, searching for public records, and assessing your large home.
Do I have to get a property survey?
Not all mortgage lenders require a property survey, but some do.
If your lender doesn’t require a survey, you might be able to track down the most recent survey to get an idea of your boundaries, easements, and potential hazards that could require additional insurance or limit home additions. If the most recent survey was completed a long time ago, you may want to pay for a new one so you can know your rights before closing on the home.
Laura Grace Tarpley, CEPF
Editor, Banking & Mortgages
Laura Grace Tarpley is an editor at Insider, responsible for banking and mortgage coverage on Personal Finance Insider. She covers mortgage rates, refinance rates, lenders, bank accounts, and borrowing and savings tips. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Before joining the Insider team, she was a freelance finance writer for companies like SoFi and The Penny Hoarder, as well as an editor at FluentU. You can reach Laura Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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