What is an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey? ALTA/ACSM vs ALTA/NSPS

What is an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey? ALTA/ACSM vs ALTA/NSPS

What does an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Entail?

An ALTA/NSPS (previously ALTA/ACSM) Land Title Survey is a sophisticated survey product designed to help all parties engaged in a commercial real estate transaction. These rules and standards for the survey must be accepted and followed.

An ALTA survey is the top standard for all land surveys. ALTA surveys ensure that land and title professionals follow national standards established by the American Land Title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

To be prepared in accordance with ALTA standards, a property map must include data such as:

  • Boundary lines
  • The main building’s location
  • Locations of ancillary buildings
  • Unrecorded advancements
  • Identification of easements

These surveys also reveal encroachments of any buildings on a property over boundary lines or onto easements. Encroachments may interfere with a property owner’s capacity to use improvements such as single-story commercial structures.

There may be a need to eliminate the encroachment. Encroachments may also indicate the possibility of a property boundary dispute.

Understanding ALTA/ACSM Survey

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the former American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) collaborated for the first time in 1962 to create a survey product that would fulfill the demands of title insurers by removing the normal survey exceptions from their title policy.

The generated product was designated as an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, and the land surveyor’s duties were detailed in the “Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys.”

Since then, the criteria have been changed roughly eleven times, with the most recent changes taking effect on February 23, 2021, and are now known as the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

Though originally created for users in the title insurance industry, the ALTA Survey has evolved into a comprehensive description of an existing property that is now used by practically all parties involved in a commercial transaction.

The ALTA Survey can provide answers to pertinent queries such as:

  • The surveyor’s conclusions regarding property boundaries.
  • Any observable easements and exceptions to the title commitment’s coverage.
  • Property upgrades, utilities, public access, and notable observations

Additionally, it allows you to select specific Table A elements that, when negotiated with the land surveyor, can reveal information about the property such as zoning, flood dangers, topography, parking, and more.

What are the ALTA Survey Requirements?

The ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is classified as such because it meets a specified set of precise requirements established by ALTA and NSPS to ensure that the end user receives a professional-quality, sufficiently uniform, complete, and accurate portrayal of a property.

The ALTA Survey Requirements cover topics including Surveying Standards, Field Work, Plats, Surveyor Certification, and Deliverables.

A committee reviews and updates the Requirements regularly to reflect industry trends, and each new version supersedes the previous version and must be implemented by land surveyors in their survey preparation.

Along with these requirements, twenty-one Optional Table A Items can be discussed with the surveyor during the request process. On February 23, 2021, the current ALTA Survey Standards went into effect.

What exactly are ALTA Survey Standards?

Members of ALTA have special title insurance needs, and they are frequently asked to insure title to land without regard to the myriad issues that may be discovered during survey and inspection.

These are not supported by public records. To meet the demands of customers, insurers, insureds, and lenders, the user has the right to rely on surveyors to conduct surveys and generate corresponding plats or maps that are of professional quality, uniform, complete, and accurate.

Who Makes Use of ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys?

The American Land Title Association collaborated with the National Society of Professional Surveyors to create a survey for lenders and title companies for commercial property developments.

Before financing the purchase of commercial real estate, the majority of mortgage insurance lenders conduct title searches. ALTA and boundary surveys are the most frequent forms of title searches that lender may request before agreeing to a loan.

ALTA surveys are more extensive and enforce tougher criteria than standard land boundary surveys. ALTA surveys reveal easements, rights-of-way, land ownership, hidden assets, parcel boundaries, and unregistered liens.

Certain businesses must obtain ALTA surveys before beginning work on a piece of property to guarantee legitimate title and right-of-way and prevent legal complications.

An ALTA survey may be required before purchasing or financing real estate when highly specific information, such as the placement of subsurface sewer lines, fence locations, and if a building on a piece of land affects an easement, is required.

While a physical inspection or title search can provide a lot of important information about a property, an ALTA survey is sometimes the only document that gives the type of highly specific information a company or individual needs to complete a property acquisition or begin work.

How to Create an ALTA Survey

First, a surveyor uses a computerized or laser-measuring gadget to determine the property’s exact boundaries.

The surveyor will next use these measures to generate a description of a parcel of land’s borders, comparing the measurements to the property’s existing legal description (provided by the title company).

If there are any inconsistencies between the two reports, the surveyor will point them out. The legal description of a property is dictated by a surveyor’s comprehensive notes on ALTA surveys.

The surveyor will then create a survey that is tailored to the requirements of ALTA, the lender, and the title insurance.

ALTA surveys leave almost no property issues unresolved. They are comprehensive, thorough, and detailed surveys that provide title insurance firms and surveyors with all the information required to fulfill their duties.

During ALTA surveys, surveyors use CourthouseDirect.com’s online public records search engine to get precise information about a property.

Title insurance firms, lenders, and other entities can use online public records searches to acquire the information they need to complete accurate and in-depth ALTA surveys that adhere to industry standards.

A full ALTA survey provides a land purchaser with the documentation required to acquire funding for a commercial development.


The ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, which was previously known as an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, was renamed an “ALTA/NSPS Land Survey” on February 23, 2016.

