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Real Estate Surveys: Why Legal Descriptions Change

If you have ever needed to obtain a survey for your property, you may have been confused as to why the legal description in the survey was different than the legal description in the deed from when you purchased or obtained the property.

The short answer is that if the original legal description of your property is older (even 20 years or so), then ever-changing survey methods are the likely culprit.  The very original survey work completed in the United States dates back to the 1800s. Original land surveyors used steel chains to measure lines. One can imagine how cumbersome this would be when trying to measure out several acres and it’s not hard to see that human error could be an additional factor. It was also common to use monuments (such as trees or fences), which may have deteriorated, moved or been destroyed. Even later into the mid-1900s, it was still common to use a steel tape measure to measure lines.  Contrast that with current methods, which includes the use of satellites and GPS to obtain even more accurate measurements.   So while to the naked eye, your property boundaries look the same as they have for many years, the description of the property for legal and survey purposes may have changed.  If you are planning on buying or selling property that now has a different legal description, it may be necessary do some title work to ensure there are no title issues related to the modified legal description.  The attorneys at Fremstad Law can review your specific issue and work with you to determine the best steps to move you forward.