Yesterday I listened to a real estate attorney speak about surveys, among other things. A survey is a map of a property that shows where structures, underground pipes, and overhead lines are as well as the actual property lines. She was opining the fact that while having surveys done before a closing used to be done all the time, she rarely sees them anymore. This is not a good thing.
Surveys can alert a potential buyer to many issues that are not readily or easily seen. Things like neighbors fences that are over the line and on your soon to be property. Part of the home is over a set back line or on the neighbor's property. Underground pipelines for sewer or drainage. Even new homes are sometimes found to be built directly on top of these lines that can over time collapse and cause part of the home to sink.
Surveys are important. If the seller has an old one, this with an affidavit that the seller has not changed anything on the property, can be a good start, but a new survey done with the better technology available today can find issues with even good older surveys.
If you are looking to buy a home, please consider a survey of the property. Costing approximately $500-$750 in our area, this can be the best insurance policy you can buy. Not sure what to do? Consult with your local real estate professional and discuss your options.