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 if you 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 they are surveying property?

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

Let's take a deep dive to 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 as well as advise on the correct depth of foundations.

A land surveyor can work for the county, a private company, and they can 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 any other structures fall within the boundaries of the property. They are looking to make sure there are no zoning violations.

For example, it is not unusual at all for a neighbor to install a shed or a fence the encroaches onto an adjoining property. The surveyor can determine fairly easily is there is any kind of violation.

The common name for a property survey when buying or selling a home is a mortgage plot plan. Buyers typically get a copy of the plot plan at closing. The cost of the land survey is paid for by the buyers as part of the 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 making an alteration to 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 that 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 for utility companies so that they can access pipes or cabling on or near your property.

If your plot of land is subject to any restrictions like this, a land surveyor will make sure 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 that 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 makes sure you don't find yourself in the difficult 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 find out you installed it over the lot line? That would not be fun.

Common Types of Surveys

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

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

This will show the lender that the property is worth the value that is being placed on it by your offer. The lender needs this to make sure that 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 is to check that the property lines of the home match up with the documentation. This makes sure 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 that 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, as well as your location, can affect the overall price. Typically, prices start from more than $200, up to around $1,000.

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

Final Thoughts on Property Surveyors

It is advisable to have a property survey completed before you begin any construction work. It will make sure 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 to be useful.


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
Retired 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