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Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions: Composition, Construction, and Comprehension

ISBN: 978-0-470-54259-0
288 pages
September 2011
Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions: Composition, Construction, and Comprehension (0470542594) cover image

The only modern guide to interpreting and writing real property descriptions for surveyors

Technical land information is no longer the exclusive domain of professional surveyors. The Internet now houses a multitude of resources that nontechnical professionals—such as attorneys and realtors—access and implement on a daily basis. However, these professionals are trained in aspects of law and commerce that do not provide the proper education and experience to interpret and evaluate their land boundary information discoveries correctly. As a result, their analysis is often erroneous and the data misapplied—ultimately leading to confusion and costly litigation.

Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions attempts to bridge the ever-widening gap between the users of land boundary information and the land surveyors who produce it. An expert team of authors integrates the historic and legal background of real property interests with fundamental concepts of the surveying profession in a manner accessible for average readers. These provide the basics for both properly comprehending older descriptions and competently constructing complete and modern real property descriptions that foster better communication. Highlights in this book include:

  • An in-depth exploration of historic descriptions and how to read them

  • Coverage of the widely accepted ALTA/ACSM Land Boundary Survey standards and associated property descriptions

  • A diverse collection of examples and practice scenarios

  • An overview of the latest issues related to the use of GPS and GIS

Written in easy-to-understand language, this practical resource assists nontechnical professionals in understanding exactly what a surveyor does and does not do, and serves as a valuable tool for obtaining the most satisfactory, accurate, and complete real property descriptions.

