We often hear the from Outer Banks buyers, “Why should I get a survey?”. It’s not necessary to have one completed and they cost a considerable amount of money. On the other hand, having an accurate drawing of your property does have its advantages. Here are some stories and thoughts on why having a survey is important.
A few years ago, a Kitty Hawk homeowner installed a pool in the side yard setback. Unfortunately, the town does not allow that. Instead of moving the pool the owner traded land with the neighbor so that the pool met town guidelines. The neighbor who did not build the pool sold their house and the buyer did not get a survey. Somehow the attorney representing the buyer did not catch the land trade. This swap of land would not have made a difference except for the fact that owner who built the pool went into foreclosure. Because part of the land was now owned by the new neighbor, they also received foreclosure notices. Most people don’t realize that surveyors must research the exact legal description of property at the courthouse. A survey would have eliminated this problem for the new buyer.
A current survey will also show where boundaries and current setbacks are. Older homes could have been built when setbacks were different or not enforced and occasionally fences or retaining walls encroach on boundaries. A survey will help you determine what you can do with your land.
Surveys also show easements. Easements might be recognizable by a pathway but they might not be. There are also utility easements that can affect what you can do with your property. Recently a Realtor purchased a lot in Southern Shores and did not get a survey. He planned on putting a fence along his boundary for a pool. A former owner granted an easement to a neighbor for easier beach access where the fence was going to be. As a result, the fence had to be located elsewhere. Had a survey been completed he would have known about that easement.
A current survey also gives you the best title insurance possible. Title insurance companies will insure against future issues if you can prove those issues did not exist when you purchased the policy. For example, what happens if you come back from an extended time away from the house and the neighbor has built a shed partially on your land? Because you could prove the shed was not on your land when the title insurance policy was written the title insurance company would help resolve that issue.
Survey costs vary depending upon the size of the property, current market conditions and the location of the property but be prepared to pay close to $1,000. They also may take a few weeks for the work to be completed. Many folks don’t want to spend that money for a survey but if you want to limit future risk then having a survey is a good idea. Here is a link to a few good Outer Banks surveying firms.