Metes & Bounds while Smoking!

Evil Pony“Go in a westerly direction for the amount of time it takes to smoke two cigarettes while riding a medium-gated horse.” Thus was an early Texan land description that we know today as “metes and bounds.” (measurements and boundaries) The idea behind metes and bounds is to use physical landmarks to identify the extent of one’s property-155 feet to a large oak tree, then northwesterly 102 feet to a large boulder and so forth. You can quickly see that if the oak tree blows down you’re in trouble. Modern metes and bounds description use compass points and steel markers or monuments. Not so susceptible to mother nature.

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. Prov. 22:28 Since Biblical times and before we have been concerned with boundaries. Hermes was the Greek “god of boundaries.” The termini or landmarks among the Romans were held very sacred, and were at last deified. One of Moses’ laws said, “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.” Deut. 27:17

Property boundaries are still important today. It is the rare property that is sold in Texas today without a survey. Modern surveys, of course, do not rely on the “medium gated horse” but on GPS to identify and mark boundaries. Today’s surveys are, perhaps, as precise as they ever will be. That also poses an interesting problem. Because of their precision, we are discovering the imprecision of older surveys.

We recently sold a home and upon obtaining a new survey (the existing one was 20 years old and did not show the more recently built pool), it was determined that the pool encroached upon the utility easement by 3 ½ inches. The satellite driven survey was more precise. This instantly became a problem for the title company, the buyer’s lender and the buyer. Technically, the utility company could rip out that corner of the pool if they ever needed access to that particular spot. Now 3 ½ inches is not much but it would put a hole in the pool. Remember it’s 3 1/2 inches all the way down to the bottom of the pool.

Fortunately, sometimes money cures things and, in this case, the title company, for a little extra money, would insure title. The buyer’s lender decided he wasn’t worried about it and the buyer then said no problem, so the transaction closed.

As a rule of thumb, existing surveys can be used if nothing has been added to the property (new fences, pools, driveways, etc.) during ownership. The current owner would have to sign an affidavit to that effect. If there is a significant change, the buyer will be required to get a new survey, the cost of which is negotiated in the contract.

We at SunWest, REALTORS® are just full of property information. We work with our buyers and sellers to get them accurate surveys at the lowest or no cost–buying and selling property is expensive enough. Let us assist you today.