Finding Your Property Line: A Guide for Homeowners

Here’s a scenario. You receive a notice of violation from your HOA regarding weeds in your front yard. Since your property lines aren’t clearly delineated with fencing or anything else, how are you to know that the property on which these weeds are growing is yours and not your next-door neighbor’s?

The answer can most likely (but not always) be found in that big packet of documents from the closing process. You still have that, right?

For many homeowners, trying to decipher closing documents is akin to attempting to get a sip of water from an open fire hydrant. That’s ok. We’ll walk you through practical methods and resources to help you identify your property lines.

Start with your deed and survey

Your property’s legal description can be found in the deed or survey documents. The deed provides a written description of the property’s boundaries, while a survey is a precise land map. Start by reviewing these documents, as they often include measurements, landmarks, and other relevant information to guide you in identifying your property lines.

Andie Huber, with This Old House, suggests, “Most mortgage lenders require prospective homeowners to have a current survey, and your title insurance also depends on it. If you bought your home recently but don’t have the survey, contact either company to see if they have a copy on file.”

What happens if you still can’t get your hands on the survey and can’t make heads or tails of the deed’s description?

Look for boundary markers

Boundary markers, such as metal stakes or concrete monuments, surveyors use to demarcate property lines. Begin by exploring your property’s perimeter and watch for any visible markers.

These markers may be buried underground, so gently probing the soil around the suspected area can help you locate them.

Be careful when digging. Utility lines are often buried as well. If you fear hitting a gas line or something else, dial 811 on your phone. This is a national number created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There is no charge to call; they will help you from hitting these hidden, underground hazards while digging.

Talk to your neighbors

A friendly conversation with your neighbors can be surprisingly helpful. They might know about the property boundaries or have conducted a past survey.

Sharing information and experiences can provide additional insights and help you understand your property lines.

Check local records and government offices

Local government offices, such as the county clerk’s or assessor’s office, often maintain property records. These records may include maps, plats, or previous surveys that can assist in identifying property lines.

Visit these offices or check their websites to access relevant information. Some counties even have online databases that allow you to search for property records using your address.

Use online mapping tools

Advancements in technology have made locating property lines easier than ever. Several online mapping tools, such as Google Earth, can roughly estimate your property’s boundaries.

While these tools may not be as accurate as professional surveys, they can give you a general idea to start with. Additionally, some counties have online mapping systems offering more precise boundary information.

Hire a professional surveyor

Hiring a professional surveyor is the way to go if you need precise and legally binding information. Surveyors use specialized equipment to accurately measure and map property boundaries.

The national average cost to hire a surveyor is Homeowners report that the average land survey costs around $516. The low end of the price range is $200, and the high end is $1045, according to

The surveyor will conduct a thorough survey of your property, locate existing markers, and may even install new markers if necessary. While this option incurs a cost, it provides the highest certainty regarding your property lines.

Ensure that the surveyor you hire is licensed and insured.

Locating your property lines is crucial for understanding your land clearly and avoiding potential conflicts with neighbors or your HOA.

While some methods can give you a rough estimate, consulting professional surveyors and relevant local authorities will provide the most accurate and legally binding information.







The Pitfalls of Automated Home Values: Why They Often Get it Wrong

In today’s digital age, homeowners and prospective buyers have easy access to a wealth of information regarding real estate. Automated home valuation tools like Zillow’s Zestimate have become increasingly popular for estimating property values. However, these tools are far from infallible and often generate inaccurate estimates.

Sadly, most real estate consumers don’t understand this, leading to overpricing of homes.

In this blog post, we will explore why automated home values are frequently wrong and shed light on the factors on which websites like Zillow base their Zestimates.

Lack of human oversight

One of the primary reasons why automated home values often miss the mark is the absence of human oversight. These valuation tools rely on algorithms and data-driven models to estimate property values, disregarding the subjective factors that can significantly impact a home’s worth.

Automated systems often overlook the home’s unique features, renovations, neighborhood dynamics, and local market conditions. Consequently, this leads to inaccurate estimates, as algorithms fail to capture the full complexity of the housing market.

Insufficient data accuracy and completeness

Automated home valuation tools rely on vast amounts of data to generate estimates. Websites like Zillow aggregate data from various sources, including public records, tax assessments, and previous sales data. However, the accuracy and completeness of this data are not always guaranteed.

The most reliable information comes from an area’s Multiple Listing Service, to which Zillow doesn’t subscribe. Instead, the company relies on information submitted by real estate agents across the country, but not all real estate agents advertise on Zillow. Therefore, the important stuff doesn’t make it into the automated home value.

Then, there are real estate agents (who are required by their MLS to update their listings on that platform within a certain time period) who aren’t held to the same stringent rules.

They often neglect to update listing information on automated home value websites, causing information to become outdated. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding your dream home for sale on Zillow only to learn that it sold a week ago.

Inability to account for unique features and upgrades

Automated valuation tools struggle to account for the unique features and upgrades that differentiate one property from another. This is something a professional appraiser will not miss, by the way.

They often rely on general characteristics of similar homes in the area, failing to consider specific details that can significantly impact a property’s value. Features like a remodeled kitchen, a swimming pool, or a picturesque view can dramatically affect a home’s worth but are challenging for automated systems to accurately assess. Consequently, these tools may undervalue or overvalue a property, leading to misleading estimates.

Ignoring local market dynamics

Real estate markets are dynamic and can vary significantly from one location to another. Automated valuation tools, however, often fail to consider the intricacies of local markets.

They rely on broader market trends and regional averages, which may not accurately reflect the nuances of a specific neighborhood or city. Factors like school district quality, nearby amenities, transportation infrastructure, and local economic conditions can all influence property values, but they are difficult for automated systems to incorporate.

Consequently, estimates may not align with the reality of the local market, leading to erroneous valuations.

Lack of contextual understanding

Another inherent limitation of automated home valuation tools is their inability to accurately comprehend a property’s context. They fail to consider subjective factors such as curb appeal, architectural style, and overall condition.

The emotional appeal of a property, which can significantly impact its value, is challenging for algorithms to gauge. On the other hand, human appraisers can and do, recognize and factor in these nuanced elements when determining a property’s worth, providing a more comprehensive and accurate assessment.

While automated home valuation tools offer convenience and quick estimates, they are prone to significant inaccuracies.

It is crucial for homeowners and prospective buyers to approach automated home values with caution and rely on them as a starting point rather than a definitive measure of a property’s worth. For a more accurate appraisal, engaging the services of a local real estate agent is important if you hope to obtain the most money possible for your home.