Content of the material
- How To Find Property Lines
- Read The Property Line Map, Or ‘Plat’
- Check The Deed To The Property
- Acquire A Property Line Survey
- Look For Property Line Markers
- What Remedies Do I Have if My Neighbor Starts to Use My Property?
- Locate Hidden Property Pins
- Check Sidewalks and Street Lights
- Why is it important to know the location of your property lines?
- Where Can I Find Information That Will Tell Me My Exact Property Boundaries?
- How To Find Your Property Stake:
- Sign up for the Newsletter
Check the official website for the assessor’s office in your municipality. Some assessors have mapping tools available online for all of the real estate in the area. Use the maps to find the boundary lines for your property and to determine where nearby landmarks are located, such as the west line of your street. The landmarks are fixed points that you can use to measure from. Using a tape measure, measure the distance from each of the landmark points to your property line as shown on the maps.
How To Find Property Lines
While locating property lines might seem like an overwhelming task, there are many easy ways a property owner can find or evaluate theirs. Consider the following:
Read The Property Line Map, Or ‘Plat’
A property line map, or a “plat,” is a drawing that maps out your property’s boundary lines, and includes details like elevations, bodies of water and structures. You might even be able to find maps of neighboring properties if you have shared property lines. A plat is typically included with your property’s paperwork, available at your local assessor’s office, or accessible online.
Check The Deed To The Property
One way to check your property lines is to look at the deed of the property. As a legal document about your property, the deed should have a worded description of your land’s boundaries. If for some reason the current deed does not describe the property lines, it will refer you to an older one that does. But know that if you use an older deed, it may include landmarks or other features that no longer exist.
Acquire A Property Line Survey
A property line survey is a precise measurement of a land’s legal boundaries. If a property line survey is not already included with the plat and the property deed, you can hire a professional surveyor to measure out where your property ends and your neighbor’s begins. Land surveyors will also research the property’s history regarding things like subdivisions, easements, and ecological restrictions. Your mortgage lender will usually require a new survey be done for the property upon purchase.
Look For Property Line Markers
Some newer properties might include property line markers, such as stakes, from when the properties were first divided. If you have a more recent property, you can likely still find these markers if you walk your property lines and look closely for stakes that are either sticking up or are flush with the ground.
As a homeowner, it’s crucial that you’re aware of property lines so that you can respect your neighbor’s property and avoid any legal disputes. If you’re struggling to find your home’s property lines, utilize one of the aforementioned strategies, or go online to check. Remember that before you or your neighbor build a fence on the property line, make sure to consult with each other and a real estate agent about your property’s rules and regulations. For more information about buying real estate, check out our other resources for further reading on properties and mortgages.
What Remedies Do I Have if My Neighbor Starts to Use My Property?
If you think that your neighbor is starting to use your land, even if it’s just a minor thing like building a fence in the wrong location or installing a drainage pipe that crosses the property line, you need to act immediately.
Property boundaries are very important when it comes to the use of land, and even a small encroachment by your neighbor onto your land may result in consequences that you cannot foresee.
For instance, if your neighbor builds a fence or a new driveway that comes onto your property by a few inches, this may be enough for a title company to refuse to issue insurance when it comes time to sell your house.
Also, many states have laws that allow a person who uses another’s land for a long enough time to gain a legal right to use the land. In some cases, they gain ownership of that land through adverse possession.
As with most situations, the best option is to start talking with your neighbor as soon as you notice the encroachment. The neighbor may have made a simple mistake and will correct the error.
If your neighbor does not want to cooperate, your best option is to point out the deed showing the property boundaries, or to hire a surveyor to come out and place new property line markers. If the neighbor does not stop building on your land, hire a lawyer and bring a trespass lawsuit. A judge can issue an order to force your neighbor to stop building on your land.
Locate Hidden Property Pins
Survey pins are thin iron bars, 2 or 3 feet long and sometimes capped with plastic, which the original survey crew inserted on the property lines. If you have access to a metal detector, move the device over the ground along the sidewalk to the curb to locate the survey pin. Pins may be buried just under the surface, or up to a foot below. A few days before you dig, however, you must call 811, the free, federally designated number that will route you to your local utility company. Ask the utility company to come out and mark any buried lines so you don’t unintentionally hit one. There’s no charge for this service, but if you damage a buried utility line, you could end up having to pay to repair it.