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FOREWORD xi

1 INTRODUCTION 1

1.1 Property / 1

1.1.1 Personal Property / 1

1.1.2 Real Property / 2

1.1.3 Ownership / 2

1.1.4 Possession / 3

1.2 Title and Interests in Real Property / 4

1.2.1 The Concept of Title / 4

1.2.2 Fee Simple / 7

1.2.3 Limited Title / 7

1.2.4 Easements / 12

1.3 Transfers of Title and Interests / 26

1.3.1 Written Transfers and Conveyances / 27

1.3.2 Unwritten Transfers and Conveyances / 30

1.3.3 Statute of Frauds / 33

1.4 Deeds / 35

1.4.1 Legally Sufficient / 38

1.4.2 Abstract of Title / 39

1.4.3 Recordation / 40

2 LAND RECORD SYSTEMS 45

2.1 Overview / 45

2.2 Metes and Bounds / 47

2.2.1 General History / 47

2.2.2 Legally Sufficient / 48

2.3 United States Public Lands System / 51

2.3.1 History / 51

2.3.2 Aliquot Division / 53

2.4 Platted Subdivisions / 56

2.4.1 History / 56

2.4.2 Recorded Plats / 57

2.4.3 State and Local Regulations / 58

2.4.4 Federal, State, and Local Government Maps / 59

2.4.5 Linear Tracts / 59

2.5 Combined Record System Descriptions / 67

3 DIRECTIONS 71

3.1 Angles / 71

3.1.1 General / 72

3.1.2 Interior Angles / 72

3.1.3 Exterior Angles / 74

3.1.4 Deflection Angles / 74

3.2 Meridians / 75

3.2.1 General / 75

3.2.2 True North / 76

3.2.3 Astronomic North / 77

3.2.4 Magnetic North / 77

3.2.5 State Plane North / 78

3.2.6 Assumed North / 78

3.3 Bearings / 79

3.3.1 North-South Reference Lines / 79

3.3.2 East-West Reference Lines / 81

3.3.3 Reversing Directions / 82

3.3.4 Generalized Directions / 82

3.4 Curved Lines / 83

3.5 Azimuths / 86

3.6 Compass Directions and Headings / 87

4 MAP PROJECTIONS 91

4.1 General / 91

4.2 Projectionless Maps / 94

4.2.1 Government Land Office (GLO) Plats / 95

4.3 Conformal Plane Projection / 95

4.3.1 Tangent Plane Projection / 96

4.3.2 Lambert Projection / 96

4.3.3 Transverse Mercator Projection / 97

4.3.4 State Plane Projection / 99

4.3.5 Universal Traverse Mercator (UTM) / 101

4.3.6 Global Positioning System (GPS) / 101

4.3.7 Geographical Information Systems (GIS) / 102

4.4 Application / 103

5 PLATTING TO DESCRIBE 107

5.1 General / 107

5.2 Original Surveys / 108

5.2.1 Identifying the Bounding Parcels / 109

5.2.2 Monumentation / 112

5.2.3 Directions / 116

5.2.4 Distances / 119

5.3 Retracement Surveys / 121

5.3.1 Hierarchy of Calls / 123

5.3.2 Identification of Lines / 124

5.3.3 Area and Significant Figures / 125

5.3.4 Recovery of Monumentation / 128

5.3.5 Perpetuation of Monumentation / 129

5.4 Preserving the Evidence in Words: A Case Study / 130

5.5 Reference to Plats in Descriptions / 135

6 COMPOSING, COMPREHENDING DESCRIPTIONS 141

6.1 General / 141

6.2 Hierarchy of Calls / 142

6.2.1 Elements of the Boundaries / 144

6.3 Caption / 152

6.3.1 Land Record System / 153

6.3.2 Clarify Intent / 154

6.4 Body / 156

6.4.1 Point of Commencement / 156

6.4.2 Point of Beginning / 158

6.4.3 Elements of the Boundaries / 160

6.5 Elements of the Description / 173

6.5.1 Qualifications (Additions, Subtractions,

Reservations) / 173

6.5.2 Closing and References / 177

6.6 Punctuation and Language / 177

6.6.1 Key Words or Phrases / 179

6.6.2 Construing Ambiguous Deeds / 188

6.7 Deed Discrepancies—Conflicts / 202

7 ALTA/ACSM SURVEYS 207

7.1 Land Title Insurance / 207

7.1.1 Why a Survey Matters / 208

7.2 ALTA/ACSM Survey Standards / 209

7.3 Mandatory Requirements for ALTA Surveys / 210

7.4 Accuracy Standards / 212

7.5 Informational Options / 215

7.6 The Description for an ALTA/ACSM Survey / 215

7.7 The Surveyor Is in Charge / 216

8 SITUATIONAL AWARENESS 219

8.1 Deed Discrepancies—Conflicts / 219

8.2 Professional Responsibilities / 220

8.2.1 Understanding Historical Context / 220

8.2.2 Clarity and Completeness: Extrinsic Evidence / 224

8.2.3 Clarity and Completeness: Consider the Future / 227

8.2.4 Clarity and Completeness: Addressing Three Dimensions / 228

8.3 Regional Lexicon and Local Practice / 233

8.3.1 Limitations on Local Practice / 238

8.3.2 Marketable and Registered Title / 238

8.3.3 The Effect of Legislation and Courts / 241

8.4 Introducing Uniform Language / 244

8.4.1 “Commencing” versus “Beginning” / 246

8.4.2 Word Choices, Grammar, and Punctuation / 248

8.5 Breaking Old Habits / 248

8.5.1 Repeating Old Descriptions Verbatim / 249

8.5.2 Destroying Evidence / 250

8.5.3 Jargon, Colloquialisms, and Abbreviations / 251

8.5.4 Sentence Construction and Punctuation / 253

8.5.5 Copying a Writing Style / 254

AFTERWORD 255

TABLE OF CASES 257

INDEX 259

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Stephen V. Estopinal, PLS, PE, is the Surveying Division Manager at SJB Group, a land surveying, civil engineering, real estate services, and program management service company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has been in the practice of land surveying for more than forty years. Author of A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys, Third Edition (Wiley) and columnist for Professional Surveyor Magazine, he is a frequent lecturer on surveying matters and regularly serves as an expert witness.

Wendy Lathrop PLS, CFM, President of Cadastral Consulting, LLC, is a professional land surveyor, planner, and Certified Floodplain Manager, involved since 1974 in projects ranging from construction to boundary to environmental land use disputes. She has been presenting seminars for her colleagues across the country since 1986 and is a contributing editor for The American Surveyor magazine. She is a past president of the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

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August 10, 2011
Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions: Composition, Construction, and Comprehension

Technical land information is no longer the exclusive domain of professional surveyors. The Internet now houses a multitude of resources that nontechnical professionals—such as attorneys and realtors—access and implement on a daily basis. However, these professionals are trained in aspects of law and commerce that do not provide the proper education and experience to interpret and evaluate their land boundary information discoveries correctly. As a result, their analysis is often erroneous and the data misapplied—ultimately leading to confusion and costly litigation.

Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions attempts to bridge the ever-widening gap between the users of land boundary information and the land surveyors who produce it. An expert team of authors integrates the historic and legal background of real property interests with fundamental concepts of the surveying profession in a manner accessible for average readers. These provide the basics for both properly comprehending older descriptions and competently constructing complete and modern real property descriptions that foster better communication. Highlights in this book include:

  • An in-depth exploration of historic descriptions and how to read them

  • Coverage of the widely accepted ALTA/ACSM Land Boundary Survey standards and associated property descriptions

  • A diverse collection of examples and practice scenarios

  • An overview of the latest issues related to the use of GPS and GIS

Written in easy-to-understand language, this practical resource assists nontechnical professionals in understanding exactly what a surveyor does and does not do, and serves as a valuable tool for obtaining the most satisfactory, accurate, and complete real property descriptions.

See More
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