# How to understand degrees in real estate

We are wanting to understand where the easement is on a 10 acre property we purchased. We don't really understand about tags for posting. This is the description:

Ingress-egress easement for road purpose: Beginning 12.5 ft on each side of the following described center line: Beginning at the center of section 4, township 23, north range 32 west, McDonald County, MO. Thence north 68 degrees, 39 minutes, 25 seconds east 7l.96 feet. Thence south 75 degrees, 51 minutes, 17 seconds east, 55. 41 feet, thence south 81 degrees, 40 minutes, 50 seconds east, 162.27 feet to the point of termination.

• Jan 22, 2018 at 19:37
• The easement is described using quadrant bearings and distances. This website gives an explanation: geology.isu.edu/wapi/geostac/Field_Exercise/topomaps/… You could theoretically go into the field with a compass and measuring tape and try to figure out where the easement is, but a better option would probably be to hire a surveyor to survey your property, mark the easement, and provide you with a plat of your property if you don't already have one. Jan 22, 2018 at 19:54

The legal description you provided (of an easement along the road) should have been provided by a licensed professional land surveyor.

That description is also what a mapper would use to digitally map the described road centerline, which could then be buffered on each side by 12.5 feet (i.e., easement is 25 feet wide).

A mapper could start with a Public Land Survey System ("PLSS"; or equivalent) dataset for Montana, or better yet certified Section Corners, to locate the Section of Interest (Section 4, Township 23 North, Range 32 West), and starting at the [Point of] Beginning (center of Section 4), map, using Coordinate Geometry or "COGO", the road centerline traverse by the bearings and distances in the description.

That mapped centerline could then be buffered on both sides by 12.5 feet.

The resulting buffered area/polygon is the land/road described for the easement.

This is describing the shape of an area in polar coordinates. Polar coordinates work from a known starting point, and each new point is derived from a bearing (angle) and a distance. Think of it this way: you are at your kitchen table. If you face North and turn clockwise 40 degrees, and then walk 5 steps, you're at the hallway door. So your hallway door is 40 degrees and 3.5 meters (considering 70cm per step) from your kitchen table.

EDIT (in accordance to comment by mkennedy): in the USA, bearing is measured either from the North or South, and you turn X degrees to either East or West. So a "North 40 degrees East" bearing means looking North, turn 40 degrees to the East.

Your area description is marking a line, and saying your area is everything encompassing 12.5 ft to the left and right of your centre line. The starting point is "center of section 4, township 23, north range 32 west, McDonald County, MO". From there, you look East, turn 68°39'25" anticlockwise and walk 71.96ft. This is your second point. From it, you look East again, turn 75°51'17" clockwise and walk 55.41ft. That is your third point. Finally you look East again, turn 81°40'50" clockwise and walk 162.27ft to what is your final point. Everything within 12.5ft of this line is your area of interest.

• Bearings in my USA surveying book are measured from either North or South towards the second direction. That is, you look North or South and measure the acute (<90 degrees) toward the 2nd direction, directly the opposite of what you're saying. Jan 22, 2018 at 21:54
• Oh, I see. I was somewhat confused, as in my country it's always from North clockwise, so I looked online and found a reference for the setup I typed above. However, given that OP's area is also in the USA, your reference is likely the one that fits. Thanks for the heads up, I'll edit my answer! Jan 22, 2018 at 22:18