Do I need a survey when buying property?

Yes, if a recorded survey is not available that is recent. The new up-to-date survey will give you an accurate description of the property as well as the acreage. Also, the survey will determine if there are any encroachments or overlaps that would negatively affect the title to the property.

Do I have to tell my neighbors that I am having a survey done?

No, but I think it is a good idea to let them know. Sometimes it is best to find out if they have questions about the common property line early on. If they disagree, now would be the time to address their concerns.

Do I need a survey to put up a fence?

Yes, most fences are located near a property line. A surveyor needs to establish that the existing corners are correct and stake points along the proposed fence line.

How are property corners marked?

Property corners are marked with an iron (pipe, rod, axle, etc...) and tied with pink or orange flagging. The closest tree is also tied with flagging. Three pieces of flagging are tied to the tree with the knots facing the corner. Long ago the corner tree was notched with 3 hack marks using an axe. Noted historic corner markers have been trees, rocks, stumps, creeks, fences or other objects that are often difficult to locate or they no longer exist. These types of markers can be too vague for today's standards.

How are property lines marked?

Property lines are marked with flagging. If the property lines goes through woods, the closest tree on-line is tied with flagging, and the knot faces the property line. If the property line goes through the tree, it is called a "Line Tree" and is tied with 2 pieces of flagging with the knot showing how the property line goes through the tree. If a tree branch is on-line, it is tied with a long piece of flagging where the line crosses the branch. Before flagging was used, surveyors would use an axe to put two hack marks into the bark of the tree facing the property line.

What affects the cost of a survey?

Since time is money, the more difficult the survey, the costlier it is. Here are some things that can affect the time element: How long ago was the property surveyed? How old are the deeds and plats of the property? Have any surrounding properties been recently surveyed? Are there any missing corners? Is the property heavily wooded with trees or underbrush, rough terrain or wide creeks to cross? Is there already a dispute with a neighbor of a property line? How much travel time is it to and from the office to the property?

What can I do to keep my survey cost down?

Keep copies of all documents of your land in a safe place. Not all documents are recorded at the Register of Deeds. Know where your property corners are and their description. Keep the corners well marked with flagging or paint. It is a good idea to place a metal fence post beside each corner for future reference.