One of the most critical things for new homeowners in particular to understand is where their property begins and ends.
Property lines show you the exact boundaries of your property, which can be useful if you’re planning on doing any type of construction or other home improvement-related project. If you want to install a pool in your backyard, for example, it stands to reason that you need to know precisely how large your property actually is so that you don’t encroach on a piece of land that you don’t actually own.
There are a wide range of different ways to find out your property lines in the event that you weren’t given this information at the time of purchase. A lot of people don’t realize that Google Maps – the popular online GPS tool – is one way to accomplish precisely that.
It’s important to note that while Google Maps does have the ability to show property lines, this information isn’t always available for a variety of reasons. Sometimes Google just doesn’t have access to that data, at which point it can’t display it. Still, it’s something that you should try and it will only take a few moments.
Open the web browser on your computer and head to the Google Maps website at http://maps.google.com. From there, enter your exact address into the “Search” bar at the top of the screen.
The initial view that you see will resemble a standard GPS grid. Click the button labeled “Layers” to switch over to a satellite photo view.
Click the red pin on screen to center the view over your home. Then, continue to click the “+” button in the lower right corner of the screen to continue to zoom in.
In the event that Google has access to your property line information, it will be displayed once you zoom in far enough. You should be able to see not only your own property lines, but those of your neighbors as well. If you keep zooming in and nothing actually happens, that means that this method unfortunately isn’t going to work for you.
Keep in mind, however, that there is a chance the Google Maps technique outlined above won’t necessarily be as accurate as finding your property lines through other methods.
By far, the most accurate way to find out where your property begins and ends is by reviewing the property survey. If you didn’t receive this information when you originally purchased your home, the chances are high that you can find it by checking your local clerk’s office. You could also have a survey conducted on your own, although this can be quite expensive and depending on your needs may not be worth it.
If you do decide to have a professional survey conducted, make sure to find someone who is licensed in the state you actually live in. They’ll use GPS technology, CAD tools and other solutions to come up with an accurate and precise indication of where your property begins and ends.
You can also check what is called your plat, which is a map that shows a property’s exact measurements. This document will also have an overview of the property lines. Again, in the event that you didn’t receive one when you originally bought your home, you can likely find it by making a visit to your local zoning department.
If your home is older than 100 years old, they may not be able to find the plat. But it’s still worth a try – especially if you’re getting ready for a big backyard project like putting in a new fence.
Finally, you can examine the exterior of your property for what are called survey pins – essentially markers in the ground that were used to determine the exact property lines the last time a survey was conducted.
This also comes with a bit of a caveat, as depending on the age of your home the pins could have been moved over time. Sometimes utility workers may have needed to get them out of the way to perform a certain task, or a pin that was by a tree that has since been removed may have been misplaced.
Having said that, if you combine this technique with some of the other methods outlined above, you will likely come away with a pretty accurate indication of where your property lines begin and end.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about how to make Google Maps show the property lines in your area, or to speak to someone about your own home buying or selling needs in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact AmeriMac today.
The fully staffed customer service department at Amerimac Appraisal Management is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. EST to 8 p.m. EST.
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