Today’s Buyer Tip: What is a survey? How much to they cost? Should you get one?

Ryan Jenkins

A survey is a professional drawing of a property that shows the lot lines as well as improvements on the property. Improvements are things like structures, fences, driveways, sidewalks, wells, ponds, decks and any other permanent feature. A survey will also show easements that run with the land. The most common easements are for utilities such as power, gas, or water companies that have been granted rights to access and maintain their lines that run through, along, or near a property. If a city or county road runs along a property, there may also be a right of way that could allow future road expansion, a survey will locate and describe these features.

As you can imagine, a survey is an important document, especially for acreage properties and lots in older parts of town. Often, our clients do not choose to perform surveys when a property is in a planned subdivision because one can generally assume the developer installed fences and any improvements in accordance with lot lines and that any easements and rights of way are reasonable and legal. But, the older a subdivision is, the more likely it is that over the years, a fence or garage was not installed right on the property line, or someone put in a shared driveway, or, that someone has a sewer line easement running through a neighbors yard, or worse, a sewer line runs underneath a neighbors house on its way to the street!  We’ve seen this on two different occasions with Old Town Fort Collins homes for sale!

Although surveys are expensive, $700 for a small lot, on up to $3,000-$5,000 or more for 35 acre parcels. You may be very glad to know what your survey discovers BEFORE you close on your house. Encroachments or other problems a survey discovers are certainly grounds for a monetary concession from the seller. But, while you can likely get a monetary concession from the seller, do not bank on easily curing an encroachment. As attorney’s I have talked to can attest, folks that have battle to cure encroachments may spend dearly on attorney fees and face an uphill battle getting the issue corrected. So, while you won’t likely be able to cure any problems you find on a survey, you will be able to either walk away from the deal if it’s something you can’t live with, or, get a significant concession from the seller.

Want to learn more? Contact Grey Rock Realty at 970-672-0775.

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