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What is a stake survey and what does it cost?

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A real estate transaction has many moving parts and a variety of people are necessary to achieve a successful transaction. One important step to the transaction is a survey. There are a couple of options that buyers are generally offered when making a decision to get a survey.



Surveyor’s Real Property Report, commonly called a “Spot Survey”
Surveying companies, however, will take offense to calling it a survey at all. A “spot” doesn’t mark the corners of the property, and it uses monuments or markers that may not be on the subject property to identify the boundaries. If those are incorrect, then the “spot” will be incorrect.

Boundary Survey or “Stake Survey”

On a stake survey, the boundaries of the property are physically identified with stakes or flags. When this type of survey is performed, there is no question as to where the property lines are. The surveyor verifies exactly where the lines should be.



Why would I get a “spot” vs. “stake”?

Well, cost can be a factor in the decision making process. Typically, you can get a “spot” for under $200. Alternatively, a stake can cost around $500 or $600 dollars.



Many neighborhoods in the St. Louis region are well established and boundary lines can appear to not be a concern at all, based on fences and the layout of the neighborhood. In these cases, many folks believe that a “spot” is good enough, and unless you are building a fence, a “stake” is an unnecessary expense.

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There are several decisions that home-buyers make during the process, and often they see the survey as being one of the costs that can be cut.


With all of the steps involved in the real estate transaction, a survey can seem like it’s not an important issue. However, the following situation may make you think twice.


I was representing a seller of a home last year in a transaction where the survey became an issue. The buyer of the home invested in a boundary survey, and it showed that the property lines were much different than everyone thought.

In fact, it turned out that a part of the neighbor’s home was over the property line. When we discussed this with the neighbor, he pulled out a “spot survey” that showed a much different picture. 


After consulting with another surveying company, it was determined that the boundary survey was correct. If the neighbor had chosen to get a boundary survey when he purchased his home, this would have been uncovered at that time and he would have been in the driver’s seat in making sure that his interests were protected.


Now, he was in a vulnerable position where he would need to rely on the kindness of never-before-met new neighbors to work this issue out by granting him a slice of their land, or a permanent easement. Fortunately for him, everyone was friendly and eager to work this issue out.


This story could have gone in a different direction if all parties were not agreeable. As you can see, the decision of what type of surveying choice to get is an important one. This is just one of many choices that you should consult with your Realtor.


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