Looking to View Property Lines in Google Earth or Other Applications?

View Property Lines In Google Earth

You can view parcel boundaries, or view property lines in Google Earth™ and other GIS applications via a familiar map view format and quickly digest key location intelligence information.

Digital Map Products (DMP) is the premier provider of aggregated location data (including parcel and property data) as well as online mapping visual analysis technology applications. We handle the legwork of collecting and standardizing parcel and property data from County Assessors and other sources across the U.S. Data coverage is updated and expanded on an ongoing basis so the most accurate and relevant information is always available. Our clients benefit from receiving current, aggregated nationwide parcel line and property attribute data sets from one source.

Boundary Line Agreements

Boundary line agreements are written legal contracts between neighbors made to settle disputes over property boundaries. They vary slightly by state, but the point is to have a way where property owners can agree on property line usage outside of going to court.

Boundary line agreements are not the same as boundary line adjustments. Boundary line adjustments are made when property owners want to exchange land, redefining the property line between them, typically done without involving money. Boundary line agreements are specifically used when there is a dispute over land and its use.

How Boundary Line Agreements Protect From Encroachments

One of the most common reasons for a boundary line agreement is when a neighbor has encroached on your property by building a structure on it. Often, this issue is only made known because you did a land survey for another project and discovered your neighbor built on your land.

In order to retain the title to that piece of property, you can create a boundary line agreement with your neighbor. In this agreement, your neighbor acknowledges their mistake in encroaching on your property and you allow the structure to remain standing. This allows you to retain legal ownership, your neighbor to use what they built and for you both to stay out of court. You retain the right to the property and if the structure is torn down or destroyed, the neighbor must rebuild it on their property.

If you wish to cede the property to your neighbor, you can file a boundary line adjustment, though you’ll need to pay review fees, and the process takes longer than an agreement. Regardless of your decision, you need to do something if you ever intend to sell or transfer the property. A neighbor’s structure on your property may make things more complicated the longer it goes unaddressed.

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Why Is Knowing Your Property Lines Important?

Having a good understanding of your home’s property lines is a very important part of being a homeowner. Knowing where your property begins and ends can prevent potential unpleasantries or legal disputes with your neighbors. It can also ensure that you’re respecting your neighbor’s privacy and space. It’s important to note that an unknown property line encroachment could result in a title company refusing insurance.

Can I Find My Property Line Online?

Yes, you can usually find your property lines online. Your county may have online maps for all of the real estate in your area, accessible through the official county or assessor’s website. Property lines can also be found through any online search engine on Geographical Information System (GIS) maps. Another way to view property lines online is on interactive online maps.

Dig Out Your Deed for Additional Info

In older neighborhoods, property owners may have purchased or sold off portions of their yards. Locating a survey pin won’t give you this information, but the most recent legal description recorded on your deed will list any such changes. If you don’t have a copy of your deed filed with your homeowner records, get one at the register of deeds office, often located within your county courthouse.

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Check your deed. The deed contains a description of your property’s measurements and boundaries in words. Measure from the landmarks in the description to the property lines. Mark each corner with a stake or other marker. Measure from each stake to the next all the way around your property to ensure the measured lines match the deed. Physically measuring the boundaries will allow you to visually determine where the lines are and avoid encroaching on your neighbor’s land.

How to Legally Determine Property Lines

Hire a Licensed Land Surveyor

To get an accurate determination of property lines that will stand up to legal scrutiny, you’ll need to hire a professional surveyor. (Note that most states require licensure of land surveyors; check your state’s requirements.)

While a professional survey may cost a a few to several hundred dollars—or more, depending on property location, size, shape, and terrain—it’s money well spent since property disputes cost a lot more in time, potential hefty legal fees, and neighborly goodwill.

Visit the Local Zoning Department

The zoning department is the municipal office that records plats: the maps, drawn to scale, that show land division. Unless your home was built more than a hundred years ago, you can probably obtain a copy of your block and lot plat for a minimal fee. This will give you the exact dimensions of your lot—in other words, the property you legally own—in relation to other lot lines on your block.

