A Perfect Description Of An ALTA Land Survey

This is the logo for the American Land Title A...

This is the logo for the American Land Title Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is an ALTA Survey?


ALTA stands for The American Land Title Association, which was founded in 1907.  ALTA members search, review and insure land titles to protect homebuyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate. ALTA is headquartered in Washington, DC.

When any real estate transaction takes place, a survey is required for the lending company, the title insurance company and in some cases, the buyers and sellers.  However, each of these parties is not looking for the same information on a survey.  So in a single transaction, 3-4 different surveys could be generated to show the information that is relevant to each party

In an effort to create a more universal survey that incorporates elements of the boundary survey, mortgage survey, and topographic survey, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) came together for the first time in 1962 to develop a survey product that would meet the needs of almost all parties involved in a real estate transaction.  An ALTA survey also allows the title insurer to delete the standard survey exceptions from their title policy. Since ALTA surveys can be costly and can take weeks to complete, ALTA surveys are generally only used for commercial property transactions.

Due to the complexity of an ALTA survey, a surveying standard was jointly proposed by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ALTA/ACSM) that each land surveyor must follow so that all the ALTA surveys are a trustworthy source to provide all potentially relevant information needed for a transaction.  The land surveyor’s responsibilities are outlined in the MinimumStandard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ ACSM Land Title Surveys.” Since 1962, the requirements have been revised approximately ten times to the most current requirements that went into effect on February 23, 2011.

Items that are to be included on an ALTA survey include boundary lines, location of the main and ancillary structures, improvements, water lines, gas lines, telephone lines, railways, and other possible utility easements.

Nearly all title insurance companies hold ALTA membership, in addition to abstracters and title agents.  Associate members of ALTA may include attorneys, builders, developers, lenders, real estate brokers, surveyors, consultants, educational institutions and computer services firms.

ALTA members encourage safe and efficient transfer of real estate and demand high standards when searching land title records and preparing insurance documents. The industry seeks to eliminate risk before insuring, which provides the insured with the best possible chance of avoiding land title problems.

Professionals in the real estate market and the home buying public benefit immensely from the commitment to excellence of ALTA members.

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