What You Get From a Land Survey

Are you buying or selling land? Great! You’re probably going to work with a surveyor.

Hiring a land surveyor is an important step in the sale or purchase of real property.  However, it can be confusing when you’re working with a surveyor for the first time.

Depending on your situation, you can expect several deliverables from your surveyor. But what are these deliverables exactly, and what information do they give you? Check out this quick guide on what you can expect to receive from a land survey.

Land Survey Deliverables

Surveyors play a very specific role. They’re considered master measurers, laying out the facts about a piece of land. A surveyor isn’t a lawyer or a title attorney, so if you have legal or title concerns, always refer to these professionals for your situation.

The first step in buying or selling land is usually ordering a survey.

A survey ensures that a piece of property is, in fact, exactly how it’s listed on paper. The survey is used to help lenders determine if it’s safe to loan funds for a land purchase. If you’re in a cash deal, you may not need a survey, but it’s always a best practice. You don’t want to get a bad deal!

Your surveyor compiles deliverables in a few ways. The surveying field crew visits the piece of land and locates corners, improvements, and any other indications of occupation on the land, such as fence lines.

The surveyor then puts together notes from the field crew and historical deed information. This information is used to put together a written legal description and a drawing for the land, referred to as an exhibit. This drawing compares the previously recorded measurements of the land and compares it to how the land is measured today.

The surveyor may provide you with a physical map of his or her findings. This survey map, called a plat, is signed and sealed by the surveyor. After closing, the survey will be filed at the county clerk’s office.  

Once you have your plat in hand, you can use it to consult with your lawyer, real estate agent or title agent to put it to use. Remember that the surveyor is your professional measurer and can’t give recommendations on things such as who rightfully owns a title or whether certain land use is legal.

Aside from the plat, you might get other deliverables from the surveyor. This depends on the nature of the survey itself and the piece of land. For example, if you’re sectioning your land out into parcels, the surveyor will also give you a written description of your land. You’ll then give the land description to your title agent who will use it in the land’s official deed.  Commercial properties may be subject to a higher set of standards depending on your jurisdiction.

The Bottom Line

Your surveyor is a go-to guide for land measurement. When you partner with a surveyor, they’ll send you detailed facts about your land. Remember to work with a qualified lawyer, title agent or real estate agent to put your surveying information to good use.