What Is A Section In Real Estate?

In U.S. land surveying under the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), a section is an area nominally one square mile (2.6 square kilometers), containing 640 acres (260 hectares), with 36 sections making up one survey township on a rectangular grid.

  • Definition of “Section”. Peter Pogodin, Real Estate Agent Century 21 Sweyer Associates. Measure of land representing one square mile. A section equals 640 acres.


What does section mean in real estate?

Measure of land representing one square mile. A section equals 640 acres.

What is the section number of a property?

Sections, Townships and Range These sections are numbered 1 through 36 Each Township is 6 sections wide and 6 sections long. Locate the section number. It may be abbreviated as “Sec.” A number of 1 to 36 will follow. That is the section number.

How is a section of land divided?

Sections are subdivided portions of survey townships each consisting of one square mile area of land that contains 640 acres. Sections are often further divided into: quarter sections consisting of 160 acres each; or. quarter of a quarter sections consisting of 40 acres each.

What is section land?

In U.S. land surveying under the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), a section is an area nominally one square mile (2.6 square kilometers), containing 640 acres (260 hectares), with 36 sections making up one survey township on a rectangular grid.

How does section township range work?

Sections in each township are numbered consecutively beginning with number 1 in the northeast corner of the township, and counting right to left then left to right and so on weaving back and forth through the sections of the township, and ending with number 36 in the southeast corner.

How are sections numbered?

Sections are numbered from the top right, or northeast section, then to the left, and down in an “S” formation.

What is the length and width of a section of land?

Section: The basic unit of the system, a square piece of land one mile by one mile containing 640 acres. Township: 36 sections arranged in a 6 by 6 square, measuring 6 miles by 6 miles.

How are lots numbered in a section?

The lots are numbered from 1 to 4 in an east-to west direction or in a north-to-south direction except in section 6, which lies in the northwest corner of the township.

How many feet are in a real estate section?

1 acre = 43,560 square feet. 1 section = 640 acres = 1 square mile. 1 township = 36 sections. 1 mile = 5,280 feet.

How many acres is a township square?

In U.S. land surveying under the Public Land Survey System, a section is an area nominally one square mile, containing 640 acres,with 36 sections making up one township on a rectangular grid.

How many acres is a section of ground?

In U.S. land surveying under the Public Land Survey System, a section is an area nominally one square mile, containing 640 acres,with 36 sections making up one township on a rectangular grid.

What is a section corner?

corner, section [USPLS]— A corner at the extremity of a section boundary. corner, sixteenth-section [USPLS]—A corner at an extremity of a boundary of a quarter-quarter section.

How many 40s are in a section?

For the purposes of describing land locations, each section is subdivided into quarter-sections of 160 acres. The “Quarters” are subdivided into forty acre plots known as “40s”.

Section (United States land surveying) – Wikipedia

Perfectly square in shape Central Indiana is covered by 160-acre quarter portions of agriculture. Satellite image of crops growing in Kansas, which are mostly irrigated using center pivot irrigation. The fundamental grid design consists of quarter portions (1 2 mi (1 2 mi (800 m)) separated by a half mile (1 2 mi (800 m)). In land surveying in the United States, a section is a theoretically onesquare mile (2.6 square kilometers) unit holding 640 acres (260 hectares), with 36 sections constituting onesurvey townshipon a rectangular grid, according to the Public Land Survey System (PLSS).

Sections are generally divided into smaller squares by halving and quartering them over and over again.

In 1832, the smallest block of property that could be purchased was decreased to a 40-acre (16-hectare) quarter-quarter section, which became ingrained in American folklore as a result of its size and significance.

The expressions “front 40” and “back 40,” which allude to farm fields, are used to denote the front and back quarter-quarter sections of land, respectively, in the United States.

This method may be used to split a section seven times, resulting in a 5-acre (2 ha) piece or half of a quarter-quarter-quarter section, which is an easily surveyed 50-square-chain (2 hectare) plot of land.

An abridged description of a quarter-quarter section would read “NW 1/4, NE 1/4, Sec.

This would be written as “the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 34 of Township 3 South, Range 1 West, first Principal Meridian” if it were enlarged to include the entire section.


With the introduction of section lines, property descriptions were significantly more easy than they were under the previousmetes and bounds scheme Because of the establishment of standard east-west and north-south lines (known as “township” and “range lines”), deeds could be written without regard to temporary terrain features such as trees, piles of rocks, fences, and the like, and could be worded in the style of “Lying and being in Township 4 North; Range 7 West; and being the northwest quadrant of the southwest quadrant of said section,” an exact description in this case of 40 acres, as there are 640 acres The passing of “An Ordinance for determining the method of disposing of lands in the Western Territory” by the United States Congress in 1785 significantly increased the significance of “sections” in the legal system (seeLand Ordinance of 1785).

As a result of this rule, properties located outside of the then-existing states were prohibited from being sold, distributed, or made available for settlement until they had been surveyed.

A township is defined by a square six parts by six sections in size.

There is a piece of this area that has been classified as school property. Due to the fact that the full property would not be required for the school and its grounds, the remaining portion of the parcel was to be sold, with the proceeds going toward the building and care of the school.

