6 Easy Ways to Find Your Property Lines
A family moved to a neighborhood with a small space between homes. It was so close that their neighbor could see them in their kitchen. For privacy reasons, the family spent thousands of dollars to plant trees. One beautiful bright morning, they found the neighbor had chopped down all the trees.
What would you have done if you were a member of that family? Perhaps you would have reported the neighbor. Is it possible that the trees were on his property and that he had the right to cut them? These are the horrific experiences you will go through when you don’t know your property lines.
As a homeowner, it is crucial to know where your property begins and ends. You will not only live peacefully with your neighbors but also enjoy the freedom of modifying your home.
Interested in knowing your property lines? Here is how you should go about it. But first, let’s understand what property lines are and why you need to find them.
What are Property Lines?
These are legal boundaries that define where your property begins and ends. Property lines separate your home from other parcels of land. Sometimes they follow clearly seen boundaries such as rivers, ditches, fences, roads, and streams.
Some of them can, however, be invisible. Unseen property lines can lead to unnecessary legal disputes with your neighbors. That is why it is essential to know where your home legally starts and ends.
How are Property Lines Calculated?
Qualified land surveyors determine boundary lines using the rectangular survey system (RSS). They use the RSS to split the land into roughly equal rectangular parcels.
The parcel lines are also dissected into meridians and baselines. However, environmental factors, such as roads and rivers, hinder the perfection of the divided land parcels.
Why Do You Need to Find Your Property Lines?
You might be confident that you know your property lines. Later on, you learn that part of your house is on a completely wrong parcel. This reality can be dreadful. Without property lines, you can make costly mistakes. Understand your boundary lines for the following reasons:
#1: Know the Value of Your Home
A buyer or a seller, property lines will show the size of land you are acquiring or selling. This will aid in evaluating the worth of your property.
#2: Provide Key Information to a Mortgage Lender or Title Insurance Company
Mortgage lenders and title insurance companies set up your terms of agreement with the help of property lines. This information can help you get favorable mortgage or insurance terms.
#3: Prevent Potential Disputes
A clearly defined property line will prevent you from accidentally encroaching on your neighbor’s land. Also, adjacent property owners will not trespass on your land. Clear boundaries allow you to live peacefully with your neighbors.
#4: Make Landscape Modifications
Having a clear definition of your home boundaries allows you to confidently cut a tree next to your window or build a fence.
The Best Ways to Find your Property Lines
Are you on a budget but still want to locate your property lines? Worry not. You don’t have to be a survey specialist. Here are six hassle-free ways to define your boundaries.
1. Use a Plat
This is a property line map. It shows your property’s boundary lines. A plat includes environmental features such as elevations, water bodies, and structures that may interfere with your property lines.
If you share property lines with your neighbors, a plat will include maps of the surrounding homes. But where do you find your plat? The basic paperwork for your property always includes it. In the event that you can’t get a copy of your property line map, get one from your local assessor.
2. Check Your Property Deed
A deed is the basic legal document of your property. It gives a detailed description of your land. It shows your land’s shape, lot number, and other identifiers such as landmarks.
It can explain the exact location of the property as on a plat map. If not, a deed includes specific details and measurements to help you identify property lines from a nearby reference point.
In case your current deed does not give clear details on the property’s boundaries, refer to older ones. However, an older deed may include geographical features that no longer exist. If you don’t have a copy of your deed, obtain one from the office of your local registrar of deeds.
3. Do a Property Line Survey
You can use your existing property line survey to establish your boundaries. Request a copy from your mortgage lender, insurance company, or your municipality tax assessor’s office. But if it is missing, outdated, or you are in dispute with your neighbor, you need a new property line survey.
This means you hire a professional licensed and insured land surveyor to do the job for you. They will accurately measure where your land begins and ends. They usually mark the lines at the corners with stakes.
A good land surveyor will give you the historical details of the property including subdivisions, easements, and ecological restrictions. If you are a new homebuyer, your mortgage lender will require a new property line survey before you fully acquire a home.
4. Search for Property Line Markers or Survey Pins
If you are lucky enough to buy a new property, you will see property markers. They are mostly distributed on the land inform of stakes or light fences.
Alternatively, look for embedded steel bars around the corners. At times they are visible with a marked cap on the top end. If not, use a metal detector to find them. The markers are placed by qualified land surveyors after the completion of a survey.
As much as this method is convenient it is not legally binding. It only gives you a rough idea of your boundaries. You need legal documentation to provide exact details of your property lines.
5. Measure the Property Yourself
Are you planning out property developments like planting hedges? Then use your deed to personally know your property lines. All you need is a tape measure and willingness to get your hands dirty.
Begin from a point that is clearly detailed in your deed’s description. Then measure the distance from this point to the edge and put a marker. Repeat the process to identify all hedges and corners of your property.
By use of a tape measure, estimate the distance between stakes. Verify that the measurements match the deed or plat. Unfortunately, you can’t use information from this method as evidence in court in case of any legal dispute.
6. Use Apps
There are several smartphone apps that can accurately display your property lines. They make use of GPS technology and available public records.
One well-known example is LandGlide. This easy-to-navigate app covers 95% of the US population. It will pinpoint your exact location and provide comprehensive data about your parcel. It has a free trial of 7days, after which you will pay $9.99 monthly or $ 99.99 annually. You can also use Regrid or Property Survey GPS.
What are Boundary Line Agreements?
Are you in a property line dispute with your neighbor? Then you need to develop a boundary line agreement. These are legal special contracts that are penned between neighbors to settle disagreements over existing property lines.
Your neighbor may accidentally encroach on your property. What should you do? Create a boundary agreement acknowledging the intrusion was unintentional.
You should also show that you will let the structure remain standing. With a contract, your neighbor can be in charge of the structure while you keep control of the land the structure is built on.
Alternatively, you can consider boundary line adjustments. It entails redrawing property lines between neighbors to make boundary adjustments legal.
To Sum it Up
As a smart homeowner, it is vitally important to know your property lines. Don’t just look at your neighbor’s fence and confidently say it is your boundary. You will not only live a tranquil and respectful life but also avoid lawsuits.
Use your legal descriptions (deed and plat), property line markers, property line apps, or conduct a new survey to know exactly where your property starts and ends. If you get into a dispute with your neighbor, develop a boundary line agreement or adjustment. Be a responsible homeowner and maintain the value of your property.
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