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Land Measurements & Glossary

Land Measurements

1 link = 7.92 inches

1 rod = 16.5 feet

1 chain = 66 feet

1 mile = 5,280 feet or 80 chains

1 meter = 39.37 inches or 3.2808 feet

1 acre = 208.7 feet square or 43,560 square feet

1 quarter/quarter = 40 acres or 1,320 feet square

1 quarter = 160 acres

1 section = 1 square mile or 640 acres

1 township = 6 miles square or 36 square miles

Click here to access a more detailed Land Description Diagram as published by the Bureau of Land Management.

Glossary

Terms most commonly used in the assessment practice, mapping, and the transfer of ownership.

Abatement – An official reduction of assessed valuation after completion of the original assessment.

Abstract – Compiled information containing all of the instruments that have been recorded affecting a certain property.

Access – The right of egress from and ingress to a property from an existing highway or street.

Accretion – The process by which new soil is accumulated, as to the banks of a river or stream.

Acre – A land measure equal to 43,560 square feet.

Acreage – Usually large tracts of land mostly used for farmland, timberland, or idle land in rural locations; property that has not been divided into smaller parcels for residential purposes.

Ad Valorem Tax – A tax levied in proportion to the value of property being taxed.

Adjacent – Property in the neighborhood or vicinity of another property.

Adjoining – Sharing a property boundary; contiguous.

Adjudicated Property – Property which is taken by a jurisdiction through judicial means upon non-payment of taxes.

Adverse Possession – The exclusive occupation and continuous possession of another’s real property under an evident claim of title or right.

Aerial Photography – A photograph of a part of the earth’s surface taken by an aircraftsupported camera or satellite.

Affidavit – A written form of an affirmed or sworn statement.

Agricultural Property – Improved or unimproved land that is devoted to or available for the production of crops and/or agricultural products, livestock, and agricultural support buildings.

Alluvion – Land which forms upon the bank of a river or stream, either by accumulation of material or recession of water.

Amendment – A change correcting an error or altering part of an agreement without changing the principle idea.

Annex – To join a smaller, subordinate property to a larger or more dominant property.

Appeal – A process in which a property owner contests an assessment either informally or formally.

Appraisal – The act of estimating the monetary value of property.

Appraisal Ratio Study – A ratio study using independent expert appraisals as indicators of market value. 

Appreciation – Increase in value of property, in terms of money, from causes other than additions and betterments.

Appurtenance – Any addition to a property that becomes part of that property.

Ascendants – Those heirs in a ascending line.

Assess – To value property officially for the purpose of taxation.

Assessed Value – A value set on property by a government as a basis for levying taxes.

Attest – To witness.

Authentic Act – An act passed before a notary public and two witnesses.

Avulsion – The sudden and tearing away or separation of land by violent action of water.

Bearing – Direction of a line measured as the acute angle from a reference meridian.

Board of Review – A public body having jurisdiction over an assessment district, charged with examining the assessment rolls, and empowered, on appeal to revise individual assessments.

Bond for Deed – A contract for sale in which the seller retains title to the property until the buyer completes the contracted payments.

Book and Page – Refers to the conveyance book and page number in which an instrument is filed in the office of the clerk of court; volume reference

Boundary – A line that marks the outermost extent area, or a division between areas, such as a property or ownership boundary.

CAD – Computer Aided Drafting.

Cadastral Map – A scale map displaying property ownership boundaries; also known as a cadastre.

Call – The designation of visible natural objects, monuments, courses, distances, or other matter of description as limits of the boundaries.

CAMA – (Computer-assisted mass appraisal) A system that incorporates computer-supported statistical analyses to assist in estimating value.

Cardinal Direction – Directions expressed as either due north, south, east, or west.

Center Line – Refers to the center of a street, road, or right-of-way being midway between the sides.

Certificate of Redemption – The evidence of buying back or redeeming a property by the owner after loss through a judicial sale.

Chain – A land measure of 66 feet.

Chord – A straight line connecting the tangents of a curve.

Cloud of Title – Any valid claim, encumbrance, or lien that may impair the title to real property. 

Codocil – A supplement or addition to a will.

Collateral Heirs – Siblings of a deceased person.

Commercial Property – Generally any realty of a commercial enterprise.

Common Area – An area of property that is not designated for rental or sale, which is available for common use by all tenants and owners.

Community Property – Property owned jointly by a husband and wife.

Consideration – The amount of money and other value goods or services on which a buyer and a seller agree, to consummate a sale.

Contiguous – Sharing a property boundary; adjoining.

Contour – An imaginary line on the ground, all points of which are at the same elevation above or below a specified reference surface.

Conveyance – Legal documents that transfer ownership of property.

Conveyance Records – The record of all sales of immovable property kept by the clerk of court in a jurisdiction.

