What Is Survey?

In real estate, survey or land survey is the process of measuring a property’s borderlines to know and pin down the exact measurement of the land that a property owner possesses. This process will also help determine the location and measurement of easements and encroachments on a property.

A land survey is usually done after making an offer to ascertain that any issues with encroachments and easements will be appropriately documented and resolved before closing a deal.

How is a land survey done?

Using a home’s deed, a surveyor will lay out the precise measurements of a property using some surveying instruments, usually theodolites, altimeters, 3D scanners, measuring tapes, GPS or GNSS, rods, and levels. The surveyor will also take note of simple landmarks within the property’s boundaries.

Types of surveys

There are several types of property surveys conducted all through the United States. But homeowners only get the appropriate surveys they need when they build a house, construct an extension, or settle a territory dispute against a neighbor.

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  • Boundary Survey
    This helps to determine a property’s boundary lines. This is usually done to recover the property corners, which is important when building an infrastructure such as a fence or a firewall. This type of survey is important for permit and construction purposes and is quite pricey.
  • Location Survey
    This type of survey includes a physical inspection of the property to locate the supposed boundary lines in relation to the property’s improvements. Like the boundary survey, location survey is generally expensive.
  • ALTA/ASCM Survey
    The American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ASCM) survey is the type of land survey that is done according to the standards set by the ALTA/ASCM organizations. This is done for commercial properties which are listed and is ready to be bought or when the property owner wants to renovate, extend, or upgrade the property.


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