Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Do You Need a Land Survey (and How Much Does It Cost)? It might be a good idea if you’re buying a home By Aly J. Yale Aly J. Yale Twitter Aly J. Yale is the homebuying, home loans, and mortgages expert for The Balance. With over 10 years of experience as a freelance writer and journalist, Aly has also contributed to online media outlets including Forbes, The Motley Fool, CreditCards.com, and The Simple Dollar, with areas of focus covering real estate, mortgages, and related financial topics. She holds a bachelor's of science in communication from Texas Christian University. learn about our editorial policies Updated on March 4, 2021 Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Lea Uradu, J.D. is graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, a Maryland State Registered Tax Preparer, State Certified Notary Public, Certified VITA Tax Preparer, IRS Annual Filing Season Program Participant, Tax Writer, and Founder of L.A.W. Tax Resolution Services. Lea has worked with hundreds of federal individual and expat tax clients. learn about our financial review board In This Article View All In This Article Is a Land Survey Required? How Much Does a Land Survey Cost? The Benefits of a Land Survey Can You Negotiate the Cost? The Bottom Line Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Getty Images/Casarsa Guru Many home buyers—even first-time ones—are aware of the home inspection and appraisal that are usually required to purchase a house. But there may be another assessment you need before you can close the deal. If you’re gearing up to buy a house, you may also have to get a land survey. Also called a "property survey" or a "location survey," land surveys are professional drawings that outline the exact boundaries of a property, as well as the dimensions and location of any home, structures, easements, or additions located on the premises. They may also include any fence locations, elevation or topographic details, and rights of way. Is a Land Survey Required? An up-to-date land survey is usually required by mortgage lenders to confirm the boundaries and contents of the land they’re financing and to ensure it’s worth the funds they’re lending you. Note In general, your lender will expect you to pay for the surveyor’s fee as part of your closing costs. If you’re not using a mortgage loan to finance your purchase (in other words, you’re buying the home with cash), you can avoid a land survey and the cost that comes with it. In some cases, a lender will accept a recent or recertified survey from a previous owner. How Much Does a Land Survey Cost? According to HomeAdvisor, a property survey can range between $346 and $676. The average cost is right around $500. Prices vary greatly, however, and they depend on a number of factors, including: Terrain: Surveyors typically charge a premium for land that is harder to access or navigate. Particularly steep properties or those with a lot of trees will usually be more expensive.Plot size: Most surveyors charge per acre, so the larger the property, the more your survey will likely cost.Research: Surveyors don’t just stake out your land and measure it. They also verify the historical and public information that’s available for your property. Depending on how much research is required to do this, it may mean an additional fee.Location and travel time: It’s not uncommon for surveyors to charge for travel time—especially if the property is located far away or off the beaten path. Type of survey required: Basic boundary surveys cost less than full mortgage or topographic surveys do. You may also pay more for surveying elevation, an addition, or a fence. The Benefits of a Land Survey Even if you can avoid the costs of a land survey, you might not want to. Land surveys clearly define the boundaries of what you own and ensure your property is in compliance with local zoning regulations. This can help you steer clear of disputes with neighbors and nearby property owners and can give you valuable information should you want to improve or add onto the property in the future. Can You Negotiate Your Land Survey Cost? Your property survey is one of the fees you can shop around for when buying a home. In fact, it’s listed as such on the loan estimate form you’ll get from your mortgage lender. To do this, request a quote from several surveyors in your area. Make sure that you’re comparing the same fees and charges, and be careful to ask about any add-on fees you can expect for travel, research, unique terrain, and more. Note Consider asking your real estate agent, lender, builder, or mortgage broker for recommendations, as they may have preferred surveyors who will offer you a discount. The Bottom Line Land surveys aren’t always required when buying a home, but they can be a good idea to protect yourself as a buyer and better understand the property and home you’re purchasing. Fortunately, the cost of a land survey isn’t set in stone, so there is room to save. Shop around, get several quotes, and don’t be afraid to negotiate if you think there’s a better deal out there. Key Takeaways A land survey can help you:Better understand the boundaries and features of the property you’re buyingAvoid disputes with neighborsEnsure compliance with zoning laws and regulationsAccurately gauge the value of your landGuide you on future additions and improvements Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Who pays for a land survey, the buyer or the seller? Whether the buyer or seller pays for a land survey will be detailed in the purchase contract. Buyers may have more bargaining power to get the seller to pay during a buyer's market and vice versa. How long is a land survey good for? The time that a land survey remains valid depends on who is requiring the survey. Lenders typically require land surveys, but they may accept an old survey if the property hasn't had any substantial changes to it since the most recent survey. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "What is a Survey"? American Bar Association. "Residential Real Estate FAQs." HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Land Surveyor?"