Finding the Land

Finding the Land

Here are two scenarios helpful in finding the properties of your choice:

1. The property has a Street address (Situs Address)

If this is the case finding the property is very simple. Go online to or and enter the street name and the city/town name. If available, enter the zip code and the approximate property location will appear. You will be able to zoom in or out at your convenience until you can clearly tell where the property is located, relative to its surroundings. Once you identify the approximate location of the property you can then compare the detailed view of the property location (from with the plat map on recorded with the county.

2. If the property is in an area with no street signs

In this case, we recommend obtain a detailed Topographical map available through from, or you can use a good topographical mapping software such as If possible, we also strongly recommend the use of a GPS (Global Positioning System) to help you find the property location. Basic handheld GPS systems can be purchased inexpensively at any major electronic store. Ideally, such a GPS device can be connected to a laptop or handheld device running any of the major mapping software and you will have a fully functioning multi-color interactive GPS system. In such a system, you can now enter the Latitude/Longitude measurements of the property location and by using these devices it should be very easy to find the exact property location. This combination is useful for very large properties that are not located in a subdivision because the plat maps do not really show much of the surroundings and it would be easy to miss the property otherwise.

Understanding the Parcel number system

Most counties in most states have a very explicit numbering system, to identify the individual parcels and its location in the county. Those numbers in many cases also serve as identifiers for property tax collection purposes. In Arizona, the Assessor Parcel Number (also called APN) is the single most important identifier of a property. It consists of three pairs of numbers XXX-XX-XXX and sometimes also XXX-XX-XXXX (in this latter case the last number is usually a letter). The three parts of each parcel number represent the Assessor's Book, the Page, and the Parcel. For example: parcel number 503-90-664B means that this property is mapped in the Assessor's Book number 503, on Page 90, and it is parcel 664B on that page. In California, the numbering is similar only that there is a slight difference between the Assessor's Parcel number and the Assessor's Tax number (in Arizona the same number is used for both). So in order to find a property on a parcel map, just look for the last set of numbers on the parcel number and find it in the parcel map we have attached to each property listing. For your convenience, on each parcel map, we have identified the parcel to be sold at the auction, we will issue the Warranty deed within 10 business days from the day of the auction.

Looking at a plat map and/or the short legal description, how do I find out where this parcel is in relation to other parts of the County, State, or Country?

Three methods of description are used in the United States
(1) Metes and Bounds
(2) Rectangular survey
(3) Subdivision Lot and Block

Rectangular survey system (Ranges / Townships/ Sections)

The rectangular survey system is based on two sets of intersecting lines: principal meridians and base lines. Principal meridians are north and south lines, and base lines run east and west. Both can be located exactly by reference to degrees of longitude and latitude. Each principal meridian has a name or a number and is crossed by its own base line. Each principal meridian and base line is used to survey a specific area of land.

Ranges: The land on either side of a principal meridian is divided into 6-mile wide strips by lines that run north an south, parallel to the meridian. The north-south strips of land are called ranges. They are designated by consecutive numbers east or west of the principal meridian.

Townships: Lines running east and west of the base line six miles apart are referred to as township lines and form strips of land (or tiers) called townships. These tiers of townships are designated by consecutive numbers north or south of the base line. The township squares formed by the intersecting township and range lines are the basic units of the rectangular survey system. Theoretically, townships are six miles square and contain 36 square miles.

Sections: Each township contains 36 sections. Sections are numbered consecutively, 1 through 36, with section 1 being in the upper right-hand corner of the township. Each section contains 1 square mile, or 640 acres of land, and is commonly divided into half sections (containing 320 acres), quarter section (160 acres), and further divisions of halves and quarters for reference purposes.

For example:

The E 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Section 17, Township 14 North, Range 4 West of the 6th Principal Meridian.

In the above example, the land described would have an area of 80 acres (the NW1/4 equals 160 acres; of this equals 80 acres). Generally, the smaller a parcel of land is, the longer its legal description will be.

Subdivision Lot and Block

The third method of land description is by lot and block number in a subdivision plat. When land is subdivided by its owner, the first step is the preparation of a plat map survey by a licensed surveyor or engineer. On this plat, the land is divided into lots and blocks, and streets or access roads for public use are indicated. The lots and blocks are assigned numbers or letters.

#1. Source: Real Estate Fundamentals, 6th Edition, 2003. Gaddy Jr., Wade E., Hart, Robert E.

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