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (“ACSM”) amalgamated into the National Society of Professional Surveyors (“NSPS”) in 2012, and the NSPS announced survey standard modifications in early 2016.

As a result, the survey standards that are now in use and that we should refer to are the “2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.”

The following are some highlights and revisions from the 2016 ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey standards:

Section Four: Documents Research

The most significant modification in section four is that several of the claims have been rephrased. The subcategories have also been updated to clarify what records are required for a land surveyor to properly prepare and conduct an ALTA survey.

Easements and servitudes are discussed in Section Five E.

The most significant alteration in section 5E is the addition of “utility locate marks.” The change will have an impact on surveyors’ duties to site utility poles within ten feet of certain property lines.

Easements and servitudes, Access and Documents, and Rights of Way in Section Six C.

The main change in this section is that surveyors will be expected to add particular wordings and notes to each title exception after they have interpreted it. The wording in subcategory 6Cii (a) has been altered to “its location is shown.”

This is a minimal alteration from the 2016 edition, with all prior letters simply shifting down a letter and a few words changing slightly.

A new subcategory designated as 6Cviii will be seen in addition to these changes. According to this new subcategory, surveyors must notify the title firm if they become aware of a documented easement that is not specified in the title commitment.

The surveyor must also ensure that it is prominently displayed on the survey’s face, along with a notation noting that the title firm has been notified. If the title firm provides evidence that the easement has been released, the surveyor is not required to make a mention of it on the survey.

Modifications to Optional Table A

In 2016, table A item 11 of the ALTA/NSPS standard guideline was likely the most frequently misconstrued and misunderstood. As a result, the primary difference will be that article 11 will be much different, making it more transparent and easier to grasp for all parties.

Importantly, the term “underground” has been incorporated into the definition, along with two other possibilities designed particularly for inclusion in item 11. In 2021, a client will have to decide “whether” they want subterranean utilities and how they want such facilities to be installed.

Another modification to this section is that table A item 19 has been renamed table A item 18. The phrasing in this section, in particular, has been changed. If the “underground” option is selected, the surveyor must position the improvements within offsite easements in accordance with sections 5 and 6.

If the client states that they need offsite easements plotted but no upgrades, a Table A item 20, 21, and so on will need to be prepared.


What is an ALTA NSPS land title survey?

An ALTA/NSPS (previously ALTA/ACSM) Land Title Survey is a sophisticated survey product designed to help all parties engaged in a commercial real estate transaction. These rules and standards for the survey must be accepted and followed.

What is an ALTA survey Table A?

An ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey offers a base report with extensive detail about site boundaries, encroachments, easements, utilities, and other important details about land parcels.

Aside from the typical survey requested by borrowers, Table A contains a list of optional inquiries.

What is the difference between a boundary survey and an ALTA survey?

Boundary surveys illustrate the lines dividing land parcels but not necessarily any developments on the property.

ALTA surveys are boundary surveys created per a set of minimal criteria established jointly by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

Do ALTA surveys expire?

Land surveys may not always have an expiration date, but they serve as a snapshot of your property; once changes are made to your property or your neighbor’s land, the old survey becomes erroneous.

What does ALTA NSPS stand for?

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) is a professional membership organization for anyone involved in the spatial data information sector.

What is the difference between land survey and ALTA survey?

Boundary surveys illustrate the lines dividing land parcels but not necessarily any developments on the property.

ALTA surveys are boundary surveys created per a set of minimal criteria established jointly by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

What is the difference between a plat of survey and an ALTA survey?

A survey will show any residences, structures, or improvements (driveways, fences, pools) on the land; a plat will typically show the dimensions of the site before the improvements are completed. A plat will frequently encompass more than one lot or parcel of property.

What is an ALTA survey used for?

The ALTA Survey is a thorough land parcel map that depicts all existing property improvements, utilities, and notable observations inside the insured estate.

The survey also includes a summary of the professional surveyor’s conclusions regarding the property boundaries and how they relate to the title.

Do ALTA surveys get recorded?

An ALTA land survey collects and records data from property records as well as physical surveying to meet the demands of title firms during insurance transactions. An ALTA/ACSM survey entails numerous complex phases and processes.

What is an existing conditions survey?

All construction and site improvement projects begin with an Existing Conditions Survey (ECS).

Doing a full and accurate ECS is vital to guarantee the project’s design and construction phases go smoothly. CMR 250 6.02 defines the procedure for conducting this type of survey.

How do I order an ALTA survey?

Call (800) 798-9540 to discuss your ALTA Survey project, or fill out online ALTA Quote Request & Table A.

Why the change in names from ALTA/ACSM to ALTA/NSPS?

Several years ago, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) joined with the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). NSPS is the group that will take over.

The committees felt that the names of the new Standards should represent the organizations that produced, adopted, and are responsible for them.

What is a same as survey title endorsement?

The ALTA Endorsement 25-06 is also known as the Same as Survey. This endorsement is available for loan and owner’s policies and offers coverage if the land specified on the survey described in the endorsement differs from the land described in the policy.

What is an ALTA 14 endorsement?

It gives affirmative assurance that subsequent advances will be given the same priority as the initial advance. The ALTA 14.1 provides the same coverage as the ALTA 14, EXCEPT for things known to the insured at the time of the advance.

Similar Posts