Home Buying 101 - What is a Survey and Why do you need one?

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Home Buying 101 - What is a Survey

Why Do you Need One?


A survey in the State of Texas is a drawing of the property you are purchasing that shows the boundary lines, encroachments, improvements, etc.  It is ordered through an Engineering company that does surveys, and is signed off on by an Engineer. 


It is Very Important to get a survey prior to purchasing property in Texas to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.  The survey shows exactly what you are purchasing according to plat maps that are on record.  Usually a survey is given after you have a property under contract and in escrow.


Sometimes the Seller will furnish their survey along with a T-47 form that tells if they have made any changes to the property since their purchase.  The Seller will then have the T-47 form notarized and provide it along with the survey to the buyer.


As a Buyer, it is good to do your due diligence when purchasing a home, and/or land in the State of Texas.  When you are going through the buying process, you usually have inspections to ensure you understand what you are purchasing and if there are any defects in the home that you need to be aware of.  Buyers need to do the same due diligence on the land they are purchasing as well, regardless if the land has improvements or is unimproved.  


The Seller provides the Buyer with a Sellers Disclosure Notice, but the Buyer does a Home inspection, Roof inspection, A/C inspection, Termite inspection, Plumbing inspection, lead based paint inspection, electrical inspection, etc.  Why would the Buyer not do the same due diligence with the land they are purchasing?  It is better to find out prior to purchasing, then when you are getting ready to sell, that you do not own what you thought you did.


I personally recommend the Buyer receive a new survey after their option period.  It is negotiable on who pays for the survey, but please get a new survey. 


If, when you received the Sellers Disclosure, but did inspections anyway on the home, Do the same thing on the land.  The Seller may have replaced a fence they forgot about or added something.  Maybe the Sellers neighbor replaced the fence, and now it is on your property line.  These are things you want to know prior to purchasing. 


The best way, with the most accurate information for you to be able to make an informed decision, is to get a new survey.  It will save you a lot of headache in the long run.


I was recently told by someone in the property tax office that people think they own something but they do not, and "it happens all the time."  That is a direct quote.  Don't let it happen to you!





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Joseph Domino 480-390-6011
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate Made Easy

This is an excellent post. When I lived in Illinois every sales transaction required a boundary survey. Later when I moved to Arizona I asked my builder for a survey and they looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  It is rare for a seller to provide a survey in AZ.

The builder eventually provided me with a boundary survey. I am glad I had it because years later we had a dispute and I was the only one in the neighborhood that had a survey. We were able to resolve our issues without any additional cost.

Apr 17, 2018 05:06 PM #1
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Brenda- I agree this is an excellent informative post. We have a home inspection so why wouldn't we make sure that what we think we're buying is exactly that. 

Apr 17, 2018 05:33 PM #2
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Brenda, you would be surprised, I do a lot of Land Transactions in Los Angeles and vicinity and many buyers do not do  a survey.... against my advice, Endre

Apr 17, 2018 11:36 PM #3
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                          Thank you Brenda.                 

Apr 21, 2018 05:31 PM #4
Carol Williams
U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business. - Wenatchee, WA
"Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services"

Hi Brenda,
Excellent post.  I think many people would be shocked if they had a survey done on their property.

Apr 22, 2018 07:15 AM #5
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

If you want to be covered in boundary line disputes, should they arise, this is the only way to get.  Get a new survey.

Apr 22, 2018 07:44 AM #6
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

I was showig property on Saturday, 102 acres, and the buyers asked since the owners had an appraisal done should we have a survey done if we decide to purchase.  An appraisal is an impartial estimate or opinion of value of property, whereas a survey is a map or plat depicting its legal description, ie.. a piece of land to show its area, boundaries, contours, elevations, and improvements.

Apr 22, 2018 02:21 PM #7
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

I agree with getting a new survey - although it can be extremely expensive. The plat map from the old survey is nice, but unless those corners have been marked in a way that the markers can't be moved - it's only a picture on a piece of paper.

Very few do surveys in our area - and some who do find that the supposed property lines are wrong, or at least changed.

We've had section corners move 100' or more with new surveys, and it makes sense that it could happen. Old surveys were done with actual rods and chains, so they went up and down with the land. New surveys are done with laser beams, so they go straight. The measurements are different.

Apr 22, 2018 04:18 PM #8
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

It's rare here, in my experience, that people get surverys other than what is on record. No doubt there could be plenty of surprises.

I had a buyer interested in buying a vacant lot to build on. Thankfully he had a survey done (my recommendation) because there was an encroaching fence which ultimately killed the deal.


Apr 23, 2018 05:42 PM #9
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

This is important information for the consumer and the agent.

The only way to be certain you are getting what you think you are buying is to have a survey.


Apr 24, 2018 03:55 AM #10
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

Every buyer needs to know this information. Getting a survey done can save a lot of headaches in the future and possibly prevent some heartache. Thank you for sharing. 

Apr 25, 2018 12:57 PM #11
Brenda J. Andrew
Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX

Thanks for stopping by Corey Martin .  Yes, I just had some sellers that had to learn this the hard way.  They purchased without a survey and didn't own what they thought they did.  I am encouraging every buyer I have now to get their own survey.  Have a great day!

Awe Kathy Streib thank you so much!  That is quite the honor and I really appreciate it.  Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Carol Williams I think you may be correct.  There is a good reason why lenders call for a survey - we need to protect our clients as much as we can!  Have a great day!

Wow Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®  so glad you were able to let them know the difference.  I can't imagine if there was a mix up on 102 acres - that could be a positive or a huge negative if they were not getting what they were paying for.  A survey is also a great negotiations tool in that matter.  I should add that to my post!  Thanks for sharing and stopping by. Have a great day!

Hi Marte Cliff  - you really bring up some great points.  One thing that just occurred to me after reading your comments was that the reason I wrote this was due to a client I had recently.  They bought a property with 4 lots, but the property had been replated after a home was added onto it.  Of course the replat only included the land the home was on and nothing more.  Just because someone sees a survey, doesn't mean it wasn't replatted and a newer one done.  It is always just best to get one, in our area at least.  Have a great day!


Apr 26, 2018 07:57 AM #12
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Brenda J. Andrew

Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX
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