Commercial Surveys

When Do You Need An ALTA Survey?

From time to time, lenders and title companies may ask to be provided an ALTA survey on a piece of land they are working with. These types of surveys may go above the standards of a regular boundary survey and may provide even more detail than what may be shown on topographic surveys.

An ALTA Survey is a detailed survey performed by a professional land surveyor prepared in accordance with specific standards outlined by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).. This type of survey will show the boundaries of the property, the location of improvements on the subject property, including any and all structures, fences, utility lines, roads, etc., along with the location of any/all easements. This is the most detailed surveys Foresight Land Surveying provides our clients. While this type of survey comes at a greater cost than our boundary surveys, there are certainly times when our clients don’t mind paying the extra money for an ALTA survey because of the amount of detail that goes into every one.

When should you consider an ALTA/NSPS survey? Here are some of the most common situations where this type of survey is either required or recommended.

Buying Or Selling Commercial Real Estate

Because of the increased risk associated with commercial properties, most lenders and title insurance companies will typically require an ALTA survey to be performed prior to a conveyance of commercial property to another party or if it is being refinanced by the current owner. Examples of increased risks and liabilities are encroachments, easements either on site or easements on another property which may be serving the property, and boundary line disputes. Some easements may exist, but are not of public record and can only be discovered after a thorough inspection of the property by a professional licensed surveyor. These details can be enough to decide whether or not the transaction is completed. Most often, problems or issues with the property or the use of the property can be resolved prior to closing to ensure the property is free of risk from a survey standpoint. Having a recent ALTA survey performed on a piece of property you are selling is also recommended as it has the potential to give prospective buyers greater confidence and make the property more marketable.

When Buying A Piece Of Vacant Land

When purchasing a vacant parcel where little or no significant improvements exist, we also recommend getting an ALTA survey. In Oklahoma, the chances that a vacant tract of land has been surveyed recently are very slim. Because the technology we use today is far more accurate and reliable than those used even 30 years ago, you can be assured that you are getting the most accurate representation of the property and its improvements. By researching the chain of title, unknown ownership conflicts and encumbrances conflicts will be brought to light. Not knowing these things may have a huge impact on the risk and liability you would assume if you had only a boundary survey in hand. Development of the property without knowing what rights, limitations, and easements affect the land is not something you want to find out after your project is complete.

When More Detail Is Required

The more you know about what a tract of land prior to purchasing, the more protected against outside claims you will be. Major issues will be uncovered easily during a boundary survey, but an ALTA survey is based on the premise that “details matter”. Knowing what issues affect the land allows you to clear up those issues before you purchase it and give you peace of mind. Alternatively, you may not decide to proceed with the purchase because you feel the risk associated with the property is too great to assume. Whichever route you take, it could end up saving you a significant of money in the long run.