ALTA Title Survey

ALTA Title Survey

What is an ALTA Survey?

An ALTA Title Survey is a survey that is done 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 latest version of this document is the 2016 revision.

ALTA Survey TexasAn ALTA Title Survey is 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 normally used for commercial projects and others that are not single-family homes 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. While Texas has Land Surveying standards, out of state lenders aren’t used to using this, and the ALTA standard cuts down on them having to learn 50 different state standards.

ALTA Survey Costs

Since ALTA Surveys in Texas 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 200% 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.

Wind Farm - ALTA SurveyEach client should not only fill out this Table A but also 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.

To talk about an ALTA survey in the Bryan, TX area, call our land surveyors at (979) 314-3131 or fill out our contact form to the right.

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 200% 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 States’ surveying standards include this and, in my opinion, all surveys should, but the ALTA survey leaves this optional unless the item is checked on Table A.

Requirements for You

One of the things I appreciate about the ALTA standard is that the client should not only fill out Table A but also furnish the 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 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.

7 Advantages to Using the ALTA Survey Standards:

  1. Uniform Standard. The ALTA standards are a uniform nation-wide survey standard. These national standards make it easy for the title company to review the survey and write title insurance on the property, which controls the financial risk for the owners and lenders.
  2. Encroachments/Easements Shown. Encroachments are when a property owner violates the property rights of his neighbor by building something on, or over, the neighbor’s land. If described sufficiently, an ALTA survey should show potential encroachments and plot recorded easements on the survey drawing. Whether a potential encroachment or physical condition is an actual encroachment or not is a legal determination.
  3. Familiarity. Most all of the parties in any deal – lenders, attorneys, surveyors, and title professionals – are familiar with the ALTA survey standards. Working together with this same survey standard allows them to “play off the same sheet of music,” so to speak.
  4. Title Research. The surveyor has the advantage of having the deed research from the title commitment before issuing the final version of the survey. In other standards, this is not required.
  5. ALTA Table A Items. The ALTA survey standards include a list of optional items (Table A) that may be needed and ordered when the original survey is ordered. This may save money since the work is done at the same time as the boundary survey.
  6. Title Exceptions.  Title exceptions are matters which are not covered by the title insurance policy. Two, or more, such exceptions deal with matters which may be found by an accurate survey of the property; encroachments, for example. Exceptions limit the liability of the title insurer to the insured.  Completion of an ALTA survey allows the title insurer to remove those exceptions.
  7. Consistent Scope of Work. Usually the hardest part of any contract is determining the scope of work and how it will be completed. The ALTA survey standards provide a consistent scope of work that has been used since 1988 and is frequently reviewed and updated to conform to the latest technology and legal issues.

To talk about your ALTA survey, please call (979) 314-3131 or fill out our contact form to the right.