A boundary survey and drawing (plat) which meets the requirements of ALTA (American Land Title Association) and the ACSM (American Congress on Surveying and Mapping) and incorporates review of the Title Search provided. ALTA surveys are typically required for the purchase or sale of commercial property. The final ALTA survey will reflect the minimum standards as outlined in Table A as provided by the client.

An ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey must adhere to a set of national standards put forth by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and adopted by the American Land Title Association.

These national standards seek to establish a common standard for commercial real estate transactions. The ALTA/ACSM standards require a more detailed report than the typical border survey and include:

  • Easements benefitting or encumbering a property.
  • Possible encroachments across the boundary or easement.
  • Whether there is access to a public road.
  • Zoning setbacks.
  • Flood zones that may impact the property.
  • Evidence of any use by other parties.
  • Water boundaries within the property.
  • Evidence of cemeteries.
  • The names of the owners of the adjoining property.
  • Quite a list, isn’t it? But wait…there’s more!

Before the surveyor even begins to measure the property some pretty in-depth research must be performed. The current title commitment is examined. The municipal and country records are searched for possible encumbrances. And the research itself provides some foreknowledge of the land and any possible conflict before the direct survey begins.

The ALTA survey is held to very strict standards of accuracy. The allowable error in linear feet for urban property is about 1 foot in just less than 3 miles. In other words, for every 15,000 feet the survey can only be off by as much as 1 foot.

The standards loosen as population density and level land decreases.

Land Type  Allowable Error
Suburban:  1 foot in 10,000 feet
Rural:  1 foot in 7,500 feet
Mountainous:  1 foot in 5,000 feet

With today’s technology this isn’t as onerous as it sounds. This accuracy can be reached with laser equipment and satellites.

Why go to all this expense and trouble? This is the type of survey often used when real estate is being purchased by an out of state party or a consortium of others that live outside the state where the property lies. The ALTA/ACSM is a national standard that puts everyone on the same page of expectations.