Understanding the ALTA Survey

When individuals, businesses or other entities need basic information about property, rudimentary surveys or public information can suffice.

But some cases, including those involving corporate real estate transactions and title insurance policy writing, require far more detailed information.

It’s the job of professional surveyors to perform an exhaustive ALTA survey—a survey that meets rigorous minimum criteria adopted by the American Land Title Association—which provides critical information to parties in a potential land transaction.

What makes an ALTA survey?

Most ALTA surveys are ordered by title insurance companies involved in real estate transactions. The detailed information collected by these surveys aids in the writing of these insurance policies.

Practically anything there is to know about a site must be included in an ALTA survey, including:

·  The legal boundaries of a property

·  The municipal zoning and any easements affecting a property

·   Any roads or other right-of-ways that run along or through a property

·   A site’s topographic features, including land elevations and bodies of water

·   The location and dimensions of any improvements on a property like buildings and landscaping

·   The location and types of utilities on, over or beneath the property

·   Any cemeteries, burial grounds or isolated gravesites on the property

In addition, ALTA surveys include the compilation of all public documents pertinent to a property and documentation relative to adjacent properties. Due to their rigor, ALTA surveys can take up to several weeks to complete.

Note that ALTA surveys can only be performed by licensed land surveyors.

Valuable information for all

Title insurance companies aren’t the sole users of ALTA surveys. Other firms and individuals also can order them out of due diligence when a real estate deal or development is in the works. These surveys provide valuable, independent information to all parties evaluating a potential transaction and help potential property owners plan for future site development.

Governments at all levels also rely on ALTA surveys, whether they’re planning for possible land uses of their own or working with private companies on development or redevelopment projects. The survey’s value as an independent source of information is critical when partnerships bridge the public-private divide. 

ALTA surveys and project planning

Because ALTA surveys are so exhaustive, they’re great to have at hand when planning new construction, renovation or redevelopment of a property.

The Korte Company streamlines the planning process by employing properly licensed surveyors to complete ALTA surveys, either as part of a larger construction project or at the request of title insurers or parties to land transactions.

There’s plenty to think about where properties and development planning intersect, and that’s why The Korte Company Design-Build model could be the right fit for your plans. With every phase of a project under one roof—including the completion of an ALTA survey if it’s needed—communication and planning is made easy.

An ALTA survey may be on tap as part of your project planning, so let us know how we can help. You can also get a jump start on other parts of your project planning by reading our guide to construction financing.

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