Know Where You Stand: Here's How to Find Your Property Lines

by Team eLocal
A female technician wearing a yellow safety jacket and a blue work helmet and gloves looks through the viewfinder of the instrument she is using to survey land or measure property lines

-Do you know exactly where your property lines run? You likely have a general idea, or you might have a fence that you assume marks your boundaries.

Knowing exactly where your property lines are can come in handy, especially if you're planning outdoor projects or home additions.

Why You Should Know Where Your Property Lines Are

Property lines or boundaries mark exactly where your land begins and ends. It might seem obvious, but many homeowners are surprised to find out exactly where their property lines run. Your mortgage lender or title company might require you to have a survey done to establish official boundaries before you buy a house.

Knowing your property boundaries can be particularly beneficial when dealing with neighbors. If you have an official survey showing the boundaries, your neighbors can't argue with you on where your land is. The boundaries can be used to determine who is responsible for a tree that falls and destroys property if it's near the line, for example.

You'll also need to know where the property lines are if you're planning to build a fence or add any kind of structure to your property that could be close to the boundaries. Building it on or too close to your neighbor's property could force you to take it down and rebuild it. Many areas prohibit you from building a structure within a certain number of feet of your neighbor's property.

How Do You Find Where Your Property Lines Are?

There are several options when determining how to find property lines. They include:

Surveys

You can hire a surveyor to determine the boundaries of your property. Your lender or title company should also have a recent survey on file, so you might be able to get a copy from them.

Plats

A plat is a map of your property lines along with the structures, elevations and other details about your property. You might get a copy of the plat with paperwork about your house, or you can access it through the assessor's office.

Property Deeds

You should also find a written description of the property boundaries in your property deed. An older deed could make it difficult to determine your boundaries since it might refer to property features that aren't there anymore. You can use the description in the deed along with a tape measurer to get an idea of where your property lines run.

Property Line Markers

Some properties might have physical markers at the corners of the property. They're often metal stakes that might still be sticking up or lying flush with the ground. Older properties might feature buried markers, which you can sometimes find using a metal detector. These markers can be moved, so they're not always accurate.

Do You Need a Survey to Locate Property Lines?

You don't need to hire a professional surveyor to survey the land if you only want to know the property boundaries for personal reasons. However, if you need to know the property lines accurately for legal reasons, you'll need a professional survey. This might be necessary if you're having a legal dispute with a neighbor over the boundaries.

How Much Does It Cost?

The average cost of a land survey is $550. The actual cost varies by your location and the complexity of the property, including the property size and terrain. Surveys can cost more if the surveyor has to do lots of research to determine your property boundaries or if they have to travel a long distance to get to the property.

Is There a Way to Locate Property Lines for Free?

You can locate your property lines for free if you use the plat, deed description, property markers or old property markers. These sources should give you a fairly accurate idea of where your property starts and stops. However, these free methods won't likely hold up in court if you have a legal dispute over the boundaries. Legal situations typically require professional surveys to prove where your property lines lie.