What is an ALTA Survey?
An ALTA Land Survey is completed based on the “Minimum Standard Detail Requirements and Accuracy Standards For ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.” This standard document was developed and is revised on a regular basis by a combination of Title industry and Surveying industry professionals. The survey standards used to be referred to at the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey standards. The ACSM has been proceeded by the NSPS. The latest version of this document is the 2016 revision.
If we can help you with an ALTA Survey in Tyler, TX, please contact us at Tyler Land Surveying at (903) 525-6404, select the Contact page or fill out ALTA Survey Quote Request & Table A Form.
A survey according to the 2016 alta survey standards is generally similar to a boundary or lot survey on a piece of property. But, the ALTA survey goes a little farther in the requirements on the land surveyor as he/she carries out the survey, both in the field and in the office.
ALTA Title Surveys are generally used on commercial or multi-family residential sites and also when either the lender or owner is in another state jurisdiction. The ALTA standards are somewhat of a “national standard” for surveying, intended to yield a consistent survey no matter what state the work is done in. While most States have surveying standards, they vary widely from one state to the other. So, the ALTA standard is used to cut down on this variation.
Download the ALTA Standards:
- ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards, 2016 Version – PDF version
- 2016 ALTA Table A – a PDF of Table A for ordering the survey. This must be provided to the surveyor in order to get a quote. Here is an MS Windows .docx Version of Table A.
ALTA Survey Costs
Since ALTA Surveys take more time and effort, these surveys typically cost more than a survey done according to a particular state standard. It should be pointed out that if the state standard is more restrictive on a certain point, then the most restrictive standard is required on the survey.
I see ALTA surveys priced from 50% to 300% more than a comparable boundary survey. This depends on the items checked in “Table A – Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications.”
This table adds additional or specific tasks to the surveyor’s scope of work. One item that is usually included with most all ALTA survey requests is Item #1, monuments placed.
Most state standards probably include this and, in my opinion, all surveys should, but the ALTA survey leaves this optional unless the item is checked on Table A.
In regard to this, one of the things I appreciate is that the client is “supposed to” not only fill out this Table A but also to furnish title documents to the surveyor BEFORE he starts the survey. In practice we rarely get the title documents until we issue the first draft of the survey. At that time the documents are sent to us and we are asked to revise the survey and show them. While this is not the way its planned, at least we have the chance to review the documents before issuing the final version of the survey.
So, if you have a commercial parcel or a large multi-family residential complex, you should consider asking for the ALTA survey standards to be used.
You should also probably do this if you are considering the purchase or development of a parcel outside your state. Most of the banks will require this if you ask for a loan on this type property, but I recommend this even if the bank doesn’t require it.
Difference Between an ALTA Survey and a Boundary Survey
A boundary survey generally shows the property lines, easements, and other details as mandated by the state standard. A survey using the ALTA NSPS Standards 2016 must adhere to a set of national standards put forth by both these professional organizations.
These national standards seek to establish a common standard for commercial real estate transactions. The ALTA/NSPS standards require a more detailed survey drawing than a typical property survey and include the following:
- Easements benefiting or encumbering a property, if requested.
- Possible encroachments across the boundary or easement.
- Whether there is access to a public road.
- Zoning setbacks, if requested.
- Flood zones that may impact the property.
- Evidence of any use by other parties.
- Water boundaries within the property.
- Evidence of cemeteries.
- The names of the owners of the adjoining property.
Before the surveyor even begins some in-depth research must be performed. The current title commitment is examined. The municipal and county records are searched for possible easements. And the research itself provides some foreknowledge of the land and any possible conflict before the direct survey begins. This title research is done by the Title professionals and furnished to the surveyor at the beginning of the job, as required by the Standards.
ALTA – American Land Title Association – the trade organization for Title professionals
NSPS – National Society of Professional Surveyors – trade organization for Surveyors
Survey Standards – a document that guides the surveyor in the standard of care that she should follow in carrying out a survey. These may also be referred to as Minimum Technical Standards or Standards of Practice.
ALTA Table A – This table adds additional or specific tasks to the surveyor’s scope of work as selected by the person ordering the ALTA survey.
Commercial Survey – A survey of commercial property (also called commercial real estate, investment or income property) which refers to buildings or land intended to generate a profit, either from capital gain or rental income. Examples are office buildings, restaurants, retail, hotels, multifamily, and industrial.
Multifamily Survey – A survey of Multifamily residential property (also known as multidwelling) is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. A common form is an apartment building.