Boundary surveys for town homes and single family residences serve a critical function in the examination of title for a particular property.
Surveys illustrate several important aspects of a property, some of which include: (i) legal access to a public right-of-way (street), (ii) any encroachments of improvements from adjacent properties onto the surveyed property and of improvements on the surveyed property onto adjacent properties, (iii) any encroachments into easements (whether drainage, utility, landscaping, conservation, access, etc.), and (iv) improvement or structural setbacks and lot size, width, frontage, area, etc. to confirm their conformity with local zoning code requirements.
All title insurance policies require a new or recent prior survey to be examined in order to delete what is known as the survey exception from the title insurance policy (its the exception that excludes from the title coverage matters that could have been determined by an accurate survey).
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It should be noted that title insurance policies do not insure for matters related to local zoning code requirements.
Mortgage lenders always require the survey exception to be deleted (i.e. that all matters related to the survey to be insured), so that means that only cash buyers have the ability to forego obtaining a survey in a given transaction.
However, cash buyers should be aware that for a hundreds of dollars in transaction, a survey can be a minimal cost for peace of mind.