Tips to Decipher Legal Descriptions
Legal descriptions can be complex and tricky to interpret, but they are important to gain an exact understanding of a piece of real estate. Generally speaking, there are four types of legal descriptions.
This method refers to a division of a section, such as NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of a Section. Often the most difficult to read and decipher, these descriptions are most effectively read backwards while hand sketching to pinpoint the subject area. Download our Land Section Nomenclature card for additional information.
Metes and Bounds
Metes and Bounds describes the perimeter of an area by a series of lines. The lines are connected either by use of cardinal directions, surveyed bearings, and distances, or by physical objects or record lines that surround the area.
Lot and Block
Lot and Block descriptions commonly describe platted areas, including subdivisions or condominiums. Condominium lots, usually called units, can be ground space or building space. Lot and block descriptions require access to a copy of the plat or condo map to identify the property and view its dimensions.
Easements and rights-of-way are commonly described using this method by distance and width, or by centerline with a prescribed width in either direction.
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