Should I Order a Property Survey Before a Real Estate Closing?

One of the most important parts of a real estate transaction is determining the correct legal description of the property and making sure the recorded deed contains the correct legal description. To find out the details about the property that you plan to purchase, you may want to order a land survey. that only way to truly know exactly what you are purchasing is to have the property surveyed.

A survey will give you a graphic outline of the legal boundaries of a piece of property. It shows both the physical boundary lines of the property and any improvements, such as buildings, fences, and driveways that have been made to the property. Surveys also identify easements belonging to others and other restrictions on the property that affect your use and future development of the property. A survey can also let you know if the property is located in a floodplain.

A survey can reveal title issues, such as property line encroachments, setback violations, errors contained in the legal description on the deed of conveyance, and other issues that could be expensive to try to correct after the property is purchased.

In North Carolina, it is not required for a property purchaser to obtain a survey, but there are multiple reasons why a buyer should choose to obtain a survey before purchasing property.

One reason a buyer should choose to have survey before they purchase property is your owner’s title insurance policy language. An owner’s title insurance policy is usually purchased when you purchase property to insure your interest in the property if there is ever a dispute concerning your ownership of the property. The owner’s title insurance policy will not automatically cover or “insure” any issue that could have been discovered by a survey of the property. A typical title insurance policy usually list as coverage exclusions, any issue that a survey could have discovered as an exception.
Therefore, if a survey is obtained before purchase of the property and if the survey were to be provided to the title insurance company, then that exception may be removed and the owner’s title policy may cover future issues.

Five Additional Reasons to Get a Property Survey

  1. Determining Boundary Lines: whether you plan on stay within your property lines or building a fence, pool, driveway or making property improvements, you will want to know where your property boundary lines are.
  2. Access, Ingress, and Egress: A survey should also reveal if there is access to your property by way of a public road or private easement.
  3. Easements and Rights-of-Way: A survey should report the existence of utility easements and easements belonging to others, as well as any conditions imposed on your property based on any recorded agreements.
  4. Encroachments, Joint Driveways, and Party Walls: A survey may reveal answer to questions a real estate buyer may have such as whether there is an obligation to support your neighbor’s driveway by maintaining yours or does your driveway slightly run onto your neighbor’s property.

  5. Zoning Classification: A survey will tell you any specific restrictions on how you can use your property, which is important for future real estate development plans on the property.

Contact our Real Estate Closing Lawyers


For questions about surveys and other residential closing or commercial closing topics, contact our real estate attorneys for a free consultation at (888) 988-6613.

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