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Your Complete Guide to Property Surveys and Buying a New Home in North Carolina

This overview of property surveys for real estate transactions answers questions for buyers unfamiliar with surveys.

Looking for a buyer’s guide to property surveys that will help you with the home buying process in North Carolina? The following overview of property surveys for real estate transactions should answer your most pressing questions. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or just starting to explore the idea of buying a new home, our Buyer’s Guides are the perfect place to start. Don’t see an answer to your question about real estate land surveys or hiring a professional surveyor below? Contact us, and we’ll be glad to help.

What’s a Property Survey?

Property surveys are used to create a map that outlines the boundaries of your property and exactly where your home sits. The property survey will include the lot size and a written description of the property. A home buyer may be able to find an original property survey in the city planning department or receive a seller’s copy of a previous survey. However, the buyer’s mortgage lender is likely to require that a new survey is conducted before buying the home.

What is the Purpose of a Property Survey?

The purpose of a home buyer’s property survey goes beyond showing you the boundaries of the land where your new North Carolina home sits. It will also show any improvements that have been made to the property (e.g., buildings, driveways, etc.) and any encroachments affecting the property. A homeowner’s property survey will also provide detailed information on setbacks and easements.

What Should Buyers Understand about Setbacks and Easements?

Not familiar with the terms “setbacks” and “easement” and why they are important to someone buying a new home? A setback is a required distance between the house you are purchasing and other property features. This distance is often determined by a city/county ordinance or HOA. For example, you may not be able to build any home additions within a certain distance from the road or from a neighbor’s home.

An easement, on the other hand, is a piece of property with common usage rights, such as a sidewalk which is for public use but sits partially on your property. If a property survey reveals that any of the structures of the home you wish to purchase are located in a setback or sit on an easement, then you have a problem. In fact, a legal sale will not be able to go through until the issue is resolved, which most likely means tearing down that structure.

Who Pays for the Property Survey in a Real Estate Sale?

Typically, the buyer pays for a survey when purchasing a home. The buyer can, however, request that a seller pay for the survey during negotiations. Also, a buyer’s real estate agent will often add a contingency in the purchase contract stating that the sale is contingent on an acceptable property survey. In some cases, a seller may have a previous survey record that the buyer and mortgage lender deem as acceptable.

How Does a Buyer Choose a Professional, Licensed Land Surveyor?

When buying a home in North Carolina, home buyers must hire a professional surveyor licensed by the North Carolina State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. While you can ask your real estate agent for recommendations, buyers should always interview surveyors before hiring one to conduct their property survey. A good surveyor will ask about your needs, explain what is required to complete your survey and will answer all your questions.

Should a Buyer Request a Survey if No Lender is Involved in the Sale of Real Estate?

Buyers often ask if a survey is necessary if they are buying a home with cash. It is always best to gather all the information possible and enter into a purchase agreement with your eyes wide open. Even if there is no lender involved in the sale of a home, buyers should still have a licensed surveyor perform a property survey and have their North Carolina real estate agent put a survey contingency in the purchase contract. Otherwise, buyers may find themselves facing a number of costly issues down the road.

Have any other questions about property surveys and how they fit into a North Carolina real estate transaction? Contact us now with any of your property survey questions or other questions about buying a home in North Carolina.