How to locate property lines? How to locate property corners? Where to find property access?
I’m going to show you how you can find the corner coordinates of a property, and determine what kind of road access it has – for free! You can do this search online, or with a phone call. It only takes a few minutes and is one of the most important things you need to check when going through your land-buying checklist.
I’m going to share with you the fourth video in our Due Diligence series, and answer the fourth question that you should ask when buying land: How do I find and access this vacant property?
If you have any questions on the content in this post, leave a comment below and I will reply with your answer.
How to Locate Property Lines by Parcel Number?
I am going to continue with the same example property, the one we looked up in the first three videos to see who the owner was, determine the back property taxes and tax lien information, and check the property zoning.
If you missed them, the first video goes over how to find the property owner, the second video goes over how to check for back taxes and tax liens owed on the property, and the third video shows how to check the zoning of a property.
If you want to check those out make sure you see our YouTube playlist for the Due Diligence video series.
This is an important question to ask when buying land because, access is not a given – especially with vacant and undeveloped properties. I’ve come across tons of properties where there is no road access – just by an easement, or even an unofficial trail.
That does not mean that these properties don’t have value. There are buyers for that type of land as well – people who want more privacy and don’t mind that they have to ATV or go to the property by horseback.
Also, land is something that’s tangible, you can feel it, feel the ground crunch beneath your boots when you step on it. Situations evolve with access roads being added later, enhancing the property value for all the owners along the road. That’s why many people invest in currently inaccessible land – for the long term.
So our example property, is a lot in Costilla County Colorado, with the parcel number of 70273760.
Where to Find Property Lines?
You need to figure out what type of road access there is as well as what the boundaries of your potential property are. And you can do this with the County’s GIS maps.
If the county has this resource online, it’s normally free. If they don’t have this resource, you could call into the County’s Assessor office and they might help you get the coordinates for the boundaries of the property by searching for a previously recorded survey.
You will need 2 things to find out the coordinate and access information for a property.
- You need to know the county that the land is in, so in our case, that is Costilla County.
- You will need the parcel number.
If you found a piece of property you’re thinking about buying on any of the Land sites, Craigslist, even Facebook Marketplace, you can get the parcel number right from the listing or just ask the seller and they will be able to provide you with that info.
Note: If the seller does not have the parcel number or cannot get it for you – that is a big red flag. It increases the likelihood of that seller being a scam or not having the rights to actually sell you that property.
How to Find Property Lines and Boundaries (for FREE!)?
I’m going to head over to Google and type in ‘Costilla County GIS map’.
All these online GIS resources will be different, it varies by county. You want to look for keywords like ‘online parcel search’ or ’Assessor parcel search’. Here is Costilla County’s Assessor page.
I’m going to click on the link that says ‘Costilla County GIS Property Search‘. On the page that follows, you will need to accept the County’s disclaimer.
Now you’re going to need that second piece of information – the parcel number (remember for our example the parcel number is 70273760). I’ll paste that in the search bar and click ‘Enter’ on my keyboard.
Okay so that’s the parcel number we typed in and searched for and here’s our result.
In Costilla’s GIS, we have this feature up here to measure by coordinate. So this is how you get the 4 approximate corner coordinates and understand the boundaries of your property.
Click the ‘Line Measure’ feature and then select and record each of the corners. Write them down on a piece of paper so you have them.
The features in each GIS database will be different by County. There should always be a measuring tool, it will just be named differently. You may have to click around a bit in the features to find it.
How Do I Know if My Property has Road Access?
Now to check for road access, we can experiment with different views and layers in the GIS map. You definitely want to have the earth view on. And we can try turning on the roads layers, too.
Zooming in, you can see that this is obviously a dirt road, it might even be a class B paved road. Moving the map around, I can see a house nearby and another house down the road, so I would feel confident saying that at the very least that this is a dirt road because in most counties you need road access in order to be allowed to pull a building permit.
You can also try doing this check-in Google Maps.
We can check quickly in google maps and see if there is a street view available, and get a second check on the road access.
To do this, copy one of the corner coordinates you recorded into the Google Maps search. Make sure you correctly type in the negative on the longitude here, otherwise I think you’ll end up looking at a property somewhere in China.
Here’s our Google Maps result. We can verify here that these are dirt roads. Unfortunately, this area of the County in Maps doesn’t have ‘Street View’. If it did, we could use ‘Street View’ to get some digital boots on the ground and check out the quality of the roads.
It’s not always this easy, sometimes it can be really difficult to check for access.
One great way to do a cheap check for access is to send a photographer out there, give them the coordinates and see if they can access the property – if they can’t they will let you know. Believe me! And you can find photographers pretty cheap, even on Craigslist or Facebook for 50, 60 bucks.
Find Out Property Lines and Determine Property Access for Free
And that’s it, in just a few minutes you found out how to access your property and determine the boundaries, for FREE, you answered the fourth question you should ask when buying land.
The next Due Diligence item on your checklist should be: How to check for utilities?
I’m going to go over how to check that in part 5 of this article and video series.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you like it, share it, tell your friends about it, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re the first to know when the next video in this Due Diligence series is published. By the end of this series you will have a comprehensive checklist of items you need to check before you buy any piece of land.
If you have any questions leave a comment below I’ll make sure I answer them and help you out. Thank you for reading!
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The information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer, and if you’re considering buying land I recommend getting help from a paralegal or lawyer to find out what your options are. It can be difficult and overwhelming to do a proper Title Search, especially to someone without experience. To be certain of what rights are included with your property, a local title agency or paralegal can help you. Leasing rights and determining access can sometimes escalate into a very difficult and troubling situation, so it’s best to get professional advice.