Content of the material
- View Property Lines In Google Earth
- Retrace the Surveyors Steps
- Bring in a Professional Surveyor
- What Are Boundary Line Agreements?
- How to Find Property Lines in 6 Ways
- 1. Use a Property Line Map
- 2. Review the Property Deed
- 3. Do a Property Line Survey
- 4. Find an Existing Property Line Survey
- 5. Look for Property Line Markers
- 6. Do a DIY Property Line Measurement
View Property Lines In Google Earth
You can view parcel boundaries, or view property lines in Google Earth™ and other GIS applications via a familiar map view format and quickly digest key location intelligence information.
Digital Map Products (DMP) is the premier provider of aggregated location data (including parcel and property data) as well as online mapping visual analysis technology applications. We handle the legwork of collecting and standardizing parcel and property data from County Assessors and other sources across the U.S. Data coverage is updated and expanded on an ongoing basis so the most accurate and relevant information is always available. Our clients benefit from receiving current, aggregated nationwide parcel line and property attribute data sets from one source.
Retrace the Surveyors Steps
When the surveyors were laying out the original plat, they determined a starting point for all the lots on your block. You can retrace the original steps of the property lines survey by finding the starting point, which will be labeled on the plat as either the “common point” or the “point of beginning” (POB). It is often the center point of a side street. The original surveyor’s measurements will all be listed on the plat. With a long measuring tape or digital tape measure, follow the plat as you would a treasure map, measuring your physical property as you go. Your measurements should correspond with the ones on the plat.
Bring in a Professional Surveyor
Before you drive yourself too crazy with the metes and bounds survey, know that the only legally binding method to determine exact property lines—essential, for example, if you intend to build an addition to your house—is to have a professional survey. Local building codes will determine how close to your property line you can legally build. A professional survey could cost from a few hundred to more than a thousand dollars, depending on the size of your property and the complexity of the survey. Costly, perhaps, but adding to your dream house while keeping in your neighbors’ good graces is priceless.
RELATED: How Much Does a Land Survey Cost?
What Are Boundary Line Agreements?
Without getting too technical, boundary line agreements are special legal contracts written between neighbors. They are used to settle any disputes over existing property lines are boundaries. While the exact contract requirements and inclusions will vary depending on your state, they are always used to ensure two or more property owners agree on how property lines are used and divided. Note that boundary line agreements aren’t the exact same thing as boundary line adjustments. Boundary line adjustments, instead, are created when property owners need to exchange land. This involves redefining or redrawing property lines between them. In some cases, but not all, this may involve money. For example, if you and your neighbor want to trade bits of property in your backyards for different elements, you can draw up a boundary line adjustment to make this legal.
So, what do you use boundary line agreements for? One common example occurs when one neighbor accidentally encroaches on another person’s property by planting hedges or building a structure. This may occur if the original property owner does a land survey and discovers the error. In that case, the property owner needs to create a boundary line agreement with their neighbor if they want to retain the title to that property piece. The resulting boundary line agreement will include an acknowledgment by your neighbor that they accidentally encroached on the property, as well as an acknowledgment on your end that you will let the structure remain standing. In this way, the structure builder can keep control of the building while you retain control of the actual land it is built on.
How to Find Property Lines in 6 Ways
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need to spend a small fortune to find property lines for a home you already own. In fact, there are six distinct ways in which you can find property lines either for free or without spending much cash. These ways include:
Use a property line map
Review the property deed
Do a property line survey
Find an existing property line survey
Look for property line markers
Do a DIY property line measurement
Let’s break down each of these techniques one by one.
1. Use a Property Line Map
A “plat” is simply a property line map. This drawing details the boundary lines of your property and usually includes a variety of environmental features that may affect those lines. These include structures, elevations, or distinctive bodies of water. In some cases, the plat will include maps of neighboring properties if the property lines between you are shared. Fortunately, plats are almost always included with your property’s basic paperwork. If you don’t have a copy of this already, you can get a copy of the plat at the local assessor’s office. Or you can sometimes access the plat for your property online.
