What is a boundary survey, how does it work, and what are the biggest advantages of boundary surveys? Find out in this article!
When it comes to land surveying, boundary surveys play a very important role in every real estate transaction. They provide an official description of the limits (boundaries) of a property, defining its corners and final location to prevent future disputes with neighbors and other parties.
As opposed to other types of surveys, boundary surveys focus on establishing the legal perimeter of a property, as a part of the due diligence process before the real estate transaction is finalized. They are typically commissioned before the purchase, improvement or development of land.
In this article, we will discuss the biggest advantages of boundary surveys – why are they important for homebuyers and title companies, and how can they benefit from them? So, without further ado let’s dive right into it:
Advantages of boundary surveys
In our previous article, we explained in detail what boundary surveys are, and how a professional land surveyor works in order to measure and collect the necessary data for the survey. So now, let’s focus on the advantages of boundary surveys and what makes them so essential for real estate transactions:
1. Determining the value of a property
Among the biggest advantages of boundary surveys is the precise assessment of a property’s value.
Without a detailed land survey to determine the legal corners of the property or the parcel of land, and exactly what falls into this assessed territory, it can be challenging to make the right conclusions on how to price it correctly.
On many occasions, a property can either be undervalued, or overvalued. Homeowners who are looking to sell, or homebuyers who are searching for the best deal, might not be able to fully understand the worth of it without looking into location, landscape, and hardscape.
By hiring a professional land surveyor for a comprehensive consultation, you can get a proper understanding of the property and its actual worth.
2. Getting peace of mind
Professional land surveyors go through a complex process of collecting information and carefully measuring the property or the parcel of land to determine its legal boundaries.
They start by examining the historical records of the property by gathering valuable insights from the Registry Research of Deeds, the Registry of Probate, the Department of Transportation, town offices, and other places.
Next, they will perform field work, locating existing monuments and other evidence related to the boundaries, and compare the results with the initially collected information from historical records. The final step will be to reconcile every detail into a final survey describing the property’s legal parameters.
Having said all of this, the key takeaway is that land surveyors use state of the art equipment, combined with civil engineering and land surveying skills, to give a precise definition of the property’s corners.
This will give homeowners the peace of mind they need for having a better understanding of their property and exactly what falls in it.
3. Avoiding disputes and legal issues
Every once in a while, two neighboring landowners may face confrontations over the boundaries of their properties for a number of reasons. Confusing legal descriptions, or lack of such, may cause them to claim ownership over the same area without knowing who actually has the legal right to do so.
Boundary disputes can often arise if, before the construction and development of a property or a parcel of land, the legal boundaries were not inspected. Or if they were inspected decades ago using old boundary survey methods that were based on markers such as trees – which are likely to change over time, causing confusion due to lack of precision.
Considering today’s geographical realities, it can be quite challenging or even impossible to decipher and correctly read such land descriptions based on old boundary survey methods.
With this in mind, not knowing where the boundaries of your property lie can lead to possible disputes with neighbors. In turn, they can lead to expensive and lengthy legal issues if you can’t provide solid evidence in your favor.
Thus, one of the biggest advantages of boundary surveys is that they give you peace of mind from a legal perspective as well, helping you avoid potential lawsuits, and providing solid and reliable evidence in the case where a lawsuit is still initiated.
Of course, having a professional boundary survey may not resolve the conflict altogether, especially if you have difficult neighbors that choose to ignore what it says.
However, having it means that you have an essential tool for defending yourself in court, or for negotiating with the neighbors to see if you can resolve the issue before a lawsuit happens.
4. Preparing for construction
One of the biggest advantages of boundary surveys in a real estate transaction is that they provide the necessary information needed to develop the property or build on the parcel of land.
Think about those situations in which you consult an interior designer before renovating your house, or a structural engineer before making major improvements.
It’s the same with surveys – before you begin lengthy and expensive land development, it is highly recommended that you consult a professional land surveyor in order to properly evaluate the potential of the land.
