selling

WOODS AND BOUNDS

by Terri & Roger Coolong, PLS, RPF

 

Many times after a survey is completed, the client will look at a plat and say "Why is the magnetic bearing on this line N 42° W?  My deed says that it is supposed to be N 39° W!"  Although the use of true north would be a more accurate orientation for boundaries, magnetic north has been used in most of our local maps and deeds.  Magnetic attraction varies over time.  This is due to the fact that the magnetic poles of the earth are not located at the poles around which the earth spins, and the magnetic poles also move back and forth over a period of years.  The variation is usually called the declination, defined as the amount and direction by which the magnetic needle is off the true meridian.  Declination across the United States varies, but in Maine is approximately 17 to 22 degrees to the west of North.

Chances are, the description in your deed was written many years ago, when the magnetic declination was different than it is now.  Charts are available from the United States Geological Survey which tell you approximately what the declination was in your geographic area during any given year over the last 200 years.  By adding or subtracting the difference in declination between the year the property was last surveyed and now, you can find roughly what your compass would have read at that past time.  Any map recently prepared by a surveyor should indicate the basis of bearing, for instance "magnetic north in August 1995", true north, or grid north. This will assist future surveyors in knowing what differences to expect when resurveying the property.   The directions we seek may vary from compass to compass because of the amount of magnetism in the needle.  Newer techniques in machining, combined with purer materials for the housings, have reduced many of the variations that were found in older compasses.

Many of the staff compasses used for surveying in the early years of statehood were only marked in full degrees. A surveyor may have only read the bearing to the nearest degree, or might possibly have "eyeballed" it to the nearest 1/4 degree.  Older compasses did not have the dampening properties of a newer one, so it took much longer for the needle to "settle", or stop moving back and forth.  If the surveyor was in a hurry (often the case when miles and miles of line were surveyed in a day as is indicated in field notes filed at the State Archives), he may not have waited for the needle to stop moving completely, but just guessed at where it would stop based on the reading that it was moving back and forth around.  Keep in mind that should one run a compass line and have an error of 1°, in a mile distance the error is 92.1487 feet.  At that rate, one would have a 1.74 foot error every 100 feet!

Generally, the greatest magnetic force at a point is created by the earth's magnetic field, but other natural and man-made elements can have local influences too.  The presence of iron deposits, reinforcing bars in roads and buildings, wire fences, underground utility pipes and electric lines all modify how a compass will behave in any given place.

With the use today of high precision GPS, we can orient a parcel to true north or grid north.  True north is absolute north while grid north is slightly east of north according to the State of Maine grid.  The advantages of high precision GPS are that the orientation is not influenced by outside forces as with compass use and only one original monument is needed to orient a retracement survey.

So the next time you are trying to follow an ancient compass bearing, be it on an old survey plan, in a deed, or on the secret treasure map left to you by great-uncle Blackbeard, remember to convert the declination to the current year, watch for local compass influences, and in the case of the treasure map, leave no stone unturned!

 

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Maine land suffers early season storm damage

Maine balsam fir storm damage

Snow storms in early November 2014  have caused timber losses on land in Maine.  Whether you are considering selling acreage in Maine or are interested in land for sale in Maine, you or your forester should walk the land to inspect the property for storm damage.

Timberland in Maine is a relatively safe passive investment.  If your land does have tree damage from winter storms, working with your forester, you may be able to schedule a salvage harvest to recoup some of the losses.

Not all damage is a bad thing, as some of the damaged trees are weaker diseased trees that once down will allow your dominant trees to grow faster.

A recent trip to our land in Surry Maine allowed us to inspect our forest to see the extent of the downed trees.  Our white pines and maple trees were basically in good condition with some limbs broken off but no serious damage.  The biggest damage was to 3-6 inch dbh fur and white birch.  See the photos in this post of our fir trees.  Land in Hancock County and land in Waldo county seemed to have the largest amount of downed trees.  Some trees snapped at the top, others in the middle and some near the butt.

Maine Waterfront Real Estate Market in Full Recovery

In 2006 and 2007 Maine experienced the hottest waterfront market in history.  Ocean, lake, pond and river properties for sale were benefiting from the boom of real estate values in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and the rest of New England.  Out of state buyers were flocking to Maine with cash from home equity loans on their primary residences.

In 2011 the waterfront market bottomed out based on the number of sold transactions.  Since 2011 we have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of single family waterfront transactions per year.  For example, in 2014 Penobscot County had seen an 80% increase in the number of sold transactions compared to 2011.

Maine Bold Coast

What are some of the causes for the increase in the number of Maine waterfront properties sold?

