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Irrespective of whether you’re buying a new home or selling a property you own, knowing the boundaries of the property is of the utmost importance. This short read will help you understand the importance of property lines and how to determine them accurately.
What are property lines and why are they important?
Property lines define the legal boundaries of a property, making it easy to determine how much land belongs to whom.
In some cases, there are existing boundaries to help define these lines, such as roads, ditches, and fences. However, there often aren’t any discernible boundaries. This makes it even more important to know what your property lines are. Here are some reasons why.
- It is important to know the exact boundaries of your properties and to have legal paperwork proving that you own that much property. Otherwise, disputes between neighbors could break out about how much land belongs to whom. This is especially important if you’re planning to construct on your property. If you build on your neighbor’s land instead of yours, it could lead to litigation between property owners.
- This information is also important from an investment perspective. Without knowing your property lines, you would be unable to accurately advertise how much land you’re looking to sell, or arrive at a list price.
- This knowledge will also help you if you want to put up a hedge fence. For example, while in some places you can put up a fence right on your property line, in other places, the law dictates that the fence should be 2,4,6 or 8 inches from the property line.
- If you’re buying a house, your mortgage lender and title insurance company will also need to know the boundaries of the property before agreeing to lend you money and insure the home.
How can you determine property lines?
Here are some of the ways you can find your property lines.
Your homeowner’s deed ought to have a legal description of your property, including details such as the size, the shape, lot and block number, landmarks, and identifiable geographical features.
However, since the terminology used is often legal and difficult to understand, you may need to take the help of a real estate agent or a lawyer.
Alternatively, you could use the property deed as a reference and measure out your property using a tape measure.
To do this, it would help if you first used a recognizable marker from the deed and measure from there to the property’s edge. Set up a marker there and start determining boundaries.
A lot of properties have steel bars or pins as they are called, with marked caps at the corners of your property. These would have been put in place after the first survey was conducted, and are likely to be buried.
The easiest way to find these pins is by using a metal detector. While this may not be a legally binding method of determining property lines, it will at least give you an idea of where your boundary lines lie. Keep in mind that before you dig for pins, you should always call local authorities on 8-1-1 and find out the location of buried utilities, so you don’t damage them.
Google Maps is capable of showing you your property lines if you enter your address in the Google Maps search bar and zoom in close enough.
There are also other GPS-based apps like LandGlide that can be used to find property lines as well.
The most legally binding way to define property lines is to hire a professional surveyor. While a professional survey may cost hundreds of dollars, it is money well-spent. The actual cost depends on your location, the size of the land, topography, and other factors.
Land surveyors use a system called RSS, or Rectangular Survey System to determine property lines. However, this system only gives rough estimates of property demarcation lines based on baselines and meridians.
The local county tax assessor’s office or municipality will also have all the details of your property, including history and property lines.
If you recently bought a home, then your mortgage company or title company will also have a copy of the latest property survey defining the property lines.