How to Use GPS to Find Land

How to Use GPS to Find Land

When it comes to land, using GPS to find it won't always be the same as going to a family members house or something similar. A lot of land goes by APN or legal descriptions till an address is provided, which usually requires you to build on it before that is given. Which makes sense, for emergency response they do not have time to find where a parcel is. So, if they can't find parcels right away, how can you? Let us explain further...

How to use GPS to Find Land

1.  Navigation Apps

Between Apple and Android, there are several apps for navigation. But the main issue is the lack of an address and some land is very remote with roads that are not always on their system. You can also run into lack of cell service and have a major issue getting back to the main highway from your remote land. Here we will go though a guide on how to get though these pitfalls and some good apps. 

  • Google Maps - The well known and highly regarded google maps app is actually quite useful for finding land. This is because you can go off of GPS coordinates which is a major feature of their system. Simply use your current location and enter your destination is GPS format. If you are not familiar with GPS format, it looks something like the below picture. At times even this can throw you off but it still works. In this example we used a remote lot we have on LandZero in Arizona. The road is dirt to it and unmarked by mapping. So at times it will say the location is something nearby. In this case it gave us the name of a school district for the coordinates, but it actually did provide directions to the exact location of the lot when you zoom in. So it does work, but what if you do not have the coordinates? 

  • How to find Coordinates to your land - Almost all counties have a GIS mapping system for all properties. Here are the steps to find that. 

    a) Google the name of the county your property is in plus parcel search i.e (apache county property search)

    b) Once you find this it will say search by parcel number, name of owner or tax ID usually. If you know your parcel number type that in i.e (103-25-201). They all look different everywhere, even up to 16+ digits. Once found, there is usually a link like (find property in GIS system). Click that, the map will let you hover over the lot and display the GPS coordinates. This may be on the parcel, bottom of the GIS map or in the description. 

    c) If all else fails, you can visit a website called parcelfact.com. The day pass is $15.00 but when you enter your parcel number in here, it will give you GPS coordinates.
  • Apps - If you are still struggling or google maps is not something you are comfortable using try these apps. 

    LandGlide  - All in one app, type in your parcel number and use the in system GPS to get there. 

    ScoutLook - Used as a hunting map, it still has a built in GPS system with parcel options and property lines.


2. Pitfalls With Finding Land - Finding remote land can be a bit frustrating if you have not done it before. This is for land that may be out in the woods or desert mostly. If you have a residential lot then it's easy, just use the neighbors address or nearest home and some landmarks. But here, we will focus on the harder to get to lots out in more remote areas. Here are some of the pitfalls that can happen. 

  • Accuracy - Sometimes the GPS might throw you off by 10 to 20 feet, this one is not that common but it happens. You don't want to drive out and end up looking at the neighbors lot. A decent workaround is also using google earth to pinpoint your property before heading there. If you have cell service on site, you can use it on site and download the app. If not you may need to print a picture of your land before going and use landmarks you see.

  • Roads - For really remote land, the directions can often take you on a wild route or even just dirt without any roads. You can usually see this ahead of time as the route on maps will have dotted lines instead of straight solid lines. It is best to use google earth to research this, find the roads and the best route first. Zoom in, use street view to clearly see all the details. Take screenshots of the areas you can see are the best path and measure any road turns by miles or feet, then use your car to track how far you drive from each turn. 

  • Getting stuck on the way back - Once you have the route in the guidance system you are usually good getting there. However, once you ask for directions back, you may not have any connection on the phone. So be sure to follow the same route out, if you go off the route make sure you know what you did. 

  • Is this my lot? - Raw land doesn't have string or boundaries most of the time. You are going to go out and just see nothing but open land. So you might think, well is this really my lot. Using the land apps we posted above you can pull the GPS corners of your land. Use some sticks on each corner and you will have a good idea of where you land stands.


3. Safety
- If you are going to see some really remote land in desert areas, mountain ranges or any land not near any people or cell service. You should prep for the journey and take precautions just in case. Although it would be really rare to have issues with parceled land in a county, it is best to stay safe because some can be really far out there. Here are some optional things to prepare before the trip. 

  • Phone Charger 
  • Pack of Water bottles 
  • Warm clothes 
  • Extra Gas 
  • Paper Maps
  • Extra Phone
  • Notify a friend of the location and time
  • Extra Tire
  • Food
  • Camping supplies 
  • Apps that work without cell service 

We hope this article helped, thanks for visiting our page.

May 30th 2020 Jessica Richardson

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