Roads and urban planning

It is customary for each municipality to be subdivided into 36 parts, each of which is approximately one mile (1.6 kilometers) square. Sections are numbered boustrophedonically within townships in the following order (with the north at the top of the list):

6 5 4 3 2 1
7 8 9 10 11 12
18 17 16 15 14 13
19 20 21 22 23 24
30 29 28 27 26 25
31 32 33 34 35 36

Section subdivisions

Sections can be subdivided into quarter sections of 160 acres (65 ha), each of which is called according to the intercardinal compass direction (northwest, northeast, etc.). For example, the southwest quarter of a section is denoted by the abbreviation SW 1/4. Sections can be subdivided into 40-acre (16-hectare) blocks, or quarter-quarter sections, depending on their size. These add a second intercardinal direction label to the cardinal directions. To give an example, the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter portion indicated above is designated SE 1/4, SW 1/4: SE 1/4, SW 1/4: SE 1/4, SW 1/4:


Measurement anomalies

As themeridiansconverge toward the North Pole, it is difficult to superimpose a regular grid on the surface of the globe due to the curvature of the planet’s surface. Because the United States is located in the Northern Hemisphere, if a section’s or township’s east and west sides are parallel to meridians, the section’s or township’s north side is shorter than its south side, and vice versa. Because mistakes and distortions increased as parts were surveyed from south and east to north and west, the north and west lines are the most deviant from the ideal form and size.

The entire township grid is shifted in order to account for the curvature of the earth.

Another reason sections deviate from the PLSS ideal of one square mile is due to mistakes and sloppy work on the part of surveyors, as well as faulty instrumentation and tough terrain.

Even an inadequate grid, once created, stays in effect for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that the monuments of the original survey, if found, serve as legal precedent over later resurveys.

Alternatives and legacy systems

Despite popular belief, the Public Land Survey System was not the first organization to create and use a survey grid. A variety of similar systems were formed, many of which used names such as section and township but not necessarily in the same way as the other systems. A township grid was laid up in advance of the establishment of the PLSS on the lands of the Holland Purchase in western New York, as an illustration of this. It was common practice in colonial New England for land to be split into squares, known as towns or townships, and then subdivided further into parcels known as lots or sections.

  • They are not, however, a component of the PLSS, and their form and size are irregular as well.
  • When the majority of a parcel, orlot, is submerged beneath a body of water, another exception to the typical usage of sections and section numbers is created.
  • Parcel numbers within aplatted subdivision are frequently used rather than PLSS descriptions to identify parcels within a subdivision.
  • In an effort to uphold these land concessions when the United States gained control of Florida, surveyors used descriptions from confirmed land grants to define the initial limits of the grants and produced PLSS sections that extrapolated from those lines in an effort to uphold the gifts.
  • Those tracts are referred to as “fractional sections,” and they are frequently exempt from the definitions of townships and ranges.
  • 59, Township 0 South, Range 0 West” as an example of the first sentence.

After much debate, an Act of Congress, passed on April 9, 1872, reaffirmed the precise position of the Georgia–Florida state boundary in its final form.

See also

  1. C. Albert White is the author of this work (1983). An Overview of the Rectangular Survey System’s History (PDF). The United States Bureau of Land Management is based in Washington, D.C.
  2. Abc Andro Linklater, Andro Linklater (2002). This book explains how the United States was shaped through the largest land sale in history, entitled Measuring America. Isbn: 0-452-28459-7
  3. Plume, pp.72, 166, and 234. The authors, Phillip C. Muehrcke and Juliana O. Muehrcke are co-authors on this work (2001). Reading, analyzing, and interpreting maps are all important skills (4th ed.). pp. 234–239.ISBN0-9602978-5-5
  4. Ab”Tutorial on the Public Land Survey System Descriptions,” JP Publications, pp. 234–239.ISBN0-9602978-5-5
  5. Ab”Tutorial on the Public Land Survey System Descriptions,” JP Publications (PDF). The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a state agency. Retrieved2020-01-14
  6. s^ Murray, William Gordon, and others (1969). Appraisal and Valuation of Farm Assets (5th ed.). Pages 53-54. ISBN 9780813805702
  7. OCLC246381719
  8. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 2003.

Further reading

  • Raymond and William Galt are two of the most famous people in the world (1914). In the Classroom and on the Field, Plane Surveying is useful. American Book Company
  • Johnson, Hildegard Binder
  • New York: American Book Company. The Rectangular Land Survey of the United States and the Upper Mississippi Country Oxford University Press published a book in 1976 called


One square mile is the area of land covered by this measurement. A piece of land is equivalent to 640 acres.

Have a question or comment? We’re here to help.

When a bankrupt individual declares bankruptcy, they might be appointed by the court or his or her creditors to handle various tasks, including as selling his or her assets and managing the monies raised from the sale of those assets. The practice of having two contracts for the same transaction is considered illegal. It is possible to use one contract as a ruse to get the second contract through deception. Borrower makes a considerable down payment, with the remainder of the loan total paid in equal recurring payments over a short period of time.

