ALTA Land Title Surveys - Explaining Property Descriptions

December 13, 2017

ALTA Surveys Property Descriptions

Per the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA Surveys in Section 6.B.i, the surveyor shall report the current record description of the surveyed property on the map or plat. The source of the record description comes from the citation on the last vesting deed on file at the county authority. This description should be concurrent with the referenced description in the Schedule A of the title company’s commitment or preliminary report.

The Responsibilities of Land Surveyors

In addition to creating property descriptions, it is the land surveyor’s responsibility to report any discrepancies between the record descriptions, as they appear on the instrument, from what is referenced in the Schedule A of the commitment. Per Section 6.B.ii, should the surveyor deem it necessary that measured or calculated dimensions merit the preparation of a new surveyed description, the surveyor must provide the same on the face of the survey along with a notation to explain why the new description was prepared. Also in these cases, per Section 6.B.ii, the surveyor must provide a correlation statement between the new description and the record description stating that they are one in the same or describe how the new description differs. Additionally, Section 6.B.ii notes that the preparation of a new description should generally be avoided when the record description is a lot or block in a platted, recorded subdivision.

Furthermore, as addressed in the Bock & Clark Handbook for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys, the surveyor should report all distances and directions identified in the record description on the survey, per Section 6.B.iii and iv. Another important component in Section 6.B.iv is to report an error of closure within the record description. The previous section states the surveyor must report any gaps or overlaps with adjoining properties. The disclosure of these issues within the record description is vital to transaction parties, particularly the title company. Consequently, if a record description is deficient or causes gaps or overlaps, it could ultimately cause a title issue or claim.

Finally, the surveyor’s responsibilities are also noted in Section 3.D (Boundary Resolution) of the Minimum Standards. This section states that the surveyor must comply with appropriate boundary law principals. Not only must the surveyor comply with the Minimum Standards but also with any state or local statutes for the practice of land surveying where they are licensed. Additionally, the surveyor has responsibilities when preparing new property descriptions or “as-surveyed” descriptions. We’ll discuss those in our January 2017 Fast Fact.

Bock & Clark

At Bock & Clark, we value the opportunity to use our expertise to further train and educate other commercial real estate professionals. Download our Handbook for Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence and the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements PDFs for your reference. Additionally, Bock & Clark is available to conduct ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey seminars at your organization or place of business. Contact us today to learn more about and our ALTA Survey services.