What is an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey?


A.L.T.A./A.C.S.M. Land Title Surveys

What do I need an ALTA survey for?

An ALTA survey is a boundary survey prepared to a set of minimum standards that have been jointly prepared and adopted by the ALTA/ACSM. Additionally, an ALTA survey shows improvements, easementsrights-of-way, and other elements impacting the ownership of land. An ALTA Survey is often prepared for commercial properties, as it will provide the title company with the information required to insure the title to the land and improvements to the high degree that a commercial development may require. In addition to the minimum standards set forth, a table of optional elements is included in the ALTA/ACSM standards. A careful review of the elements from the optional “Table A” is helpful in delineating a clear scope of the land surveyor’s services.

What does the ALTA survey show?

A current title commitment is required before an ALTA Survey can be completed. The surveyor will refer to the title commitment for the legal description of the property and for the legal description of any encumbrances (exceptions). Areas of ownership, improvements, and encumbrances will be shown graphically. If the survey discovers any encroachments, they should be shown graphically, and a note indicating the nature of the encroachment may also be added.

The certification language of the ALTA Survey should include the names of the affected parties, including as appropriate the buyer, seller, title company, and lender. The surveyor must work in close association with the title insurance company, as the surveyor and the title company are relying on each other’s work to show the matters affecting the ownership of the land and improvements in a comprehensive manner.

An ALTA land survey has especially stringent requirements as developed by a joint effort of the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. The ALTA standards are a nationwide uniform set of standards. Sometimes referred to as the “Cadillac of surveys”. The survey is specifically designed to satisfy the needs of lenders, corporations and title companies when dealing with valuable commercial properties.

Source: Wikipedia

Section 1270.56  Minimum Standards of Practice

    1. An ALTA/ACSM land title survey is a specialized survey that meets the specific needs peculiar to title insurance purposes, to enable title insurance companies to insure title to land without exceptions as to survey matters. 
    2. All land title surveys shall be subject to the “2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys”, published jointly by the American Land Title Association (ALTA), 1828 L. St., N.W., Suite 705, Washington, D.C. 20036 and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), 6 Montgomery Village Avenue, Suite #403, Gaithersburg MD 20879. This incorporation does not include any later amendments or editions.
    3. All ALTA/ACSM land title surveys are to be performed to the current ALTA/ACSM Minimum Standard Detail Requirements. It is incumbent upon the licensed professional land surveyor to discuss with the client additional or optional requirements to be provided.

Source: Joint Committee on Administrative Rules – Section 1270.56  Minimum Standards of Practice