  1. As an illustration, consider the case of a real estate salesperson.
  2. One of three options is available to a property owner who has mineral rights to his or her property.
  3. When a debtor fails to make payments on a loan secured by a deed of trust, the trustee is compelled to arrange for the sale of the real estate security for the benefit of the lending institution.
  4. The exterior finishing finish of a structure that serves to protect it from the elements on the outside.
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PrepAgent.com – Government Survey System, Sections, and Townships

The Government Survey System is the topic of discussion today. What is the purpose of the Government Survey System? Normally, when you tell someone where to find a property, you provide them with a street address as well. For example, the address of a letter may be 1234 PrepAgent Street, Awesomeville USA, or something similar. But what if there isn’t an address to be found? And what happens if there aren’t any roads? More than a decade after the formation of the United States, the Government Survey System was put in place as a government land survey system throughout the country.

  • If you truly want to understand what the early settlers of America were up against, imagine yourself in the middle of a large valley, surrounded by trees, rocks, and perhaps a brook or two.
  • What method will you use to locate it?
  • The way it works is as follows.
  • A baseline, which runs east to west, and a major meridian, which runs north to south, are both used to measure distances.
  • Lines are drawn approximately every six miles on both sides of the baseline, and approximately every six miles on both sides of the meridian line, starting from the fixed Point of Beginning.
  • This is a really crucial topic, so please allow me to reiterate it!
  • That’s still a significant amount of territory, therefore townships are subdivided even more.

Because there are things like lakes and other natural boundaries, it is possible that not all areas will be a perfect 1 square mile.

The visual aid of an example, on the other hand, makes it much easier to comprehend the concept.

It’s important to remember that each township contains lines called tiers that go east to west and range lines that travel north and south, respectively.

In our case, the township is described as tier 4 north, range 5 west, according to the legal description.

Now that we’ve recognized the township T4N R5W, which stands for tier four north range five west, we can go on to the next step.

This is when the use of parts comes in handy.

Normally, we think of things like numbers in the same way that we think of reading a book.

After that, you go down to the next line.

Section 1 is located in the upper-right corner of the township map, and sections 2 through 6 are counted from left to right until you reach section 6.

Now you’re in section 7, and you’ll be counting from left to right until you reach section 12, where you’ll drop down to section 13, and then back and forth, almost like a snake, until you reach section 36, which is located in the southeast part of the township.

Why would they choose a numbering system that is so out of the ordinary?

The only option for you to survey this township is to go around it and hand mark off the boundaries of the property.

Assuming that the majority of us do not possess superhuman abilities, it seems reasonable to employ a numbering system that allows you to move through town in the most expedient manner feasible.

‘All right, let’s get back to our example.

Using a starting point in the northeast corner and counting down the sections until you reach section 6, we can locate section 9.

We’ll be using fractional inscriptions from now on.

For more specific location information, it is the southwest half of the northwest corner of section nine on the map.

When all of these components of description are combined, the legal description of your property as determined by the government survey method would look somewhat like the following: SW 12 NW 14, S9, T4N, R5WIt appears to be a jumble of nonsense, but it reads something like this: SW 12 NW 14, S9, T4N, R5WIt appears to be a jumble of gibberish, but it reads something like this: Section nine, township four north, range five west, contains the southwest half of the northwest quarter of section nine, township four north, range five west.

It is important to note that when we read the description, we begin with the more detailed information and go to the more general information.

If you find yourself struggling to remember which information comes first in a legal description on the test, keep in mind that the sequence is the same as your house address: particular information comes first, followed by information that gets more and more generic as the description progresses.

I hope this has provided you with a better understanding of how the government survey system operates.

Legal Descriptions of Real Estate

Real estate contracts, deeds, mortgages, and trust deeds are all legally enforceable documents that need a legal description of the property that is legally sufficient to be binding, which means that the description would allow a qualified surveyor to determine the property’s exact borders. The legal description of a property does not contain any of the structures on the land; rather, it solely includes the property’s borders. The legal description of the property is also an essential factor in determining the price of the property.

  • Indeed, addresses are frequently renamed throughout time, and even physical boundaries, such as the flow of a nearby creek, might shift.
  • Legal descriptions are often created by a professional surveyor who has received specialized training and is permitted to find and determine the legal description of any piece of real estate.
  • There are two papers that the surveyor creates: asurvey that contains information on the property, and a survey drawing that depicts the location and size of the parcel.
  • Computers, satellites, lasers, and global positioning systems, among other technologies, have substantially improved the accuracy of property descriptions today (GPS).
  • The county and state in which the property is located are always included in the legal description.

Metes and Bounds System

Before the rectangular survey method was devised, metes and bounds descriptions were employed in the first 13 colonies. Starting at the point of beginning, the ametes-and-boundsdescription makes use of the lengths and angles of boundaries (POB). Because amete is a boundary line and limits is the region encompassed by the metes, the term “bounds” was coined. Beginning with the point of origin, the length of each border and the angle that it creates with the preceding boundary are specified in detail.

