Property Surveys: Hot New Issues Facing Homebuyers

Surveying Your Property:  What You Need To Know!

In 2005, the state of Georgia implemented new stream buffer restrictions. Over the past few years, these restrictions have become a major problem for some home buyers and existing homeowners wanting to make improvements to their property. Nowadays, you are 4-5 times more likely to encounter a property with stream buffer restrictions than property being located in a flood zone. It is important to be informed about this issue facing homebuyers today. In fact, click here to read more about why you should do a survey before buying any property.

The stream buffer laws set by the state started small at 25 feet and have slowly grown to 75 feet from the edge of the bank on each side in most metro Atlanta counties, and it’s becoming more difficult to obtain a variance for new construction within these areas. These buffers are intended to protect the environment against pollution and increased storm water runoff. Stream buffers also known as impervious and riparian buffers, are bands of vegetation bordering a body of water or drainage areas that play a crucial role is promoting public health by protecting water quality. The type of vegetation in the buffer depends upon the climate and buffers the stream from anything that flows into it – polluted water, eroding soil or toxic chemicals. Many fish species need cool water and steam vegetation provides shade to keep streams cool. Leaves falling into the stream provide food for insects that fish eat. Roots help stabilize stream banks also provide shelter for wildlife as they drink from waterways.

This year, we have encountered as many as 30 to 40 properties per month affected by stream buffers. Some properties have had buffer lines running through the house which makes it very difficult to obtain building permits to add many new improvements to the house in those buffer line areas. Only the existing house and improvements would be grandfathered into the stream buffer lines. To give you a example of how big of an issue this is…in the past 10 days, we have worked on three properties, two of which were small half acre lots and on that was 3.8 acres, the total negative loss of value for just those three lots was around 2 million dollars for the owners. With numbers like that I think you would agree stream buffers can be a big deal to a purchaser.

Stream buffer requirements may not show up on older surveys. A homebuyer should always get a survey of the property they are purchasing. The fact it, there is no way for them to fully understand what they are about to purchase without a current survey.

McClung Surveying offers several different free training classes for real estate agent groups of 10 or more. One of the classes offered is “Stream Buffers 101”. If you would like to schedule a class for your realtor clients, please contact McClung Surveying at 770.434.3383.

McClung Surveying Services Inc. has been working with homebuyers, realtors and other real estate professionals for decades now to help identify potential problems before they become yours! Our goal is simple. We want to be the most prestigious surveyors in Atlanta. To do this, we provide outstanding customer service, along with the highest standards of ethics, integrity and accuracy in the surveying field. When you want to know where the lines are, call McClung Surveying. We’ll help you understand what you’re getting into.

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