What is an ALTA Survey

What is an ALTA Survey? Purpose, Standards and More

What is an ALTA Survey? Planning to buy, subdivide, or insure a property? You may encounter the term “ALTA survey.” But what exactly does this involve and why is it important? Here we’ll explain what an ALTA survey is, its key purposes, important requirements, and how this in-depth process goes beyond typical land surveys to provide critical details surrounding a property’s boundaries and title.

What is an ALTA Survey?

An ALTA survey, short for American Land Title Association survey, is a detailed boundary survey of a property that aims to provide precise measurement data and identify any encumbrances or easements that may impact title insurance coverage. ALTA surveys adhere to strict standards and contain more detailed information than typical property surveys.

Tell me the purpose of land title surveys?

The main purposes of ALTA land title surveys are:

  • Provide data needed for title insurance policies
  • Identify property boundaries accurately
  • Locate any encroachments, easements, or right-of-ways
  • Ensure no improvements violate restrictions
  • Depict significant site features like buildings, roads, utilities

By identifying potential title issues, ALTA surveys help facilitate real estate transactions.

ALTA Surveys and Appurtenant Easements

A key aspect of ALTA surveys is identifying any appurtenant easements benefitting the property. This includes mapping utility, drainage, access, or other easements crossing or bordering the property that are tied to property ownership. Locating appurtenant easements is crucial for title insurance.

Tell me the difference between a boundary survey and land title survey?

A boundary survey simply marks the borders and perimeter measurements of a property. An ALTA land title survey meets more stringent requirements set by the American Land Title Association and includes detailed information regarding utilities, easements, encroachments and more that may impact title.

Are all surveyors qualified to perform an ALTA survey?

No, surveyors must have specific training and certification to carry out ALTA surveys. Not all surveyors offer them. Look for surveyors who are ALTA/NSPS certified to ensure proper standards are met. Most title companies will only accept ALTA surveys from authorized surveyors.

The Ultimate Guide to ALTA Surveys

ALTA surveys require in-depth investigation and precise documentation well beyond a basic property survey. Certified surveyors dig into property records, municipal codes, utility maps, and other resources to provide the detailed data an ALTA survey demands. The survey must meet strict standards and contain specific information per ALTA guidelines. ALTA surveys provide title companies invaluable information to issue title insurance policies. Though more complex, their thorough process provides clients peace of mind about their home or land boundaries and title.

Who does ALTA land surveys?

ALTA user surveys should be conducted by a licensed surveyor with specific ALTA certification demonstrating their competency to handle ALTA requirements. The surveyor must also carry proper liability insurance. Verify a surveyor has current ALTA certification before hiring them to ensure standards are properly met. Many states require surveyors to recertify periodically.

Records review

An important component of ALTA surveys is the surveyor researching relevant records, maps, plans and permits related to the property being surveyed. This allows the surveyor to identify any utility or access easements, restrictions, boundary discrepancies or other potential issues that may impact title insurance coverage.

Title insurance

Title companies require ALTA surveys when issuing certain insurance policies to understand potential title risks like encroachments or unclear boundaries. The detailed ALTA survey provides information to decide policy coverage and exclusions. Lenders may also need ALTA surveys to provide financing. The survey allows all parties to make informed real estate decisions.

Land Surveying Blog Posts

Check our land surveying blog for recent articles related to ALTA requirements, how ALTA surveys are used for title insurance, advice on hiring a qualified ALTA surveyor, explanations of typical Table A items, and more. Our blog provides valuable insights to help property buyers, sellers, agents, and owners understand the ALTA surveying process.

Survey Monuments

As part of an ALTA survey, the surveyor will search for and document any survey monuments marking property corners. If monuments are missing or disturbed, they will need to be replaced to accurately establish boundaries. Locating and preserving these monuments provides crucial evidence of property lines.

The ALTA survey and evidence of utilities

Locating both underground and visible utilities on the property is another key component of ALTA surveys. The surveyor must review utility maps and conduct field scans to map utility lines. Any utility easements will also be identified and documented. Depicting utilities provides insight on right-of-ways impacting the property.

Map creation

Once field data is collected, the surveyor will synthesize everything into a detailed map meeting ALTA standards. The map will depict boundaries, structures, utilities, easements, encroachments and other important site features in relation to the property’s boundaries. ALTA survey maps contain far more details than typical survey maps.

ALTA survey requirements

Specific requirements of an ALTA survey include documenting structures, utilities, fences, easements and more. Precise measurements establish boundaries. Encroachments and potential title issues are identified. Everything is depicted on a detailed map with specific symbols and labels following ALTA standards. Only certified ALTA surveyors are qualified to ensure proper requirements are met.

How does your lender review a Land Title Survey?

Lenders require ALTA surveys to identify risks like improper setbacks or disputed boundaries before financing. The lender will review the survey to ensure the property boundaries are clearly established and no major encroachments or easements will impede use or ownership. This protects their investment in the property. An ALTA survey gives lenders a full picture of the property’s dimensions, improvements and any title issues.

