Lisa and Jim's Northern Nevada Real Estate Blog: Northern Nevada Real Estate Commonly Known As vs. Legal Description

Northern Nevada Real Estate Commonly Known As vs. Legal Description

Northern Nevada Real Estate  

Commonly Known As vs. Legal Description   

Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine RE/MAX Realty Affiliates 

Commonly Known As vs.  

Legal Description    

In today's database society people are asked to complete many forms during the course of living. Most forms ask for an address, some will even offer a choice of "mailing" address. When it comes to real estate the commonly used address, usually a number and a street, is the first thing that pops in to people's mind. In most cases that isn't a problem, but it can become an issue for a variety of reasons which is why real estate uses what is called the Legal Description.


A street address is just an address. It is a means to identify the property in an easily understood and organized manner. Using street addresses makes it easy for the property to be located, especially helpful for emergency vehicle drivers. A street address is how a property is commonly known, not a legal description. Street addresses can change over time. That happened about fifteen years ago, or so, in Minden, Douglas County. After decades of using a set of numbers, the numbers were changed by the powers that be. If the street addresses would have been used to describe properties when they were conveyed most, if not all, of the deeds in Minden would have been wrong.


The same can happen with an Assessor's Parcel Number. APN's, as they are called, are given by the Assessor's office as a part of their assessment duties. A property's APN is simply a reflection of how the property is identified by the County. It makes for a good back up system to confirm that you are looking at the same property as has been identified by the street address, , kind of like how your Social Security number is used to verify that you are who you say your name is. APN's are not legal descriptions because they, too, can change. Douglas County changed their Parcel Numbering system from a Book and Page program to that using a Township and Range system, again about 15 years ago, or so. Again, had the APN been the legal description all of the deeds in the county would have been in error.


There have been various types of legal descriptions used over the years, but today most are based on a map system. Most properties are now divided via a Parcel, Subdivision, or Land Division map. The legal description for a specific property is how the property is identified on the map, i.e.- lot and block, parcel number, lot number, etc., and the name of the map. Older properties can have lengthy descriptions involving what is known as metes and bounds descriptions, very difficult for the layman to understand.


Our Advice: Legal descriptions are very important in real estate. Be careful that your deed is properly prepared, no typos. They don't happen often, but when they do they can wreck havoc if not caught early enough. Throughout your purchase/sale process your property will be referenced in that manner that it is most commonly referenced, by the street address. Remember, however, that you must look deeper than that when the transaction documentation is presented to you. Loan docs, Preliminary Title Report, Deed, Deed of Trust, etc., all must have the correct legal description. Most documents will have the Street Address, Assessor's Parcel Number, and the Legal Description on them, but only the last one really counts. The others are just a combination of easy reference and cross checking for accuracy systems.


You will rely on your professionals to help you through the process, and may never call your property "Block E, Lot 115", but when buying or selling pay attention to what is going on around you.


When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs... Experience is Priceless!
Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine are real estate agents with RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville. They are short sale and foreclosure specialists and certified distressed property experts.



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Commonly Known As vs. Legal Description


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Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine
 RE/MAX Realty Affiliates
1320 US Highway 395 N.
Gardnerville, Nevada 89410
775.781.5472 - Cell
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775.552.8585 - Fax
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Comment balloon 0 commentsLisa Wetzel • August 16 2013 07:34AM