How Real Estate Legal Descriptions and Surveys Work Together

Image of a field at sunrise with a couple of trees and a fence marking a property line. Captioned: How Real Estate Legal Descriptions and Surveys Work Together.

Real estate transactions involving home sales, deeds, mortgage loans, or deeds of trust all rely on a binding legal description. Mortgage companies, for example, need to be sure that the property is well described—and worth the money they lend to a buyer. 

A properly written legal description sets forth the county and state of the property. It allows a surveyor to identify precise dimensions and correct, historical borderlines.

Indeed, the existing legal description is based on the original survey. And a key task of the current survey is a verification of the accuracy of the property’s legal description. In short, real estate legal descriptions and surveys work together.

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An Error in the Legal Description of the Deed: What Happens Now?

An Error in the Legal Description of the Deed: What Happens Now?

What can the buyer do when a real estate deed carries an incorrect legal description of the property? Perhaps it describes the wrong parcel, or fails to reflect all land purchased in the sale. 

An error in a legal description of a property has consequences. It can affect taxes. As lenders extend loans based on a percentage of the property’s appraised value, footage mistakes can sink a loan approval. If the error is neglected, disputes can arise later, and they can become the stuff of nightmares.

Worst-Case Scenarios

Some deeds bear legal descriptions drafted using early survey methods, pre-dating GPS measurements. Some have errors in lot descriptions that get passed unwittingly from one owner to the next—a sort of legal time bomb waiting to take someone by surprise.

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