A survey is a drawing prepared by a registered land surveyor, after a physical inspection, that depicts the property boundary lines, size and improvements, as well as set-back lines, easements and encroachments. Specialty surveys also exist which show topography and water flow, the elevation of any structures on a property in relation to the maximum 100-year flood zone, and the location of any septic and drain lines.
In preparing a survey, surveyors begin at a fixed point and trace the border of the property using a metes and bounds description. A metes and bounds description is comprised of numerical distances measured in degrees, minutes and seconds combined with a directional calls, such as Northeast or Southwest.
Surveys used to be a common lender requirement for closing. Nowadays, lenders rarely require a survey. Even though no longer required by lenders, obtaining a survey is still advisable. Purchasers need a survey to become aware of any encroachment or violation that currently exists on the property. Additionally, in order to make certain improvements to the property, such as a fence or swimming pool, a buyer will need to be aware of existing setback lines and easements.