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4 Things To Know About ALTA Land Surveys

The American Land Title Association survey is a nationally standardized land survey that reveals the improvements, boundaries, encroachments, easements, water features, rights of way and restrictions of a particular property. The ALTA land survey provides extended coverage by removing the "standard survey exception" from a property’s title insurance policy that would normally exclude cases like encroachment and boundary issues. 

Here are four things to know before purchasing an ALTA survey.

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1) Who needs an ALTA survey and why?

A commercial property purchaser's lender requires an ALTA survey. It is the buyer’s responsibility to purchase and follow through with a survey; the seller’s responsibility is the title policy. A U.S. bank will not lend money to purchase or develop real property unless a title policy ensures that its investment, the real property collateral, is protected.

Lenders also require that one of the standard exceptions to the coverage afforded by a title insurance policy, the standard survey exception, be deleted from their policy.

2) Specific survey requirements and options 

ALTA provides a list of optional survey responsibilities and specification known as Table A. Effective February 2016, ALTA’s Table A identifies 20 items that can be negotiated between a surveyor and client. Depending on the client's purpose for the survey and the lender, these requirements may vary.

It is important to know any specific requirements prior to engaging in the survey work. These items can affect the pricing and turnaround time of a survey. For instance, item 5 is associated with the elevations or topography of a property. Adding item 5 will increase the field work time frame and require lengthier, more detailed drafting and review. Item 5 would likely be added to the survey if the client needed to assess the land's topography for potential development.

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3) Required items to complete the ALTA survey

It is essential that the surveyor is provided with a current title commitment report that is completed typically within 90 days of the commitment's effective date to complete the ALTA survey. The title commitment report will provide all the information regarding the subject property, from legal descriptions to easements, restrictions and agreements.

It is also beneficial for the client to know the purpose of the ALTA Survey and if there is any planned development or design. This can help the surveyor crew grasp what data points to obtain and avoid needless site revisits.

AEI Consultants requires a legal description and certified party names before beginning a survey project. Prior surveys that the client may have completed can also be a solid starting point for the field crew.

4) Minimum technical standards

Although the ALTA and National Society of Professional Surveyors surveys can satisfy loan policies within the U.S., each state may have additional requirements, its own minimum technical standards for a land survey and specific rules and regulations that license surveyors have to follow.

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