Coordinates – Linear or angular quantities that designate the position of a point in a given reference system.

Cost – In appraisal, the expense, direct and indirect, of constructing an improvement.

Covenant – A restriction upon a property.

Credit Deed – An instrument conveying immovable property on credit terms; vendor’s lien.

Curator/Curatrix – A guardian appointed by the court to take care of the estate of an incompetent person.

Dation En Paiement – A giving by a debtor and receiving by a creditor of property in lieu of monetary payment for a debt.

Decedent – A deceased person.

Degree – One 360th of the circumference of a circle.

Descendants – Those heirs in the descending line.

Depreciation – Loss in value of an object, relative to its replacement cost new, reproduction cost new, or original cost, whatever the cause of the loss in value.

Deed Restriction – A limitation to property rights that transfers with the property regardless of the owner.

Domicile – That particular locality wherein a person is legally deemed to have his or her true home or place of abode; residency.

Donation – A gift of property by a donor to a donee. 

Donee – One who receives property through a donation.

Donor – One who gives or donates property in a donation.

Double assessed – Dual assessments being made on the same parcel.

Easement – A right held by one person to use the land of another for a specific purpose, such as access to another property.

Egress – An outlet or exit or means of exiting.

Emancipation – To elevate a minor to the status of an adult in the eyes of the law.

Eminent Domain – The right by which a sovereign government may acquire private property for public use upon payment of reasonable compensation, but without consent of the owner.

Encroachment – The unauthorized trespassing of an improvement on the domain of another person’s land.

Encumbrance – Any limitation that affects rights and value.

Equalization – The process by which an appropriate government body attempts to ensure that all property under its jurisdiction is assessed at the same assessment ratio or at the ratio required by law.

Escheat – The right to have property revert to the state for nonpayment of taxes or when there are no legal heirs of someone who dies without leaving a will.

Escrow – A written instrument that by its terms imparts a legal obligation but that is placed by the grantor in the hands of a third party, to be held by him or her until the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a specified event, then only to be delivered to the grantee and to take effect.

Estate – The aggregate property of all descriptions left by a decedent.

Estate Tax – A tax based on the value of the estate of a deceased person.

Et al – And others.

Et seq – and following.

Et ux – And wife.

Et vir – And husband.

Exchange Deed – Instrument wherein two or more persons mutually exchange equitable properties.

Executor/Executrix – Person designated by a will to administer an estate.

Executory Process – An accelerated procedure for foreclosing a mortgage or vendor’s lien.

Exemption – Excludes property from taxation without regard to its value; a reduction in the property tax base.

Expropriation – The exercise of the right of eminent domain to secure legal title to private property required by public use. 

Façade – The main exterior face of a structure.

Fee Simple – In land ownership, complete interest in a property, subject only to governmental powers.

Fiduciary – A person having the nature of a trust.

Field Review – The practice of reviewing the reasonableness of assessments by viewing the properties in question.

Forty – A subdivision of a section containing 40 acres, and described as being a quarter-quarter.

Fractional Section – A subdivision of a township containing less than 640 acres of land.

Frontage – The extent of a parcel of land along a street, road, river, or other traffic artery on which the parcel is said to face.

Geographic Information System (GIS) – A database management system used to store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and display spatial information; a type of mapping system capable of integrating spatial data and attribute data among different layers on a base map.

Global Positioning System (GPS) – A navigational and positioning system by which the location of a position on or above the earth can be determined by a special receiver at that point interpreting signals received simultaneously from several of a constellation of special satellites. 

Government Lot – One of the nonrectangular areas into which sections not evenly or approximately divisible into square forty-acre tracts were divided in the course of the government survey.

Government Survey – A ground survey authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775 and subsequent acts, in which the land was divided into townships approximately six mile square, each township normally containing thirty-six sections and each section normally containing 640 acres. Also known as the Public Land Survey System.

Grantee – One who acquires property by voluntary conveyance.

Grantor – One who voluntarily conveys property, whether by sale, gift, lease, or otherwise.

Hectare – Unit of land measure equal to 100 meters square. Equivalent to 2,471 acres. Homestead

Exemption – Freedom of part or all of the value of an owner occupied property from property taxation.

Immovable Property – Real estate; real property; realty.

Improvement – Any structure or additions erected on property.

Industrial Property – Generally any property used in a manufacturing activity.

Ingress – An entrance or means of entering.

Instrument – A formal legal document such as a deed, contract, will, or lease.

Inter Vivos – Between livings persons. 

Interdict – A person mentally capable of caring for himself, and who has been legally committed to an institution or to the care of another person.

Interdiction – A legal proceeding to declare a person mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself.

Interest – The portion of ownership of a person in a property.

Intestate – The state of having died without leaving a valid last will and testament.

Inventory – The group of personal property items, owned by a business solely for the purpose of sale rather than use.

