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What is an ALTA survey?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2020 | Real Estate Law

Several decades ago, the American Land Title Association partnered with the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping to create what has been known in the industry as an ALTA-ACSM Land Title Survey. This is to put everything on one standard so that regardless of where the title agency is originating or where the property is, they have a common denominator that they are confident in. According to the NorthStar, lenders, title insurers and certain buyers require ALTA-ACSM surveys for their properties, depending upon the level of underwriting and the amount of the dollar value involved.

Recently, ACSM has merged with and became renamed as the National Society of Professional Surveyors, or NSPS. With the 2016 revision to the ALTA standards, they are now the ALTA NSPS surveys. A key difference in the preparation of an ALTA  survey, and probably what most people consider to be the main difference between an ALTA survey and a standard land survey, is that the land surveyor is required to review any possible exceptions or encumbrances to subject property. This is determined by title examiner through a detailed title examination. According to Point to Point Land Surveyors, this also requires that the title examiner or closing attorney closely review the survey for content in regards to the title exceptions that affect the subject property.

By incorporating both professionals into the closing documents and the title insurance process, the client can be sure there is a high confidence level when determining a comprehensive big picture of the subject property. ALTA surveys require a higher level of detail in the face of the survey than a normal boundary survey. There are also additional features that could be edited out of the survey. Some of these will include building the mansion setback information, varying degrees of utility location and even parking space.