What Does a Land Surveyor Do

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362


Explaining The Role of a Land Surveyor

Are you thinking about getting a land survey for your property? If you are buying or selling a home or have a dispute with your neighbor, you may be advised to enlist the services of a property surveyor.

But what does a land surveyor do, and what happens when surveying property?

Understanding what a land survey does is essential when buying or selling a home. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has an excellent resource explaining the various types of land surveys that are worth looking at.

Let's deeply explore what a land surveyor does, especially in a real estate transaction.

What is a Property Surveyor?

A property surveyor, or land surveyor, precisely defines the boundaries of a plot of land. This can then be used to report a legal claim, help during a new construction project, or update the deeds.

Surveyors for property accurately define the locations of buildings, roads, boundaries, and any other structures on the property. This can help with changes to the boundary, accurately defining where structures are allowed to be built, and advising on the correct depth of foundations.

A land surveyor can work for the county or a private company and be employed by homeowners too.

Land Surveys Are Routine in Real Estate Transactions

When a buyer gets a mortgage loan, one of the routine things that a lender will do is hire a property surveyor to conduct a land survey. The surveyor is hired to ensure that the home and other structures fall within the property's boundaries. They are looking to make sure there are no zoning violations.

For example, it is not unusual for a neighbor to install a shed or a fence that encroaches onto an adjoining property. The surveyor can determine pretty easily if there is any violation.

A mortgage plot plan is a common name for a property survey when buying or selling a home. Buyers typically get a copy of the plot plan at closing. The buyers pay for the land survey as part of their closing costs.

When Might you Need to Hire Surveyors for Property?

Besides buying or selling a home, there are other circumstances where you might hire a surveyor. If you are altering your current home or building a new one, hiring a surveyor will precisely identify the boundaries of your property. They will also establish any restrictions you could be under during the construction.

If you have a right of way through a neighbor’s property, or if they have one through yours, the surveyor can clear up any confusion about this. This could also apply to utility companies so that they can access pipes or cabling on or near your property.

If your plot of land is subject to restrictions like this, a land surveyor will ensure you are aware of any issues so that you don't run into any problems. This should ensure that you don't infringe upon anyone else's rights when you start a construction project.

If you run into a boundary disagreement with a neighbor, a can surveyor can clear up any confusion. If you think a neighbor’s fence is incorrectly positioned, a report from a surveyor will provide an official measurement of the correct boundary lines. They should make sure that any fences constructed on the boundary are built in the correct position.

Hiring a property surveyor ensures you don't find yourself in the challenging position of having constructed an addition to your home that isn't on your land. The cost of hiring a surveyor could seem inconsequential if you have to demolish part of your property because of a misunderstanding of the property boundaries.

Can you imagine, for example, adding a garage and later finding out you installed it over the lot line? That would not be fun.

Common Types of Property Surveys

The two most common types of surveys you are likely to encounter are mortgage and boundary surveys.

As previously mentioned, the lender involved might require a mortgage survey when purchasing a property. This survey ensures that the property being purchased is correctly defined in the legal documents.

This will show the lender that the property is worth the value placed on it by your offer. The lender needs this to ensure they aren't loaning too much money and risking their investment. Lending money on a property that has zoning violations would not be prudent.

The boundary survey checks that the home's property lines match up with the documentation. This ensures that the home’s deed is correct, including any easements on the property.

Easements are common land that is either used by the community or utility companies. If you have an easement within your boundaries, it will affect what you can do with the property.

It could prevent you from building or even planting in that area of the lot. It could be because of sewers, utility poles, or a right of way.

How Much Does Property Surveying Cost?

The cost you will have to pay to have your property surveyed can vary greatly. Factors, including the size of your lot, the number of buildings and structures that need to be surveyed, and your location, can affect the overall price.

Typically, prices range from more than $200 to around $1,000.

If you are looking to hire a property surveyor, your lender or title company might be able to offer recommendations. You can research online to check potential surveyors and compare prices if you aren't using a county surveyor.

Final Thoughts on Property Surveyors

It is advisable to have a property survey completed before you begin any construction work. It will ensure you don't run into any problems you weren't aware of, protecting you from any potential legal issues. If you are buying a home and getting a mortgage, you can expect the lender to hire a land surveyor.

Hopefully, you have found this guide on land surveys and what property surveyors do helpful.


Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (4)

Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Good information.  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend!

Nov 06, 2020 07:20 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Bill Gassett - I am going to tag this post.  Great info!  I have had to use surveyors a lot in Sedona. We have a lot of custom built homes.  Right now, I have one scheduled to check out the exact location of a huge tree.  The tree looks like it is straddling the lot boundary and when the time comes to do work on it, my buyer needs to know whose responsibility it will be.  

Nov 06, 2020 08:10 AM
Bill Gassett

A land survey is such an essential aspect in buying a home. Your example is a good one!

Nov 06, 2020 01:59 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Bill- I think it's a great idea that could save you time and money. We had a friend once who almost built a gazebo that they would have had to move had they not had a survey. They'd lived in the house for years but had never had a survey done. Someone suggested it and they are so glad they did. 

Nov 06, 2020 06:05 PM
Jack Willis
HouseCat - Lac Ste Anne County, AB

I appreciate the work of surveyors because I happened to work with a team of land and building surveys and I saw how difficult it is. But I was amazed at how professionally this team approached the task,  I gave them. Even after our successful cooperation, I've repeatedly turned to them for advice and I've always received prompt and highly qualified assistance. I can recommend this team of specialists if you need help with surveying land and buildings.

Apr 21, 2022 06:33 AM