ALTA stands for American Land Title Association. ALTA Land Surveys are similar to a boundary or lot survey of a piece of land. However, an ALTA Title Survey has further requirements for the land surveyor as he executes the survey because of the high-dollar value of the property.
ALTA Survey Standards Lead to Consistency
Most states have widely varying standards for surveying. Thus, ALTA Surveys follow a national standard for surveying aimed to generate consistency regardless of the location of the survey. This type land survey is usually done on a multi-family residential or commercial site and when the owner and/or lender are from different states. But more often than not, it is prepared for commercial properties because it provides the information needed in order to insure the title to the land. Commercial developments may also require improvements to a high level that is also obtained through this survey.
ALTA Title Surveys are very complex and are commonly more costly than surveys following state standards because it takes more time and effort.
Costs for such surveys could be up to 50% – 200% more than a similar boundary survey. It is also important to note that the more restrictive standard is followed in the survey if the state standard is more restrictive on a certain aspect than the ALTA standard. An ALTA Title Survey must show all data including boundary lines, main building location and all its improvements, location of ancillary buildings, rights-of-way, and easements or access rights by utility services such as water, telephone, gas, railway and other utilities. A helpful tip in outlining the scope of services of the land surveyor is to thoroughly go over the elements of “Table A – Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications”.
ALTA Survey Requires Title Committment
Before an ALTA Title Survey can be completed, there must be a current title commitment. This is where the land surveyor will refer for the legal description of the property and all legal encumbrances or exceptions. The areas of ownership, encumbrances, and improvements will be presented graphically including encroachments, if there is any.
All the affected parties; the buyer, seller, lender, and title insurance company must be indicated on the ALTA Title Survey certificate. The land surveyor and the title insurance company must closely work together in order to illustrate comprehensively all matters affecting the ownership of the land and improvements.
Requirements for an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey as detailed by the American Land Title Association, National Society of Professional Surveyors and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping is certainly met through an ALTA Title Survey.