How to Read a Property Survey

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Reading a property survey is essential before you purchase any real estate, in order to assess its merits and find out more about its zoning, boundaries and connections. Usually certified land surveyors are responsible for conducting these surveys and can provide you with a signed and verified copy. Using a certified surveyor is very important, in case you have to resolve a legal dispute. The cost of a property survey depends on the size of the real estate, the details required and the location of the property. While your real estate agent would know how to read a property survey, you can easily learn to read it yourself as well.

Spread out the illustration on a large desk

Land survey usually consists of an illustration and a detailed report. The illustration is on a large sheet and you need to spread it out on a large enough desk so that you can work with it comfortably.

Verify physical address of property

The address mentioned on the survey illustration should match the one on your property deed. If there are any discrepancies, you need to note them and alert the surveyor so that he/she can look into the matter.

Carefully go through the illustration and mark physical features

The illustration will give you a complete overview of the property and you should note all physical features, including points of entry, boundaries, fixtures, fences, sidewalks, adjoining streets, neighboring properties and natural structures.

Build details, including utility pipes, electrical wiring, plumbing, communication lines etc should also be marked on the survey so that you can verify the specifications.

Consider legal information and additional comments

The survey will also include official measurements of the property, which you need to verify with those listed on the deed. Moreover, the report should include any legal burdens on the land, including easements, which are third-party rights over the enjoyment of the land, for instance parking space or an easement of light. The report should also list any improvements or new fixtures erected on the land since the last survey and whether they are in accordance with local construction laws and regulations of the development authority.

Make sure the survey is properly dated, signed and stamped by the certified surveyor if you want it to stand in court. If any fixture or structure of your property overlaps with neighboring land, you may be required to get an encroachment agreement to prevent litigation against yourself.

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