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Thread: Reading legal descriptions/deeds

  1. #1
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    Reading legal descriptions/deeds

    How did you learn to read legals and deeds? Aside from googling info...any suggestions?
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    I learned by doing. For 2 years, my job was to review residential replats and to write a report on whether said replat complied with the deed restrictions. When I was just learning, I found a pal in legal to explain the legal complexities. Basically, the majority of deed restrictions can be divided into the same groups, and I only read the part that pertained to lot size, dimensions, compliance with process/procedures, and other land use issues. The rest - house size, colors, fencing, etc - didn't have anything to do with the subdivision of the land, so I didn't read it.
    Legals - do you mean surveys and legal descriptions? I usually have the graphic on one side, the write-up on the other, and go line-by-line through to be sure they match. But since I'm not a surveyor, I have the survey dept. review it for an official report on the document. That way, when the ordinance and legal are sent to the City Attorney for signature, everything is officially correct.

    Both legal descriptions and deed restrictions are not fun to wade through continuously. I'm glad that I'm not focused on one or the other only, but I also am glad I know how to read them, just in case I need to do it again.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I also learned by doing. And for some reason, I think it's FUN to write them!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Ditto

    It is one of those things that seems awfully complicated when you first start but once you parse it down, it is logical. Just dig right in to one or two. I dunno, I've been reviewing subdivisions for a long time and they seem pretty logical.

    I found that having a friendly surveyor or land use attorney on the 'outside' that would field an infrequent question is a helpful thing as well. We also have a land use team in our Co. Attorney's Office that really know what they are doing.

    It also really helps that we have access to the County Clerk's digital images of deeds. Might want to check to see if your jurisdiction has that kind of program. Previously, half the trouble was actually having to go over to the Clerk's office to dig through the records, limiting the number you could go through in the time you had.

    I was going to make a snide remark back to Chet (something about flies and wings) but then I realized we do the same thing for County projects.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    I guess, like everything else...I just have to practice.

    I have to make sure the applicants' lots have been legally created, as part of their application review/land use decision. Our subdivision laws only go back to 1979...Prior to that, you could just deed over land willy nilly, without any formal plat.
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Here, you can buy/sell land without platting. Where we get you is trying to get a permit. All building permits must be for a legal building site, ie a platted lot. If you complied back in 1950, and now what to make a change that requires a permit, you have to comply with today's standards. That's why several snotty private schools have had to plat here recently. They are a bit cranky about it, too.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Our subdivision laws only go back to 1979...Prior to that, you could just deed over land willy nilly, without any formal plat.

    Ours is a little older, but the same idea applies. Developers try to get away with lease lines and condos but they don't make as much money that way. Occasionally, they try to record a plat that we haven't reviewed. That really screws up the title.

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