Highly trained and experienced surveyors will allow you to move on with your project safely.
5. Establishing and protecting property ownership
Among the biggest advantages of boundary surveys is that they assist people in establishing and protecting the ownership of their property.
Did you know that, as opposed to other countries, there is no guarantee of ownership of real property in the United States? Even though a deed is evidence that you might own that property, it is not definitive proof of ownership.
Title insurance allows people to purchase real estate property or to get a loan to buy or develop it by providing assurance that one’s investment is not at risk.
In real estate transactions, the deed of a property is a physical document that conveys the title to the new owner upon sale. Right after the deed, the title insurance policy and the land survey are the two most important documents when it comes to establishing ownership – and of course, protecting it.
Before the purchase of a property, lenders will often ask for title insurance to make sure that the real estate property collateral is protected.
During the process, lenders will also require a land survey as they can uncover unforeseen issues that could be detrimental to the integrity of the property’s title.
For this reason, land surveys – and especially boundary surveys – play a crucial role in both commercial and residential real estate transactions.
They give peace of mind to all parties involved in the transaction, including the lender and the title company in charge of insuring the land.
Boundary surveys provide essential information needed for closing, such as:
- Validation that the correct property is being sold (or mortgaged) and insured
- The precise definition of the property’s dimensions
- The identification of easements of record
- Details regarding encroachments that might affect the property
6. Identifying easements
Next on our list of advantages of boundary surveys is the identification of easements.
However, before we take a deeper look, one thing that’s important to know is that boundary surveys now always show all the easements. You will be able to see some of them on the deed, but it’s not an exhaustive list.
So, if you want to have a full list of all easements on a property, as well as all the details surrounding them, you may want to get an ALTA boundary survey instead.
In land surveying, an easement refers to a section of land registered on a property title, which gives an entity the right to use it for a specific purpose even if they are not the owner of the land.
One example is the access through the property or the use of utilities, such as power, water, gas or drainage. Easements are also known as ROW, or a right of way.
If you don’t perform your due diligence before the purchase of a property, finding out that you might have to share access to a part of it with a neighbor may come as a surprise.
While an easement may not necessarily be something negative, or something that can have any sort of impact on your rightfully owned property, having a boundary survey describing all easements can definitely help you resolve possible conflicts with neighbors.
Some of the most common easements that a boundary survey may identify include, but are not limited to:
- The right for someone to cross somebody else’s property in order to access their own;
- The right for a cable or electric company to wire up the community;
- The right to park a vehicle on someone else’s property;
- Pathways, walkways and party walls
7. Getting permits
When talking about the advantages of boundary surveys, another one that it’s worth mentioning, which is also related to the fourth one on the list, is getting permits for development and major improvements.
Boundary surveys drawings can provide public institutions with essential information to give the owner of the property permits for performing work on the property.
In conclusion, there are multiple advantages of boundary surveys for both commercial and residential real estate transactions.
They provide a lot of detailed information regarding the legal boundaries and ownership of a property, give homeowners peace of mind, help to identify easements and encroachments, help to avoid possible legal issues and disputes, and so on. The benefits are countless.
Boundary surveys are among the most popular types of land surveys, but they have to be conducted by a professional surveyor who has the necessary skills, experience and equipment to deliver the required level of details.
About Tucker Engineering
Are you looking to reap the advantages of boundary surveys? Look no further. Tucker Engineering is a professional land surveying company that combines experience, state of the art equipment, data and innovation to meet your goals and ensure that you are ready to move on with your project safely.
With over 25 years of experience and a highly trained staff of civil engineers and land surveyors, Tucker Engineering has all you need to get quality land surveying in the state of Alabama. We are licensed with the Alabama Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors.
Are you ready to get started? Contact us today and leverage all the advantages of boundary surveys, as well as other types of surveys including ALTA, topographic surveys, etc.