October 20, 2022

3 Types of Property Surveys

3 Types of Property Surveys

When you are buying a home, your title company or lender may request a property survey to ensure recorded property lines are accurate.

The cost of a property survey is typically covered by the buyer, but this cost can be negotiated. A survey cost will depend on the survey type, size of the property, ease of researching records, and surveyor time.

In this article, we will review three types of property surveys:

  • Location Drawing Survey
  • Boundary Survey
  • ALTA/ASCM Survey

Location Drawing Survey

Your title company may order a Location Drawing Survey as part of your closing. The Location Drawing Survey shows the locations of improvements on the property as they relate to the apparent boundary lines of the property. In most cases, it involves a physical inspection of the property and is accurate within a few feet. The Location Drawing Survey produces a basic drawing of the land. The cost of a Location Drawing Survey is typically a few hundred dollars, of course depending on the size and complexity of the property.

If you need to identify the boundaries of a property for construction or permit purposes, you will instead need to order a Boundary Survey.

Consult your settlement attorney with any questions you have about what the survey shows.

Boundary Survey

Order a Boundary Survey when you need to identify a property’s boundary lines and/or if you want corners staked/marked. The surveyor sets or recovers the property corners and produces a detailed plat or map. In order to do this, the surveyor researches public records and researches the property itself in person to take measurements and perform calculations.

Boundary Surveys can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the size and complexity of the property. For construction and permits on a property, a Boundary Survey may be necessary.

If you plan to do work on a property shortly after you purchase it, such as adding a room or installing a fence, you may save time and money by requesting a Boundary Survey for closing.

This allows you to avoid paying for a Location Survey at closing and then a Boundary Survey when you begin construction. Whatever you decide, inform your title company so the correct survey can be completed.


In commercial real estate transactions, sometimes the lender will require an ALTA/ACSM Survey. (ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and ACSM stands for American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.)

An ALTA/ACSM Survey is a Boundary Survey that meets additional stringent standards established by ALTA and ACSM. The survey shows everything in a Boundary Survey plus property improvements, easements, rights-of-way, and other elements that impact the ownership of the land.

If you have questions about surveys or need to order one for your upcoming transaction, contact Evelyn Miller, Partner, at 202-753-7400.

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