It goes without saying that in order for a metes and bounds description to be legally sufficient, the location of the POB must be specified, and this is usually done through the use of a amonument(akalandmark), which can be a large artificial or natural object or other stable structure, such as rocks or trees or streams or railroads or roads or intersections, that is recorded by surveyors to locate property.

Many memorials nowadays are iron pins or concrete pillars that have been set by surveyors or the United States Corps of Engineers.

Tier-and-Range System

It was defined by Congress in 1785 for the marking of enormous areas of land that the United States received during its early years, including the Northwest Territory, using the rectangular survey method (also known as the Tier-and-range system or government survey system). Geographical places are specified by utilizing a rectangular coordinate system, thus the name, that is composed of major meridians that run north and south and are distinguishable by their longitude, andbase linesthat go east and west, which are distinguishable by their latitude.

They are further subdivided into 16 townships, with each side of a township measuring 6 miles and covering a total area of 36 square miles.

Small parcels of land are described using a mete-and-bounds description, which is used in conjunction with the rectangular survey method in several states.

Correction Lines

Because the Earth is an oblate spheroid, range lines are not precisely 6 miles apart over its whole length, as they must finally converge to the same point at the North Pole, which is not exactly 6 miles away. To accommodate for the fact that a township’s north boundary will be somewhat shorter than its south boundary, correction lines are drawn between the two boundaries. Correction lines and guide meridians are placed every fourth township line — a distance of 24 miles — as well as guide meridians that run north and south at 24 mile intervals from the principal meridian and are exactly parallel to the principal meridian, so that the discrepancy in area bounded by the correction lines and guide meridians — known as agovernment check— can be compared to the actual area bounded by the regular meridians, and the discrep Amounts are modified in sections near to the township’s north and west limits according to well-established norms, with the difference between the government check and the actual area being used as a basis for the adjustments.

However, because they are slightly less than 1 square mile, the modified parts are referred to as fractional sections, whereas the remaining sections in a township are standard sections, which are each exactly 1 square mile.

Fractional Sections and Government Lots

Other than the fact that the meridians are not exactly parallel, fractional sections of more or less than one square mile can occur for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the rectangular survey was carried out by separate crews working independently, resulting in gaps of less than six miles between the different surveyed areas, and the fact that the meridians are not exactly parallel.

It is also possible that fractional sections be generated by physical obstacles in surveying the land, for example, because portion of it was submerged in water or because a township border was circumscribed by a state boundary line.

Government lots are parcels of land that are less than whole quarter sections of 160 acres.

Lot-and-Block System

In addition to the lot-and-block system (also known as the recorded plat system), there is also the lot-and-block system (also known as the recorded plat system), which refers to specific parcels of land identified by a lot number or letter as well as the block, or subdivision plat, in which the lot is located. In order to find the block itself, either the metes and bounds technique or the rectangular survey system must be employed. The lot-and-block system gives the lot and block numbers, as well as the name or number of the subdivision plat, as well as the names of the county and state, in order to identify a specific parcel of property.

Measuring Elevations

Elevation drawings may be used in the description of some properties. The use of elevations is also required for the acquisition of so-called air lots or subsurface rights. Adatum, for example, is a point, line, or surface from which elevations are measured that may be used to define condominiums placed on upper levels or lower floors, depending on their location. A datum specified by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as the mean sea level in New York Harbor is used to determine elevations throughout the United States.

As a result, surveyors commonly employ benchmarks, which are permanent reference points consisting of brass markers embedded in solid concrete or an asphalt foundation and used primarily for the purpose of establishing a datum.


Any legal description must include measurements as a component of the description. Chains and rods were employed to measure distances in the olden days because surveyors at the time utilized these tools to measure distances. The following chart illustrates the link between the most commonly used units for measuring distance and area in real estate: Units of Measurement for Length

  • The length of one rod is 16.5 feet, or 5.5 yards
  • The length of one chain is 66 feet, or 4 rods, or 100 links
  • And the length of one mile is 5280 feet, or 1760 yards, which is 320 rods, or 80 chains.

Area Measurement Units

External Links

  • A thorough explanation of the Tier and Range System, illustrated with diagrams and illustrations
  • A detailed explanation of the Tier and Range System

Chapter 12 – Legal Descriptions

Methods of Land Description: An Introduction When land ownership first became common, a method of defining the borders of a property was required so that people could tell where their own land stopped and their neighbor’s land started. It was necessary to have a method of defining the boundaries of a person’s property. Natural borders acted as useful landmarks until a tree fell or a creek changed course, at which time they were no longer useful. It was necessary to devise a better method, one that would be more long-lasting and dependable.

  • In our everyday lives, we rely on street addresses to locate property, and you may believe that using street addresses would be the most effective method of identifying property in a legal setting.
  • Street addresses, on the other hand, are not always dependable, despite their convenience.
  • What are some of the possible causes of this situation?
  • However, if the street address was the primary method of identifying the property, these changes would generate confusion since people would not know where the previous street name and number had disappeared to, or how to locate the new one.
  • A legal description might be lengthy and appear confusing, but it is a more specific means of stating where a piece of property is located than other methods.
  • You can image the difficulties that would arise if a property was purchased and sold, a house was built, and a family moved in only to discover that the property was in the incorrect location.
  • Consequently, it would cause issues that might have been avoided if the right legal descriptions had been confirmed in the first place.
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What level of specificity is appropriate?

