What is the legal description of property?

For the sale to be completed, anyone who has transferred the ownership of the real property to another party must have drafted a deed and other land documents. This article will explain what a legal description of real estate is, why and when it’s needed, and which types you might encounter.

What does the legal description of property mean?

The legal description of the property (legal definition) is a five-sentence document that describes real estate. A survey sketch is often included to help visualize the boundaries of a property. In real estate transactions, it is essential because it serves as an identifier that allows everyone to know the property’s details. Legal professionals always write them, but the style varies according to the type of real estate and its location. All legal descriptions of real estate may include information about the following:

  • The boundary line of the property
  • Landmarks are the distinctive features of the land.
  • The total area of the property
  • The county, the town, or the subdivision

You can see that a property’s legal description and address differ. Addresses can be changed, but the address can still help locate the property. It is, therefore, only sometimes practical to use an address as a primary identifier for land. On the other hand, a real estate legal description helps everyone understand the exact boundaries and the amount of land being sold. Although it may seem more complex, the legal definition is more precise and helps avoid disputes.

What is the need for a legal description of property?

A legal description is needed when real estate ownership is transferred to another person or property is mortgaged. The legal description of real estate is found in the property deeds, after “that particular piece or parcel described as follows.” It can also be found in mortgage paperwork, sales contracts, and other legal land documents. This ensures that all parties know the boundaries of the sold real estate parcel. It is also needed to transfer the property legally to the new owner.

A legal description is also used in less common situations, such as when neighbors disagree about the boundary of a property. A neutral surveyor can help resolve these disputes by examining the legal description. The surveyor will be able to confirm who owns the land and describe where the property boundary begins and ends. Either party can challenge the legal description of a property. A surveyor may redefine property boundaries so that both parties are happy. In many cases, a monetary reward is given to the party who agrees to land ownership.

Legal descriptions of property

How a legal description of real estate is written depends on the land’s location, type, and shape. Legal definitions of land are commonly reported in three different ways: metes and bounds, government surveys, and lots and blocks. Let’s look at these three types of legal descriptions in greater detail.

Metes and BoundsIt is the most common method of measuring land for property descriptions. This is a common way to describe land with irregular shapes or land in rural areas. These definitions describe the lengths and angles of all boundary lines. They are accurate. To do this, they use terminology like monuments, benchmarks, and the point of origin (POB). The POB is the starting point for the definition. It then tells how far the boundaries extend and in which direction they go until the boundary reconnects.

Government Survey

In the West of the United States, the measurement system used by government surveys started in 1785. The system uses two parallel lines: the baseline, which runs from east to west, and the meridian, which runs from north to south. The land is divided into six-mile square areas called townships. The townships can be further subdivided to create tracts and sections. This is the most concise way to describe a land parcel that only falls within a single boundary. However, It can become complex, especially if the property is in multiple townships.

Lots and Blocks

The lot and block system is the third way to define property. It is the simplest and most recent method. It can be used only on subdivision properties – i.e., land that has already been surveyed and divided into smaller lots for sale. A subdivision plat is what this is called. This definition will always include the lot number and the block where the lot is located. The subdivision name, state, and county are then added. The following is an example of a legal description written using the blocks and lots method: “Lot 22 Block 7 of North Lakes Subdivision # 3, according to the map or plat thereof, recorded in Plat Book 54 Page 8 or the Public Records Miami-Dade County Florida.”


You can see that the legal definition is more descriptive and complex than an address. Transferring ownership and mortgage documents is essential as it describes the exact boundaries. This lets all parties know what property they own legally and helps avoid disputes between neighbors. The type of land will determine which method is most appropriate. Therefore, an experienced lawyer who understands all the systems and reasoning should write the real estate definition.

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