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ALTA Survey / ACSM Survey

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ALTA Survey- (ALTA) stands for American Land Title Association and (ACSM) stands for American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.


When a property is being transferred or refinanced the Title Company and /or lender typically require an ALTA survey. For all multifamily housing loan transactions submitted to HUD an “ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey” is required.


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, easements, rights-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. Some of the information shown on an ALTA Survey is: Easements that may encumber or benefit the property, possible encroachments across boundary lines or easements, access to a public street or lack thereof, zoning of the property along with setback requirements, Flood Zones that may affect the subject property, evidence of any use by other parties, location of any water boundaries on the subject property, evidence of cemeteries, names of adjoining property owners.


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.


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