The legal description can be found in a variety of locations in real estate documentation, including sales contracts, mortgage papers, deeds, title information, and other documents.

When it occurs in several places, it should be double-checked to ensure that the description is accurate.

There are three major techniques of describing real estate: metes and bounds, government survey, and lot and block.

Here’s a more in-depth look at how they function.

In land surveying, the term metes and bounds is used to describe the boundary lines of land, laying down each boundary line with its terminal points and angles in one convenient location.

It is more commonly used when describing non-subdivision property or vast swaths of land, whereas lot and block identification is more commonly used when describing subdivision property or huge tracts of land.

The metes and bounds surveying system has been in use since the founding of the United States of America, making it the world’s oldest system of land measuring.

The aim, on the other hand, remains the same: to represent the boundary lines that define a piece of real estate in terms of lengths, directions, and angles, as well as other information.

Monuments, milestones, and the point of commencement are some of the terms that are utilized in the metes and bounds description, among other things (POB).

The POB monument is often a concrete pillar or an iron pin that has been installed by an engineer or surveyor.

All descriptions must return to the POB, thereby terminating the geometric description, in order to be considered legitimate.

Next, the program instructs the user on how far and at what angle they should go from that point to the next point, and so on until they are back at the starting position.

There are two compass points in this heading, with S representing the compass point (south) and 23 representing the number of degrees, and W representing the compass point (west), which corresponds to 23 degrees west of the compass point (south).

Minutes and seconds, in this context, relate to fractions of degrees and are employed when great precision is required.

This technique, also known as the geodetic or rectangular survey system, is employed in various parts of the United States, with the majority of its applications occurring in the western United States.

This would be an example of a government survey that would use baselines and meridian lines to collect data.

After that, lines are drawn approximately every six miles from the baseline and primary meridian of the study area.

The lines that run north-south are referred to as range lines.

The townships are separated into 36 tracts, which are further subdivided.

A section is approximately 640 acres in size.

Using alternating lines that go in opposing directions, the numbering method is a centuries-old system.

When the number 7 appears, it slips down one square to the number 12 and then directly below it to the number 13, which flows over to the box on the far right through the number 12.

While the official survey description for vast lots of land is rather basic, when it comes to smaller parcels of land, the description grows lengthier and longer as the government attempts to get down to the finer aspects of the property.

Meridians, baselines, standard parallels, guide meridians, townships, and sections are some of the terms that are used in government surveys.

Whenever the guide meridians coincide with the standard parallels, they come to an end.

The lot and block survey system, also known as the documented plat survey system or the recorded map survey system, is used to locate and identify land parcels in subdivisions, often in the form of lots.

A plat map, also known as a cadastral map, is a map that delineates the boundaries of a subdivision and is documented as a legal description.

Plat maps frequently include information about roadways, sections, monuments, and public easements in addition to the locations of the lots and blocks on the map.

Each description includes information on the platted subdivision phase, the block (if applicable), and the specific lot, all of which are referred by the book and page number where the information is found in the book.

Here’s an example of how these metrics are used to land when it is measured, split, and sold to demonstrate how they work.

The land has been described using the metes and bounds system, which is a type of governing system.

The 40 acres must be separated into smaller residential lots with suitable roadways, easements, and access to ensure that the development may proceed.

The plat map, which will be developed by a certified surveyor, will set out the specifics of the subdivision by utilizing blocks to represent the land.

They are not incompatible with one another.

The final plat map is documented once all renovations are complete and the subdivision has been authorized by the local government.

Land surveying is dependent on three fundamental factors: distance, elevation, and angles.

Then we’d make a 90-degree turn and continue east for 160 feet before turning around.

That is all there is to it when it comes to measuring a rectangle lot.

Assume we start at the southwest corner and travel 130 feet north, then turn at a 45-degree angle travelling southeast for 130 feet, and then turn at a 45-degree angle southwest straight back to where we started at the POB, forming a triangle lot.

After spending some time studying the plat map and wading through the weeds in search of the markers, you’ll be pleased you took the time to learn about the fundamentals of how property is surveyed, since you’ll be able to assist in locating the markers that mark the corners of the lot.

The verification of lot lines must be carried out by qualified surveyors or engineers in order to be credible.

Real Estate License Math NW1/4 of the SE 1/4 of section – Spruce School

Getting Started with Land Description Techniques In order for individuals to know where their land stopped and their neighbor’s land started, there had to be a mechanism to designate the borders of their property when they first acquired it. Someone’s property had to be defined in some way, and there had to be a mechanism to do it. Up until a tree fell or a creek changed channel, natural boundaries functioned as useful landmarks for locating where you were. It was necessary to devise a better method, one that would be more long-lasting and consistent.

