How to show property lines in Google Earth Pro

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How do you tell if a fence is yours or neighbors?

Title plans are one of the best ways to see which fence belongs to your property. Title plans may feature a ‘T’ mark showing many of your property’s boundaries, and who is responsible for maintaining them. A T mark on one side of the boundary indicates that the person on that side is responsible for the fence.

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Why Are Property Lines Important?

Property lines are important because they eliminate gray areas when it comes to property ownership. Because of property lines, you know exactly what you’re getting when you begin the process of buying a house. Property lines help you share information with your mortgage lender and/or title insurance company, who will often need to know the property lines as they’re setting the terms of your agreements with them.

Being aware of your property lines also makes you a good neighbor. By knowing the boundaries of your property, you can avoid disagreements with your surrounding neighbors, especially ones that could lead to legal disputes. The last thing you want is to sink a bunch of money into an addition on your home, only to find out you built part of it on your neighbor’s land.

Boundary Line Agreements

Boundary line agreements are written legal contracts between neighbors made to settle disputes over property boundaries. They vary slightly by state, but the point is to have a way where property owners can agree on property line usage outside of going to court.

Boundary line agreements are not the same as boundary line adjustments. Boundary line adjustments are made when property owners want to exchange land, redefining the property line between them, typically done without involving money. Boundary line agreements are specifically used when there is a dispute over land and its use.

One of the most common reasons for a boundary line agreement is when a neighbor has encroached on your property by building a structure on it. Often, this issue is only made known because you did a land survey for another project and discovered your neighbor built on your land.

In order to retain the title to that piece of property, you can create a boundary line agreement with your neighbor. In this agreement, your neighbor acknowledges their mistake in encroaching on your property and you allow the structure to remain standing. This allows you to retain legal ownership, your neighbor to use what they built and for you both to stay out of court. You retain the right to the property and if the structure is torn down or destroyed, the neighbor must rebuild it on their property.

If you wish to cede the property to your neighbor, you can file a boundary line adjustment, though you’ll need to pay review fees, and the process takes longer than an agreement. Regardless of your decision, you need to do something if you ever intend to sell or transfer the property. A neighbor’s structure on your property may make things more complicated the longer it goes unaddressed.

Additional Considerations

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.

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