Irrevocable – That which can not be recalled or revoked.

Judgment – A decision of a court. Also a judicial mortgage.

Kilometer – Unit of length equal to 1,000 meters or 0.6214 statute miles.

Land Patent – Land formerly owned by a state or national government as part of the original public domain that has been voluntarily conveyed by such government to a private owner by a proceeding authorized by general statute.

Land Grant – A legal document in which the federal government conveys land title to an individual.

Leasehold Improvements – Items of personal property associated with a tenant that have been affixed to the real property owned by a lessor.

Legal Description – Written description of a property that serve to identify the parcel for all purposes of law.

Legatee – One who receives a gift by testatment.

Legitime –The forced portion.

Lessee – The tenant. Lessor – The landlord.

Lein – A legal claim; privilege.

Levy – The total amount of money to be raised from the property tax as set forth in the budget of a taxing jurisdiction.

Lien – The legal right to take or hold property of a debtor as payment or security for a debt.

Link – A land measure of 7.92 inches.

Lis Pendens – A notice of a pending suit.

Major – Of legal age.

Market Value – The most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale. 

Mass Appraisal – The process of valuing a group of properties as of a given date, using standard methods, employing common data, and allowing for statistical testing.

Meander Line – A traverse of a body of water for the purpose of determining the size and location of the body of water. They do not represent the boundary line unless specifically stated in conveyance as such.

Merger – Union of two or more entities.

Metes and Bounds – Measurement of angles and distances of a property used as a legal description.

Mill – One mill is one-thousandth of one dollar or one-tenth of one cent.

Millage – A tax rate expressed as mills per dollar.

Mineral Rights – The right to extract ore, petroleum, or other minerals from a property.

Minor – A person under 18 years of age who has not been emancipated.

Minute – One sixtieth of a degree of the circumference of a circle.

Misdescription – An error in the written legal description of a property.

Monument – Tangible landmarks indicating boundaries.

More or Less – Used in the connection with quantity and distance where the exact amount is uncertain.

Mortgage – A granting of a privilege or lien on a movable or immovable property.

Mortgage Records – The records kept by the clerk of court listing all of the mortgages recorded within a jurisdiction.

Mortis Causa – A donation given in contemplation of death.

Movables – Personal property.

Neighborhood – A geographic area where the properties are homogeneous and share important locational characteristics.

Onerious Donation – A donation given after the performance of a stipulated condition.

Ordinance – A statute or law that designates an enactment by a county’s or municipal corporation’s legislative body.

Parcel – A contiguous area of land described in a single legal description or as one of a number of lots on a plat.

Parcel Identification Number (PIN) – A numeric or alphanumeric description of a parcel that identifies it uniquely.

Partition – An instrument in which property is divided between two or more owners.

Personal Property (Intangible) – 

Personal Property (Tangible) – Any property that is movable and can be relocated.

Petition of Monition – Request made to a formal court after specified period of time to issue clear title upon unredeemed property purchased through tax sale.

Planimetric Map – Map showing features located upon property such as structures, roads, and water features.

Plat – A map intended to show the division of land into lots or parcels. Upon recordation with the appropriate authorities, land included in the plat can thenceforth be legally described by reference to the plat, omitting a metes and bounds description.

Point of Beginning (P.O.B.) –In a deed description, it is a reference point that describes the point at which a parcel begins.

Possession – Physical control of personal or real property.

Power of Attorney – A written authorization in which one person gives authority to another person to act on his or her behalf.

Prescription – To expire by the passage of time; statute of limitations.

Probate – To open a succession in which a will is left, and the presentation of the will to a judge for adjudication.

Property Settlement – Judgment rendering the partition of the assets of a divorced couple.

Public Land Survey System (PLSS) – A rectangular survey system established in the United States by the Land Ordinance of 1785, consisting of divisions into township and ranges.

Quarter-Quarter – A subdivision of a section containing 40 acres, also known as a forty.

Quarter Section – A subdivision of a section containing 160 acres.

Quitclaim Deed – A deed in which the grantor conveys or relinquishes all interests that he or she may have in a property, without warrant as to the extent or validity of such interests.

Quiet Title – An action at law to remove an adverse claim or cloud on the title of the property.

Range – One of the north-south rows of townships in a U. S. Public Land Survey.

Ratio Study – A study of the relationship between appraised or assessed values and market values.

Real Property – The land plus anything permanently attached to the land or legally defined as immovable; real estate; realty.

Reassessment – The revaluation of all property, or all property of a given class, within an assessment district by order of an authorized body.

Recordation – Recording an instrument for public record with the clerk of court of a jurisdiction.

Redemption – The process by which the owner of property sold at a tax sale buys back the property from the purchaser at an enhanced price within a specified redemption period.

Register Number - Refers to the registered conveyance number in which an instrument is filed in the office of the clerk of court.

