How to Read Legal Description of Land

How to Read Legal Description of Land

When it comes to buying or selling property, understanding the legal description of land is crucial. A legal description is a detailed way of identifying and locating a specific parcel of land. It provides important information about the boundaries, size, and location of the property. Whether you are a potential buyer, seller, or simply interested in understanding property descriptions, this article will guide you through the process of reading a legal description of land.

What is a Legal Description?

A legal description is a written statement that precisely defines a property’s boundaries and location. It is typically found in the deed, title, or other official documents related to the property. Legal descriptions are essential in real estate transactions, as they ensure the accurate identification and transfer of property rights.

Components of a Legal Description

A legal description consists of several components that provide specific information about the property. Let’s take a closer look at each element:

1. Metes and Bounds: This is one of the oldest methods used to describe land. It involves using physical features and measurements to outline the boundaries of the property. For example, “Starting at a point of intersection, then running north for 200 feet, then west for 300 feet…”

2. Township and Range: This method is commonly used in the United States, particularly in rural areas. It divides land into a grid system based on meridian lines and parallels called townships and ranges. Each township is further divided into 36 sections, allowing for easy identification of a particular parcel.

3. Lot and Block: Often used in subdivisions and urban areas, this method assigns lot numbers to individual parcels. It refers to a recorded map or plat that shows the layout of the subdivision and the placement of each lot within it. For instance, “Lot 5, Block 2 of XYZ Subdivision.”

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4. Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN): This is a unique identifier assigned by the county assessor to each individual parcel of land. It helps in the assessment of property taxes and serves as a convenient way to locate a specific property within a county’s records.

Understanding Legal Description Terminologies

Legal descriptions may include specific terminologies that require interpretation. Here are some common terms you may come across:

1. Bearings: Bearings refer to the direction of a line measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. North is often designated as 0 or 360 degrees, and other directions are measured clockwise from there.

2. Bounds: Bounds describe the boundaries of a property, such as roads, rivers, or neighboring properties. They help to identify the physical markers that define the property lines.

3. Easements: An easement is a right granted to someone else to use or access a portion of the property. It could be for utilities, road access, or other purposes. Easements are usually noted in the legal description.

4. Contiguous: Contiguous means that the described property is adjacent or touching another property. It confirms that the land in question is a part of a larger parcel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Why is it important to understand the legal description of land?
Understanding the legal description of land is crucial to ensure that you are buying or selling the correct property. It helps to avoid disputes, confusion, and potential legal issues in the future.

Q2. Can I rely solely on the address to identify a property?
While the address of a property can provide a general location, it is not sufficient for legal purposes. Legal descriptions are more precise and accurate, ensuring the correct identification of the property.

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Q3. How can I obtain the legal description of a property?
The legal description of a property can be found in the deed, title, or other official documents related to the property. You can also request this information from the county assessor’s office or a qualified real estate professional.

Q4. Are there any restrictions mentioned in the legal description?
While some restrictions may be included in the legal description, such as easements or rights-of-way, other restrictions may be found in separate documents like covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) or zoning ordinances.

Q5. Can a legal description change over time?
In some cases, a legal description can change due to boundary adjustments, subdivisions, or other factors. Any changes should be properly recorded and updated with the relevant authorities.

In conclusion, understanding the legal description of land is essential for anyone involved in real estate transactions. By familiarizing yourself with the components, terminologies, and interpretation of legal descriptions, you can ensure a smooth and accurate transfer of property rights. Remember, if you have any doubts or questions, consult with a qualified real estate professional or attorney to ensure a thorough understanding of the legal description of land.