ALTA Land SurveysIn the real estate industry, land surveys are important. They give important details of a purchased land or property. Information given in a land survey depends on the survey type. The ALTA Land Survey is a prestigious land survey that stands high above its counterparts. This article goes into the details of what an ALTA Land Survey is, how useful it is, and when you might need one.

What is an ALTA Survey?

An ALTA Survey is a recognized land survey otherwise known as the ALTA/NSPS survey. ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and NSPS stands for the National Society for Professional Survey.

When it comes to real estate transactions, parties involved in the acquisition of a property wants a means of deducing a property’s integrity. Lenders, attorneys, landowners, and engineers need a common standard to judge the worth of a property without any disagreements. The issue is several people and institutions might have their tenets, which influence their appraisal of a property. To solve this problem, all transacting parties need to select a land survey that will benefit everyone.

The ALTA Survey is a survey that serves as a standard for transacting parties to work with. It depicts a property’s boundary lines, easements, structures, encroachments, improvements, and other vital information. It is a recognized survey and is useful in risky transactions. Compared to other surveys, the ALTA Survey is in a class of its own. It has a lot of detail and is rich in information. This makes it a preferred choice during financial transactions.

One interesting trivia of the ALTA/NSPS Land survey is that every five years it undergoes updates on the 23rd of February. Coincidentally, the 23rd of February is a day in roman festivals used to worship Terminus, the God of Boundaries.

Why is the ALTA Survey Widely Used?

When it comes to purchasing lands, history shows that people tend to fight when they don’t get the value for their money. Investing parties want properties that give them their money’s worth without having to worry about legal disputes and issues of property encroachment. To solve problems like this, boundary surveys are chosen. Boundary surveys show the boundary lines of a property and help solve land disputes. But despite the usefulness of boundary surveys, they fall short in several areas. Due to this, it will require a better survey to cover the shortcomings of a boundary survey. Therefore, ALTA surveys remain a popular choice. The ALTA survey does a better job than a boundary survey. It upholds national standards and carries information that would have been difficult to include in a boundary survey. This is one of the most important reasons for the widespread popularity of ALTA Surveys over other alternatives.

When Do You Need an ALTA Land Survey?

Lenders and title companies want detailed information and clarification when investing in a property. Due to this, they are most likely to ask for an ALTA survey. But Should you get one? Is it needed? When is it necessary? Well, let’s look at what an ALTA survey entails and the circumstances that should call for you to get one.

An ALTA survey is a survey carried out by a professional licensed Surveyor according to standards meted out by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping. This survey reflects important details such as the boundary lines of property, utilities, easements, encroachments, structures, fences, roads, and improvements that might dwell on land. Due to its comprehensive detail, this survey is generally used.

There are four major potential circumstances where it will be wise and proper to get an ALTA Survey:

  • Real Estate Commercial Transactions

You will likely need an ALTA survey if you are making a commercial acquisition of a property. Your lenders and insurance companies will want to have full information on the purchased property to avoid legal problems. Commercial properties can come with land disputes, encroachments, and boundary disputes. Hence, you and your lenders should have full knowledge of these ‘risks’ to avoid them. If perhaps, you are the one selling a commercial property, it might be wise to have your personal ALTA survey separate from that of your buyer.

  • Vacant Lands

When land is vacant or unoccupied, it is easy for complacency to set in. People tend to feel that a vacant land has no issues, but history shows otherwise. Vacant land might have a lot of problems that might haunt you. To avoid this, it is advisable to get an ALTA survey to check for boundary disputes, encroachments, and other issues that might cause you problems.

  • Lack of Details

ALTA Land Surveys are full of detail compared to their counterparts. As a result, they are expensive. If you have an interest in getting extensive detail of any acquired real estate, an ALTA survey will be the best fit.

  • Safety

An ALTA Land Survey affords a level of safety that other surveys don’t give. Because of the large amount of information it offers, an ALTA survey decreases the chances of getting a land fraught with problems.

Importance of an ALTA Survey

As said already, lenders and title companies will most likely ask for an ALTA Survey. This is enough reason to get one. Nevertheless, knowing the full benefits of getting an ALTA Survey is greatly helpful as it helps you in making reasonable and coherent investment decisions.

Below is a list of the benefits of getting an ALTA survey:

  • To verify a Purchase

When you buy a property, you and your lender will have to make sure that the property is worth the proposed amount and is free of problems. But how do you know if the land you want is what you got? Conducting an ALTA land survey will solve this problem as it will enable you to know if what you purchased aligns with the information in the survey. If the survey gives a negative report, you will be able to make relevant decisions before closing the transaction.

  • To Depict the Size and Location of Easements

Having adequate knowledge of easements on the property you acquire is important. An ALTA Survey, due to its in-depth nature, reveals in great detail the size and place of every easement that might be on the purchased property.

  • To Locate Improvements and Encroachments

An ALTA Survey depicts all the buildings and structures existing on a property. It also has more details on the buildings and structures resident on the land. That aside, the ALTA Survey reveals every property improvement and shows any encroachment of other people’s property.

  • To Judge a Propertys Access

When you buy a property, knowing the routes to your property is important. An ALTA Survey helps in showing all roads, alleys, highways, and routes that grant access to your property. It also shows any impeding structures that restrict access to the property and if certain easements are necessary to get across to it. Hence, it helps to have an ALTA survey to help you judge if the available access to a property is enough for your intended purpose.

  • To help Identify and Locate Utilities

Whatever might be the reason for you wanting to buy a property, you will want to know if the property has the utilities you want. An ALTA Survey helps in such a situation by showing all the utilities on the property and their various locations.


This article has shown what the ALTA survey does, when you need to get it and why it is of high-regard in the real estate industry. It is obvious that an ALTA survey, though expensive compared to its counterparts, serves as a standard for correctly appraising the value of a property.

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