Never, never, never buy a property without a recent survey that shows the lot lines and where the improvements lie. Banks may or may not require a new survery but with probable the biggest investment you ever make have a new survey done to make sure the legal description matches up and any improvements are marked. Who pays for it can be negotiated in the offer to purchase.
If you are financing the home through a bank they will likely require a survey be done on the property. This will clearly spell out your property boundaries and any encroachments.
For individuals that are cash buyers, we recommend that they also have a survey completed.
Simply put, the answer is "yes" and "no"--yes, you'll get a deed with a general description of the property, but no, you will not be told exactly where the property lines are located.
There are typically three ways to describe property--1) Lot; 2) Sector and 3) Description from a Fixed Point. Depending on how large the land is, when it was first created, the method in your town to describe property, you may have a very detailed description for the location of your boundary lines (for example, "from Point A, westward 56 feet, thence south 125.3 feet, then 36 degrees northeast," etc.) or just a quick note on the deed that reads "Lot 42 of Tract 2001." The deed that is presented to you after close of escrow will have the property description included, but will not detail exactly where those property lines are located. Again, the description may be very simple or quite lengthy depending on the property location, the size of the property, and the age of the home. Newer homes tend to be in developments demarked by "lots" rather than property lines.
At some of the planned developments or housing tracts created in the past 30+ years, for example, the surveyor may have placed marks into the cement on the curb denoting the location of the property line, and in other areas or locations, there may be a "surveyor's spike" in the ground showing the location of one of the boundary lines or points of origin. As Realtors, we encourage homeowners NOT to rely upon the location of fences, bushes or hedges to determine the location of any property line since these "landmarks" often get moved or changed.
To determine the EXACT location of property lines for your home, you will not be able to rely on the deed or physical landsmarks alone. Consult a qualified surveyor can find and locate the property lines for your lot or property.
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
In many states a new survey is part of the normal closing process. Check with a local Realtor.