Selling or Buying Property: Do You Know Your Boundaries?


There are many documents involved in land ownership, and when you plan to buy or sell any property, one of the essential legal documents is a deed. This is a written document that conveys a property’s ownership from one party to another. Though almost everyone knows about a title deed, most people are duped into accepting worthless pieces of paper as the “proof” for their property’s ownership. This is because they do not know what should be included or excluded from their deed.

The best choice for your property ownership journey is to get a conveyancing lawyer to help you. The lawyer will scrutinize your property’s title to ascertain that it contains the six key elements that make it watertight. These include the owners’ identities, words of conveyance, signature, land description, and consideration. The following are some of the systems used for legal descriptions of land on property deeds.

Metes and Bounds System

This system uses angles and lengths of a land’s boundaries measured from a POB (point of beginning). The location of your land’s POB is one of the critical elements in this system. These can be natural or man-made permanent markers or compass directions. A natural monument is an intuitive option for land description, but nature can be destroyed and blur your property’s boundaries. You can avert this risk if you place permanent markers like steel rods or pipes on the ground.

Tier and Range System

This is also called a rectangular survey system. It uses east-west latitudes and north-south longitudes to trace your land parcel. These lines are used as baselines and the principal meridian for land demarcation. They divide the land into quadrangles measuring 24 miles (ca. 39 km) then these are further divided into township and sections. In most states, the tier and range system of land description is substituted for the metes and bounds one for small parcels of land.

signing papers

Recorded Plat System

This is used when a large tract of land is divided into lots for commercial and residential real estate. The plat is generally the legal term for the map which shows the location and boundaries of individual plots much like a blueprint. In some instances, a recorded plat can be included as a recorded survey, recorded map, or lot-block-tract on your property’s title.

Measured Elevations Systems

Your land can be described according to the elevations on it. This is commonly the case if the elevations coincidentally lie along your property’s boundaries. The measured elevation system is also the one used for the so-called sub-surface rights or air lots for storied properties. There are official state datum or reference points used by surveyors when specifying the elevation of your property.

A few people settle for informal references including an address or building for their land’s description on a title. Others are content with their assessor’s parcel number, which is primarily designed for tax collection. These two descriptions of your property on a title deed will not hold up in court in case there is a dispute on your property’s ownership or its boundaries. This is because the IRA might change its numbering system for properties and the names of buildings and streets can change, unlike the above legal land descriptions which remain constant.


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