When someone is interested in a plot of land, they are interested in finding out as much as they can about the land in question as possible. They need to know precisely what the boundaries are, any legal issues, and any advantages to the land. Not only does this mean its resources, but also public paths and other easements as well as any applicable property issues. The most comprehensive survey is the American Land Title Association/American Congress Surveying and Mapping survey (also known as an ALTA survey).
The Information Provided By An ALTA Survey
At the very basic level, and ALTA survey provides information on the legal boundaries of the property, as well as any easements, encroachments, rights of way, and any known improvements as regards the property in question. This survey can provide a lot of information for the potential buyer, and may provide additional information such as adjoining land owners or if the property is in a flood zone, etc.
When To Obtain A Survey
Before you can obtain a survey you need to obtain a title commitment. The title commitment is a document from a title insurance company that promises to insure the property once purchased and contains a list of all applicable documents; these documents form the basis of the survey as it is prepared. It is important to obtain this commitment in order to obtain the survey, which title companies and lenders require as part of the application process in order to ensure that the person they are dealing with is the only one with any rights to property. If it is not required you do not need to obtain a survey, but it is obviously a good idea. The price of a land survey doesn't cost much, and will certainly save you money if their is a dispute of land that later develops.
A land survey can help a potential buyer find out about any major questions as regards to the property. Easements and rights of way are a obvious issue, as they show if anyone else has any rights to the property and if the person will have sole rights. An easement,, for example, may be required in order to allow someone to access their property or a necessary public path; its existence may slow down any potential plans for the property. Encroachments are another issue, as a neighbor may be using the property for his own purposes; these will be need to be dealt as they show up. A land survey can reveal these issues and allow you to deal with them as needed.
What To Do With A Survey
While reviewing a survey may not be easy, the help of an experienced real estate attorney can help decode what the various numbers mean. Once the various easements and encroachments have been detected, it is then possible to determine what to do about them. Obviously the sooner you can have a survey done the sooner you can deal with any problems, so debate obtaining one as quickly as possible so you can eliminate those problem.