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Plat vs. Survey: Why the Difference Matters

Here’s why knowing the difference is extremely valuable to property buyers: 

What is a plat map? This question arises from time to time and is worth exploring as it often gets confused with a survey. A plat map is a map of a town or subdivision indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties. A plat generally shows details of a property like lots, blocks, streets, public easements and monuments. County assessors and municipalities generally require that a plat be  preliminarily submitted and approved by local government entities in order to subdivide land and sell off individual lots as part of a subdivision neighborhood. 

In addition to subdivisions plats, there are also boundary adjustment plats which county assessors and municipalities require to be done if two adjoining property owners want to move or relocate their boundary lines. A boundary adjustment plat involves making a survey of both properties which mutually share a boundary line. After a boundary adjustment plat is signed by the property owners, and filed and approved by the local government entities, the properties’ boundaries are officially “adjusted” and the property owners are taxed based on the new property line. 

What is the difference between a boundary survey and a plat? A survey establishes the boundary lines of a single property and includes measurements of lot lines, dimensions, position of improvements like houses and garages. A boundary survey also determines whether there are any existing encroachments, easements, party walls, and compliance with setback line requirements. This type of information can be extremely valuable to a buyer of property who may have future building plans like a house addition, pool, or even to install a fence around the property. So while a plat shows the boundaries of several lots, a survey shows the boundaries of a single lot, and oftentimes gives a more detailed depiction of that single lot. In most cases, a boundary survey is required for a title company to provide survey coverage on a title insurance policy. 

If you have any questions regarding plats and surveys, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Investors Title. As always, we are happy to help with your title insurance needs.