How to Find Your Property Lines
As a homeowner, it’s important that you know where your property lines are. Whether you want to know if your garden on the edge of your lawn is actually within your property lines or you need to know if you or your neighbor are responsible for the slowly dying tree between your houses, understanding exactly where your property begins and ends is a must. We’ve put together a list of tips to make your property-line-finding mission as easy as possible.
If you’re not convinced that knowing where your property lines are located is crucial, don’t worry — we’ll convince you in no time.
Why Do Property Lines Matter?
Generally speaking, the more property you have, the more it’s worth. But does that extra thousand feet to the north of your property that you didn’t know belong to you really matter when it comes to value? In a small way, yes — and there are plenty of other reasons it matters, too. Check them out:
So you know where you can put fences, gardens and other property. If you put in a fence on what you thought was your property without actually checking, you could be legally obligated to move it or face legal damages. Either way, you’ve made an expensive mistake that could have been avoided.
So you can know what your responsibilities are. It might sound simple, but knowing if you’re responsible for cleaning up the leaves that fall from a particular tree, how far over you should mow your lawn and how much sidewalk you’re obligated to shovel can help you be a better neighbor and stay on good terms with everyone in your neighborhood.
So you can list your property honestly and accurately. An informed buyer will want to know exactly how much property they’re buying, especially if it’s a lot with a home and additional acreage. Any sort of misleading rental listing could potentially expose you to a lawsuit or shut down a pending sale — but even if it doesn’t, your reputation would still be irreversibly damaged.
How Do I Figure Out Where My Property Lines Are?
Now that you know why understanding where your property lines are located is so important, here’s how you can get a 100 percent accurate assessment of what you own:
Find your home’s deed. When you bought your home, you gained ownership of its deed. In the deed, there should be measurements, descriptions, maps or a combination of the three that explain how much property you own. Deeds will oftentimes mention landmarks as markers of your property, and if those landmarks no longer exist, you may need to use another method to get an accurate assessment.
Search for boundary markers. If your home is relatively new, you’ll have a better chance of actually finding your physical boundary markers. When your property was initially surveyed, actual markers were most likely placed along your property lines. Different communities will have different standards, but it’s usually a metal pole-like item. Markers may be buried, damaged or worn down, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find them.
Get a plat map. Sometimes a plat map is included in your deed — but if it’s not, you’re not out of luck. A plat map shows how land (such as neighborhoods) is divided and where lots begin and end. Call or visit your county’s courthouse to see if a plat map can help you find your property lines.
Hire a land surveyor. While it’s probably the most expensive way to figure out your property lines, you won’t find a more accurate method. Price can depend on the size of your lot, the terrain of your property and many other factors, so you may want to shop around and get quotes from multiple companies.
Talk to your zoning department. Your community’s zoning department and/or assessor’s office should have all sorts of records on neighborhoods and other property in your city, town or village. And even if they can’t help you, they may be able to recommend a reputable surveyor to answer your questions and solve your problem.
Once you’ve nailed down your property lines, you can now build, plant or remodel your property within those bounds as you see fit — but make sure to adhere to your local community and neighborhood rules and standards.
And don’t forget to talk to your American Family Insurance agent about protecting your property with a customizable homeowners insurance policy to defend yourself against the unexpected and get the peace of mind you deserve.