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13 Mar What’s a Survey and Are They Required to Buy a Property?

A lot of people that are buying a property ask if they have to get a survey.

Generally a survey is what will give you A.) a picture of the lot itself and B.) the surveyor will put stakes in the ground on the corners of the lot so you know exactly where your property ends.

Do you have to get a survey?

Honestly, no you don’t necessarily have to get a survey, but in order for a title company to give you survey coverage you would obviously have to get a BOUNDARY SURVEY.

If three years from now the next door neighbor says your driveway is on their property, if you got a boundary survey you can go back to your title company and the title company should have insurance for you to cover the cost of moving the driveway.  If you didn’t get a boundary survey then you obviously won’t be able to get survey coverage.

Example of a recommended BOUNDARY SURVEY


People often mistakenly refer to a SURVEYORS REAL PROPERTY REPORT (SRPR) as a boundary survey but you don’t get the stakes in ground, you only get the drawing, it shouldn’t be used to build fences, it is based on existing but not confirmed evidence, it is cheaper than a boundary survey, and it technically won’t hold up as a survey if you if you have to go to court or if you have to get survey coverage from the title company.



We do encourage people to get surveys.

It’s always nice to know if the neighbor of the house you’re buying has their fence on your property. As REALTORS®, we like to know who has the power and we really want to make sure that our clients don’t get themselves in a situation where someone can later force them to do something. We really want to make sure that you stay in control.

Our Go-To Expert for Surveys is Shelly Clark of Cardinal Surveying and Mapping

Check out our chat with Shelly where she talks about the importance of getting a survey BEFORE closing on your new home.

0:42 Shelly and her husband started Cardinal Surveying and Mapping in 2003. Surveying is a science and surveyors practice law which is why it takes almost 10 years to become licensed.

2:35 Think of a survey as the 2nd inspection after the home inspection is done. A survey looks at the ground, fence location, and easements.

3:38 What is the difference between a survey and a surveyor’s real property report (SRPR) and is a surveyor’s real property report even needed anymore?

5:25 A boundary survey, sometimes called a stake survey, is a survey that is recognized by the courts. A boundary survey denotes where the property starts and stops and can be used to erect a fence.

6:30 It is smart to have the boundary survey done before closing

7:07 During a boundary survey 18 inch metal pipes are put in the ground and then a wooden stake will stick up out of the ground

8:54 There are laws against moving the iron pipe

9:10 An elevation certificate can reduce or remove the amount of money paid for flood insurance

10:55 A survey provides title coverage

11:41 Don’t wait to get a survey done after you have already purchased the property. Getting the survey done before you close means the seller will have to take care of any problems. If you wait until after closing it now becomes your problem.

14:21 A survey never goes bad. Get the survey before closing even if you don’t plan on immediately building a fence.

14:56 How are surveys priced? How hard is it to get the past records? How big is the property? How easy is it to use GPS and laser tools in the lot? How old is the subdivision?

19:16 Cardinal Surveying and Mapping makes it a point to use simple English so everyone understands what is being talked about.

20:00 There is a state statute in Missouri where when a surveyor is in possession of a signed work authorization form they can go onto any property needed to find out the information. One time they were in a neighbor’s yard and had a gun pulled on them.

23:40 Find out more at CardinalSurveying.com and make sure to check out their blogs and frequently asked questions.

25:09 Shelly has written articles for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and appeared on radio and TV.

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