  1. In our everyday lives, we rely on street addresses to locate property, and you may believe that using street addresses would be the most effective method of identifying property in a legal context.
  2. Street addresses, on the other hand, are not always dependable, despite their accessibility.
  3. Is there a list of possible causes for this to occur?
  4. Even if the street address were the primary method of identifying the property, these changes would generate confusion since people would not know where the previous street name and number had disappeared to, or how to discover the new one.
  5. Despite the fact that a legal description might be lengthy and technical, it is a more exact technique of specifying the location of a property.
  6. As an example, consider the difficulties that would arise should a property be purchased and then sold, a house be built, and a family be relocated only to realize that they were in the incorrect location.
  7. Consequently, it would result in issues that might have been avoided if the right legal descriptions had been confirmed in the first place.

What level of specificity is required?

Real estate paperwork, including sales contracts, mortgage agreements, deeds, title information, and other documents, frequently includes the legal description.

Lenders also utilize it to ensure that they have adequate collateral for the loan.

What are the many types of description approaches you might employ?

The following is an in-depth examination of how they function.

In land surveying, the term metes and bounds is used to describe the boundary lines of land, laying out each boundary line with its terminal points and angles in clear detail.

Generally speaking, it is used to describe non-subdivision property or big swaths of land, whereas lot and block identification is more commonly linked with subdivisions and smaller areas of land.

With origins dating back to the founding of the United States, metes and bounds surveying has long been the most widely used technique of land measuring in the world.

Its function, however, remains the same, namely, describing with distances, directions, and angles the boundaries that constitute a piece of real estate.

Monuments, milestones, and the point of commencement are some of the terms that are utilized in the metes and bounds description, among others (POB).

It is common for an engineer or surveyor to place an iron pin or concrete pillar as the point of departure memorial.

To be legitimate, all descriptions must end with a return to the POB, which closes the geometric description.

Next, the program instructs the user on how far and at what angle they should go from that point to the next point, and so on until they are back at the beginning position.

In order to define the parcel, angular measurements are used.

Minutes and seconds, in this context, relate to fractions of degrees, and they are employed when great precision is necessary.

It is also known as the geodetic or rectangular survey system and is utilized in many parts of the United States, with the majority of its applications occurring in the western part of the country.

Baselines and meridians would be used in this survey, which would be an example of a government-sponsored survey.

Once the baseline and primary meridian have been established, lines are drawn approximately every six miles from those points.

In the United States, townships are rectangular squares that are six miles by six miles in size.

Approximately a mile square divides each of the tracts, which are grouped together as sections.

It is the first time that this has happened.

Consider the grid: The number 1 is in the top right corner, while the numbers 2-6 go from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.

The numbering proceeds from top right to top left, then left to right for row 2, then right to left for row 3, and so on until the last square, number 36, on the bottom right of the pattern is completed.

A separate approach is often used for subdivisions since this one can become unmanageable.

Guide meridians are located at 24-mile intervals east and west of the primary meridian, running north from the baseline, or standard parallels.

Subdivision, lot, and block The lot and block survey system, also known as the documented plat survey system or the recorded map survey system, is used to locate and identify property parcels in subdivisions, often in the form of lots or blocks.

This legal description is documented as part of the plat map, also known as a cadastral map, that delineates the lots in a subdivision.

Plat maps frequently include information about roadways, sections, monuments, and public easements in addition to the locations of the lots and blocks on the plot.

Information on the platted subdivision phase, the block (if applicable), and the individual lot is included in each description, with the book and page where the information may be found as a point of reference.

Another example would be Lot 2 of Block 3 of the Mountain River Subdivision plat is recorded in Map Book 47, Page 5.

Consider the following scenario: a landowner owns a huge parcel of property and wishes to partition it into tiny residential lots..

The lot in question, which our landowner wishes to subdivide, is a quarter-quarter section, or 40 acres in total.

In certain cases, it may be divided into many phases, each with its own subdivision map and plat map.

Metes and bounds can be used to describe each individual lot inside the plat map.

A preliminary plat map will be submitted to the city or county for approval by the subdivider.

Prospective purchasers are frequently provided with a copy of the plat map, which they may use to learn more about the form of their lot and the way the community is split before making a decision.

Suppose we were to survey a 160-by-120-foot rectangle of land.

Once we reached 160 feet, we’d turn at a 90-degree angle, heading east.

It all starts with the fundamentals of measuring a rectangular plot of land.

How would that appear?

It is unlikely that you will ever need to survey a property, as this is a job that should be performed by a licensed surveyor or engineer, but you may find yourself on a property with a buyer who is interested in determining the property’s lot lines.

Of course, you should keep in mind that your estimates are just that: estimates.

However, you will be grateful that you understand how property is described and identified so that you can assist your buyer or seller in understanding what they are looking at when reviewing a plat map or reading a legal description, and you will be able to explain why an accurate description is critical.

Now You See Why a Section is 640 Acres?

As a result, I was aware that a portion represented 640 acres. Okay, let’s see what we can accomplish with that particular number of digits. Depending on their size, sections can be split into halves (320 acres) and quarters (480 acres) (160 acres). So that’s the easy part out of the way. There is a further layer of complexity added by the fact that EACH of those pieces may be further split into half and quarters. But it isn’t all that difficult…. It’s a matter of elementary mathematics. Forty acres here, forty acres here, forty acres here, forty acres here, forty acres here.

