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What is an ALTA Survey? – Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys 2022


The American Land Title Association (ALTA)/National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Land Title Surveys Minimum Standard Detail Requirements (ALTA Standards) were last revised in February 2021. These boundary surveys, commonly known as ALTA surveys, are produced in compliance with a set of basic requirements that ALTA and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) mutually adopted. 

These modifications result from terminology changes, technological advancements, and changes in business practices. Until the subsequent ALTA/NSPS meeting, these survey criteria will be in force. 

What is an ALTA Survey? 

The term “due diligence” is frequently used in the real estate industry to refer to the process of collecting information and making disclosures in conjunction with the purchase or investment of real estate. In commercial real estate transactions, ALTA Land Title Surveys are crucial for a number of parties. An ALTA land survey is distinct from a typical boundary, border, or straightforward location assessment due to the extensive requirements for conducting one. 

An ALTA survey is frequently required by lenders when underwriting a real estate purchase. Every commercial property buyer should, strongly consider conducting an ALTA survey to be aware of any limitations, easements, or other caveats that could hinder development plans for the property. 

ALTA survey is a very common term used in Civil Engineering & Real Estate domain which stands for “American Land Title Association”. It’s a set of principles that has classified and standardized the survey methods, processes, and actions of surveys, helping property surveyors meet the standard requirements of recognized Government and Private entities. The basic objective of the ALTA survey is to establish common and acceptable principles and expectations in the U.S. It provides a common standard for all the parties in the transaction to follow – especially the professional land surveyors. 

The ALTA survey typically provides detailed information about: 

  • Property boundaries 
  • Easement and encumbrances 
  • Encroachments 
  • Evidence of use by other parties 
  • Names of neighboring property owners 
  • Land improvements 
  • Roads and property features 
  • Access and legal routes to the property 
  • Zoning classification 
  • Flood zone classification 
  • Water Boundaries 
  • Existence of cemeteries 
  • Legal property description 

Learn More >> The Ultimate Guide to ALTA Surveys

ALTA surveys are the gold standard in the land surveying industry. ALTA Land Title Surveys are used by legal, title, development, finance, and design professionals. Many lenders are mandating ALTA land surveys before providing funding for commercial property acquisitions and new development. 

ALTA Survey Process 

An ALTA land survey collects and records data from property records as well as physical surveying in order to meet the needs of title companies during insurance transactions. The following are the steps and processes that must be followed during the ALTA survey: 

  • Research Land Records – The property is researched for both public and private land records 
  • Field Investigation – A physical analysis of the property and boundary lines is conducted by the surveyors’ field crew 
  • Property Analysis – Property analysis is carried out using both physical analysis and research. 
  • Maps & Detailed Notes – The surveyor creates a survey map based on his or her analysis. 
  • Review Survey Documents – Once completed, the map is reviewed by the title company and other parties. 
  • Final Signature & Seal – The surveyor signs and seals the map once the client accepts it 

Minimum standard detail requirements for ALTA/NSPS land title surveys 2022 

A title insurance company must recognize a survey of real property and the plat, map, or record of the survey in order to ensure that the title to the real property is free and clear of survey matters (aside from those matters disclosed by the survey and indicated on the plat or map). This requires that certain specific and pertinent information be provided for the distinct and clear understanding of the insured, the client (if different from the insured), and the title insurance company. 

Clients, insurers, insureds, and lenders are entitled to rely on surveyors to conduct surveys and create corresponding plans or maps that are of a professional standard and suitably uniform, complete, and accurate. In order to do this, and in the best interests of the general public, the surveying profession, title insurers, and abstractors, the ALTA and the NSPS jointly establish the specifications and requirements outlining a minimum standard of performance for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.  

The National Society of Professional Land Surveyors (NSPS) and the American Land Title Association (ALTA) meets every four to five years to review and revise survey standards pertaining to title insurance issues.  

In addition to changes and improvements for land title disputes on the survey, the 2021 ALTA Survey Standards include various adjustments that impact the surveyor’s obligations and responsibilities.  

The New 2021 ALTA/NSPS Standards- Revisions and Updates 

The revised Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys for 2021 were adopted by NSPS on Friday, October 30. ALTA had previously adopted them on October 1st, 2021. 

The new 2021 survey standards came into effect on February 23, 2021. The 2016 specifications are superseded. Use and Review of surveys prepared under the 2016 specifications will need to be updated. 

The following are major changes and updates for The New 2021 ALTA/NSPS Standards. 

