Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tools for the Land Broker Professional

I was getting ready to leave this morning to preview a small tract of land in Harris County, GA. I was gathering up some gear and decided this would be a fun and helpful blog post and for those considering the career, it might give you some insight. Probably one of the most important skills needed is map reading. Most property I list and sale is owned by an absentee landowner. The owner may live out of state and many times they are not familiar with the property so you are on you own! This means not only do you have to find the property, but you might have to locate some property lines and corners.

Aerial Photograph

It is always a good idea to have an aerial photograph and a survey plat. Many times the property may join a field, timber stand, fence or some other feature that will help you identify a property line. These are probably visible on an aerial photo or satellite image.

Survey Plat

A survey plat will show the bearing and distance from one property corner to the next. With a compass and hip-chain, many times you can locate the next corner. I LOVE a hip-chain. The hip-chain feeds out a thin, high tensile strength string. The instrument reads out the distance in feet and is accurate to about 2%. I have found hundreds of corners with this method.



A compass simply allows to determine the bearing as indicated on a survey plat. For instance you might have to go  N 13  37’  28” W from one corner to the next. You simply dial in that bearing and walk the property line going in that direction (or bearing).

A GPS is a vital tool as well. The GPS can be used for two task: Navigate to a corner or feature using the Latitude - Longitude coordinates OR taking a waypoint in the field to locate a corner or feature on a map or aerial!

Garmin 60 GPS

Example of a map I constructed using a GPS waypoint
taking in the field.

I also used several mapping and navigation software programs that allow me to drive through a property and track my progress. These maps/programs allow you look for property lines as you approach the boundary. Great tool for showing property!

Topo Map with GPS location services!

Satellite Image with tract boundaries and location services!

Last but not least... the land professional is often driving a 4 X 4 truck and many have a small all terrain vehicle when there is only a path or trail. I have an old Honda 4 wheeler that has saved many a foot step on a large tract of land. You might not need this off road assistance when looking at 20 acres, but it sure comes in handy when looking at 200 acres and larger.

For information on buying or selling land, contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF  @ 706.457.0090