I’m not talking about a question on Family Feud, but about the need to get a survey when buying a property. Getting a survey is something that is strongly suggested when you purchase a property. There are many questions people ask regarding surveys. First of all, who pays? If I am representing you as a buyer, I want the seller to pay. If I am representing the seller, guess what? I want the buyer to pay. In reality, sometimes the seller pays and sometimes the buyer pays.

Before a survey is done, the surveying company needs the title policy. Then they go to the property to take some field measurements. They get the boundaries of the property, and the location of where the building is (if there is one) on the property.

The next step is to look at the title policy and find any easements that are affecting the property. Those might include where the utilities are – either utilities the property uses, or utilities that may be underground, just passing through the property.

If asked (which it should be!), they will locate the actual utilities that service the property. They will also check the zoning of the property. Lastly, they will compute the actual square footage of the property as well as the useable square footage.

So let me narrow down what a survey should accomplish for you:

• You will know the actually amount of property that you are buying and how much of that is useable. Sometimes a seller may be selling less ground or more ground than they were marketing. You want to make sure that the 20 acres you have contracted is actually 20 acres! Also, part of the 20 acres might be unusable due to flood plains, or utility pipelines. It’s very important to know these details as well.

• You want to verify, when a seller says that there are “all utilities to the property,” that they’re telling the truth. It’s hard to build anything without water, gas, electric and sewer. Just because the sewer line touches the property doesn’t necessarily mean you can use it to sewer your property. Those are things you will find out in a survey.

When buying a commercial property, don’t “survey” people to ask if you need a survey. It’s something you should always get when buying a commercial property or a tract of ground.