Parcel Boundaries: Their Purpose and Methods

Precision and clarity are essential when it comes to defining and locating properties. Parcel boundaries play a critical role in this process by providing an accurate and court-acceptable way of identifying and locating the boundaries of a parcel of real estate in the state where it is located. In this article, we will explore in detail the methods and terms used in defining property boundaries, as originally used in real estate language in the United States.

Metes and Bounds Method

The Metes and Bounds method, also known as the boundary and distance method, is one of the oldest and most traditional methods of describing properties. It is based on describing the perimeter of a plot of land using reference points, monuments, distances and angles. This method is especially useful in areas where land parcels have irregular shapes and do not conform to rectangular patterns. The description begins at a point of beginning (POB) and then follows the perimeter of the property, often returning to the starting point.

“You describe perimeter by landmarks, monuments, distances, angles”

Lot and Block System (Recorded Plat Method)

The lot and block system, also known as the recorded plat method, is commonly used to describe properties in residential, commercial, and industrial subdivisions. In this method, large tracts of land are divided into lots, and these lots are then grouped into larger blocks. Each lot and block is identified by a specific number or name. This approach is effective for areas where urban or suburban development with clearly defined lots and streets is planned.

Rectangular Survey System

The Rectangular Survey System is a systematic method used to describe properties that seeks to simplify and standardize real estate descriptions. In this system, all lands are subdivided based on lines of longitude and latitude. These lines create a uniform grid of squares called townships. Key components of this system include:

Meridians (Meridians): North-south lines located at a distance of 6 miles from each other.

Parallels (Parallels): East-west lines located at a distance of 6 miles from each other.

Range: North-south strip of land located between 2 meridians.

Tier: East-west strip of area located between 2 parallels; also known as municipality strip.

Municipality (Township): The 6 mile by 6 mile square at the intersection of a range and a tier.

Section of a Township: A square one mile by one mile; 1 section = 640 acres; 36 sections per municipality.

Fractions of a Section: Describing a parcel of land in terms of fractions of a section indicates the size and location successively more specifically within increasingly larger quarters or halves of the section. For example, “E 1/2 NE 1/4 NE 1/4 Section 8” indicates a precise location within the section.

The Purpose of Delimitations

The primary purpose of delineations in real estate is to provide an accurate and acceptable way in courts of law to identify and locate parcels of land. They are essential for resolving property disputes, establishing clear boundaries, and ensuring that real estate transactions are conducted appropriately and legally. Each of the description methods mentioned above is used depending on the nature of the property and local regulations.


Precision and clarity are essential, and the processes for carrying out the delineations play a key role. Whether using the Metes and Bounds method, the lot and block system or the Rectangular Survey System, they provide the necessary basis for the identification and location of properties, which in turn facilitates legal transactions and avoids disputes. Understanding these methods and terms is essential for both industry professionals and anyone interested in real estate in the United States.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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