So what exactly is a survey? A survey is a drawing made by a surveyor which outlines the boundaries and features of your property, including the house and other improvements. It shows things like where the house sits in relation to the property line, where your driveway starts and ends, if your fence is actually on your property or not and if you have direct access to the public road. 

So what’s so special about a survey? We took a “survey” of Berlin Patten Ebling attorneys, and asked them to “Name the top reasons to get a survey”. Top 4 answers are on the board!

Number 4: Setback Requirements. Many communities restrict where you can build on your property. A survey will include very specific details, distances and measurements for everything on the land, down to the inch. This will help you make sure that none of the structures on your property are in violation of these restrictions, and ensure you know where any future improvements can be constructed. Because nobody wants to tear down that screen porch for being too close to the property line.

Number 3: Easements and Right of Ways. An easement is simply a right to use or enter a property without owning it. A common example would be a utility easement, which allows for the installation/servicing of gas, electric, water and sewer lines. The location of easements is important to know because if your house sits on top of an easement, technically the party who holds the easement could force you to clear that part of the structure in order to access their easement. Similarly, a right of way is a specific type of easement which allows another party to pass through your property to get somewhere, typically to their property. You might want to know who has the legal right to walk all through your property before you buy that house!

Number 2: Boundary Lines. Needless to say, it is important to know what you actually own and where your property starts and ends! All too often we see confusion and disputes over boundary lines. You might be surprised at just how often we see fences, driveways and even structures that actually cross property lines and go onto a neighboring property. Buying a house is the most important investment of your life, so wouldn’t you want to know exactly what you are buying?!?

And the #1 answer —  Lender Requirement. If you are working with a lender to purchase your home, your lender will almost certainly require a survey on the property before they make any loan. There are certain endorsements that are standard with a lender’s title insurance policy which require a survey in order to issue (ex: ALTA 9-06, which protects against encroachments across property lines or onto easements). The title insurance company and lender require a survey in order to protect their investment, just like you should also want a survey to protect your investment.

Hopefully this helps explain why a survey is generally a good idea, but if you would like to learn more on surveys, we recommend you reach out to your local real estate attorney for more information.



Bishoy Habib, Esq., MBA

Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.


All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.



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