When Do I Need a Property Survey?

Why Do I Need a Property Survey?

You may have heard of a general property survey but are unsure of what type of information you can gain from one. Whether you’re a homeowner or a mortgage lender, a property survey can help you protect investments, understand potential risks and value associated with any property. From flood potential to the chances of landing in court over a boundary dispute, a general property survey is a small price to pay in order to save yourself the hassle of neglecting to find out all you can regarding a property.


Man Walking Through Field

Real Estate Investments and Transactions

Whether you’re an interested buyer, a mortgage lender, an insurance agent, or a real estate agent, your job in any real estate transaction is to do your due diligence. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of general property surveys for commercial and residential real estate transactions. Knowing exactly what to expect from a property allows you to make wise investments and walk away from those that have the potential to lead to boundary disputes, encroachments, and other problems. A general property survey, or a more detailed ALTA survey, can help you understand the property along with its potential risks and benefits.  


1. Preventing Encroachment

The last thing you want to worry about as a new or existing land owner is encroachment. From illegal hunting and land use to an honest unawareness of boundaries, property owners may find themselves in need of a property survey to protect their land and its resources. Some of the most common instances in which a property survey is needed to prevent encroachment include:

  • When a lake or water source is shared by adjoining properties
  • When former owners granted access to the property
  • When boundaries are not clearly distinguished by fences or other structures
  • When roads and other access ways cross bordering properties

If you don’t mind your neighbor fishing on your side of the lake, or if you want to know where your property ends and theirs begins so you can be sure to hunt on your side of the boundary only, a general property survey can help you determine the legal boundaries of your land. Likewise, a surveyor can help you locate your property’s boundaries if you don’t want others accessing your lakes, ponds, and other water sources or hunting on your land.


2. Preventing or Resolving Boundary Disputes

If your neighbor decides to build a new fence without ensuring it will be located on his property, it may or may not be of importance to you now, but should you decide to sell your property in the future, potential home buyers and their mortgage lenders may be turned off by the idea of investing in a property including a structure that belongs to someone else. This can lead to boundary disputes and lengthy court battles that last for months, if not years. Whether you’re on good terms with your neighbors or not, do yourself a favor by knowing your property’s boundaries and protecting yourself and your future investments, ability to sell your property in the future, and the value of your home.

If you’re already in the midst of a boundary dispute, a property survey can help determine the exact location of the boundaries of two adjoining properties. An experienced surveyor can also provide expert testimony in court to establish where boundaries lie to prevent encroachment and additions of structures on your land by neighboring land owners.

Tractor Parked in Field

3. Finding Acreage of Land

Property owners who have acquired or purchased large amounts of land may be interested in knowing the exact acreage of their land in order to understand its value and for establishing boundary lines. A property survey will provide you with a rendering of your property along with the exact acreage and locations of your property’s borders so you can determine where to build fences, homes, and other structures.

4. Knowing the Value of Your Property

Lakes, ponds, and rivers may be clearly visible on any given property, and they can be both a source of beauty and value for your property, especially if they are well-stocked with fish and other wildlife. Underground wells, creeks, and streams, on the other hand, may be less visible, and if you’re purchasing a large property, you may be interested in knowing where water sources are located in order to understand the best location for houses and other structures.

Property owners whose land features water sources also need to be aware of whether or not the entire water source is located on their land. If, for example, you and your nearest neighbor share a legal right to a lake or pond, is he or she okay with you fishing on the side that legally falls within their property ownership? Adversely, is your neighbor allowing others the use of the lake or pond without clarifying that half of it does not legally belong to them? These are questions you’ll want to answer before a boundary dispute arises.

If you’re interested in finding out whether your property includes potential oil or natural gas deposits, a detailed ALTA (American Land Title Association) survey can provide information on potential value found from underground natural resources, including water, oil, and natural gas.


Telephone Poll on a Hill

5. Knowing the Dangers of a Property

Just as a property survey can help you determine the value of your property from waterways and other natural resources, a detailed survey completed by an experience surveyor will also include information on potential threats and dangers to your property, many of which can adversely affect the value of land and homes. These include considerations like:

  • Cables
  • Drains
  • Electric Lines
  • Natural Gas Lines
  • Poles
  • Telephone Lines
  • Water Lines
  • Vaults
  • Wires

In addition to paying higher insurance premiums, property owners whose land include these items will want to understand the risk involved in the potential for danger to humans and animals. For families of children who enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s especially important to understand the locations of these potentially life-threatening structures and to educate your children and family members on the significance of them and the importance of avoiding these areas.

Flooded Forest

6. Understanding the Potential for Flooding

In addition to knowing what to expect to pay for insurance premiums, knowing the potential your property has for flooding can impact many things for a property owner, including where and how to build new fences and structures and where to place homes, roadways, and other access areas. 


You wouldn’t want to build your beautiful custom home in the center of an area of your property that has the highest flood risk. A property survey is a small price to pay to prevent the flooding of your home and other structures.



Posted by Brian McMeans at 1:09 PM