An ALTA Survey is a land title survey. A survey product that meets the needs of the title insurer to remove the standard survey exceptions from the existing title policy. The American Land Title Association (ALTA) created this survey product in order to provide both lender and buyer with relevant information concerned with the present and future use of the land, as well as all of the restrictions and encumbrances that may affect the property. This information allows the lender and buyer to evaluate the property and analyze all potential risks and benefits of owning the property.
The officially stated purpose of the ALTA Survey is to remove the “survey exception language” from the property’s title insurance policy for both the owner and lender’s title insurance coverage—this is commonly referred to as providing “extended coverage”. The extent that these standards can be deviated from depends entirely on the willingness of the title insurer to provide the insurance coverage required by the buyer or lender for the property transaction. Many ALTA Surveys are used as title insurance underwriting tools on subsequent property transactions. Anytime there is a real estate transaction where many parties are involved, the parties’ various interests in the property must be taken into account. The ALTA Survey provides the relevant information to the interested parties, answering numerous questions and concerns in an unbiased and official manner.
An ALTA Survey provides the following information:
Those who are selling their property can also use and rely on the ALTA Land Survey to protect them from potential claims from the lender or buyer after conveyance of the property title. Often within a purchase agreement the seller is asked to guarantee that all improvements comply with current zoning regulations, and occur within the property boundaries, that others do not have undisclosed rights to the property (in the form of leases, easements, or other encumbrances) and that no boundary lines conflict with adjoining property owners. The ALTA Survey provides verification on these and other matters to the seller, as they existed at the time the survey was taken.
When asked to insure a land title without exception as to the matters discoverable from survey and inspection of the property (especially those not evidenced by the public record), members of the ALTA have specific needs unique to title insurance matters. Because of this, it is vital that the clients, lenders, insurers and insured can all rely on the surveyors to conduct surveys and produce associated plats or maps that are accurate, complete, uniform, and of a professional quality.
Request for Survey
It is necessary for the client to request the survey, as well as providing a written authorization to proceed from the person or entity responsible for paying for the survey. The insurer is not responsible for any costs associated with the preparation of the survey unless it is specifically authorized in writing by the insurer. It may be necessary for the client to get permission for the surveyor to enter the property, adjacent properties or offsite easements.
As of February 23, 2011, the ALTA Land Title Survey Minimum Standard Detail Requirements were put into effect and will supersede previous versions of the standard. Surveyors should recognize and be aware of all local, federal and state standards in order for their survey to be considered accurate.
The surveyor must be provided with reliable and appropriate data for the preparation of the survey. Complete copies of the current record documents pertaining to record descriptions, easements, servitudes or covenants burdening the property, as well as any other documents containing the desired information affecting the property being surveyed should be provided to the surveyor.
The survey must be recorded on the ground (unless otherwise specified by the client) and should include details about the following items, if they are present on the property: cemeteries, monuments, rights-of-way and access to the property, lines of possession, locations of all walls, fences and other improvements within five feet of the property boundaries, locations of all buildings on the surveyed property, water features including ponds, lakes, streams and rivers bordering or running through the property, evidence of any easements or servitudes burdening the property—including evidence of any underground presence of easements or servitudes—and any evidence that the property is being used by those other than the owners of the property.
Plat or Map
Dimensioning of plats and maps of the surveyed property must be done in accordance with the appropriate standards set by the ALTA. Proper presentation, meaning that the plat or map should be drawn on a sheet of no less than 8.5×11 inches at a legible standard engineering scale, and must include a clearly indicated scale in words, numbers, and graphics. In addition to the items described in the above section, plats or maps must include the following details: boundary descriptions, dimensions and closures, easements, servitudes and rights-of-way access and record documents.
To certify that the map or plat and the survey upon which it is based were made in accordance with the 2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements, the plat or map in question must bear proper certification as laid out by ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey guidelines.
Copies of the plat or map must be provided to both insurer and client by the surveyor. The plat or map may be made available as hard copies printed on durable and dimensionally stable material, or as digital copies as long as it is in accordance with the terms of the established contract. When requested by the client, or required by law, copies of the plat or mat should be able to be produced in recordable form, recorded, or filed with the appropriate agency or office.
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