Well since it is 4:30 am again and time for all good and decent people to be awake in will opine, I really like that word, opine.
Anyway, as to your question, yes many times, most times actually. I cannot possible go to every site to look at it in order to give an estimate for surveying the property. I would love to be able to charge a nominal fee for a site visit and see the property and discuss in detail the issues but unless and until my peers pull their heads out of their rectum it just won't happen.
So yes, I review the deeds, see if there is a prior survey and if it is recorded and available to me. I look at adoiners for the same. I ask a fair amount of questions as to the purpose of the survey because people just don't spend this kind of money on a whim. If their answers are evasive or otherwise odd that tells me they are involved in a dispute.
Anyway, I look at Google Earth and street view, the local aerials from the tax departmemt and I would up a likely estimate. I don't spend a tremendous amount of time in it either. I have no interest in wasting my time on working up a proper estimate if all they are doing is fishing anyway.
Yes, I don't travel to sites to give an estimate. There are enough resources to determine a number.
If you are talking bidding a boundary that is rare, I did one this year and "lost" out to a bid 1/4 of mine, so I really "won" that bid.
Years ago, before Google Earth, a survey manager was asked for prices to ALTA 2 sites for a telecommunications firm. He visited the one nearest our office. It was an antenna surround by a chain link fence with some ancillary bits and pieces. He assumed the other site - 20 miles from the office - was the same and sent in prices.
It turned out the other site was the corporate headquarters. We took a bath on that one. Really, if he had examined the given legal descriptions he could have clued in that something was amiss.
With Google Earth, if the street views are recent and good, and if I have some knowledge of the area, I might be willing to price it without a physical visit. But I can't think of any examples where I have actually done that.
Just last week a fellow called about a common residential survey in a small subdivision in a city of about 10,000. That's half the county population, by the way. Anyway, while chatting with him I was also pulling up the online Appraiser's Office information for his property. As I panned around looking at his adjoiners I found the rare circumstance that I had feared. His tract will be quite normal. But, across the alley to the south of his tract and west a little is the start of three metes and bounds tracts that fall on Main Street. As I recall, it was about 1875 when a fellow owned something like the SE4/SE4/SE4/NW4 of the section. He assumed the dimensions and split it into three pieces that would front onto Main Street. Everything else surrounding those M&B tracts is now a part of four standard subdivisions. However, those little tracts have been added into what appears to be a common city block from a quick aerial view. I surveyed one of those tracts about 30 years ago when a fellow called saying he needed a survey of his property at something like 611 West Main but had no idea of what his deed said. Fortunately, we had not discussed the potential survey cost. But, that experience alerted me to such potential issues.
Haven't visited a site before preparing a fee estimate in ages.