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Buying Property? One ALTA Land Survey Replaces The Need For Several Different Surveys

by Dan Mckinney

When a real estate transaction takes place, a land survey is required for the title insurance company, the lending company and in some situations, the sellers and the buyers. Unfortunately, not all surveys provide the same information, so if you are in the process of buying property, you may need to get several different surveys in order to show the information required for each party involved. For example, the lending company may require different information than the title company, which means you would be required to get two different surveys. An alternative to paying for several different surveys is ALTA surveys (American Land Title Association).

What is an ALTA Land Survey?

The American Land Title Association, founded in 1907, was created to review, search and insure land titles to protect both homebuyers and mortgage lenders who invest in property. An ALTA land survey is basically a universal survey that is designed to meet the needs of almost every party involved in the real estate transaction. ALTA surveys also allow the title insurer to remove standard survey exceptions from their title policies.

What's Included in an ALTA Survey?

An accurate property survey ensures the transfer of homes, commercial real estate and/or land is safer and easier. ALTA surveys provide much more detailed information that simply describing the boundaries of your property; it provides all details that may affect the land transfer process, including:

  • The location of the property lines on ground and the structure
  • Copies of the tract deed and of all abutting properties
  • A determination of the zoning regulation conformity
  • Rights-of-way, encroachments, and easements
  • A comprehensive surveyors summary report

A lender will typically require a land survey if you are refinancing as well. When refinancing, an ALTA land survey includes:

  • The size of the property
  • Utility services- this can typically be done with the use of additional plans or hiring a utility company to show the location of underground utilities.
  • Any improvements that have been done on the property and the location.
  • The height and dimensions of all buildings located on the property.
  • FEMA flood plain issues (if any)

ALTA surveys are a universal survey that incorporates all elements of the various surveys, including the boundary survey, topographic survey and the mortgage survey. They are typically only used for commercial property transactions, however, residence property buyers and sellers may also request an ALTA survey. An ALTA land survey can be expensive and it can take several weeks for completion, however, it is a comprehensive survey that is typically accepted by all parties involved.