Surveys and appraisals present important information about your property’s value, which makes them an integral part of any real estate transaction. First-time buyers often assume property surveys and appraisals are the same thing, but each document provides different data that is necessary to minimize the risk associated with buying residential or commercial property. 

A Property Survey Outlines Boundaries

A property survey is often ordered on behalf of the seller to ensure there aren’t any legal issues associated with the boundaries of the property. The completed survey looks like a large blueprint or map of the area. Different types of surveys provide different levels of detail, but one common example of a property survey is the boundary survey conducted by a licensed land surveyor. The surveyor visits the property and uses existing benchmarks to establish its locations and dimensions before marking the corners with markers called pins. When the pins are connected, you can see your property's boundaries. Potential encroachments will also be noted, such as if a neighbor’s garage is partially built on your property.

Surveys should always be conducted by experienced professionals, as the results of the survey will be legally binding. A poorly conducted survey can lead to a number of problems such as violation of local codes concerning building or improvement, or potential title defects that could complicate the transfer of ownership.

An Appraisal Estimates Property Value

Virginia Beach Real Estate Attorney Alperin Law

An appraisal conducted by a state-licensed real estate appraiser offers an informed opinion of the value of the property based on factors such as the value of similar homes in the area, the age of the home, and the amenities in the surrounding area. Since these factors are subject to change, a property’s appraised value can increase or decrease over time.

The appraisal is primarily for the benefit of the mortgage lender. When you’re interested in buying a home, for example, the bank wants to ensure the appraised value of the property is equal to what you’ve agreed to pay for it.

Discover the Alperin Law Advantage for Your Real Estate Transaction

The Alperin Law team is available seven days a week to assist with residential or commercial real estate transactions in Virginia or North Carolina. Contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office at 757.490.3500 to learn how we can be of service. We serve all communities in Eastern Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Isle of Wight County, Hampton, the Eastern Shore, and Northeastern North Carolina, including Currituck, Elizabeth City, and the Outer Banks.


Scott Alperin
Experienced Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney Serving Virginia Beach Area Clients Since 1994.