How Property Lines Are Determined

How Property Lines Are Determined

November 12, 2021

Whether you’ve lived in the same house your whole life or you’re thinking about buying a new property, knowing how property lines are determined is important.

Most people take property lines for granted, assuming that fences are always the arbiter of truth. Unfortunately, property lines can change over time. You might discover that the fence you always thought delineated the exact boundaries of your property is actually 10 feet into your property—or worse, the other way around.

Here’s what you need to know about how property lines are determined. This information will help clarify matters when dealing with neighbors, land surveyors and other professionals who may need to access your property.

How to find existing property lines

There are a few different ways you can find existing property lines on your own:

  • Read the survey map: Check your property paperwork for the survey map (also known as a plat). This map should have a drawing of the property, including boundaries and geographic features. If you can’t find this information in your paperwork, you can usually find them online or through your county assessor’s office.
  • Look for property line markers: If you own a newer property, the surveyor’s stakes may still be available. Walk around your property, and see if you can find them sticking up or pounded flush with the ground. These indicate the boundaries of your property. They’re also sometimes available on older properties, but don’t rely on them as the definitive property line. Lines can change over time, and you might be looking at inaccurate, older survey markers.
  • Read the deed: Your deed should also have a detailed description of property boundaries; however, it might simply refer to an older description of the property, which could be on file with your county or available elsewhere. Keep in mind that older deeds may refer to landmarks and geographical features that no longer exist.
  • Look for property line maps online: Your city or county auditor’s website may have property line maps available online. They often have maps and/or satellite imagery available, which will tell you the exact dimensions of your parcel. If they don’t have images available online, you may be able to get the maps by visiting in person.

Determine property lines with a professional surveyor

The most accurate way to determine property lines is with a professional surveyor. Surveyors research property descriptions, deeds and other documentation to find the exact boundaries of your land. They will also present you with important information about easements, subdivisions and any land use restrictions that may come with the land.

Hiring a professional surveyor is important when you’re buying or selling a parcel. In fact, your mortgage lender may require a professional survey. It’s a good idea to have one anyway: It will ensure that you won’t accidentally build on someone else’s property or vice versa. It’s also a good idea if you plan to take legal action against someone encroaching on your property.

When you need experienced land surveying services, call Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. today.

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