The language and legal terminology used in a legal description is very important. Be very careful when using phrases, like ‘along the fence’ or ‘along the wall’―the terms should not be misleading. Carry on a proper survey and then draft the document.
To know how to find a legal description of property, you need to understand the term first. Every real estate property has a standard written definition. This helps identify the property correctly. You must be pondering over the necessity of having a separate document for property definition when every property is different and unique in its own way. However, this description is very important, for it is used as a standard reference for the future. The property might be demolished or renovated tomorrow; at such times, this description gives you the right location and structure of the building. In the paragraphs below, you will learn how to get the legal description of property.
As mentioned earlier in the article, a legal description, at its simplest, describes a property completely.
It includes the land details, boundaries, distances, county names, etc.
It is a universally known fact that the property deed should have the full legal description of property.
In the USA, there are 4 types of legal descriptions:
1. Government land survey
3. Lot and block numbers
4. Metes and bounds
Some descriptions may use a combination of the above 4. The fact, however, is that the basic terminology should be used effectively, and it should be in compliance with the established laws.
When you purchase a property and are drawing up an instrument of conveyance, do not forget to include the legal description.
Methods to Find the Legal Description
Towards the end of the previous paragraph, it has been mentioned that your property deed should contain the legal description. This can be one of the first options you can choose in order to find the description.
Whenever a property transfer takes place, the description is included in the deed.
If you have bought the property a while ago, there is quite a chance that you have forgotten where the deed is as of today. Begin by searching your house.
If you have lost or misplaced the deed, do not fret; a copy is always filed for safekeeping and is available at the recorder’s office or title companies.
If you have not yet paid the debt on the house and you have a mortgage, your deed will be with the lender. Legally, it is supposed to remain with him until you pay your loan completely.
Deeds can even be available online; you can access your local Registry of Deeds.
However, most counties require you to submit the request personally, in addition to charging a set amount as fees.
You can find the legal property description in your county accessor’s office. Legal descriptions are on public record, so do not worry about getting court orders.
These offices are not situated in the city hall or administration buildings; they operate externally.
Pay a visit to their office and put in a request to find the legal description.
You must know that even your property tax statement carries the legal description. Remember though, that not all offices maintain property tax records.
If you stumble upon an agency that does maintain property databases, you need to put in a personal request to find your property’s description.
These offices may give you your property deed or property tax statement or just find the legal description themselves and give it to you.
There are many sites that may help you find the legal description. Option 1 already mentions locating your deed online.
Besides, there are other property databases that may help you in this regard.
The sites should be legal and registered though; do not enter property information on any random site that you are not sure of.
When you research and find an authentic online source, find out where to enter the basic information.
After that, enter the address of the property and click ‘Search’.
You can access the property’s ‘Home Info’ page.
To begin with, select the option ‘Homes’ from the drop-down list.
Type the address in the ‘Find’ bar and access the map.
Click on the address within the map. On the left side of the screen, you will come across the ‘Home Info’ tab.
Click on it and proceed to the ‘Home Facts’ section. You will find the legal description in there.
In fact, some sites even provide information, like the zip code, real estate taxes, owner’s name, assessed value, etc.
At the Attorney’s
Your real estate property lawyer’s are the ones who help you draft the legal description.
They would definitely be having a copy of your property documents, for reference. Talk to them and get the legal description.
Title companies are also instructed to conduct searches about properties. You can contact the nearest title company and obtain a title report.
Many real estate and registry agents have access to property information as well; you can contact them to get your property description.
Remember though, that these are all third parties and have their own rules and regulations.
Some of them may charge you, some may not, some may be welcoming, while some may be hostile.
Do not expect that they will take the trouble of finding the description and handing it over to you whenever you want. You may have to be patient until they agree to cooperate with you.
Property descriptions are written based on the chosen description method.
If the ‘metes and bounds’ method is selected, you will need to mention the boundaries, like streets, creeks, etc., and the directions and land size.
The ‘courses and distances’ method is one of the most elaborate methods of describing land. In this type, the exact course and distance is given.
Factors, like length, direction, bearings, angles, etc., are measured and documented.
Legal descriptions must include a proper commencement and closure, along with landmarks, like sides, monuments, encroachments, curves, county, township, range, traverse lines, subdivision, etc.
Two simple examples of legal description of property are provided below.
A tract of land in the state of Kentucky, county of Frankfurt, with the address building 8, Empress Road, Frankfurt, Kentucky. Zip code: #####-####. Property owned by Mr. Oliver Marshall, with a tax assessor number of ####-###-###. Located in the south quarter of the north half of section 20, township 10 north, range 10 west. According to declaration thereof, building recorded on date mm/dd/yyyy.
Beginning at a point 500 North and 300 East in the South-west of lot 8, Block 2, Section 4, township 10. Thence North 100 feet, Thence South 200 feet, Thence East 100 feet, Thence West 200 feet to the Point of beginning. Zip #####-####. Located on New Venture Road, New York City, New York.
Note: The information given in the examples above is fictitious and is to be used solely for reference purposes.
Preferably, every minor detail about the property should be included in the description. The real estate lawyer must be well-versed with the standard procedure and designations, and should know how to draft a proper legal description. Also, make sure that the document considers how to deal with adjoining properties (encroachments) as many people disregard this fact and get into legal trouble later on.