Why Does Title Need a Survey? How Do I Read A Title Survey?

title survey

A lender often requests a survey to confirm the details of the property title. A survey and appraisal are two separate services ordered as evidence that the legal description of the deed and newly written title matches the true status of the property.

The cost or value of the mortgage on the property is determined with an appraisal, while the survey investigates the marketability of the home. Therefore, the appraisal allows the mortgage lender to assess the true value of the house and the amount for the mortgage by researching the location, condition, structural quality, and comparing the cost of home sales in the local area. By contrast, the survey investigates and demonstrates the marketability of the home and whether there are any issues with the title, such as encroachments, easements and details influencing the title’s “clear” status.

A property survey must be conducted by a qualified surveyor who holds a license in your particular state.

Why does title need a survey?

If the most recent property survey is six months or older, then a lender will require an up-to-date version before proceeding with financing the loan. When refinancing an existing home, sometimes lenders will accept a survey affidavit in place of the actual property survey, which can help save on closing costs.

A home buyer may be eligible for a survey affidavit if no improvements have been made to the property since purchase. There are exceptions for properties like condominiums that already include a survey in the plans that were recorded in condominium documents. In order to assure that you’ve completed the survey correctly, be certain that it is an ALTA (American Land Title Association) Survey.

How do I read a title survey?

A title survey is a two dimensional map with details about a property. Reading a title survey is all about knowing what to look for: restrictions, encroachments, easements. It’s important to take a good look at the specifics such as property lines/boundaries, features, and any new modifications that have not been previously recorded with the property before going through the steps to finish the title insurance policy.

Included in a Typical Title Survey:


Names of subdivisions

Size or acreage

Dimensions of home

Date of the survey

Scale & Plat Legend

Orientation (North)

Surveyor’s information & seal

Easements, encroachments & restrictions

Sketch of Location

When reading a title survey, a lender should be aware of inconsistencies between previous property descriptions and any new improvements that have been made. In addition, after you read a title survey, you should be aware of any special circumstances that may have an influence on the total value of the home, such as a shared driveway, public transportation access easement, or neighbor’s fence built over property boundaries.

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