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.


Aliquot Parts

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.


Strip Descriptions

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.

Curious to Know More?

Our staff has provided professional surveying services, including writing of legal descriptions, for residential and commercial developers across northern Michigan for more than 50 years. Our experience in thoroughly and efficiently surveying and describing subject property has saved clients significant time and money. Click here to contact us and learn more.