June 27, 2023


When purchasing or selling a property, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the property boundaries to avoid any potential legal issues down the line. Obtaining a survey of the property is a necessary step to identify any boundary issues and ensure that the property lines are accurately defined.

This survey can also provide valuable information about easements and other potential limitations on the property. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why a property survey is important, what it entails, and how it can benefit both buyers and sellers.



Obtaining a survey of the property refers to the process of having a professional surveyor evaluate the boundaries and features of a piece of real estate. The surveyor will gather information on the size and shape of the land, the location of any buildings or structures, and the placement of any natural features such as trees or bodies of water.

In addition to the physical attributes of the property, the surveyor will also research legal documents such as deeds, easements, and other records to determine ownership and any potential boundary issues that may exist.


Obtaining a survey of the property is an essential step in the process of buying or selling a property. The primary purpose of a property survey is to accurately define the boundaries of the property. It allows the buyer and seller to identify any potential boundary issues that may exist before the sale is completed.

Without a proper survey, it may be difficult to determine the exact location of the property lines. This can lead to boundary disputes between neighbors, which may result in costly legal battles. A survey helps to prevent such legal disputes by providing an accurate representation of the property’s boundaries.

Additionally, a property survey can identify any easements, encroachments or zoning violations that may exist. An easement is a legal right to use a portion of someone else’s property for a specific purpose. An encroachment, on the other hand, is when a structure or other improvement is built partially or entirely on someone else’s property. Both of these issues can affect the value of the property and present a hindrance to its sale.

In the case of zoning violations, a survey can help identify violations that need to be addressed before the sale of the property. These violations can include issues with setbacks, height limits, and other requirements outlined by local zoning codes. Addressing these violations can help to increase the value of the property, as well as prevent any potential legal issues in the future.

Overall, obtaining a survey of the property should be considered an essential step in any property buying or selling process. It provides a detailed look at the property’s boundaries and can identify any potential issues that may exist. By doing so, it can help prevent costly legal battles and ensure that the property is accurately valued.

Types of Surveys

The process of obtaining a survey of the property involves identifying, measuring, and mapping out the boundaries of the land to establish legal property lines and locate any encroachments or potential boundary issues. Different types of surveys can be obtained depending on the specific purpose of the survey and the level of accuracy required.

One type of survey is the boundary survey, which is the most common and detailed type of survey that accurately identifies the property boundaries and provides the necessary legal documentation for property ownership and transfer. Another type of survey is the topographic survey, which maps out the physical features of the land such as elevations, water bodies, trees, and man-made structures.

This type of survey is useful in designing buildings, roads, and other construction projects. Additionally, an ALTA/NSPS survey is a comprehensive type of survey that combines both topographic and boundary surveys to provide detailed information about the property’s physical features, location and size of improvements, easements, and other relevant information.

It is important to obtain the correct type of survey based on the specific needs of the property buyer or owner to ensure a clear understanding of the property’s boundaries and any potential issues.

Identifying Potential Boundary Issues


Understanding the definition of potential boundary issues is crucial when it comes to identifying and addressing potential concerns. In real estate, boundary issues refer to disputes between neighboring property owners, primarily concerning the exact location of the property line.

These can arise due to a wide range of reasons, such as unclear boundaries in the property title, misinterpretations of legal descriptions or deeds, and inadequate surveys that may have been conducted inaccurately.

Boundary issues can lead to legal disputes, financial losses, and emotional stress for all those involved. It is essential to identify potential boundary issues and resolve them promptly to ensure a peaceful and successful transaction.

Causes of Boundary Issues

Boundary issues can arise due to various factors, such as poor documentation, inconsistent communication, and human error. One of the leading causes of boundary disputes is the absence of proper documentation and boundary markers. This can occur when properties are passed down for generations without proper surveys and deeds being updated.

