Guest Blogger and Settlement Attorney David P. Modell

Why You Should Get Your Property Surveyed

June 6, 2012

I remember growing up and cutting the grass each week. We always lined up the lawn mower one row to the left of the big tree. There were no fences on this side, but quite frankly, I suspect that each week I regularly mowed about 24-30 inches wide of my neighbor’s lawn by the full depth of the property. We were lucky. We didn’t have any issues with the neighbor.

Now you are buying your home. Don’t you want to know exactly where the property lines are located before your purchase? Do you want to know if the fence is built on the line or inside one of the property lines? What happens a few years from now when the house next door sells and the new owners come by and tell you that part of your driveway blacktop is actually on their property and they would like you to have it trimmed/removed.

I don’t agree with people who say that you don’t need any kind of survey. I think your home is  just too big of an investment to forego getting survey information. There are numerous examples of problems that would have been known by a purchaser ahead of time if they had obtained a survey as part of the buying process.

Most people either purchase a location drawing or a full boundary / stake survey. As is explained below, the best information is from the boundary survey and that is our general recommendation. However, we recognize that it is more expensive, so better for a purchaser to get at least a location drawing instead of nothing.

The house location drawing determines whether the house and any other structures have been built within the lot lines. It is deemed to be fairly accurate, but does not locate or certify the exact property lines or stake the property corners. In the DC metro area, location drawings generally cost in the mid two hundred dollar price range for most properties.

For an additional cost (usually starting at $700-900 additional), the surveyor can perform a boundary survey to locate the property corners and stake the property lines. This will give you, the purchaser, visual field markings (usually shown as pipes in the ground) of where the boundary lines / property corners actually lie, as well as a more detailed drawing with measurements and other matters shown.

For most of us, a house is one of the most important and biggest investments we will make. It is worth spending the money to get either a location drawing or boundary survey before you purchase.

David Modell, Esq.
Law Office David P. Modell
7316 Wisconsin Avenue #200
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

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