Frequently Asked Questions

Why you need your land surveyed.
Why are these questions important?
Who can answer these questions?
What will a surveyor do to answer these questions?
What will the survey map show me?
What if the seller has a survey?
What will a survey cost?
Who are qualified land surveyors?

Why You Need Your Land Surveyed
For most people, the purchase of a home, or the purchase of land and the construction of a home, represents the largest single investment of a lifetime. A wise investor will therefore take advantage of every opportunity to protect that investment. Many services are available which can assure a person of the soundness of a real estate investment. The services of an attorney will, among other things, assure an understanding of the documents necessary to the transaction and the obligations incurred by signing those documents. A title search with title insurance will insure that the seller owns the property which he has contracted to sell. The search may find a lien or an unpaid mortgage, or it may uncover a restriction on the use of the land.

There are many questions you should ask before you purchase land. Among the most important are:
1. Exactly where, on the ground, is the property which I have contracted to purchase?
2. Are the physical improvements (house, garage, fences, etc.), which I was shown, actually on the property?
The answers to these questions can be reassuring or distressing, but if they are discovered after closing the sale, the result may be a financial disaster.
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They are important because the property described in a contract often is not exactly as it was shown or as it appeared to the purchaser. Sometimes property which has been improved and maintained by a seller actually belongs to a neighbor. The property lines may go through a garden, or a garage, or even a house! Occasionally, a contract describes completely different land than that shown to the purchaser!
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A person legally licensed and registered to practice land surveying can provide the professional service to answer these vital questions. A licensed land surveyor is an expert at interpreting descriptions of property and is uniquely qualified to accurately and precisely locate property lines.
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The surveyor will study the documents which you supply including those in your abstract and title search. Then a field survey will be conducted, searching for and obtaining evidence of the property’s boundaries, and locating any visible improvements on or near the property. When the field survey is complete, the measurements are mathematically proven, then compared with the evidence that was found. Then the location of the property lines and other described lines are re-established by the surveyor, and a report is prepared, usually in the form of a survey map. Check out the Sample Survey
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The survey map will show you the location of the lines of the property as described in the seller’s deed. It will show you the dimensions of the land and the location of other features described in your documents which affect the property, such as easements and rights-of-way. It will note variations from the described angles, lengths, and areas which the surveyor may find. The map will also depict the location of visible improvements on or near the property and the relation of those improvements to the property’s boundary.
It may report that the garden you admired actually belongs to a neighbor or that a part of the land is being used by others. It may show you that the easement, reserved for others in the documents, is just the place where you thought your pool might go someday! Possibly, there will be physical evidence of an easement which is not recorded.
With the survey map, your attorney can determine if the property conforms with certain aspects of the local zoning laws. It frequently assists him in evaluating the effect of covenants and restrictions on the property.
Check out the Sample Survey
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First, be sure that it is a survey prepared by a licensed land surveyor. Not all maps are based on actual surveys. A map that is not a survey is not reliable.
If the seller provides a survey, it may not be adequate for your needs. Since the date of the survey, there may have been changes in the property lines or perhaps improvements were made which affect the use and value of the land. As property values increase, the requirements of a survey change and become more rigid. Only the surveyor who prepared the seller’s survey can state that his survey will meet your present needs. You should consult with him to learn if the survey is adequate. You should be sure that the surveyor is willing to certify his survey to you personally, because certifications are not transferable to additional institutions or subsequent owners. Said certifications shall run only to the person for whom the survey is prepared.
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The costs of surveys differ because of varying sizes and locations of properties. Such things as the complexity of the descriptions, terrain, seasonal weather conditions and the shape of the property are factors which must be considered. As a result, only a surveyor can accurately estimate the cost of a survey.
The cost of a survey can range from hundreds to several thousand dollars. However, most surveyors are willing to discuss their fees and offer an estimate before you authorize a survey. You should keep in mind that the cost of a survey represents a very small percentage of your total investment, but it can help you avoid costly and aggravating problems in the future. Click here for a free estimate.
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Surveyors who are members of the New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors, Inc. are all licensed to practice in New York State. These registered professionals subscribe to the “Code of Practice for Land Surveys”. This code is designed to help maintain a high standard of care and precision in preparing land surveys. It is recommended that you inquire whether or not the surveyor will certify his survey to you and your lending company in accordance with this code. Also, as an expert witness, his testimony is accepted by the court as evidence to which the greatest weight can be attached. No one other than he can assume responsibility for the correctness and accuracy of his work.
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