Lack of communication or clarity between neighbors can also lead to boundary disputes when one party makes assumptions about property lines or encroach on the other’s land unknowingly. Furthermore, human errors such as mistakes made by land surveyors or faulty equipment can also cause boundary issues.

It is essential to hire a qualified and experienced land surveyor to ensure accurate and up-to-date information on boundary lines. By identifying potential causes of boundary issues, property owners can take the necessary steps to prevent disputes, saving time, money, and unnecessary stress.

Signs of Boundary Issues

Identifying potential boundary issues is critical in any real estate transaction. Signs of boundary issues can appear in various ways. For instance, if there is a visible fence, it does not necessarily mean that the property boundary is where the fence is located. Similarly, a neighbor’s use of the property may appear to infringe on the landowner’s rights.

These issues can have lasting consequences, so it’s crucial to recognize these indicators early on. It’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a boundary line issue. If a buyer or seller notices any of the signs of a property boundary disagreement, they should take steps to address the matter before it causes major issues.

Examples of warning signs may include a disagreement between neighbors on the location of a boundary line, differences in the property deeds, or an apparent encroachment on the property line. Generally, anything that is unclear or contested regarding the property’s boundary should be inspected to ensure it’s resolved before closing the sale.

Consequences of Boundary Issues

When property boundaries are not clear, it can lead to a range of negative outcomes for both property owners and prospective buyers. Disputes between neighbors over unclear boundaries can lead to costly legal battles that often only serve to further complicate the situation.

In some cases, boundary issues can even make a property difficult, if not impossible, to sell. Additionally, building structures or making improvements that encroach on a neighbor’s property can lead to a long list of legal and financial consequences, including injunctions, fines, mandatory removal of structures, and even criminal charges in extreme cases.

It is therefore crucial that property owners obtain a survey of the property to identify any potential boundary issues before purchasing, building, or making any significant changes to the property.

Process of Obtaining a Survey

Hiring a Surveyor

When it comes to identifying potential boundary issues on a property, it is necessary to hire a qualified surveyor. A surveyor is a professional who has the expertise and experience to conduct surveys and provide accurate results. To find a qualified surveyor, there are several steps one can take. The first step is to consult with local property agents or solicitors.

They can provide recommendations for surveyors who have experience in the local area. Another step is to conduct online research. Many surveyors have websites where they provide information about their services, experience, and qualifications. It is important to verify that the surveyor is licensed and registered with the appropriate governing body, as this ensures they have the necessary training and expertise to conduct surveys.

Additionally, it is important to ask for references and to check the surveyor’s reviews. Finally, it is essential to check the surveyor’s fees and ensure that they provide a clear explanation of what is included in their services. By taking these steps, one can find and hire a qualified surveyor who will provide accurate and reliable results.

Preparing for the Survey

Preparing for the survey is an essential step in ensuring an accurate assessment of the property’s boundary. Before hiring a surveyor, it is important to gather any relevant documents, including property deeds and plats, as well as any existing surveys. Clearing the areas surrounding the property of any debris or overgrowth to provide a clear view of the property is the next step in preparation.

Finally, contacting neighbors and discussing any potential boundary disputes they may have had in the past may reveal any areas of concern that need to be addressed during the survey. By taking these steps, the surveyor can conduct a comprehensive evaluation that identifies any potential boundary issues that may arise.

Conducting the Survey

When conducting a survey to identify any potential boundary issues on a property, it is crucial to hire a qualified surveyor who has experience in conducting property surveys. Finding a surveyor can be done through a number of channels, including online directories, the American Land Title Association (ALTA), or referrals from friends and family.

Once a surveyor has been located, it is important to make sure that they are properly licensed and insured to work in the state where the property is located. Preparing for the survey involves informing the surveyor of any known boundary issues, as well as providing any relevant documentation, such as deeds or title reports.

During the survey process, the surveyor will use a variety of tools and techniques to determine the boundary lines of the property, such as GPS systems, measuring tapes, and land markers. It is important to be present during the survey and ask any questions that may arise.

