Decoding ALTA Land Surveying Exceptions: What Surveyors Look For and Why

National Due Diligence Services is here to help you with all of your ALTA Land Surveying needs. We have knowledgeable and trained professionals who can identify issues that could negatively impact your property and affect its future development.

ALTA Land SurveyingAn American Land Title Association (ALTA) Land Survey is an essential, and sometimes required, element of a commercial real estate transaction used to establish acceptable terms and exceptions for the parties involved. An ALTA Survey stands apart from typical land surveys due to its comprehensive list of requirements that surveyors evaluate during a property visit. 

An ALTA Survey is typically produced utilizing information as referenced in a current Title Commitment provided by the client. The title commitment will often have exceptions to title that are survey-related and can only be removed, or verified, by the findings of a current ALTA Survey. These exceptions may include easements, rights- of-way, or encroachments that benefit or burden the property. Having a current ALTA survey can not only include the above, but uncover elements that may not be of record. While it’s important to consider any potential issues that could affect the property’s title, it’s equally important to remember that the information recorded is based on the observable conditions on the day of the survey. New information or conditions could exist after the initial survey is completed, so updating the survey for high-level transactions is essential.

Easements and Rights-of-Way

Easements and Rights-of-way are typically required to be shown on an ALTA survey in order to remove or verify an exception to Title. These exceptions can include sidewalks, public road access points, or utility easements whether underground or overhead. These easements can play a significant role in the value of the property as each can either benefit or burden the property.

EncroachmentsALTA Land Surveying

An encroachment refers to any instance or possibility where a neighboring property could intrude or invade the property being surveyed, such as a fence, hedge, structural addition to a building, or anything of similar nature. Encroachments can also include findings that improvements on the property may encroach onto utility easements or into set-back lines as established by the local jurisdiction. Identifying these property intrusions is crucial for a surveyor to include as they can potentially create legal disputes or affect property boundaries, value or use.

Zoning and Land Use Restrictions

While zoning and land use restrictions are not physical issues, they’re important to note in the initial land survey. These restrictions could include the following:

  • Types of buildings allowed on the property
  • How dense the property is with buildings, agricultural plots and industrial plots
  • Building heights
  • Proper parking requirements
  • Local set-back from rights-of-way
  • And more

These regulations are essential for a surveyor to identify and include to ensure any potential future development of the property is possible.

Title Issues

Title issues threaten a property’s value or ease of title transfer if there are legal uncertainties or claims associated with the current property owner. Examples of potential title issues could include lien discrepancies, encumbrances, boundary line disputes, or errors in the property deed or public records. Since not all title issues can be physically identified during an ALTA Survey, it’s crucial to request a title search to stay in accordance with the due diligence process.

Discrepancies in Records

Surveyors often compare their findings with previous public records, surveys, or legal documents to ensure a survey is as accurate as possible. If their conclusions do not align with the compared documents, this could negatively impact the property in the future. It’s difficult to know if you have every record you need, so there may be new information that presents itself in the future that was not available at the time of the initial survey. 

These examples are some of the most common exceptions seen with an ALTA Land Survey, and they’re important to remember when purchasing a piece of property. Utilizing a knowledgeable and efficient land surveyor is pertinent to ensure your transaction is as transparent as possible. 

How We Can Help You

National Due Diligence Services is staffed with dedicated surveyors who are here to help you with your property acquisition needs. Contact us today if you have any questions about ALTA Land Surveys or are in need of our services.