What is a property survey?

A property survey is a sketch of a specific property that can include details on topography, set back lines, and easements. Surveys will also note any structures that violate easements or set back lines as well, noting any structure encroachments. The primary purpose of the survey is to verify, describe and map the boundary lines and existing structures on the land. This process helps identify potential problems by confirming any issues that may currently exist with a particular property. Lenders and buyers benefit by knowing about any violations or encroachments up front. Completing this process prior to a title transfer also gives the buyer the option of buying extended title insurance coverage. Property surveys normally reference the following:

Property Boundaries-  Using the property's legal description as well as benchmarks on the ground to plot out the exact dimensions and size of the piece of property; a survey offers a clear explanation of the property's boundaries. Being aware of the exact specifications of the property can help the buyer determine where they can build, as well as knowing where the property lines are. It also helps the buyer confirm that the property meets the specifications as described by the seller.

Easements-  A property survey identifies any rights given to another person or entity to use the property. For example, utility companies frequently have easements that allow them to enter the property to read the meter. Likewise, the property might also be subject to an access easement that allows owners of adjacent property to cross through the side of your property to access the road. A general easement allows another party to enter your property, and a specific easement gives them the right to use a certain portion of your property. Easements can limit your ability to improve the property, therefore it’s critical to be aware of the specifics of them prior to taking the title.

Encroachments-  Potential encroachments are identified after determining the property's boundaries and easements. Encroachments occur when the property infringes on another property owner's rights or vice versa. For example, a surveyor might find that the property's fence is built over the property line into the adjacent property. Another encroachment occurs if a building is built into another property's right of way through your property. Frequently encroachments are identified during the survey process and are negotiated before the title transfer. In extreme situations, the encroachment or easement violation can be serious enough that you may choose not to purchase the property.

Survey Title Coverage-  A property survey is normally required prior to the issuance of survey title insurance coverage. Title insurance policies take exception to any matter a current survey would define. A current survey defines this more clearly and allows the transaction to move forward in spite of this exception.

What should I look for in choosing a surveyor?

Ensure that your surveyor is reputable, licensed and insured. Although property survey mistakes are seldom, you need the assurance of knowing that your interests are protected.

All surveyors employed by TRLS meet the requirements stated above and a vetting and on-boarding process is performed with all surveyors.

Should I employ a surveyor solely based on price?

No. Receiving a quality survey that meets your needs may cost slightly more; however, it is frequently worth the additional expense for the assurance of knowing that your survey will be done both properly and in a timely manner.

How much does a property survey cost?

Many variables determine the cost of a survey and the more difficult the survey, the more costly it becomes. Specific factors impacting the cost of the survey include the type of survey performed, the size of your property, the type of terrain on the property, the location of the property and the availability of records and documentation.

TRLS is happy to provide you with a free estimate of the cost to conduct your property survey. Click here for your free estimate.

Do I have to be at the property during the location?

Normally no; however, the surveyor may have questions for you or the seller. Frequently, these inquiries can be handled by phone.

Can I use a previous survey?

Current surveys are typically a requirement by lenders and closing agents. Previously completed surveys may not contain property improvements or changes. Lastly, title insurance providers and lenders have specific exceptions and requirements concerning property surveys. Please check with your title insurance provider and lender for further details.

What do I do with the survey once it's received?

The lender and closing agent will need copies of the survey. TRLS can provide a copy to whomever you designate.

Why was TRLS recommended as a potential surveyor by my lender?

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) require that lenders provide a written list of providers for services that you are required to have, and that you are allowed to shop. You may select a provider from the list, or you can choose your own qualified provider.

What if my survey discloses deed overlaps, encroachments or other problems?

It is common to discover fence or building encroachments and/or other problems during the property survey process. Your real estate agent and attorney can help you determine the best option for resolving property conflicts.

What will the land surveyor furnish me?

Although the property surveyors report will vary with each survey, you normally receive a certified copy of the survey's results. An explanation on the map will define why and how the survey was performed.

What you can expect/define the process

1. Enter your request for a survey estimate.
2. TRLS will select the best surveyor for your property survey from our network of vendors.
3. The surveyor will review your order and provide an estimate to TRLS.
4. TRLS will contact you by phone to provide a quote, answer any questions, collect payment and schedule a time.
5. TRLS will advise the surveyor of the order.
6. The surveyor will conduct the survey and provide the results to TRLS.
7. TRLS will review the survey and forward to you, the closing agent, and your lender.

What payment options are accepted by Trinity?

TRLS accepts MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.

How long does it take?

Most surveys can be completed within five business days after the survey has been ordered. More complex surveys may take longer; additionally, expedited services are available for a fee.

TRLS Terms & Conditions

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Land Surveying Association's Listing by State

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