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Hedy's Hints: What’s the difference between a home inspection and a survey?

Different areas of the country have different requirements for survey and home inspection requirements. No matter your geographic location, these are two distinctly separate processes in the home-buying and selling process.

Simply put, the home inspection process examines the condition of a home compared to a survey that identifies the property lines of a home.

Home inspection vs. survey

An inspection is a general review of the property from the stand point of issuing a policy of Title Insurance. Title Insurers will send an inspector to check for a number of things, such as: recent construction, address and property type verification, parties in possession, and similar characteristics of the property. Home inspectors will conduct a thorough inspection and test all of the homes mechanical and structural parts including, roof, structure, heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical etc. This will reveal any hidden issues beneath the surface that you cannot see. In addition, they will check for any apparent encroachments of improvements and easements.

A survey is done by a licensed surveyor with the sole purpose of locating property lines. The surveyor uses specific equipment, maps and other recorded surveys to establish benchmarks in regards to property lines, thus identifying boundaries and potential encroachments.

When do I need a home inspection?

If you’re selling your property or buying a new property and the title insurer needs a visual representation of the property, an inspection will be ordered. In some cases, inspectors may, at their discretion, meet with buyers to go over their findings. In addition, anything the inspector visually sees that may alter the value of the property would need to be shared with the title insurer. The average cost can range from $250-$450 depending on home size and location.

When do I need a survey?

A survey is appropriate when you need to know an exact measurement of your property or an identification of property lines. Oftentimes adding a pool, landscape or additional square footage are the types of home improvements that require you to know the location of your property boundaries. A surveyor is licensed and bonded and will give you a survey map identifying boundaries and property lines. The average cost can range from $350 to $500.

Hedy Goldman has lots of knowledgeable information to share. She has been practicing real estate since 1996 and is a 2010 gold award winner at Windermere Real Estate SoCal. Hedy sells all over San Diego, but specializes in North County Coastal. She can be reached at (858) 504-2334 or San Diego Realtor.