Check Sidewalks and Street Lights
Examine the lines that are cut in the sidewalk in front of your house. Often, the contractor who poured the sidewalk started and stopped on the property lines, so those cut lines may coincide with the edges of your property. As well, the appearance of the concrete on your side of the property may be slightly different from that on your neighbor’s side. Streetlights, too, are often placed on property lines. While these visual clues are good indications of property lines, if you intend to build or install something on your land, you’ll need additional verification.
Why is it important to know the location of your property lines?
Property lines are in place to keep one property owner from encroaching on another owner’s land or compromising their privacy by building too close to their house. A typical encroachment might be tree limbs that grow past your property and overhang into a neighbor’s yard or a driveway poured to extend onto a neighbor’s property. When you know exactly where your property lines fall, you’ll avoid accidentally encroaching on your neighbor’s land.
If you plan to build a permanent structure, you’ll want to be as accurate as possible, and ordering your own land survey is the best option. In most states, you are required to call a diggers hotline 811 to request buried utility information before you build a fence, plant a tree, or extend your driveway. This call ensures you know the location of any buried wires or irrigation systems to avoid causing damage. Within a few days’ notice, someone from your local utility company should be able to mark county wires or pipes with spray paint or flags.
Since property line information can be valuable to someone you may sell your house to, you will want to keep all records. Keep a copy of a new survey you’ve completed, a plat map, or any information from the city or county offices in digital or hard copy format. If you do a new survey, you may also need to register it with your county assessor or recorder. During the sale of a property, the title company will search for encroachment of one property into another. They may refuse title insurance to the seller if they find a property line dispute.
When you know how to find your property lines, you’ll gain peace of mind for any project that could come close to the edge of the property. Showing respect for your neighbor and their property rights can help you avoid a lawsuit.
Visit the county recorder’s office or the assessor’s office. Ask what maps are available for public viewing that include your neighborhood and street. Request a copy of any maps that show clear dimensions of your property lines. Use the maps for reference when measuring your property’s total boundary line on each side.
Where Can I Find Information That Will Tell Me My Exact Property Boundaries?
You may be able to find the property markers or boundary monuments yourself. They will be located at the corners of your property. Often these are metal pins or stakes buried 6"-10" below the surface at each corner. The markers should be shown on the land survey. You can use a shovel and a metal detector to find them. You can also reference the description in your deed and walk the boundaries of your property
You may find information about how to find markers on properties like yours by visiting the section of your city’s website that deals with construction and permits.
If you are experienced enough to read and understand a land survey, you can request a copy of the land survey or subdivision plot from your county clerk’s office. These documents are required to have detailed information regarding where your property boundaries are, but they are complex and are written for professional surveyors.
If you want to know exactly where your property boundaries are, hire a licensed land surveyor. he or she will come out to your land and place markers on the boundary lines of your property. You can find licensed land surveyors in your area by searching the internet or visiting your town hall and asking city staff who does surveys in your area. (In rural communities there may be only one surveyor who handles a large area.)
In most situations, the cost of a land survey is dictated by the size of the land that is to be surveyed, whether there is an accurate subdivision map already existing, geographic location, and the last time the land was surveyed.
The cost of a survey typically starts at $500 and goes upwards into the thousands of dollars. If your land has not been surveyed for a long time, or if there are multiple existing survey maps that conflict with each other, you can expect to pay more.
How To Find Your Property Stake:
It is much more common for the stakes to be several inches underground. Not so deep that they match up with the frost line, but deep enough that some digging is necessary. In that case, your best bet is to buy or rent a metal detector (inexpensive ones cost less than $50). When you’ve found your target, dig down to make sure that it’s really a stake and not just a lost quarter.
After you have found the iron property stake, replace the dirt and hammer in a small piece of wood as a visible marker.
Note: If locating your property lines precisely—in a legal dispute, for example—we strongly recommend that you hire a professional surveyor.
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