Any individual who has undertaken the transfer of real estate ownership to another party would have dealt with a legal description of property. This is integral to the process, requiring the preparation of deeds and multiple land documents for the sale to be fully realized.
In this article, we delve into the concept of a real estate legal description, exploring its requirement, functions, and the three main types of legal descriptions you might encounter in the process.
The phrase "legal description of property" refers to a concise document, generally about five sentences, which explicates a certain piece of real estate. To afford a visual understanding of the property boundaries, it is routinely accompanied by a survey sketch. Its importance in real estate transactions is profound as it serves as a unique identifier that communicates the specific details of the property on sale.
Drafted by legal professionals or using the Real Estate Purchase And Sale Agreement template, the style of writing a real estate legal description can fluctuate depending on the type of property and its geographical location. However, universal elements in all legal descriptions of property include:
Location of the property boundary lines;
Defining features of the land;
Total acreage of the real estate property;
Pertinent information on the county, town, or subdivision.
In the case of 'Stoebuck, Comment, Description in Land Transactions, 49 Wash. L. Rev. (1973)', one of the property descriptions presented was ambiguous and in violation of the 'Statute of Frauds.' This doctrine mandates that the legal description of the property be sufficiently precise to identify the land in question. The case highlighted the fact that an unclear or inaccurate legal description could potentially nullify a property transaction. Consequently, this underscores the importance of having a clear and precise legal description of the property involved in a real estate transaction.
Contrasting the legal description of property with property addresses illuminates key differences. Addresses, though helpful in pinpointing a property on a map, are subject to change. Hence, an address cannot always serve as a reliable primary land identifier. Conversely, a legal description helps delineate the exact boundaries of the property and the quantum of land on sale. Even though it might seem convoluted and lengthy at first, it provides a precise definition of the land's exact perimeters, thereby preempting possible disputes.
The need for a legal description of property arises during the transfer of real estate ownership from one party to another or when a property is mortgaged. Property deeds typically include the phrase "that certain piece or parcel of land described as followed," which marks the beginning of the legal definition. Mortgage documents, sales contracts, and other legal land documents also encompass this crucial piece of information. As the cornerstone of legal transactions involving land, property descriptions legalize the transfer of correct property to the new proprietor. In addition, find other real estate-related templates necessary for such transactions.
Somewhat less commonly, property descriptions are invoked when property boundary disputes arise. According to the legal description, an impartial surveyor delineates both property boundaries, highlighting where they begin and end. In some instances, after reviewing the legal description of property, the concerned parties may challenge it. There may even be a requirement for a surveyor to reestablish property boundaries to reach a consensus. In numerous instances, one party may receive financial compensation to resolve the dispute over property ownership.
The writing style for a legal definition of property hinges largely on the geographical location of the land, its type, and its contour. There are three principal types of legal descriptions commonly used in property transactions:
Metes and bounds: The system of metes and bounds is an ancient method of describing land property. Frequently utilized to describe real estate in rural regions or large, non-subdivision tracts of land, these descriptions are incredibly precise. They describe all boundary lines, lengths, and angles. The description starts from the point of beginning (POB), delineating the direction and extent of the boundaries from there.
Government survey: This method, initiated in 1785, is prevalent in the western United States. It deploys two perpendicular lines — the baseline and the meridian, which mark six-mile-square areas called townships. Though generally concise, this method may get complex when properties fall into multiple townships.
Lots and blocks: The lot and block system serves as the most recent, and arguably the simplest, method of property description. This system applies to subdivision property- lands surveyed and divided into smaller parcels for sale. As an indication, a typical legal description of property using this system would read: “Lot 22, Block 7, of North Lakes Subdivision #3, according to map or plot thereof recorded in Plat Book 54, Page 8, of the Public Records of Miami-Dade County, Florida.”
As is evinced, the legal description of property far surpasses a mere property address in its detail and complexity. Enabling stakeholders to precisely understand their legal ownership prevents potential disputes over property boundaries. The appropriateness of the method used hinges on the kind of land in question, hence the importance of an expert legal professional well-versed in these techniques of defining a property. To further assist you, Lawrina provides a comprehensive Real Estate Purchase And Sale Agreement template, streamlining your property transactions.
Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.
A legal description of property is a detailed explanation of a piece of real estate. It's a unique identifier that serves to communicate the specifics of the property on sale in order to avoid any disputes. This description varies depending on the type of property and its geographical location but is always drafted by legal professionals.
For instance, "Lot 22, Block 7, of North Lakes Subdivision #3, according to map or plot thereof recorded in Plat Book 54, Page 8, of the Public Records of Miami-Dade County, Florida.” For further assistance in creating your legal documents, Lawrina provides a myriad of templates that may be helpful.
A legal description of property is required primarily when the ownership of real estate is being transferred from one person to another or when a property is being mortgaged. It ensures all parties involved understand the boundaries of the real estate being sold and allows for the legal transfer of the correct property to the new owner. Additionally, this description may be necessary during disputes involving property boundaries.
The choice of legal description is largely dependent on the location of the property in question and the type or shape of the land. Metes and bounds is typically used for rural areas or large tracts of lands. Government surveys are used in the western United States and use baseline and meridian lines to divide the land into square areas. The Lots and Blocks method is generally used for subdivided lands and references block and lot numbers along with the subdivision name, county, and state. It is advised to consult real estate lawyers near you to choose the appropriate method.