Contact Scalice Land Surveying for a Free Quote

Scalice Land Surveying employs multiple ALTA-certified survey crews experienced in ALTA requirements and able to handle any project. Contact us online or call 888-ASK-SCALICE for a free quote on having one of our ALTA experts conduct your property’s land title survey. We serve clients throughout the metro area.

Recent changes to ALTA survey requirements

The latest 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements outline key updates to ALTA surveys like easier readability, revised language for clarity, identifying missing monuments, enhanced depiction of utilities and more. Staying current on changes allows our ALTA professionals to provide clients the most accurate, beneficial surveys. We closely follow best practices.

Who needs ALTA surveys?

ALTA surveys are commonly needed for:

  • Real estate transactions requiring title insurance
  • Refinancing where lenders request title surveys
  • Boundary disputes needing precise delineation
  • Permitting projects near property lines
  • Subdividing large parcels into individual lots
  • Commercial properties with potential easements

Title companies, lenders, and municipalities often make ALTA surveys a requirement.

A primer on the ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, Table A

Table A provides standard technical details that must be depicted on ALTA survey maps, such as utilities, easements, structures and more. Table A helps ensure consistency across ALTA surveys by different surveyors. Items are precisely defined. Staying up-to-date on Table A requirements allows our team to deliver comprehensive surveys meeting current standards that provide maximum value to clients.

ALTA land surveys: The gold standard

The ALTA survey is considered the gold standard for boundary and title surveys due to its rigorous standards. Clients can trust that certified ALTA surveyors like Scalice Land Surveying will uncover and document all details relevant to property boundaries, title, ownership rights and potential limitations on a property. Though more costly than basic surveys, the ALTA survey provides far greater insight and protection.

Tell me the purpose of a land title survey?

The main purpose of an ALTA land title survey is to provide detailed data on property boundaries and improvements needed by title insurance companies to assess risks and exclusions. ALTA surveys identify any easements, encroachments, or limitations that may impact title insurance coverage and underwriting. ALTA surveys also ensure ownership rights.

Important Table A items

Table A requires specific items be shown on this survey maps, including:

  • Boundary lines, dimensions, orientations
  • Easements, rights-of-way, setbacks
  • Structures, parking areas, buffers
  • Utilities, connections, lights, wells
  • Encroachments from or onto adjacent parcels

ALTA Surveys have strict standards

All these surveys must precisely meet detailed standards and requirements set by the American Land Title Association. Only certified ALTA surveyors are qualified to properly adhere to these specifications. ALTA surveys contain much more detailed information than typical surveys. This provides maximum insights that facilitate real estate transactions.

Table A and zoning information

Though Table A does not require specific zoning details, our ALTA experts always obtain and review relevant zoning specifications to ensure the survey accurately identifies any violations or nonconformities that may impact permits, insurance, or loans on the property. We go above minimums.

Who is qualified to perform an ALTA land survey?

An ALTA survey must be completed by a licensed surveyor with current ALTA certification verifying their training and qualification to handle ALTA standards. Confirm a surveyor’s active ALTA certification before commissioning this survey. Do not assume a surveyor is qualified. Many states now require regular ALTA continuing education.

ALTA/NSPS Surveys for commercial transactions

For commercial properties, ALTA/NSPS surveys meeting the latest standards are typically required by lenders and title companies. Our expert commercial survey crews are ALTA/NSPS certified to provide meticulous surveys documenting all details impacting title insurance, boundaries, improvements, easements and land rights on non-residential properties.

Title Survey for Insurance Purposes

The survey is specifically designed to provide title companies the property details they need to assess risks and exclusions when underwriting title insurance policies. By depicting boundaries, encumbrances, utilities and more, This surveys allow title companies to issue enhanced coverage tailored to the property. The survey focuses on information pertinent to title.

More Financial Services Surveys


With precise documentation of boundaries, easements, structures and other site features, the ALTA survey delivers the insightful data needed by title companies, lenders, and municipalities to underwrite, finance, and approve land use. Though more complex, the ALTA survey provides property sellers, buyers, and owners greater confidence by identifying any issues upfront.


What is an ALTA survey?

Survey is a detailed boundary and title survey of a property that meets specific standards set by the American Land Title Association. It identifies precise dimensions, easements, encroachments, utilities, and other factors that may impact title insurance policies.

How is an ALTA survey different from a boundary survey?

The survey meets more stringent requirements and provides much more detailed information regarding title, land rights, utilities, easements, structures and other items that may affect the property. A standard boundary survey simply marks the perimeter.

When would I need an ALTA survey?

ALTA surveys are often required for real estate transactions, refinancing, dividing land, permitting projects near lot lines, resolving boundary disputes, and anywhere title insurance is involved.

What are the main components of an ALTA survey?

ALTA survey components include documenting structures, rights-of-way, utilities, encroachments, easements, boundaries, survey monuments, topography, improvements, zoning details and more on a precisely drawn map.

Who can perform an ALTA survey?

Only a licensed surveyor with current ALTA certification is qualified to perform an ALTA survey. Confirm certification before hiring a surveyor.