There is no rule designating who orders a survey when buying a house. For most residential transactions, though, the title company orders it, and the buyer pays for it as part of closing costs.  

  • There are many reasons people order them  
  • The title company usually orders it on behalf of the buyer 
  • They are usually included in the closing costs 

It provides valuable information about a property, whether you buy, sell, improve the land, or even settle a dispute.  

Why Order a Survey When Buying a House? 

FindLaw shows us that people survey the property for many reasons. Facts about your home may surprise you, even if you live in an urban area with set boundaries. Here are some things it tells you about:  

  • Boundary lines – Ensures you will not encroach on your neighbor’s land if you make an improvement  
  • Easements  
  • Joint driveways, party walls, rights of support, encroachments, overhangs, and projections.  
  • Existing improvements – Ensures that any improvements do not violate any laws or other restrictions  
  • Pipes and cables – Show the location of above ground and underground utility infrastructures 
  • Zoning classification  

Most people get one done when they want to make a major improvement on their property, like adding a fence, expanding a driveway, or adding a room. Sellers order them to find out if there are any issues that may cause problems with a potential sale. Buyers also order them to make sure that there are no problems with the property they want to purchase. 

Are Surveys Public Records?  

Surveys are public records. Whether you are buying or selling a home or improving your property you may want to look at an existing one. Some places to look for it are:  

  • Your lender  
  • Your title insurance company  
  • The local property records or engineering department  

According to Bankrate these may be old and outdated, though. For urban and suburban developed land, they may still be accurate. For rural areas or land developed, rezoned, or improved later it may not be accurate. 

How Long is a Land Survey Valid?  

How long a land survey is valid depends on its accuracy. Its accuracy depends on how old it is, and how active construction is in the area.  

  • In areas where there is little or no construction, it can remain accurate for many years.  
  • For high activity areas, they may be outdated after 3 – 6 months, or even less.  

According to Highland Near Say even in areas that are developed and stable, you should get one before the house changes hands. 

Who Orders a Survey When Buying a House? 

For most real estate transactions, the title company representing the buyer is the one who orders a survey when buying a house. They always do this to protect themselves if there is a dispute later. 

It is often wise for a seller to get an accurate and thorough survey. Most sellers retain the survey they received when the bought the property, but most of the time that transaction happened year ago. Things can change over time, and unless the community is very stable it may affect the survey. 

Buyers also may want a more thorough document than the title may order if they suspect there is a problem with the property. There may be an easement or an encroachment by the neighbor. A building, such as a fence or shed may be too close to the property line or even over it. 

Each party may want to order one to protect their own interests. The title company, buyer, and seller each may want surveys that provide unique information that they are specifically interested in. There are many types of surveys for many purposes. In fact, surveyors do make mistakes, so one party may want to pay for their own to dispute the findings of the other party. 

Who Reviews the Survey When Buying a House?

Real Estate In-Depth points out that several people may review the survey when buying a house. Some have a fiduciary responsibility, while others should as part of due diligence.

  • The buyer’s attorney should review it
  • The title company also has a responsibility to review it
  • a good real Estate agents should help the buyer read and understand it

The survey is an important, and often overlooked piece of the puzzle. Most buyers have trouble understanding it, and they just assume that the professionals they hire deal with it adequately. It is helpful, however, to sit with your real estate agent and go over it. If you cannot get adequate answers, then ask you attorney to explain what you see. This is because there may be something important there that you really should know about deal with.

Who Pays for a Survey When Buying a House? 

Who pays for a land survey depends on the situation. Here are some examples where different people pay for it:  

  • Homeowners get them when they want to build an improvement on their property.  
  • A seller may get one when they put their house on the market, especially if they have had improvements made in the past  
  • A buyer may want to get one if they think there may be an issue with the property  
  • Title companies regularly require them to look for issues that cloud the title.  

As you can see there are many reasons to get one. It depends on the situation who pays for it. However, when you buy a house the title company usually orders the survey on behalf of the buyer. 

How Much Does a Survey Cost?  

Home Guide points out that usually, it costs between $300 – $800. Surveyors usually charge by the size of the lot, but under some circumstances, they may charge hourly. Its cost depends on the type you need, the lot size, and the difficulty. Some common types and conditions are:  

  • Boundary plot exact boundary lines and cost between $220 – $700 for an average house.  
  • Topographic provide details about the elevation and contours of the land and usually cost around $800. You can often get this with a boundary type for around $900 together.  
  • Mortgage establishes structures and building square footage. It verifies that zoning and building codes are up to date. These usually cost between $300 – $600.  
  • Fence costs $250 – $800 depending on the size of the lot that needs to be fenced.  

These are common, but there are many other types and conditions depending on what your need is. 

Is a Survey Paid as Part of Closing Costs? 

If the title company orders it, a survey is part of the buyer’s closing costs. In other cases when a title company or attorney are not involved, it is an out of the pocket expense.  

A buyer or seller may want a more thorough or rigorous study done for a specific reason. These reasons may include an easement question, encroachment, and underground structure such as an oil tank, or other property issue. 

Final Thoughts on Who Orders, Reviews, and Pays for a Survey When Buying a House 

For most residential deals, the title company orders the survey, and the buyer pays for it as part of closing costs. In situations where there may be a dispute or special circumstance with the land, the seller may order one before they put the house on the market. Likewise, a buyer may have a concern and want a special type for a particular property.