What Is A Tract Of Land? | askBAMLand

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What is the meaning of 'Tract of Land?' - Get to understand the various terms used to describe land as you enhance your property knowledge.

A tract of land is a defined large area of ground with specific set boundaries, often used for legal or real estate purposes. It can range from small parcels to vast expanses, and its precise dimensions, zoning, and potential uses vary.

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Key Takeaways

  • A tract of land is a well-defined piece of property with specific boundaries.
  • It plays a key role in real estate transactions, zoning regulations, and property disputes.
  • It can range from small residential lots to extensive commercial developments.
  • Knowing what constitutes a tract of land is essential for demarcating property lines.

Table of Contents

What Is A Tract Of Land?

A tract of land encompasses a piece of land that is easy to identify and discuss due to its well-defined borders or a completed survey. While the term "tract" has no specific legal meaning, it is often used interchangeably with parcel, lot, or piece of land.

Understanding the concept of a tract of land is essential, especially when it comes to buying or selling property. This is because it involves the determination of the exact location, size, and boundary of the land in question. Furthermore, identifying a tract of land can involve surveying, plat mapping, or legal descriptions outlined in ownership documents, such as deeds or land titles.

Understanding Land Terminology

In the world of real estate, understanding the terminology used for different types of land helps buyers and sellers navigate the process of purchasing property more effectively.

Land and Tract

A tract of land is an identifiable portion of land with borders that are defined within deeds or other legal instruments. In contrast to a specific legal meaning or strict requirements, tracts of land are often described as areas of land that can vary in size, ranging from as small as one acre to several square miles.

A parcel of land, on the other hand, typically refers to a piece of land that has been subdivided from a larger tract of land and is legally defined in a deed or plat map. Parcels often have a designated purpose and use, such as residential, commercial, farm, or conservation land.

Real Estate and Property

When dealing with real estate and property, one must also be aware of property lines, which are the legal boundary markers outlining the borders of a parcel or lot. Property lines are used to determine the exact size and location of a property.

Different property line markers include physical objects when possible, such as fence posts or signs, or they may rely on survey coordinates and distances to be less obtrusive.

A lot, unlike a tract or parcel, refers to a smaller, more specific piece of land typically within a platted subdivision. It is usually used for the purpose of constructing a single building. Lots have more precise, manageable dimensions compared to tracts and often have more stringent restrictions and specified uses.

Here’s a table breakdown of the definitions of terms

Term Definition
Tract of land Identifiable portions of land with established boundaries can vary in size
Parcel A piece of land subdivided from the larger tract of land, legally defined on the deed or plat map
Property lot line Legal boundary markers outlining parcel or lot borders
Lot Smaller, more specific or two separate pieces of land, typically within a platted subdivision

Land Measurements and Sizes

When dealing with tracts of land, understanding various land measurements and sizes is essential.

Acres and Hectares

An acre is a common unit of a certain measurement for land, particularly for tracts of land in the United States. One acre is equivalent to 43,560 square feet. Hectares, on the other hand, are more commonly used in other countries and are equal to approximately 2.47 acres.

The exact size of a tract of land can vary greatly, ranging from an acre or less to several hundred acres. A tract of land's size is typically determined by the legal boundaries or property lot lines, which have been surveyed and marked by land surveyors.

Square Miles and Square Yards

Another set of measurements used for land are square miles and square yards. A square mile is a large unit of area equal to 640 acres, commonly used to measure a vast tract of land. In contrast, a square yard is a smaller unit of measurement and is equal to 9 square feet.

Understanding the scale and size of the land is important when determining the parcel number, which is a unique identification number assigned to a specific piece of property within a land survey area or township A parcel number is essential in finding information about boundaries, ownership, and other details.

Understanding Land Surveys

Land surveys are essential for determining the boundaries, ownership, and legal description of a tract of land. They provide precise measurements and details, which can be useful when planning development, or that require buildings to be constructed, or settling property disputes.

Metes and Bounds

Metes and Bounds is a system used to describe land parcels, primarily in the United States and other countries with similar legal systems. This method utilizes natural landmarks, artificial markers, compass directions, and distances to define a tract of land's boundaries.

A metes and bounds description typically starts at a specific point, called the "point of beginning," and follows a series of calls, angles, and distances in a circuit until it returns to the point of beginning. This system enables land surveyors to create a unique legal boundary to identify a parcel of land.

Public Land Survey System

The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is another method of dividing and describing land in the United States. It uses a grid-like system that divides the land into townships, which are further divided into sections. Each section measures one square mile or 640 acres.

These sections can be divided into smaller parcels, which are then numbered according to their location in the township. The PLSS was implemented to simplify land ownership and management, making it a widely used system in the western United States.

Plats and Subdivisions

Plats and subdivisions are yet another way to describe and divide tracts of land. A plat is a type of land survey that represents a tract of land or multiple lots on a plat map. This map not only shows property lines and boundaries but also features the layout of streets and easements.

Subdivisions, on the other hand, are the process of dividing a large digestive tract of land into smaller parcels. These smaller parcels, often sold as individual contract lots, may be designated for residential, commercial, or other specific purposes.

Orientation and Characteristics of Tracts

Understanding the orientation and characteristics of tracts allows landowners, developers, and government entities to make informed decisions about land usage, planning, and development. These factors are critical in determining land value, the potential for growth, and how best to utilize the available space.

Contiguous and Adjacent Land

A tract of land typically refers to an identifiable and contiguous piece of land. In situations where multiple lots are combined, these can be considered a tract if they share common boundaries, such as when they are adjacent to one another.

Contiguous and adjacent land plays a role in determining the orientation of a tract. Orientation can be influenced by geographical features such as rivers, hills, and the overall layout of the environment. The layout and positioning of tracts are crucial to consider, especially in terms of accessibility and any existing or planned developments.

Physical Characteristics of Tracts

A digestive tract of land comprises several physical characteristics that set it apart from other land parcels. These characteristics range from size, shape, and natural features such as rivers, hills, and fields.

Apart from the contiguous and adjacent nature of tracts, there are other factors that influence these characteristics:

  • Size: Tracts can vary greatly in size, from a single lot of acre to square miles of land. The exact size can often be determined through measurements within legal documents.
  • Boundaries: Tracts of land have established legal boundaries, which can include property lines, lot lines, or even natural landmarks like rivers or hills.
  • Zoning: The land can be classified as residential, commercial, or other zoning designations based on local regulations and intended use.
  • Ownership: Property rights and ownership play an essential role in defining the tract's characteristics. The way a tract is divided, or ownership is shared can influence its functionality and utility.


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

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.

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