2. Review the Property Deed
Next, you can review the deed to your property. The deed is the basic legal document for your property, including a description of the land’s legal boundaries, what’s included in the property, and so on. Even though a description of the land’s boundaries is a default inclusion, some property deeds do not include this information. If this is the case, the deed should refer you to an older deed for the same property that does include the property lines. But be aware: just because an older property deed includes the property lines doesn’t mean they are necessarily relevant or accurate. For example, out-of-date property deeds could reference landmarks or features that no longer exist or were changed. If you’ve retrieved your property lines from an out-of-date deed, do a tour of your property and make sure that the property lines seem to be accurate and relevant before using them for any legal proceedings or future developments.
3. Do a Property Line Survey
Alternatively, you could do a thorough property line survey. Property line surveys take precise measurements of a piece of land’s legal boundaries. In some cases, a property line survey and its information may be included with your property deed or plat. But if you don’t have a property line survey record on hand, you can hire a professional surveyor to do one for you now. Professional and qualified land surveyors can measure where your property legally ends with exacting specificity. Land surveyors can also perform additional tasks, such as researching the property’s history regarding ecological restrictions or subdivisions. But be aware that you should only hire a worthwhile and qualified land surveyor to do the job, as only these individuals have the expertise needed to provide accurate information. If you’re a new homeowner, be aware that mortgage lenders usually need new surveys to be completed before you can fully purchase a piece of property.
4. Find an Existing Property Line Survey
If you’re fortunate, a property line survey will already have been completed and be stored either in local or county records offices or with your mortgage or title companies. That’s because most mortgage lenders require any prospective homeowners to have or complete a current survey of the land. You’ll also need a current survey of land you purchase if you want title insurance. So if you don’t have the survey but bought a home recently, you can contact your mortgage or title company and request a copy. Sometimes the copies are out of date and must be renewed, but not always. Similarly, you can contact your county or municipality’s tax assessor’s office and ask about existing property line records. These organizations may have copies of property line surveys in their building or land records departments. You don’t even always have to contact them by phone; many of these organizations have search functions you can find online at their websites. Even better, the majority of municipalities will offer property line records for free (although some may require a small fee, or otherwise force you to retrieve the records in person rather than download them over the Internet). Your mileage may vary with this technique because it’s all dependent on the unique rules of your county or municipality.
5. Look for Property Line Markers
If you’re purchasing a relatively new property, you might get lucky and find property line markers already scattered throughout the parcel. These can take the form of flags, stakes, or even light fences. These are holdovers from when the land was initially divided for sale. If that’s the case, you’re in luck! The property line markers were likely placed by a professional land surveyor or surveying company, so they should be accurate and up-to-date. Furthermore, you probably don’t have many or any neighbors to compete with if you have property line markers. In that case, you can feel free to use those markers as indicators of where your property begins and ends. Note that while this method is convenient, you may still need to acquire more detailed property line information or legal documentation if you want to make a major expansion to your land without encroaching on your neighbor’s.
6. Do a DIY Property Line Measurement
If you’re a homeowner more used to getting your hands dirty and doing things yourself, you can also take your property line measurements yourself. This can also be handy even if you have official records on hand, as you can then visually confirm the property lines and plan out any developments or projects you want to complete. What do you need? Just a tape measure. To begin, find a point that is clearly detailed in your deed’s description and start there. Then measure the distance to the property’s edge and put a stake at that point. This serves as a beginning marker. Repeat this process with several other notable points in your deed’s property description. With a little luck, you’ll identify all the edges and corners of your property. Next, take your tape measure and measure the distance between individual stakes. Compare the measurements you take and ensure that they match the plat or deed that you have on hand. Again, this may not hold up in court if there is ever any future legal trouble, but it can be useful for planning out property developments like planting hedges or removing trees.
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