  1. Good!
  2. There is a good reason for this.
  3. At the end of the inquiry, we are asked how many acres are involved.
  4. So let’s take a closer look at the question and dissect it.
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If a farm described as “the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of section 10, Township 2 North, Range 3 West of the 6 thP.M.”

In it, it asks, If a farm defined as “the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of section 10, Township 2 North, Range 3 West of the 6 th P.M.” sold for $4,500 an acre, what was the total sales price of the farm? So, how about we have a look at this? They are interested in knowing the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4. Let’s put that on our sections grid to serve as an illustration. We’ll use the directions north, south, east, and west to help us think things through. Starting with the south-east quadrant, we’ll go from there.

Now, do you want to hear something completely insane?

I created that because it makes more sense to teach real estate licensing math if we lay it out, but all we needed to know here was that they wanted to know the size of a quarter of a quarter.

a good thing

So You See the Size is 40 Acres

Moreover, guess what? There will always be 40 acres in one-fourth of a quarter of a sector. Because all portions are broken up like this, and they’re all a liner mile up and down, and they’ll always be the same size, it doesn’t matter if it stated it wanted the SE 14% of the NW 14% or the NE 14% of the SW 14% or any of that nonsense. In the end, it didn’t matter that the question was about a farm on Planet Neptune that was described as “the NW 14 of the SE 14 of section 40, Township 20, of the eastern coast of the Bahamas, past the 400th Meridian to the southern lake,” because all they wanted to know was the number of acres in a quarter of a quarter of a section of land on the planet.

We KNOW the land is 40 acres in size, so we simply need to conduct some basic math here.

Now, why did I go through all of this trouble to demonstrate this to you?

These methods can prepare you to cope with the growing number of questions about real estate licensing math including sections and land descriptions that are being asked these days.

It’s really that simple. During your enrollment, you’ll have access to the teacher for all of your real estate education requirements at any time of day or night!

How Do You Read The Legal Description Of Property In 2021?

What exactly is the legal description of a property, and why is it vital to be able to understand it in the first place? The legal description of real estate is a description of the property that is sufficient for legal reasons to identify it. It enables you to determine the exact location of a certain piece of property with pinpoint accuracy. It is, in essence, a description of the real estate that you are purchasing or selling. Typically, the legal description is used in conjunction with your deed or deed.

Legal descriptions, which are one of the most significant pieces of information that is involved in land transactions, are essential to comprehend before purchasing real estate property.

What is the legal description of a property?

Legal descriptions are used to describe real property, and they might be based on a government survey, a metes and bounds survey, or the lot numbers of a documented plat of land. Thedescription must be detailed enough so that a piece of land may be found and recognized based on the information included in it. Legal descriptions are retained with the deed and submitted with the county clerk or tax assessor who oversees property tax collection. You’ll need the legal description for any sales contracts, deeds, or mortgages you enter up with the seller.

They serve as an independent third-party fact-checker for news organizations.

If one party believes that they have been shortchanged by the outcome, monetary recompense for the perceived loss is often the most effective strategy to avoid any negative sentiments.

Why does the legal description matter?

Previously said, and we will state it one more: It goes without saying that a property’s legal description is among the most important pieces of information to have when completing a land purchase. Why? Because receiving the wrong piece of land due to an erroneous legal description is a possibility, if the legal description is incorrect. Ultimately, you are the owner of the property described in your deed’s legal description. If this is inaccurate, it means that you do not truly have legal ownership of what you believe you do.

In fact, these letter-number combinations aren’t given much care by even the most experienced real estate investors.

They are automatically copied and pasted from one document to another without thinking. Don’t keep blaming others for your mistakes! Consult with a land surveyor to ensure that the legal description of your property is accurate and ready to be sold so that you can go forward with confidence.

What types of legal descriptions exist?

While learning about reading legal descriptions, you’ll quickly discover that there are several distinct sorts of legal descriptions to choose from. Understanding the distinction might be beneficial as you proceed through the process of property ownership and land acquisition. Lot and block: : : : : : : : The most straightforward of the most frequent survey kinds to comprehend. The lot and block scheme is most frequently connected with the development of a planned community. In many cases, the age of the property as well as the presence of the corners and other features indicated will influence the results of the lot and block surveys.

  • Every lot and block survey is a component of a bigger plat plan that has a permanent reference monument or control point that may be referenced at any time.
  • When measuring the circumference of a property given in a legal description, bearings and distances are used, and the measurement is based on the physical characteristics of the property’s geography, as well as directions and distances.
  • When land survey areas are irregularly sized and/or shaped, this approach is the most appropriate.
  • Metes and bounds: the boundary line of a property is found by measuring the distance between two places; it may also be used to define the direction of a piece of land.
  • Land survey markers, also known as monuments, are objects that are placed on a property to mark important surveys on the land’s surface.
  • In the United States, it is a crime to willfully destroy, remove, or deface permanent survey markings without the consent of the owner.
  • The point of commencement assists the surveyor in locating the point of beginning, which is the location where the property truly begins.
  • In general, they are considered to be the easiest to compose, but the most difficult to poll.

