Knowing the boundary lines of your property is an essential piece of information for any landowner, but precisely how should you map your property listing?
The best way to map out a property listing is to contact your title company to see if they have a copy of the latest land survey. Many county tax assessor's offices will also have these documents for public review. Several online services will help access these kinds of records.
While property lines and boundaries are important, most homeowners don’t consider them until an issue erupts with a neighbor. Yet, knowing where your property line starts and ends can help relieve a lot of the pressure with the homeowner next door and keep you from legal trouble. In addition, should you decide to sell or dispose of the property, having the correct information can be a great assist in helping new owners know what they are buying. So, whether you are dreaming of a redwood fence, or just trying to put your home and land on the market, here are several ways to get the information you need.
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Why is it Important to Know Your Property Boundaries?
There are many reasons why knowing the limits of your property is crucial. They can include -
- Correct measurements for constructing a fence, barrier, or secondary structure
- Measurements needed for division of acreage into separate lots for home construction
- Encroachment issues from the government or other construction
- Legal disputes
- Realty listings
- Advertisements for the sale of property
- Helpful for maintenance issues (you know where to mow)
- Helpful for who is liable for tree removal or cleanup
- Imminent domain issues
- Effective passage to heirs of a property owner
- Information needed for a landowner to gift land in a will
How Do You Map Out Your Property Listing?
There are various methods for knowing the official boundaries of your property.
Check Your Homeowners Deed
If you have recently purchased your property, your title company or lender should have sent you a copy of the deed after closing. A deed is a legal description of the property you own, including the exact measurements, lot identifier, and physical description of the property. While the deed can be buried in legalese and isn’t always easy to understand, if you need help, reach out to your local real estate agent or county officials to see if they can translate it for you.
Contact Your Title Company
Most title companies require the present owner to have a new land survey performed when the property is purchased. (Often, title insurance requires it). Your title company should be able to secure a copy of the survey from their records since they were required to file the updated survey to the local authorities at the time of closing.
Contact the Tax Assessor or Other County Official
Every property has to be filed with the state and local authorities to determine the correct property tax rates. Generally, a copy of the most recent land survey is on file in their office and is a matter of public record. In addition, the tax office can help you research prior owners or tell you if there were any previous adjustments to the property. This knowledge is very helpful in resolving disputes you might have with a neighbor who is being anything but neighborly.
Please note that while the information is a matter of public record, some municipal offices charge a fee for this research. (While that might not seem like a fair deal, consider that some person has to take time out of their day to search some dusty, hot closet filled with storage boxes to find the correct file. Although, with computer scanners, they can retrieve it with just a few clicks of a computer).
Use Online Resources
Multiple online resources and even a couple of mobile apps can provide you with the information. Go online and enter your property address to see what pops up. Programs like Google earth and others can help give you a reasonable frame of reference for where your property ends and your neighbor’s begins.
Currently, mobile apps use GPS and help map out your property as you walk toward the edge. While a mobile reckoning won’t satisfy the needs of any court, it can help you get a general idea.
Hire A Land Surveyor
To stave off any legal judgments or to help get one decided in your favor, you will need to hire a land surveyor who can come out and do what they do best, assess your property lines.
While a professional survey can be pretty expensive (the average land survey, depending on the terrain and size of your property) and can cost several hundreds of dollars, it is always the most definitive answer for the courts and all parties involved. If you are having an issue with a neighbor at the moment, the best thing to make things quiet down is to show the authorities the most recent survey by a qualified land surveyor.
Many states require certification for land and property surveyors. You should always check to find out what the exact requirements are.
Measure it Yourself
The most time-consuming method is to go outside your property with a tape measure and stake off the property acreage. Measuring this way is bound to cause issues if you are not careful, so be wise to the fixed points on your property when you make your measurements.
It is always a good idea to walk your boundary lines not for the sake of measurement as much as to inspect for encroachments, or if you have a fence, look for breaks in the fence. (My backyard fence often develops holes that my puppy loves to escape through so he can terrorize the neighbors. A good inspection of the property line can help remedy problem areas).
While walking your property, look for stakes or markers that previous surveyors might have left. Professional land surveyors often tap into a steel bar with a dab of paint at the tip to signify where the boundary is. If you don’t trust the location of that marking or have doubts about the survey, hire a professional to recheck the measurements.
You want to contact any utilities before you dig so that utility companies have an opportunity to mark where any buried gas lines or electrical lines might be lurking.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling