You finally found the Summit County property that is just right for you! Now an offer needs to be submitted to the seller telling them what we want from them. One of the items sometimes requested is a survey. Do you even need a survey? And if so, what kind of survey should you specify?
Do you need a survey?
Your real estate agent should be able to help you determine what is necessary for your specific situation but here’s an overview to give you a basic understanding. Typically, if you the property you are buying doesn’t come with land, a survey isn’t necessary. Real estate that doesn’t come with land could be a condominium or townhome. For those type of properties, the title documents should include a condo map that shows the placement of the condo or townhome within the building or development. If you are buying some land, you should consider asking the seller to provide a current survey. It would be awful if you bought a piece of property only to find out sometime later that the house you have been living in is partially on the neighbors land. It would be even more terrible if the neighbor asked you to remove your house from their land. Afterall, it is their land. What right would you have to have your house on it? The easiest way to avoid any chance of that type of scenario happening to you is to get a survey and make sure the house you are buying sits on the land you are buying. The survey would also show you if anyone else is using your property. Things like fences and parking areas next to a driveway are common encroachments onto neighboring property.
What type of survey is best?
If you have determined a survey is a good idea, the next question is what type of survey do you need? An ILC, Improvement Location Certificate, is typically the least expensive option. This gives a rough idea where the improvements are and if there may be encroachments onto or from this piece of property. An encroachment is when someone has been or is using someone else’s property for themselves. Encroachments could be a trail leading into the National Forest, a fence, a driveway or a multitude of other things. An ILC is the surveyors opinion of encroachments. If you’re more concerned about where exactly your property lines are an Improvement Survey Plat, ISP, may be a better type of survey for you. On top of the items in the ILC, the surveyor will verify and often flag the corners of the property. This is the way to go if you are considering adding on to the property or if you have concerns about encroachments and need more exact boundary information. The Improvement Survey Plat is the surveyors opinion of property boundaries. If you are buying a vacant piece of property this same type of survey is called a Land Survey Plat.
In the Summit County market the seller typically pays for a survey so the buyer doesn’t have to be too concerned with the cost of a survey. Prices vary with each property and with each surveyor. An ILC will typically cost around $300 and an ISP $600+. Keep in mind the time of year will also have an affect on how thorough the surveyor can be. They can only document what they see so if something is buried under the snow, it won’t show up on the survey. If you buy a house in the winter and when the snow melts you discover a fence under the snow, the surveyor may come out and update the survey for you at a reduced price. That reduced price, if they offer one, may not be as low as you would anticipate. Regulations dictate surveyors confirm all previous information before signing a new survey so while we just see them adding a fence to the previous drawing, they are actually measuring and reconfirming all the original information which can be a time consuming process. Every piece of property is different and it is impossible to give a blanket statement about the type of survey that is best for you without knowing the specific situation. A real estate professional should be able to offer advice and you can always talk to the surveyor directly. If they have done a lot of surveys in the area the surveyor may be aware of some frequent problems with properties in the neighborhood.