  • Drones Promoted – The use of Drones in surveying is being promoted to be used to locate potential sites for on-site improvements. This method of data collection has the potential to increase efficiencies and shorten completion times. 
  • Section 3.D. – Clarifies that the property subject to the Land Title Survey is now referred to as either “the surveyed property” or “the property to be surveyed” throughout the Standards. 
  • Section 4 – The Records Research section appears to be almost completely changed in the red-lined version; however, looking closer, there are very few changes; the content of the section has merely been rearranged for clarity. 
  • Section 5.C.ii. – The section has been updated to include a reference to Section 5.E.iv. regarding the location of utility poles. 
  • Sections 5.E.ii., iii., and iv. – The Committee decided that utility locate markings should be located and displayed as evidence of easements and utilities, along with a note indicating where the markings came from. 
  • Section 6.C.ii. - This section now specifies limiting the summary to rights of way, easements, and other survey-related matters. This is a Land Title Survey, so it doesn’t address issues that aren’t related to surveys. 
  • Section 6.C.ii.(e) – It is made clear that surveyors may give accurate information on rights of way, easements, or survey-related issues (i.e., whether they touch or are on the surveyed property), or, if they choose, they may also express an opinion on the “effect” of such issues. However, any such opinions must be based on the information provided in the document. This stops surveyors from being forced to weigh in on the legal implications of an easement. 
  • Section 6.C.iii. – A minor change that removes an unintentional requirement that surveyors determine whether an adjoining street or road is public. 
  • Section 6.C.viii. - This new item addresses a common issue encountered by surveyors. If the surveyor becomes aware of a recorded easement that is not identified in the title evidence provided (typically a title commitment), the surveyor must notify the title company and, if no evidence of a release is provided, that easement must be shown, or its existence otherwise explained on the face of the plat or map. 
  • Table A introduction – Table A’s introductory paragraph now clarifies its original intent (from 1988) that the wording of a Table A item, in addition to whether the item will be included and the associated fee, may be negotiated. Any negotiated changes to the wording of an item (as well as any additionally negotiated items) must be documented. 

Learn More, 2021 ALTA/NSPS Standards

Why is the ALTA Survey absolutely essential? 

The ALTA surveys are typically requested by lending institutions, banks, title firms, and insurance companies to ensure that the subject property is free and clear of all survey matters other than those that have already been declared. The property title and mortgage insurance are issued based on these certifications. In addition to identifying potential title problems, ALTA surveys also identify precise property lines, water borders, improvements, existing easements, encroachments, and other land-ownership components. 

An ALTA survey cannot be ordered without a title commitment since they are expensive and difficult, and are often undertaken for commercial properties. To guarantee the accuracy of all data and to give a complete picture of the property in question, land surveyors collaborate closely with title companies. 

Outsourcing Survey Drafting Services 

Typically, ALTA/NSPS land title surveys are employed for commercial properties because they might take weeks to complete and cost thousands of dollars. ALTA/NSPS land title surveys are extremely detailed, encompassing property lines, boundaries, real property, easements, encroachments, liens, and land ownership information. The ALTA/NSPS land title surveys are designed to give the title industry stability and standardization. 

Outsourcing Land Survey Drafting Services can prove to be extremely beneficial with a significant reduction in cost, access to skilled and experienced resources equipped with the latest tools, and competition with quick TAT (Turnaround time). 

Lately, several Land Surveying Firms are exploring new ways to maximize profit by reducing their CAD overheads by Outsourcing their survey drafting needs to a specialized CAD partner. As Land Survey is mostly seasonal, companies are looking to make more ROI by outsourcing the services which are mostly repetitive and need to be done quickly. This also gives them ample time to focus on their core business activities. 

Indovance Inc delivers hassle-free Outsourcing Survey drafting services and aims at sincerely understanding how each and all survey drafts are a critical part of a client’s civil project development, and do it with precision and skill. We work on all sorts of surveys, be it boundary survey, topographic survey, ALTA survey, route survey, telecom survey, control survey or permit survey. If you are looking for point cloud modeling (LiDAR) for mapping/modeling terrestrial areas and corridors, we can definitely support you. A trusted experienced and specialized CAD partner who has been catering to the needs of the AEC industry since 2003 and delivering excellent service and value to its partners. 

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For more queries regarding any of the above-mentioned topics, feel free to connect with us on our website www.indovance.com or contact us on+1-919-238-4044 

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