Land Title Surveys Must Meet ALTA/NSPS Standards

Real estate transactions rely on the legitimacy of the information collected during a land survey. Without accurate information, title companies would not be able to insure pieces of property according to their improvements. But without a governing body, there were no universal standards for what information should be collected during a land title survey.

In 1962, the ALTA and NSPS (formerly ACSM) jointly established a set of minimum standards land title surveys must meet. While initially designed to help title insurers determine the ideal coverage for land titles, these requirements are now a core part of nearly all commercial real estate transactions. These standards also form the basis of ALTA/NSPS surveys, which prioritize information concerning ownership of land and whether or not any elements impact that ownership.

If you are buying or selling a piece of real estate for commercial development, getting an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is a key part of the process. McClure can provide ALTA/NSPS surveys for your next transaction or upcoming project.

Why Are the ALTA and NSPS Standards Important?

The American Land Title Association is a trade group primarily consisting of title insurers. Since the organization was founded in 1907, it has expanded to include title and settlement agents as well as real estate attorneys and other professionals.

ALTA partnered with another professional organization, the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Formerly known as the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, they merged with the NSPS into the singular organization known today. The NSPS consists of survey engineers, cartographers, and other spatial data experts.

With these two organizations working together, they based the standards used for ALTA/NSPS title surveys on their respective knowledge of real estate law and the collection of spatial data.

Conducting an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey

When performing an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, the surveying team or engineer will focus on meeting uniform national standards as opposed to what’s individually required by the state. They’ll collect the information most relevant to confirming ownership and insuring the land’s title, including:

  • The real estate’s property boundaries and any potential encroachment of those boundaries.
  • Existing or possible easements, including utility and private easements as well as easements by necessity.
  • Any exceptions for what can be covered by title insurance. Standard exceptions may vary by state, but often include the rights of parties in possession, such as tenants with existing leases. Encroachments and boundary concerns may also be exempt from title insurance coverage.
  • Any improvements made to the property, including utilities and other publicly accessible infrastructure.

When these standards are correctly applied, the information gathered during ALTA/NSPS surveys is considered a professional-grade, comprehensive representation of a piece of property. The list of standards is even periodically updated to make sure these surveys continue to provide detailed and accurate results. The most recent update to the survey standards took effect on February 23, 2021.

Keep in mind that these are only the minimum standards a land survey must meet. There are additional requirements surveyors can use in order to meet more specific project goals. These “Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications” are also known as Table A items.

Satisfying Table A Requirements

Table A items consist of 20 optional elements a professional surveyor can include as part of an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey. Because these items are not part of the required standards, Table A items should be negotiated between the surveyor and client beforehand.

The property’s lender (if there is one) is usually the one who determines what Table A items are included in the survey. But other involved parties can add instructions or clauses on purchase/sales contracts, requesting Table A items to be included in the survey. Even the title insurance company can request Table A requirements as a condition for insuring the property.

Where We Make an Impact

McClure can perform ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys that meet these rigorous national standards.

Land Title Surveys Must Meet ALTA/NSPS Standards

Real estate transactions rely on the legitimacy of the information collected during a land survey. Without accurate information, title companies would not be able to insure pieces of property according to their improvements. But without a governing body, there were no universal standards for what information should be collected during a land title survey.

In 1962, the ALTA and NSPS (formerly ACSM) jointly established a set of minimum standards land title surveys must meet. While initially designed to help title insurers determine the ideal coverage for land titles, these requirements are now a core part of nearly all commercial real estate transactions. These standards also form the basis of ALTA/NSPS surveys, which prioritize information concerning ownership of land and whether or not any elements impact that ownership.

If you are buying or selling a piece of real estate for commercial development, getting an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is a key part of the process. McClure can provide ALTA/NSPS surveys for your next transaction or upcoming project.

Why Are the ALTA and NSPS Standards Important?

The American Land Title Association is a trade group primarily consisting of title insurers. Since the organization was founded in 1907, it has expanded to include title and settlement agents as well as real estate attorneys and other professionals.

ALTA partnered with another professional organization, the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Formerly known as the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, they merged with the NSPS into the singular organization known today. The NSPS consists of survey engineers, cartographers, and other spatial data experts.

With these two organizations working together, they based the standards used for ALTA/NSPS title surveys on their respective knowledge of real estate law and the collection of spatial data.

Conducting an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey

When performing an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, the surveying team or engineer will focus on meeting uniform national standards as opposed to what’s individually required by the state. They’ll collect the information most relevant to confirming ownership and insuring the land’s title, including:

  • The real estate’s property boundaries and any potential encroachment of those boundaries.
  • Existing or possible easements, including utility and private easements as well as easements by necessity.
  • Any exceptions for what can be covered by title insurance. Standard exceptions may vary by state, but often include the rights of parties in possession, such as tenants with existing leases. Encroachments and boundary concerns may also be exempt from title insurance coverage.
  • Any improvements made to the property, including utilities and other publicly accessible infrastructure.

When these standards are correctly applied, the information gathered during ALTA/NSPS surveys is considered a professional-grade, comprehensive representation of a piece of property. The list of standards is even periodically updated to make sure these surveys continue to provide detailed and accurate results. The most recent update to the survey standards took effect on February 23, 2021.

Keep in mind that these are only the minimum standards a land survey must meet. There are additional requirements surveyors can use in order to meet more specific project goals. These “Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications” are also known as Table A items.

Satisfying Table A Requirements

Table A items consist of 20 optional elements a professional surveyor can include as part of an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey. Because these items are not part of the required standards, Table A items should be negotiated between the surveyor and client beforehand.

The property’s lender (if there is one) is usually the one who determines what Table A items are included in the survey. But other involved parties can add instructions or clauses on purchase/sales contracts, requesting Table A items to be included in the survey. Even the title insurance company can request Table A requirements as a condition for insuring the property.

Where We Make an Impact

McClure can perform ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys that meet these rigorous national standards.

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