Finding the boundary points of wooded lots can be a serious challenge. When you buy hunting land or rural acreage for sale there’s a good chance the county you are buying in does not have very good property maps. Even if they have property maps you may have a hard time finding a boundary marker or monument in the middle of the forest.
Here’s a simple but powerful solution to that problem. You can find boundary markers of rural and wooded vacant land with your smart phone. I am using an Android device (an HTC Droid from Verizon). I am sure there are similar iPhone apps available, too.
The first step is to get the coordinates of the boundary point you are looking for. In many counties Google displays the property lines of rural lots on their maps. You can see them, if you zoom in close enough (use the Map, not the Satellite display option).
Find the boundary points of your vacant lot in Google maps. Then zoom in as close as possible.
Next, you need an application to read the coordinates of your cursor position. Google Labs has a couple of applications that allow you to do this.
Click on the Labs NEW! icon (you can find it in the right upper corner of the Google Maps page in a pull down menu) to display available applications. Enable the one called LatLng Marker.
After you save and close the pop-up window you can click the right mouse button anywhere on the map and a menu will appear. At the bottom of this menu you will see the Drop LatLng Marker text. When you click it, a small box with latitude and longitude will drop on the map at the location of the cursor.
Drop the LatLon Markers at all boundary points of the vacant land you want to locate with your smartphone. The coordinates you see are in degrees with up to 5 decimal points. Latitude is degrees above the equator and longitude is degrees West of Greenwich (negative values in the US).
Do this for all of your boundary points and write down the values. You can also do a screen capture and print that image. Google’s regular “print map” function does not keep the markers on the map.
Download A Free Android Application
Now you are ready to download a free Android application called c:geo. This application was developed for geocaching. It also offers a screen where you can manually enter waypoints.
When you launch this application on your Droid you will see 6 options. Go to “Any Destination” which opens a coordinate input screen. Here you enter the coordinate of the marker you want to find first.
When the coordinate is in, you hit Compass or Radar. Either function will display a compass needle and show in which direction and how far your waypoint (boundary marker) is. Now you simply walk or drive following the directions on the Droid screen.
Following the arrow should guide you to the location you selected on the Google map and very close to the actual boundary point.
Here are a few more tips to help you find the boundaries of your rural acreage and vacant lots:
- The GPS of your Android phone must be turned on. You can disable it, in which case the locations are based on cell towers and very inaccurate.
- GPS is a power hog. Make sure you bring a car charger and maybe even a spare battery when you head out to locate your boundary markers.
- 1 degree in geographic coordinates equals 69 miles. In order to locate your property to within 10 ft, you will need to record the latitude and longitude to 5 digits after the dot ( this means 0.00001 degrees = 4 ft)
- Finally, the locations you find are not your legal boundary points. They are just an indication where the boundary markers should be. If you can’t find physical boundary markers you may have to consult a licensed land surveyor to help you locate the exact boundary of your vacant land.