Relief – The variation in elevation between the high and low parts of a surface.

Rendition – A declaration report submitted by the owner of property.

Reservation – A right or privilege reserved by the grantor of property.

Residential Property – Property that contains two or more living units.

Restriction – A described limitation on use of a property.

Revaluation – A reappraisal of property.

Reversion – The return of property to a grantor in a deed should restrictions be violated or the term of the conveyance ends.

Revocable Trust – A trust in which the grantor of the property held in trust retains the right to repossess the legal and equitable rights.

Right-of-Way – An easement consisting of a right of passage over or through property.

Riparian Rights – The right that an owner of land bordering on a river has in the water flowing in the river, underneath the land, its banks, or its bed.

Rod – A land measure of 16-1/2 feet; also called a pole.

Scale – The reduction ratio that characterizes a particular map.

Second – One sixtieth of a minute of the circumference of a circle.

Section – A unit of land approximately one mile square and normally containing 640 acres, as laid out by the government survey.

Separate Property – That part of the property owned by the husband or wife which is not considered community property.

Servitude – The right of use or enjoyment of land belonging to another; easement.

Sheriff Sale – Judicial sale of property to satisfy a lien or mortgage.

Situs – The location of a property for purposes of taxation.

Spatial – Refers to the location of, proximity to, or orientation of objects with respect to one another.

Split – A result of a division or sale of property held by a single owner into multiple parcels.

Square Foot – A unit of area equal to a square one foot in length on each side.

Subdivision – A tract of land that has been divided into marketable building lots and such public and private ways as are required for access to those lots, and that is covered by a recorded plat.

Subdivision Plat – A plat showing the location of a subdivision and its layout into lots, streets, alleys, and the like.

Subject Property – The property being appraised. 

Succession – The passing of property by inheritance or will.

Tax District – Any political subdivision having or exercising the power to levy taxes.

Tax Exempt Property – Property entirely excluded from taxation because of its type or use.

Tax Rate – The amount of tax stated in terms of a unit of the tax base, for example, 30 mills per dollar.

Tax Roll – An official list showing the amount of taxes charged against each taxpayer and/or each property within the jurisdiction of a tax district.

Tax Sale – Sale of a taxpayer’s property by public authority for non-payment of delinquent taxes.

Taxable Value – The appraised value minus all applicable partial exemptions, of which the property taxes are levied.

Tenant – One who holds or possesses a property.

Testament – A written instrument whereby a person disposes of his estate to take effect upon his death; a will.

Testator/Testatrix – A person who leaves a will.

Thread – A line midway between the side lines, such as midway between the banks of a stream.

Title – The union of all elements constituting proof of property ownership or the instrument that is evidence of ownership.

Title Search – An examination of public records to ensure the quality of the seller’s title to a property.

Topographic Map – A map showing the horizontal and vertical locations of natural and artificial features; elevation map.

Township – An approximately thirty-six mile division of land used in the Federal Rectangular Survey System.

Township Plat – A plat of survey of a township prepared by, or under the direction of, the United States General Land Office.

Transfer – The act of changing the ownership of property on the assessment rolls.

Trust Deed – An agreement whereby the owner of property transfers legal title to a second party, such property to be held, managed, or disposed of for the benefit of a third party, as set forth in the agreement.

Trustee – One who holds legal title to property under a trust agreement.

Tutor/Tutrix – A guardian of a minor.

Undivided Interest – An interest in a property that is not distinct from the interest of other owners of the property.

Universal Legatee – A person who receives all of the property of the testator.

Unrecorded – A deed, etc., which has not been filed for public record in the office of the clerk of court.

Use Value – Property entirely used for a specific purpose or use that entitles the property to be assessed at a different level than others in the jurisdiction.

Usufruct – The right to enjoy and receive the benefits from property without the power to impair or alienate the property.

Usufructuary – The person who has or is granted the usufruct of property.

Vendee – One who purchases; buyer.

Vendor – One who transfers property by sale; seller.

Vendor’s Lien – An instrument conveying immovable property on credit terms; credit deed.

Volume Reference - Refers to the conveyance book and page number in which an instrument is filed in the office of the clerk of court.

Warranty Deed – A deed containing a covenant of warranty whereby the grantor guarantees that the title that is being transferred is free from defects.

Will – A written instrument whereby a person disposes of his estate to take effect upon his death; testament.

Witness – To attest.

Zoning – The exercise of the police power to restrict land owners as to the use of their land and/or type, size, and location of structures to be erected thereon. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Definitions contained in the above glossary were complied from the following publications:

  • Glossary for Property Appraisal and Assessment
    International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Principles and Techniques of Cadastral Mapping
    IAAO Reference Manual of Course 600
  • Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition
    West Publishing Co.
  • Louisiana Notarial Handbook & Study Guide
    by Sydney Horn 

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