We Realtors like to think that we are the experts at the center of the transaction, but we really can't give information about aspects of the purchase that are outside our areas of expertise. I'm not a roofer, I can't tell you if the roof looks good. I'm not a plumber, I can't tell you if the house has all copper plumbing. I can help you prioritize what you need to do to put your house on the market, strategize the pricing and marketing plan, write up a good purchase contract, negotiate a sale, guide you through the escrow process and many many other tasks that are part of helping you accomplish your real estate goals. When it comes to plumbing, roofing, flooring and other such things, I defer to others' professional expertise.
I am asked all the time about where property lines are at a property for sale. My answer is always, "If you really want to know, have a survey done." But there is a middle path--once in escrow, you can ask your title company to come out and identify the boundaries. This gives you a pretty good idea of where the lines are, though the survey is still the best way to determine them.
From the excellent loan officer, Linda Wilkes, Prospect Mortgage:
Fences should not be considered an indication of property boundaries. Legal property boundaries are demarcated by surveyor pins or stakes. These are typically 1/2" to 3/4" round iron pipes flush or buried slightly below land surface. Newer pins might have yellow or orange caps that indicate the surveyor's license number.
Locating property lines can be challenging. Older surveyor pins tend to erode. Older property markers could be metal posts, rebar, pipes or car axles. Those having difficulty locating their surveyor pins, also called corner pins, should contact their city or county government and get a copy of their plat map.
A plat map will identify each specific lot located in a subdivision — as well as the shape and dimension of the lot — and where the surveyor pins are located.
If a plat map is not available, or no pins are found, the next step is to contact a registered land surveyor to locate the property lines and set new surveyor pins. The boundary surveyor will thoroughly research city and county records relating to the land and all adjacent property. After research, the field work begins, reconciling the research with the onsite analysis on the property to determine the final boundary lines.
Boundary surveys might also include property improvements, fences, power lines and any encroachments crossing the property lines. Costs of a boundary survey can vary depending on property size, terrain, vegetation, location and season.
A survey is strongly recommended before subdividing, improving or building on land. Building beyond property lines could result in being forced to alter or remove a structure, fines and lawsuits.