Raise your hand if you are an overwhelmed first-time home buyer and your real estate professional (lawyer, title agent or Realtor) asks – “do you want a survey?”
Well, do you?
The survey question comes up when ordering title but if you understand the significance in advance, you can make an informed decision ahead of time, rather than in the mad rush of quick decisions you must make following a signed contract. Do you really NEED to spend another $500, or so? Well you might get lucky and get one for free- after all some townships in New Jersey require a survey before a seller can obtain a Certification of Occupancy. (Of course everything in real estate is negotiable so if you are in one of those townships, buyers and sellers sometimes agree to split or transfer the cost.)
But if you don’t need one for a CO, why spend the extra money? Well without a survey endorsement on your title policy any and all disputes stemming from property line issues will not be covered. This means if you later find out your neighbor’s driveway is actually on your property, you will have a dispute, without title insurance that you will need to resolve in some fashion before you can sell your property. A dispute that would be resolved out of your pocket.
If your plans, post-closing, include adding a fence, deck, pool or other exterior features, many Townships require submission of an updated survey before they will issue a permit. So why not get it prior to settlement and be sure any disputes are resolved BEFORE you buy, your title insurance will cover you, and make your life easier when considering any changes down the road?
So, the next time you are in the market to buy or sell, consider the importance of a survey in advance and save yourself from making a snap or uninformed decision in the excitement and rush of a new deal.