RELATED: Setback Requirements: 7 Things All Homeowners Should Know

How Are Property Lines Calculated?

Property lines are almost always calculated using a shared protocol called the RSS or Rectangular Survey System. Professional land surveyors use the RSS to create roughly equal rectangular parcels of land, which can eventually be added and measured to create a total property outline. Through the RSS, all land parcels are divided into sections measuring about 1 mile across. However, the land parcel divisions are usually not perfect because of environmental factors like lakes, tree lines, rivers, and roads. Parcel lines are also separated into meridians and baselines, which run north to south or east to west.

How to Find Property Lines

Hiring a professional surveyor is one way to find your property lines. But if you are wondering how to find property lines on your own, there are several ways you can do it.

Pay for a Property Survey

The easiest way to find your property lines is to have a property survey (also known as a land survey) done by a professional surveyor. This will actually tell you more than just your property lines. It will also give you information on any restrictions, easements, or hazards. And the surveyor will also give you information on any underground cables/systems such as gas, telephone, water, and drainage. 

However, keep in mind that a professional survey won’t be cheap. The average professional property survey costs between $400 and $700, depending on the size of the property, its location, the terrain, etc. 

Still, if you don’t have time to find property lines on your own or don’t feel comfortable doing it, a professional survey might be your best option. 

Access Official Records

You can also find your property lines through the local government. Every county keeps public records, and that includes plat maps: maps that show exact land divisions for a town or subdivision. Plat maps show aerial views of your property and will give its exact measurements. For a small fee, you can purchase a copy of your property records. You might even be able to access the records online. 

Locate Survey Pins

When your lot was originally surveyed, survey pins were dropped along the outer edges. These are thin iron bars, two to three feet in length. If you have a metal detector or can borrow one, you would probably be able to locate them and walk the edges of your property.

However, before you try to dig up old survey pins, you need to call the utility company. Let them know your plans and ask them to mark any lines buried on your property. If you accidentally damage one of the lines, you may have to pay for repairs. Not to mention the fact that you could leave your home, or even several homes, without power while waiting for repairs.

Keep in mind survey pins are not 100% accurate, either. Pins could have been moved by previous homeowners during landscaping or other home improvement projects.

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Use Visual Clues

There might be visual clues along the edges of your property. If it ends in a ditch, road, or body of water, for example, that is likely the end of your property. Streetlights are often placed at property lines, so they might also be used as an indicator.

Also, when your home was first built, it is likely that the builder poured the concrete for the sidewalk just to the edges of your property. You might be able to tell where your piece of the sidewalk ends just by looking at it. 

Although visual clues are helpful, they are not always available. And they are not always accurate. When you are trying to decide how to find property lines, other methods are more accurate.

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Look at your property survey. The survey is a document with a rendering of the property lines and measurements, and should have been given to you when you bought your home. The distance from your house to the property line and the street should be shown on the survey. Use the measurements and details about surrounding landmarks to visually determine the property lines and avoid land disputes with neighbors.

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. 

What exactly is a property line?

Property lines are the legal boundaries to your property. They will tell you exactly where your property begins and ends, officially, so there is no question.

Sometimes property lines are very obvious. For example, your backyard might end in a lake, so there is no question as to where it ends. But other times, for instance, if your yard runs into your neighbor’s yard without any change in landscaping or elevation, they might be impossible to determine without an official property survey.

Important Things to Remember about Your Property Line:

It is always important to know your rights as a homeowner, especially when it comes to property lines. These disputes are the cause of many neighborhood arguments and can be easily stopped with some knowledge. Below are a few reminders:

  • Leaves, pods, acorns, etc. falling onto your property are considered a natural occurrence and are the property owner’s responsibility to clear away.
  • If branches fall and cause damage on your property for any reason other than a storm, your neighbor is responsible for the cleanup and damage.
  • If you and your neighbor compare deeds and the property lines do not match up, you will need to agree to pay for a survey. You have to agree to split the survey, one person cannot bully the other into paying for the survey.

Always check with your local laws before getting into a dispute. Property laws change drastically from state to state.

Get up to speed on your new home with these 12 tips.

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