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2011 ALTA Standards Synopsis

As of February 23, 2011, new standards for the American Land Title Association (ALTA) Survey (2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys) went into affect. 

The main differences between thee 2005 and 2011 ALTA Standards (aside from complete re-formatting) are:

  1. Wording has been standardized with regard to the property being surveyed.  The 2011 Standards use the term “the surveyed property,” except where it is not appropriate, rather than the “premises,” the “property,” the “parcel,” or the “tract”.
  2. The 2011 Standards use the term “observed in the process of conducting the survey” wherever possible and appropriate, instead of terms such as “visible,” “observed,” “observable,” and “physical” in the 2005 standards.
  3. With regard to the boundary, significant additions include a sentence that defines what constitutes an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, guidance on Land Title Surveys of non-standard types of properties (such as marinas, trailer parks and campgrounds), a recognition of the existence of the normal standard of care, and a section that addresses need for the application of proper boundary law principles in the resolution of boundaries. Where there is a water boundary, there is now a requirement that the feature located on the survey (e.g. bank, edge of water, low water line, etc.) should bear some relationship to how that boundary is described in the writings. 
  4. Measurement standards have been fully incorporated into the Standards.  This applies to the process in which the Field surveyor conducts the work.
  5. Other changes include several sub-sections and a new Table A item (#20) that clarify the surveying and depiction of easements – both on-site and off-site.
  6. There are new Table A items including one related to wetlands locations (#19) and one which requires the surveyor to have professional liability insurance (#21).
  7. A vicinity map used to be an option on Table A, now it is a requirement.
  8. Finally, the section on the certification now includes wording requiring that “the plat or map shall bear only the following certification, unaltered …” except as may be required by jurisdictional requirements (some states require additional specific wording).  The standards are trying to put the kibosh on client specific Certification language.
  9. In regards to Table A specifics:

 a.  Item 2 is a new item regarding addresses.

b.  Item 5 has been reworded and adds the need to have the originating benchmark identified.

c.  Item 6 has been split into two sub-items requiring that zoning info be provided by (insurer) the Title Company.

d.  Item 7b has been reworded.

e.  Former item 10 (indication of public ROW access) is now mandatory.  New item 10 has been added. (a) Determination of the relationship and location of certain division or party walls designated by the client with respect to adjoining properties (client to obtain necessary permissions). (b) Determination of whether certain walls designated by the client are plumb (client to obtain necessary permissions).

f.  Item 11 has had clarifying sentences added. Note – With regard to Table A, item 11(b), source information from plans and markings will be combined with observed evidence of utilities to develop a view of those underground utilities.  However, lacking excavation, the exact location of underground features cannot be accurately, completely and reliably depicted.  Where additional or more detailed information is required, the client is advised that excavation may be necessary.

g.  Item 12 has had examples added. Governmental Agency survey-related requirements as specified by the client, such as for HUD surveys, and surveys for leases on Bureau of Land Management managed lands.

h.  Item 15 has had clarifying language added. Rectified orthophotography, photogrammetric mapping, airborne/mobile laser scanning and other similar products, tools or technologies as the basis for the showing the location of certain features (excluding boundaries) where ground measurements are not otherwise necessary to locate those features to an appropriate and acceptable accuracy relative to a nearby boundary.  The surveyor shall (a) discuss the ramifications of such methodologies (e.g. the potential precision and completeness of the data gathered thereby) with the insurer, lender and client prior to the performance of the survey and, (b) place a note on the face of the survey explaining the source, date, precision and other relevant qualifications of any such data.

i.  Items 16 and 17 have had minor wording modifications added.

j.  Item 19 is new. Location of wetland areas as delineated by appropriate authorities. This item would have to be completed by those authorities and marked in the field prior to start of ALTA survey.

k.  Item 20 has had new items added. a) Locate improvements within any offsite easements or servitudes benefitting the surveyed property that are disclosed in the Record Documents provided to the surveyor and that are observed in the process of conducting the survey (client to obtain necessary permissions). (b) Monuments placed (or a reference monument or witness to the corner) at all major corners of any offsite easements or servitudes benefitting the surveyed property and disclosed in Record Documents provided to the surveyor (client to obtain necessary permissions). In some jurisdictions, surveyors may not be able to complete item b depending on State law.

l.  Item 21 is new. Professional Liability Insurance policy obtained by the surveyor in the minimum amount of $____________ to be in effect throughout the contract term. Certificate of Insurance to be furnished upon request.

Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. is a survey coordinator of ALTA/ACSM surveys.  Partner recently acquired Continental Surveying, greatly increasing the depth and breadth of our survey coordinating capabilities.  Please contact Jim Davenport at 440-987-1001 for questions regarding the new standards.