How Do I Get My Hands on a Property Survey?


Visit your jurisdiction’s building inspector or the land records office. Many jurisdictions keep surveys on file at the city building inspector’s office. You can also get surveys connected with tax maps or half-section maps from the county’s land records office — usually the county assessor. Copies of property plats, or surveys that show when a large piece of land has been divided into smaller parcels, are often available from the county recorder for free or a small fee.

How Much Does A Property Survey Cost?

On average, new homeowners can expect to pay $400 – $700 for a professional property survey. However, the cost of a property survey depends on several factors, such as property size, terrain and location. For example, if you want to survey a wooded area, you’ll end up paying more than if you were to survey a flat, relatively empty piece of land.

Professional surveyors also charge for the time it costs them to do research on your property. A well-documented plot of land will take less time to research and cost less money to survey. It also pays to go local, since travel time is also included in the final price.

Basically, the easier the land is to survey, the less you’re going to pay.


What are the different types of property surveys?

Because there are many reasons to have a survey done, there are many different types of surveys as well. They include:

Land surveys These detail the boundaries of a parcel of land.
Topographic surveys These illustrate the plane and elevation of the land. They’re often required for site work such as road improvements.
Monumentation surveys These are done if you want to add a fence to your property.
As-built surveys These determine property lines, but also where improvements or additions can be made, like driveways and sidewalks.
Mortgage surveys Like as-built surveys, mortgage surveys show property boundaries for an entire property that will be mortgaged.
Floodplain surveys These show flood hazard areas.

When you’re requesting a property survey, be specific about why you need it. That way, when you get an estimate for the work, it’s accurate in relation to what you need done.

Once your survey is completed, it’s smart to place permanent markers in the ground at the property’s boundaries. Keep several copies of the survey in a safe place — and preferably at least one with your bank, in case of fire or other disaster.

Finding Your Land Survey

Notably, there might already be a survey report available. So, first, check with the seller if you’re buying or with their lender or title company. The tax assessor’s office might also have a copy of the property survey. If you own the property and don’t have a survey report, there could also be a copy at your local property records department. You might also ask your neighbors if they have a survey report for their property. If they do, ask them where they got it from.

Unfortunately, if you do find a survey report, chances are that it’s likely old and outdated. However, the details in the survey will still be accurate unless the parcel of land has changed due to suburban development.

How do I hire a property surveyor?

Searching online for property surveyors in your area is one of the best ways to find companies to get the job done. “There is a surveying society in each of the 50 states, all of which are affiliated with NSPS,” Sumner says. “Each of those societies has a website, which will typically include a ‘Find A Surveyor’ section.”

It can be more cost-effective to work with the previous surveyor on the property, if possible, because that surveyor will have maps and records already on hand. If you can’t locate the prior surveyor, try the surveyors who assessed the properties next door. Don’t be afraid to ask your title company or lender for recommendations, too.

Sumner advises checking to make sure a surveyor is licensed to practice in the state where the property is located. You should also take the time to question your potential surveyor. Talk about your needs beforehand to make sure they can fulfill the requirements.

How long will the process take?

Sumner says there’s no way to determine exactly how long it’ll take to complete a property survey since there are so many variables to consider, including the quality and availability of property records, such as deeds.

They can usually be done within a week, says Wooll. But it could take up to three or more, depending on the company and their current backlog. As is true of so many tradespeople at the moment, demand is high, so wait times can be longer than what they were before the pandemic.

Does St. Johns County Survey Division survey residential property?

No, the St. Johns County Surveying and Mapping Division only surveys County owned properties. The yellow pages in your local phone book offer many surveyors to choose from. Look under "Land Surveyors".


Contact your loan officer to find out if he has access the property’s survey. The mortgage lender might have a copy of the property survey, because it also holds the title.

How to Get a Property Survey

You may not need a new property survey if the property has been surveyed in the past. Laws vary from state to state, but typically a survey done within the past 10 years will still be valid. Check with your local tax assessor’s office or courthouse to see if any prior property surveys are on file. If you’re buying a new property, your lender or title company may be able to help you find previous surveys.

When you buy or sell a home, lenders or title companies sometimes arrange for a property survey to be conducted and include the fee in closing costs, so all you need to do is pay. Depending on state laws, the homebuyer or seller might be responsible for paying, or the fee may be negotiable.

To arrange a property survey on your own, you’ll want to start by researching land surveyors. Each state has a professional society for land surveyors, and you can visit the National Society of Professional Surveyors website to find your local society and find a surveyor that way. You can also ask local real estate agents, your title company or your lender for recommendations. No matter how you find a surveyor, make sure they’re licensed, insured and able to perform the job on your property.

When getting estimates from surveyors, provide as much information as possible about the property and specify the kind of survey you need. Once you’ve selected your surveyor and schedule the survey, it typically takes a few weeks to complete the job. If you need one completed for a home purchase, schedule your survey as soon as possible.

How to Find Property Lines for Free

Homeowner’s Deed

A homeowner’s deed should include a legal description of the plot of land, including its measurements, shape, block and lot number, and other identifiers such as landmarks and geographical features. If the language is tricky, reach out to your real estate lawyer or agent for help in deciphering it.

A Tape Measure

If you want to visually confirm your property lines, you can use a tape measure to determine the boundaries. From a known point detailed in the deed’s description, measure to the property’s edge and place a stake at that point as a marker.

After all the edges have been determined, measure the distance between the stakes. Compare the results to make sure they match the corresponding deed or plat.

Existing Property Survey from Mortgage or Title Company

Most mortgage lenders require prospective homeowners to have a current survey, and your title insurance also depends on it. If you bought your home recently but don’t have the survey, contact either company to see if they have a copy on file.

Existing Property Survey from County or Local Municipality

A property’s history and legalrecords are generally kept in the municipality or county’s tax assessor’s office or in its land records or building department. You can usually begin your search by going online to access the relevant property records. Most municipalities offer this information for free, but some offices may require a small fee or ask that you access the records in person.

Buried Pins

At the corners of your property, you may be able to find steel bars that have been buried, sometimes still visible, with a marked cap on the top end. These were likely placed on your land when a survey was completed. If you can’t readily see the pins (they may have been buried over time), use a metal detector to help you locate them.

While this isn’t a legally binding way to determine your property lines, it will give you a good idea of the boundaries. Warning: Before you start digging, call 811, the national call-before-you-dig hotline, to request the location of buried utilities you don’t want to inadvertently dig into an underground utility line.

Use an App

Download an app like LandGlide that uses GPS to determine a parcel’s property lines. LandGlide is free for the first seven days.


Maps from the Secretary’s Office, from the late 1700s to mid-1800s Minutes of the Commissioners of the Land Office and Land Board Lands Under Water Application Survey Maps, from 1786 to present Lands Under Water Index Maps, from 1900 to present State-owned waterbodies & related research Card Index of Land Sales, from the 1650s to present Transfer of Jurisdiction Maps 1829 Surveyor General’s Atlas of Patents Letters Patent Miscellaneous Deeds and Title Papers Military Patents

How Much Does a Survey Typically Cost?

Different types of surveys have different price points, but the size of the home also factors into the overall cost. Furthermore, the location and the history of the property can also change the property surveyor’s costs. For example, a straightforward survey to determine the boundaries of the lot can cost as little as $100 to more than $600.

Likewise, a mortgage survey — which the borrower will pay and not the lender — will run around $500. And, no matter what type of survey you need for your property, the cost will go up as the complexity of the property increases for the surveyor.

Historic Maps Exhibit

The exhibit features highlights of the historic map collection maintained by the OGS Bureau of Land Management.    View the Exhibit


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