It is necessary for the surveyor to locate three of the section’s certified corners, which are approximately a mile apart, and walk there with their equipment in accordance with the legal description.

How does a legal description differ from other types of descriptions?

Landowners may make the mistake of conflating the legal descriptions of their properties with other descriptions of their properties, such as their street address or the description provided in the property tax records. It is critical to note that the legal description is the only one that is legally sufficient for the transfer of the stated property in question. A legal description (as well as the information that is meant to be contained in it) that is improperly written on the deed results in the incorrect piece of real land being transferred from the former owner to the new owner.

Avoid relying on the property tax record description, which is sometimes limited and inadequate when it comes to properly characterizing a piece of real estate in question.

Finally, never substitute another description for the legal description that is already in force.

How to read the legal description of the property

In this section, we’ll look at the grid system, which was first used in the United States in 1785, and see if we can figure out how to interpret a legal description of property. Keep in mind, however, that some legal descriptions are quite technical, and as previously said, there are several sorts of legal descriptions, making it difficult to find what you’re searching for if you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for. Do not be hesitant to seek the assistance of an expert eye if you are having difficulty obtaining all of the information you want from a written description.

  • When looking for land, it’s important to understand the Township System and how it works.
  • States will be represented by a Cartesian graph, with an east-west axis and a north-south axis drawn through the center of each state.
  • For example, a township that is 2 miles south of the state’s parallel line and 2 miles east of the vertical line would be designated as (T2S-R2E), which stands for Township 2 South, Range 2 East in the state’s grid system.
  • These square miles are referred to as sections, and each section has a unique number.
  • Each square mile is divided into sections, each of which is 640 acres in size.
  • Using the section number (for example, Section20) and adding it to the beginning of the townshipas Section 20, Township 2 South, Range 2 East, you might characterize your land more accurately (S20, T2S-R2E).
  • A surveyor may describe land by splitting it into fractions, generally starting with quarter sections, and then describing each fraction in turn.
  • This explains why 40 acres is a popular land size in the United States — a section of property comprises 16 blocks of 40-acre tracts, which is the most frequent land size in the country.
  • As a result, even if your land is not included on the title, it still has a section, township, and range designation.

If you’re looking for your specific block or lot, go for the development’s survey map (the plat). In addition to showing blocks and lots, it will also display information that differs from both street addresses and official lot descriptions.

How can you avoid issues with the legal description?

Are you baffled by the prospect of learning how to read a legal description of real estate? You wouldn’t be the first person to possess land, would you? Fortunately, title insurance may assist you in protecting yourself and your property rights from any uncertainty, forgeries, or confusing recorded paperwork that may arise. In the event of a title insurance claim, you (or any of your neighbors) will have the means to correct a problem that you have identified with a legal description. All that is required of you is to submit a title claim with an expert title specialist in order to fix the situation.

  1. Make certain that you have title insurance in place.
  2. Keep in mind that it serves the same purpose for you as the homeowner.
  3. Not every underwriter will demand a fresh survey to be completed prior to closing.
  4. Obtaining a new study for each and every real estate purchase might assist you in avoiding any unneeded complications.
  5. In the event that there are any issues with the legal description, the title agent and surveyor will identify them and work to resolve them prior to the closing.

Final thoughts

Understanding how to read a property’s legal description is a skill that many landowners and prospective buyers overlook. That being said, before proceeding with any sale, you and your real estate agent should make certain that you and your agent have verified the age of the legal description. Unless the legal description has been copied and pasted from an outdated survey, it’s worth your time and money to hire a land surveyor who can bring the information up to date on your property. It’s always preferable to deal with a legal description of a property before it becomes a problem, even if your title insurance will cover you in the worst-case scenario.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

We also have additional resources for you.

Additional Resources

If you are seeking for inexpensive land to purchase, you may find it on our Listings page. Before you acquire property, be sure to review the Gokce Land Due Diligence Program to ensure that it meets your needs. If you are wanting to sell land, please see our article on How to Sell Your Land for more information.

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Now is the time to subscribe. I hope you have found this content to be interesting. If you are interested in purchasing or selling land, you should look into the following: Disclaimer: We are not attorneys, accountants, or financial advisors, and the information contained in this article is provided solely for informative reasons.

Our own research and experience have informed this post, and while we strive to keep it accurate and up to date, it is possible that some inaccuracies have occurred. Before making any investment choices, it is recommended that you contact with a legal or financial specialist.

Erika is a former Director of Affordable Housing for the City of New York who has transitioned into a full-time land investor. She used to assist New Yorkers in finding inexpensive homes; now she assists others in finding affordable land around the United States. She graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Architecture and with a Master of Urban Policy from Columbia University before establishing Gokce Capital. Before joining the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, she worked as an architectural designer and an engineer in the city’s design and construction industry.

She has been married for seven years.

Also a big fan of reading and travel (interesting fact: she has visited all 50 states and more than 30 countries!

It is now possible to purchase her new book, Land Investing Mistakes: 11 True Stories You Need To Know Before Buying Land, on Amazon.

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