ALTA Standards History and Revisions

Posted by Evolve June 25, 2020

Surveyor WorkingThe title insurance industry represented by ALTA (The American Land Title Association), requires a very comprehensive survey on which a title insurer can rely to delete the standard survey exceptions from the issuance of a title insurance policy.

The verbiage of these exceptions can vary from state to state, but they typically relate to:

  • The rights of parties in possession
  • Evidence of unrecorded easements
  • Shortages of land
  • Any matter shown on an accurate survey performed on the property

To guarantee that a survey provides the pertinent information, ALTA began working with the land survey industry in 1962 who at the time was represented by ACSM (The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping).

Minimum Standard Detail Requirements are Adopted

It was necessary for the two organizations to identify a listing of all survey responsibilities ensuring that the survey prepared could be used by the title insurer to make the underwriting decision to delete the survey exceptions. In 1962, the first version of the “Minimum Standard Detail Requirements” was adopted and put into effect to standardize the survey product called the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey.

ALTA Survey Revisions

Over the years, there have been approximately ten revisions to the Minimum Standards. In some versions the changes were called for to clarify surveyor responsibilities and in some instances advancement in survey technologies which affected precision and procedure necessitated an update. The redefinitions have been important for both the surveyor and the end-user as surveyors were often asked to report upon or offer opinions on matters outside of the realm of their expertise. Additionally, the needs of the title insurer have changed over time and these changes have been included in succeeding versions.

Other ALTA Survey Benefits

Along with use to the title industry, the survey also provides benefits to other transaction parties who have questions and concerns about what is transpiring on a surveyed property. An ALTA Survey reports beneficial matters and red flag issues for those purchasing or financing the property. All users of the survey should be well-versed on what a surveyor can and cannot report as defined within the Minimum Standards along with an added understanding of the additional Optional Table A Items that may be required. A good working knowledge of the requirements on the part of the user can expedite any review and revision requests in the eleventh hour of a transaction.

Changes Scheduled to Take Effect 2021

Members of the survey and title industry are currently reviewing the 2016 Minimum Standards as adopted by ALTA and NSPS (The National Society of Professional Surveyors), the organization that replaced ACSM, and working towards a new version expected to take effect in February of 2021.

The current ALTA Survey requirements can be found on the NV5/Bock & Clark website. We have reviewed several proposed drafts of the new standards and although there currently are no pending, drastic changes, we are not yet in a position to comment on revisions or to share these drafts until the final version is adopted most likely in October of this year.

As an industry leader, NV5/Bock & Clark will stay on top of any information regarding changes to the Minimum Standard Detail requirements. When available, we will be offering seminars, classes, webinars, materials, etc. to help guide ALTA Survey users through these revisions. A good understanding of the changes is vital to anyone who reviews and relies on ALTA/NSPS Survey products to avoid delays and miscommunications.

Please feel free to reach out to either your NV5/Bock & Clark Project Manager or Client Service Representative with any questions. We will begin scheduling training sessions for our clients that in some states will qualify for CLE credits, beginning sometime in late fall of 2020.