If you are buying acreage or commercial property, you will probably want to have the property surveyed. If you are buying extended coverage title insurance, you must have it surveyed, because the title insurance company will require it.
The survey is important because it discloses the exact physical location of the property, its size, any encroachments, and the location of easements, buildings, wells, ponds, driveways, dedicated roads, setback lines, and other physical features of the property.
If you intend to require another party (such as the seller) to provide you with a survey, or if you order one yourself, you need to specify exactly what you want, because there are different types of surveys for different purposes. To begin with, you should normally specify that you need an “ALTA/ACSM land title survey.” This is the kind of survey you will need if you desire to purchase an extended coverage policy of title insurance, and it is probably the kind of survey you will want anyway because it meets the strictest standards of accuracy and disclosure.
You must also determine the class of survey that you want. There are four classes of ALTA/ACSM land title surveys normally prepared in connection with the purchase of real estate. They are as follows:
Class A - Urban Surveys: These are normally surveys of land lying within or adjoining a city or town. They may also be used for surveys of commercial or industrial properties, condominiums, and apartments.
Class B - Suburban Surveys: These are normally surveys of land lying outside of urban areas, often for single-family residential subdivisions.
Class C - Rural Surveys: These are generally used for surveys of land such as farms and other undeveloped land lying outside of suburban areas that may have a potential for future development.
Class D - Mountain and Marshlands Surveys:
These are surveys of lands in remote areas with difficult
terrain and which usually have limited potential for development.
Surveys are usually not required for single-family homes unless a large lot is involved or there is reason to suspect a problem.
If you are purchasing a survey or requiring someone else to purchase one for you, be sure to specify exactly the kind of survey you want, and require that it be current - no more than six months old. By knowing what to ask for, you will get the survey you need without unnecessarily wasting time or money on a survey that is unsuitable for your purposes.