Purpose of ALTA Land Surveys for Commercial Properties

Posted by Calvada on September 5th, 2016

ALTA stands for ‘American Land Title Association.’ Land survey maps made for a company and lender with survey and location data needed for the issuing of title or mortgage insurance, is made according to the ALTA specifications. ALTA focuses on showing the information and data of the survey specifically and it includes boundary lines, the location of the main building including improvements, the location of ancillary buildings and the identification of easements.

ALTA surveys are complicated and costly. It can take weeks to complete an ALTA survey. This is the Primary reason why ALTA surveys are performed almost exclusively on commercial buildings. An ALTA survey is the assurance to meet ALTA guidelines detailed by the ‘National Society of Professional Surveyors’ and ‘American Congress of Surveying and Mapping’. 

The purpose of the ALTA survey is to satisfy some specific needs which are unique to title insurance matters. When a land is asked to be insured to title without any exception, then an ALTA survey is required. This is mostly required to correct or get additional information, particularly those with legal import. Common issues can be previous survey issues and incorrect or insufficient data and information that may affect the value, construction, and insurance process. In order to complete a survey which is accurate and uniform, an ALTA survey is required which presents specific and relevant information between the insured. 

The distinct purposes of ALTA surveys can be understood from the following.

  • To understand the easement benefits of a property.
  • To detect the possible encroachments across the boundary or easement.
  • Zoning setbacks.
  • Detection of flood zones that may affect the property.
  • Gather the evidence of any type of usage by the other party.
  • Water boundaries within the property.
  • Gathering the evidence of cemeteries.
  • The names of the owners of the adjoining property.

Before the surveyor begins to survey the property, some in-depth examinations should be performed such as current title commitment and possible encumbrances. The ALTA survey provides overall information about the land and any possible conflicts in advance. That is why ALTA commands a hefty price. ALTA surveys can stand up to the strictest levels and standards of accuracy. The margin of error is so low that only an error less than 1 foot for every 15,000 feet is allowed.

ALTA surveys are mostly performed when real estate is being purchased by an out-of-state party or a consortium of others who live out of the state of which the property is situated. It is a national standard that puts everyone on the same page and treats them uniformly.

About the Author:

Armando Dupont, a professional land surveyor, started his career in surveying in 1977 and has extensive experience in managing personnel and projects. His experience includes: topographic mapping, boundary surveys and analysis, construction and control surveying, preparation of tract and parcel maps, earth work calculation and quantities, targeting and control for photogrammetric, and land title surveys in accordance with the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. Mr. DuPont founded Calvada Surveying, Inc. in 1989 and is a licensed Professional Land Surveyor in the State of California.

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Joined: October 6th, 2012
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