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February 05, 2019


Word of the day


The portion of a conveyance document that defines the property being transferred. To be valid, documents such as deeds, assignments of leases, certain leases, and mortgages must contain a full legal description of the property to be conveyed. Usually a contract for the sale of real property need only contain a description sufficient to identify the property, such as street address and/or tax map key number. 

In a deed, the description is normally divided into two parts: the general and the specific. The general description usually identifies the parcel in question by location, name, or reference to previous known owners. It leads into the specific description with the phrase “more particularly described as follows,” or by reference to public maps, plats, or other recorded information. 

The specific description exactly defines the limits of the property involved. These limits may be defined by one (or any combination) of three basic methods of real estate description: metes and bounds, government (rectangular) survey, and subdivision plat. 

Great care must be exercised to avoid ambiguities. For example, the “next contiguous 40 acres” is ambiguous because an acre can have any shape; the “south one-half of the farm” is adequate if the lot is rectangular but not if it is irregular in shape. 

Some contracts for large, bulk real estate sales include what are known as Mother Hubbard clauses. These clauses state that the description includes all property owned by the seller at the location or, if appropriate, all real estate owned by the seller in that particular area.

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