Location Survey or Boundary Survey -How To Make A Choice in DC, MD, VA

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253
https://activerain.com/droplet/5hP4

Congratulations on your new home!

You will probably be getting a letter soon from your title company telling you what to expect at closing, what you need to bring to settlement, and asking if you want a location survey or a boundary survey. You may wonder how to choose between the two and which one is better for you!   

So what is a survey and why do you need one?

SurveyorA survey is a measurement taken by a surveyor of a real property—delineating the boundaries of a parcel of land. There are two types. House location drawings delineate the property’s approximate boundary. Boundary surveys, which are considerably more expensive, show the property lines and delineate the exact location of all improvements, encroachments, easements, and other matters affecting the title to the property in question. Unless otherwise advised, most title companies will provide a house location survey for your new single family home.   

Most lenders require a survey as a condition of the loan

A Location Drawing - Shows the property lines and locates any and all improvements on the lot, using the legal description and any recorded easements, right of ways, etc.  A location drawing is accurate up to one foot in each direction.  A location drawing is not based on markers at the property.  It will cost about $250-$450 and can be done in a short time frame.  If you are buying a condo rather than a single family house, you probably will not need a survey. 

Boundary Survey - Is done  by a crew of surveyors "in the field", new markers are located at the property, and lines are determined where they actually are, not by the recorded plat but checked against it.  There is little to no margin of error on a boundary survey.  Because a boundary survey is done by a crew of surveyors "in the field," it will take several weeks to complete.  If it rains or snows, it will take longer because the surveying equipment can not be used in wet weather.  Be prepared to be patient. 


The other main difference is the cost of the two surveys.  Most location drawings will vary between $250 - $400 (up to 1 acre) depending on the surveying company being used.  For properties over 1 acre the title company will get quotes for the location drawings.  A boundary survey is quite a bit more expensive because of the amount of time, man power and how accurate the boundary survey must be.  All boundary surveys will quoted but the range for 1 acre or under could be anywhere between $700 - $1500.  


When it comes to obtaining a mortgage and title insurance when purchasing a new home, a location drawing is primarily the only requirement unless an encroachment or easement has come into question and the title company can not remove the survey exception from the lender's policy.  A location drawing is usually not required on a refinance.


When a new purchaser decides to purchase a new property and wants to put improvements on the property things like a shed, fence or a deck it is important to know where you property lines are and where the building set back lines are so that you do not encroach on your neighbors property, or violate a building code which could be costly for the new purchaser if they have to move the shed, fence or take down the newly constructed deck.  This is where the benefit of the boundary survey would come into play and where the added expense can really save the homeowner in the long run.
A Location Drawing - Shows the property lines and locates any and all improvements on the lot, using the legal description and any recorded easements, right of ways, etc.  A location drawing is accurate up to one foot in each direction.  A location drawing is not based on markers at the property.


Boundary Survey - Is done  by a crew of surveyors "in the field", new markers are located at the property, and lines are determined where they actually are, not by the recorded plat but checked against it.  There is little to no margin of error on a boundary survey.


The other main difference is the cost of the two surveys.  Most location drawings will vary between $250 - $400 (up to 1 acre) depending on the surveying company being used.  For properties over 1 acre the title company will get quotes for the location drawings.  A boundary survey is quite a bit more expensive because of the amount of time, man power and how accurate the boundary survey must be.  All boundary surveys will quoted but the range for 1 acre or under could be anywhere between $700 - $1500.


When it comes to obtaining a mortgage and title insurance when purchasing a new home, a location drawing is primarily the only requirement unless an encroachment or easement has come into question and the title company can not remove the survey exception from the lender's policy.  A location drawing is usually not required on a refinance.



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Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
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Hi Lise, This is great information explaining the difference between the two types of surveys. Just sent you an email. Hope you will join us at the Baltimore MeetUp on January 22nd

Jan 02, 2015 01:12 PM #1
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Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
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I have been involved in several transactions where surveys uncovered critical encroachments or violations of minimum setbacks. When in doubt, order a survey!

Jun 27, 2017 05:12 PM #2
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Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
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Lise Howe I just linked this to my latest blog. Thanks for the great info!

Mar 28, 2019 08:59 PM #3
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Lise Howe

Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,
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