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Drawing the line: The importance of boundaries in real estate

When people buy a home or commercial space, figuring out just how big the property is will typically be a top priority. You might read about square footage or acreage, and then look at fences and other property markers and assume you have all the information you need.

However, visual assessments of property are not exactly accurate and anecdotal accounts on where a property begins and ends can be outdated. Without an exact measurement of a property and its boundaries, property owners can run into some complicated legal disputes.

For instance, you might own more land than you think. You could discover that a neighbor has been using your property as his or her own or that over time, your property lines were pushed inward by other parties. In these situations, you can request that your neighbor secure an easement, which is permission to use land that you own. You could also have someone cited for trespassing.

On the other hand, you might own less land than you expect. If you have crossed a boundary line onto someone else's property, that person can take legal action and make you tear down or remove whatever is on his or her land at your expense. You might also be required to secure an easement of your own.

As this article points out, there are numerous ways to figure out where the property lines are. You can look at mapping tools online, refer to the deed of the property or have a survey completed by a surveyor. Each of these options can help you understand where your property begins and ends.

Identifying property boundaries can be crucial as it can affect everything from how you use your land to whether or not you are responsible for accidents on the property. Should a boundary dispute arise, you can work with an attorney to assess your options and seek a fair resolution.

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