  1. Record high levels of available inventory. Buyers have had a great selection of properties to choose from.
  2. Prices are at the most affordable levels since the great recession started. Some locations are seeing properties selling for 25% less than the peak values of 2006-2007.
  3. Record low interest rates. Current 30 year fixed rates are under 4%.
  4. Record Stock Market Levels. Buyers are taking stock market gains and investing in Maine waterfront property.
  5. Pent up demand. Buyers are starting to see the changing tide in the Maine waterfront market and are getting off the fence to take advantage of these conditions.

Why buy now?

Buyer activity for the winter months of 2015 has been the strongest we've seen at United Country McPhail Realty since 2007.

New listings coming on the market for the first two months of 2015 are down 11% compared to 2014 and down 7% compared to 2013.

If you are a buyer that has been sitting on the fence watching Maine waterfront for sale, timing is everything.  The balance of supply and demand is moving away from oversupply to a more balanced market.  These conditions will help to provide an upward pressure on values, especially on those waterfront properties that are priced aggressively and have the popular features buyers are looking for.

Maine Lakes and Ponds

If you are an owner looking to sell your waterfront property, it is more critical than ever to hire the right Realtor.  What makes for the best waterfront realtor?  The following are some of the criteria to consider:

  1. A real estate company with a strong online marketing program that focuses on lifestyle property types. A generic, cookie cutter, one size fits all marketing program will not work well.
  2. A company with a strong print advertising campaign designed to reach buyers of lifestyle properties. Another part of a strong foundation. Affluent buyers still like to read print.
  3. A brokerage that understands SEO and can help your property stand out from the crowd. It takes more than just a standard web site to be found first among the many.
  4. A real estate company with a large database of buyers that can be marketed to from day one.
  5. A real estate company that is part of an international network of lifestyle brokers.
  6. A real estate company with years of experience that understands the best marketing, pricing and negotiating strategies to best serve their client's needs.
  7. A real estate company that is continually staying on the cutting edge of new marketing ideas and technology.

For a free, no obligation consultation, give the United Country McPhail Realty team a call at 207-794-4338 to see the power of a custom lifestyle marketing program for your Maine waterfront property.

Top 5 Reasons Your Maine Land Has Not Sold

Has your land in Maine been on the market for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years or more? Few showings, no offers and you think that something must be wrong. Well something probably is. Here are the Top 5 Reasons we have identified that get in the way of selling your property.

Price

The number one reason property does not sell is typically a pricing problem. Before putting your land on the market a thorough analysis of the potential uses of the land, recent sale data, competing properties for sale, location issues, property improvements and other factors should be considered in order to price the property competitively for the market. If this is not done correctly from the start the end result is longer marketing time and a below market selling price.

Marketing

Number two on our list is marketing. Determining who the most probable buyer is and then how you reach those prospects is paramount to any good marketing plan.

Selling raw land or properties with a large component of land is not the same as selling a single family home on 1/2 an acre in town. Putting and ad in a local paper, a sign on the property, placing the property in MLS, Realtor.com, Zillo and Trulia can be effective for selling homes but miss the mark for properties with acreage. Take a peek at any of these mediums and you quickly see that they are designed to focus 99% of attention on single family homes. Land is hard to find here and generally not presented in an attractive manner with a low quality tax map or Google Earth screen shot as the opening photo.

Access Issues

How you physically get onto a property has a real effect on buyer interest and general appeal of the land. If your land fronts a busy road or highway and there is no driveway or access road onto the property prospective buyers may have a difficult time seeing the utility of the parcel. Does the land have a clear right of way if it is not on a public road? If not, what can you do to better define the access or right of way? Is your property on a private road that is in bad condition? If any of these situations describe your property, this could be one of the reasons your land is not selling.

Boundaries are unclear

Imagine yourself as a prospective buyer and meeting the owner or real estate agent to see a 50 acre parcel of land. Now imagine you ask them where the property lines are and they tell you "we think they are somewhere around here". Does that statement give you and warm and fuzzy feeling that would inspire you to write a deposit check? I doubt it. Get your property surveyed to add value and shorten the marketing time.

No Owner Terms

If you have not considered offering owner financing terms for the sale of your land, you should give it more thought. Inquiries on our land listings triple when advertised with owner financing terms. It simply opens the property up to a much larger buyer audience. Owner terms often bring a higher price for the property and most owners get interest rates that are attractive as an investment.

If any of these conditions apply to you, this may be the reason why you have not been successful in selling your property. Need more help? Call us today for a professional opinion.