Volume 2 Number 1




Title Tips by Tute 

Volume 2, Number 1
Spring 1996

Dear Tute: 

Developer A purchased some farm land in 1989, and in 1991 recorded a subdivision plat dividing the land into lots for a subdivision to be called "A Acres." After completing some of the site development work, Developer A begins to market and sell lots. Builder B buys some of the lots, and records his deed on February 2. In April, Developer A records a set of restrictive covenants for "A Acres" subdivision. The declaration is dated January 1. Should I report this as an exception to the title report I am preparing so we can issue a title policy to the purchaser of one of the lots owned by Builder B? 

                     D.H . in VB 

Dear D.H., 

Yes. Subdivisions are intended to be planned communities. As such, the developer has a "common scheme of development" for all the lots in the subdivision. Every lot in the subdivision will be both benefited and burdened by these requirements. Even though the restrictions are technically outside the chain of title for the lot you have examined, they should be listed and abstracted in your title report to your underwriter. 



Dear Tute: 

I recently performed a title examination on a parcel of land and was totally bewildered. The original owner acquired several parcels of land, totaling about ten acres in four parcels, two of which were described by reference to a plat (1.2 acres, 1.4 acres). She later sold a 3.2 acre portion of the property using a metes and bounds description, and excepted from the conveyance a smaller (0.6 acre) portion of the property that was also described by metes and bounds. No plat was recorded with that deed, but the "being" clause said it was the same property described by two of the plats. If I add up the acreage shown on both plats, I get the same amount of land (2.6 acres) as when I subtract the retained parcel from the total amount she said she was selling. Later in the chain of title, she conveyed another parcel of land, which she described only as the remainder of the parcel shown on the plat of the 1.2 acres. When I asked my underwriter where the extra land came from, she said something about plotting the boundaries out. How do you do that, and where did the extra land come from? 

Lula Belle 


Dear Lula: 

It is a great comfort to Tute to see eager minds such as yours enter our profession. It does surprise me that your supervisor would allow you to examine the title to acreage parcels without a rudimentary knowledge of plotting boundaries, but I am sure it was due to the urgency of a customer's request, and not from some misguided desire to make sure the claims attorneys stayed busy. 

A metes and bounds description is nothing more than a description of the boundaries by reference to compass courses, each course to be followed for a certain distance. Another name for a metes and bounds property description is to call it a description by courses and distances. Tute surmises that you were never a member of a uniformed outdoor youth group which might have experimented with such esoteric courses as map reading or orienteering, since such an experience would, in all likelihood, have provided you with the necessary information to answer this question without resort to this anonymous author of questions to anonymous columnist method of advancing your education. 

Take a blank sheet of paper and lay it on your desk. Now, think of a compass sitting in the middle of that piece of paper. We will pretend that the north arrow is pointing directly at the top of the sheet of paper on your desk. All else follows from that orientation: East is the right hand side of the paper, south is the bottom, west is the left side. You may remember that a circle has 360 degrees in it, and so each direction will be one fourth of that, or 90 degrees. Or you may remember that a right angle is a 90 degree angle. Since we have to start somewhere, we'll start with the north arrow and assign a value of 0 to that direction. Due east would be a course 90 degrees east of north; due west would be 90 degrees west of north. Northeast (halfway between north and east) would be a course of North 45 degrees East, or, splitting the difference. Really easy, right!  

You can apply that basic knowledge to the record room. If you have a pencil and paper, you can reproduce any metes and bounds description to a picture with just a little time and effort. You aren't aiming to replace the surveyor, just get an idea of what it was they tried to describe in a deed using such a description. If the first course is North 10 degrees East, 100 feet, you now know that you would draw a line from the center of the paper to a point just to the right of the north arrow, and you would draw the line one inch (assuming your drawing is scaled 1 inch equal 100 feet. If the second course is North 45 degrees East 100 feet, you would draw the next line from where you finished the first line, toward the upper right hand corner of the paper. Continue drawing the lines until you end up at the end of the courses and distances description, and your drawing should have your pencil point back at the point of beginning. 

If you abstract the deed completely, you can also create a drawing of the property's boundaries using the computer back in the office. There are a number of deed plotting programs available that produce a drawing of the boundaries after you enter the courses and distances of each leg of the property description. Tute has used such a program to convert the metes and bounds from your deed description into a picture, which shows that even though your owner appeared to sell all her property, she did in fact have some left. If Tute has done this properly, it appears that there may still be some left. See the drawings attached. 


(Webmaster note: The drawings need to be recreated . . . which means finding the data again . . . so, come back soon and see if Tute's filing skills have improved!!)


For those interested in converting metes and bounds descriptions on a regular basis (and totally on a non-commercial setting basis), Tute has used and recommends the following equipment: 

Low Tech

            The Pronto Land Measure Compass, easy and practical to use, has an arm that swings around the entire circumference of the circle, so you can make a dot in the direction of the course, then complete the line with ruler.  Available from Pronto Land Measure, 718 Harrison Street, P. O. Box 3219, Flint, Michigan  48502; Phone 313-233-7950. 


            DOS program.  Deed Plotter +, Series II, version 1.35 (they have probably upgraded, but that is the version Tute has used), from Greenbrier Graphics, Inc., P.O. Box 724, Rainelle, W.Va.  25962.

(Webmaster note: A more recent version of the same program is version 4.09 for Windows, and the Company's address in that version is listed as 438 Lockbridge Road, Meadow Bridge, WV 29576. The Company's phone number is 1-304-484-7034 and their website may be found at http://www.greenbriargraphics.com or http://www.ggmap.com)  Tute receives no compensation for this reference, and you should make your own evaluation of the program's suitability to your needs.

            Windows program.  Map Draw, version 2.0, from Informatik, Inc. P. O. Box 868, Devon, PA  19333; e-mail inquiries to info@informatik.com, or contact them on Compuserve at 76534,1166.  

            (The latter is a share-ware distributed program, which Tute copied and delivered to the esteemed editor of this publication, a dedicated computer user.  After triple checking it for viruses, lest Tute infect her computer with the sniffles, or even worse, a total memory core melt down, she will hold it in the VLTA software lending library. The program may be used on a trial basis, free of charge, but if you discover you like it, and intend to use it regularly, then you must buy it from Informatik.  Payment and registration provide the latest version of the program, along with the instructions on how to use it)  Just another service from your friendly neighborhood land title association! 

(Webmaster note: A more recent version of the same program is version 6.2, and the Company's present address is listed as 304 Heritage Place, Devon PA, 19333. The Company's phone number is 1-610-640-0339 and their website may be found at http://www.informatik.com/mapdraw.html)  Tute receives no compensation for this reference, and you should make your own evaluation of the program's suitability to your needs.



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