After the survey is complete, the surveyor will provide a detailed report outlining the results, which should be reviewed carefully to ensure that any potential boundary issues are addressed.

By following these steps and working with a qualified surveyor, property owners can ensure that their property lines are properly identified and that any potential boundary issues are resolved before they become a larger problem.

Reviewing the Survey

Addressing Boundary Issues

Legal Options

Legal Options involve seeking the guidance of an attorney to resolve boundary disputes. This option can be an expensive one, but it offers a more formal approach to resolving the problem. One legal option is to file a lawsuit against the neighbor if they refuse to comply with a survey or to recognize the legal boundaries.

The court will then appoint a surveyor to establish if there is a boundary infringement. Another legal option is to seek an injunction that will prevent the neighbor from encroaching on the land while the case is being resolved. While it is possible to represent oneself in court, it is highly recommended to work with a lawyer who specializes in property law.

The lawyer will help to interpret the state or local regulations and laws, identify the best legal approach, and calculate the compensations and costs.


When it comes to resolving boundary issues with neighbors, negotiation can often be the most straightforward and cost-effective option. However, it is important to approach negotiations with a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities, as well as a willingness to compromise and find mutually beneficial solutions.

In order to negotiate effectively, it can be helpful to gather as much information as possible about the property and any potential boundary discrepancies. This may involve obtaining a survey of the property, which can help to identify any areas of potential conflict and provide a clear visual representation of the property lines.

Additionally, it can be helpful to communicate openly and honestly with your neighbor, seeking to understand their concerns and finding common ground where possible. Documenting any agreements or understanding reached during negotiations can also be important in preventing future disputes.

While negotiation may not always lead to a perfect solution, it can often be a useful tool for resolving boundary issues and maintaining positive relationships with your neighbors.

Boundary Agreements

Boundary agreements are legally binding contracts that can be created to prevent future boundary disputes. They are an essential legal option for property owners who want to ensure that their property lines are accurately identified and maintained.

Boundary agreements can be entered into voluntarily by neighbors or can be ordered by a court as part of a legal settlement. These agreements can include a description of the property boundaries, stipulations for the use of the property, and provisions for resolving disputes that may arise in the future.

Boundary agreements can help to prevent costly legal battles and maintain positive relationships between neighbors by setting clear expectations for property use. Property owners should consider consulting with a legal professional when creating or negotiating a boundary agreement to ensure that all necessary legal elements are included and that their rights are fully protected.

Identifying Boundary Issues in Property Survey FAQs

What is the purpose of obtaining a survey of the property?

A survey identifies property lines, easements, and structures within the property. It also helps identify potential boundary issues and encroachments which can affect property ownership and use.

Who is responsible for obtaining a survey of the property?

The responsibility varies depending on the circumstances, but it’s typically the responsibility of the property owner or the buyer in a real estate transaction. If the owner or buyer has questions about the survey, they can seek clarification from a licensed surveyor.

What should I look for in a surveyor?

It’s important to hire a licensed and experienced surveyor who is familiar with your local area. Check their qualifications, past work, and references before hiring them to ensure they are reliable and trustworthy.

What type of survey should I obtain?

The type of survey needed depends on the purpose of the survey. A boundary survey identifies the boundaries and corners of the property, while a topographic survey shows the physical features of the land. It’s important to communicate your needs with the surveyor to ensure you get the right survey.

How long does it take to obtain a survey of the property?

The timeframe for obtaining a survey varies based on several factors, including the size of the property, the type of survey, and the availability of the surveyor. Typically, a boundary survey can take 1-2 weeks, while a topographic survey can take 3-4 weeks.

What happens if the survey identifies a boundary issue?

If a boundary issue is identified in the survey, the property owner or buyer will need to address it before the sale or purchase can proceed. This may involve negotiating with neighboring property owners or taking legal action to resolve the issue.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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