RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE CONTRACTS: SECTION 9
This is a brief summary of real estate contracts. This summary does not cover all aspects of the contract. This video has been made specifically for Real Estate Agents to use as an unofficial educational resource. Nothing in this video is intended to convey legal advice or best practices in any field. This video is only intended to give general advice on broad topics relating to contracts and the closing process at large. For legal advice please contact an attorney and for lending advice please contact a lender.
There are two types of legal descriptions out there: Lot & Block and Metes & Bounds.
With Lot & Block, a plat is filed with the government and it outlines a subdivision with pre-cut lots of similar sizes. It includes a perfect description of each lot and they all line up properly and don’t overlap each other. The government assigns each lot a lot number and a block number, which allows the property to be identified very quickly.
With Metes & Bounds, you literally describe the edges of the property so that you know where your property line is. The description will often look something like this: “Start at the tree, walk 20 feet to a bush and then turn right, walk 100 feet to a tree, turn right and walk 20 feet to a statue, then turn right and walk 100 feet back to your original starting point.” With Lot & Block, your edges have already been filed with probate so we don’t have to mention them multiple times in the plat. There is also one called Chains, which is just like Metes & Bounds except instead of saying to walk a certain number of feet, it would say to walk a certain amount of chains, which is just a really old way that surveyors used to use to measure distance.
If you have a legal description in Metes & Bounds or Chains or anything other than Lot & Block, my office is going to immediately ask for a survey; when you have properties that are individually drawn out like that next to each other and they’re not washing the boundaries of their neighbors, sometimes you have overlap. You can get sheds that are built over the line or houses and decks that have been added on to and now overlap your neighbor’s property. We always want a survey so we can see what our potential problems are and can fix them. If we’re going to give title insurance, we want to know exactly what property we’re going to be insuring and what’s on that property. From a Realtor standpoint, if you’re dealing with a property that isn’t in a normal subdivision within the city — maybe you’re dealing with one that’s in the county or isn’t really close to city center — your seller’s deed will show if it’s Metes & Bounds and, if it is, you can automatically recommend a survey to your client. If this is the case then you should also get a price quote on one and figure out the scheduling timeline because surveys can take some time.
TIP: Make friends with your surveyors! Surveyors are very knowledgeable about how to help your property owner with everything from subdividing lots to replatting. Your attorney can help with dispute resolution when it comes to boundaries — your fence is in the wrong spot, whose responsibility a fallen tree is, etc. — but when it comes to drawing the lines out and confirming them with your neighbor to make sure there aren’t any issues, that’s where a surveyor can help.
Lot & Block, though more specific, is not perfect either. There have been situations where a Lot & Block property has somehow shifted or wasn’t ever properly put into the system in the first place, and so certain neighborhoods such as Five Points can be either Lot & Block or Metes & Bounds. In instances like this, we would probably request a survey either way; historically this neighborhood specifically has had issues with its boundaries and neighbors often get mad, so we would definitely want to confirm everything.
The most important things to consider when deciding on a survey are whether one is needed, who is going to pay for it, and what the scheduling timeline looks like for getting a surveyor out to the property.
If you do want to move forward with ordering a survey, there are two types:
Boundary survey: A legal description of the boundary. The surveyor will map it out, walk the boundary, GPS it to make sure it’s all clean, and tell you where your lines are. The surveyor will give you a piece of paper with your edges drawn out showing that boundary.
Descriptive/detailed survey: Includes the house, shed, your fence, the water line, etc. These are more common.
Though we will always recommend a detailed survey, if you only need to know where your edges are you can simply order a boundary survey since they are easier and cheaper.
Click below to download the documents from this class
Sample Real Estate Contract (highlighted)
Need more help with your contract? Call us at 256-533-5252.