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an exact way of describing real estate in a contract, a deed, a mortgage, or another document that will be accepted by a court of law.
Metes and Bounds
The earliest form of legal description, still used by original 13 colonies. Shows the boundaries of the parcel and where they meet.
Point of Beginning
In a metes and bounds description, a definitely designated place where the measurement begins and ends.
Linear measurements and compass directions. Gives the distance (metes) and direction (bounds). Begins with either N or S, then the number of degrees E or W, using a surveyor's compass.
Fixed objects used to establish real estate boundaries. (ex. stones, large trees, lakes, streams, streets, highways, markers, etc.)
Rectangular (Government) Survey System
Established by Congress in 1785 to standardize the description of land acquired by the newly formed federal government. Based on 2 intersecting lines, principle meridians (N/S) and base lines (E/W)
6 mile wide N/S strips that run parallel to the principal meridian.
Lines running E/W, parallel to the base line and six miles apart.
The squares formed by intersecting ranges and township tiers. They are 6 miles square and contain 36 square miles (23,040 acres).
Township's Description (3)
Includes the township tier, range strip, and name or number of the principal meridian for that area. ex. T3N, R4E 4th Principal Meridian.
- Subdivisions of a township square.
- Each township contains 36 sections.
- Each Section is one square mile (640 acres).
- Numbered 1-36.
- Section 1 is always in the NE, or upper right-hand, corner.
- Numbers run right to left, drop down, then left to right, drop down, etc...
- Section 16 is referred to as a School Section.
- Can be divided in the halves and quarters down to a 10 acre square
Reference to a Recorded Plat (Lot and Block)
- Uses lot and block numbers (plat or subdivision) placed in the Registry of Deeds of the county where the land is located.
- Is the most common and worry-free method of describing property in urban areas.
Reference to a Recorded Deed
Using an earlier deed to the identical property.
Sets forth the legal description of the property and a survey sketch which shows the location and dimensions of the parcel.
Physical Survey, Mortgage location survey, or a Location survey
Show the location, size, and shape of buildings located on the lot.
Shows the lay of the land; hills and valleys.
Using a street address as a property description, is not adequate to convey property but is acceptable in a lease.