Demystifying Real Estate – Chapter 6: Surveys vs Tax Maps Distinguishing the Differences

Oct 28, 2023

By Vanessa Saunders, Founder & CEO – Global Property Systems

Understanding Survey Maps and Parcel Maps

Survey maps and parcel maps are essential tools in real estate, clarifying property details and boundaries.

A survey determines the positions of points on the earth’s surface and measures the distances, directions, angles, and elevations between them. This scientific approach offers precision and is often leveraged in fields like civil engineering, construction, and architecture.

Conversely, a parcel map is a more general tool, typically used by governments to display the boundaries of multiple lots, whereas a survey focuses on the intricate details of a single lot. The survey can definitively identify features like encroachments, easements, and other legalities pertaining to the property.

When comparing the two:

Purpose: While both depict land and its features, a survey zeroes in on the specifics of a property to determine precise boundaries and inherent challenges, while a parcel map provides a broader overview of multiple properties in an area.

Scope: The scope of a survey is often limited to a single property, providing exact measurements and details. A parcel map, on the other hand, usually showcases several lots.

Detail: A survey offers a comprehensive portrayal of a property, marking boundaries and dimensions and even highlighting potential disputes or issues. A parcel map, while valuable, generally provides a more generalized view of the land.

Role of Maps in Property Taxation

These maps, beyond their primary functions, are instrumental in property taxation.

Tax Assessments: The accurate depiction of property dimensions and features on these maps directly influences its tax-assessed value. This ensures fairness in taxation and guards against anomalies in tax bills.

Land Use and Zoning: Maps guide municipalities in zoning decisions. Whether a plot is designated as commercial, residential, or industrial can determine its tax bracket, ensuring proper categorization and fair taxation.

Infrastructure Development: Maps are foundational when planning for infrastructure. The taxes levied to fund projects like roadways or sewage systems rely on accurately representing land and its divisions.

Tax Disputes: In the face of a tax dispute, an updated survey can be a decisive tool. It can aid in reducing taxes if discrepancies in property size or features are identified.

Tax Map Updates: Municipalities periodically update tax maps to account for property changes or to address inaccuracies. Current and precise survey maps play an integral role in these updates.


Parcel maps and survey maps, while distinct in their purposes and details, hold undeniable value in real estate and property taxation. By understanding the nuanced differences and applications of each, stakeholders can navigate real estate decisions and property taxation with greater accuracy and confidence.


Get in touch for a confidential conversation with  “no strings” attached.

Translate »

Subscribe to the Global Property Systems Blog

Receive a new post by email every time it's published!

Complete the form below: