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Home > Blog > Real Estate (Commercial And Residential) > Surveys: Why Do You Even Need Them?

Surveys: Why Do You Even Need Them?


There are a lot of steps to the typical real estate closing. One of those steps is the survey. This sounds like a useless requirement. After all, property lines should be well established, and it doesn’t look like anybody’s stuff is going onto anybody else’s property. There doesn’t appear to be any fighting over where one property ends and the other begins. So why pay for a survey, and why do they even do surveys in real estate closing?

Looks Can be Deceiving

Don’t assume that what you see as your boundary, actually is your boundary.

For example, assume that you are buying a property with a nice, large back yard. You know it’s your yard, and that it’s so large, because there are large hedges, enclosing the yard.

What you don’t know is that those hedges were put into place arbitrarily, without concern for actual boundary lines. It turns out that the hedges are misplaced—they encroach on the neighbor’s property, meaning that the large back yard is not nearly as large as you thought it was, by looking at the placement of those hedges.

The Problem With Boundary Errors

Misplaced boundary lines, or property that is on someone else’s property, can lead to other issues that can cause big headaches if they’re not caught with a survey. For example, let’s say you buy property where your (soon to be) fence encroaches on the neighbor’s property.

That neighbor could, one day, insist the fence be removed. Do you want to inherit that headache, or the expense involved with tearing down and rebuilding that fence on the proper boundary line? A survey can spot these problems early on, before you purchase this kind of problem.

It isn’t just fences or shrubbery. Often people add physical buildings to property, like separate garages or tool sheds or other structures. If it turns out that structure is not actually within the legal boundaries of your property, you could have yet another problem.

In many cases, it may be unclear from looking whether property is yours or the cities. So, a dock behind your property may be city property, or a swale of grass in front of your home may belong to the city.

Setbacks and Easements

There are also restrictions and setbacks that can affect your property. Both the city, or the homeowners association, may have rules, such as how far a fence can extend into the road, or how much room must be left between the end of a fence and the roadways.

Easements can also present problems. Does the city or the public in general, have an easement through your property? Does someone else have and use an easement through your property, to get to theirs? These are things you should know before you purchase property and a survey can tell you that.

Question about your real estate closing? Call the West Palm Beach real estate lawyers at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today.




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