An aerial view of a piece of property showing the boundary lines on a plot of land.

Key Differentiators of an ALTA Survey, and Why You Need One

An image of a plot of land with clear markers added on by a surveying program.

Whether you are a developer, lender, or real estate lawyer, knowing what sets an ALTA survey apart is valuable knowledge.

What is an ALTA Survey?

ALTA surveys, or American Land Title Association surveys, are critical tools utilized in the real estate industry to provide a comprehensive understanding of a property before a purchase, lease, or management decision is made. 

These comprehensive surveys go beyond traditional land surveys by providing detailed information on the property, including elements like possible violations that can affect the property in the long run. All of this due diligence is necessary for a successful commercial real estate transaction, and investing in an ALTA survey can save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

An ALTA survey provides a 2D view of the property, providing insight into what limitations might come with ownership, use, and occupancy. Not only do these surveys offer clarity to buyers and investors, but they also protect the parties involved in the transaction. 

ALTA surveys are a significant consideration in the acquisition and transfer of a property, providing critical information that significantly affects a property’s value and use.

What’s Included in an ALTA Survey

ALTA surveys offer a detailed examination of the property in question, including:

  • Boundary lines
  • Easements
  • Encroachments
  • Zoning classification
  • Flood zone designations
  • Any other factors that may affect ownership rights 

Additionally, an ALTA survey includes information on surrounding properties, as well as any legal agreements or restrictions related to the land. 

Who Performs ALTA Surveys

An ALTA survey is carried out by a licensed, professional land surveyor. The surveyor works closely with other professionals, such as engineers and attorneys, to ensure that the survey is accurate and comprehensive, as well as making sure that it meets all of the necessary standards and requirements.

How Much Does an ALTA Survey Cost?

There are many variables that determine the cost of an ALTA survey, including:

  • Size of property
  • Existing improvements
  • Existing easements
  • Optional survey add-ons
  • Land accessibility
  • Travel time for the surveyor
  • Weather conditions during the survey

Generally, though, you’ll find ALTA surveys start at $2,000. And be prepared for the process to cost you time as well as money; you can expect the process to take weeks, if not months, due to all the information being collected and analyzed. 

For an estimate on an ALTA survey, contact Anderson Engineering today.

What Makes an ALTA Survey Different From Other Surveys?

An ALTA survey is often the preferred survey for commercial properties due to its comprehensive nature. Unlike a standard land survey, an ALTA survey includes a more detailed analysis of the property in question, as well as those that are adjacent. 

It also considers zoning and land use regulations, as well as any visible improvements on the property. Overall, an ALTA survey provides a thorough and reliable assessment of a property, giving buyers and lenders peace of mind in their transaction.

Not sure if you should go for an Alta survey over other options? Take a look at other common types of surveys and what they offer compared to an ALTA survey.

Boundary Survey

The purpose of a boundary survey is only to provide a property owner with a precise understanding of what they own and where their boundaries lie. This information can be important for a variety of reasons, including boundary line disputes, property development, and ensuring good neighborly relations. 

Location Survey

This survey identifies key features of the land such as boundary lines, topography, and any natural or man-made obstructions that may impact the construction process. In addition to physical features, a location survey can also provide crucial information on zoning and permitting requirements, potential environmental concerns, and any restrictions or easements that may impact development plans.

Site Planning Survey

A site planning survey is an essential tool that helps architects, urban planners, and engineers make informed decisions about land use and development. It involves collecting detailed information about the site’s physical characteristics, including topography, soil composition, vegetation, hydrology, and infrastructure. Additionally, the survey helps identify potential constraints, such as zoning regulations, environmental regulations, or community restrictions. 

Subdivision Survey

A subdivision survey is a detailed account of the boundaries of a parcel of land, including its size and precise location. It is crucial in the development of new subdivisions, providing accurate information to developers, governmental agencies, and buyers. The survey typically includes a map of the property, clearly marking its boundaries, as well as any easements or right-of-ways that may affect the land. 

Topographic Survey

A topographic survey is a detailed land mapping that highlights all natural and man-made features. This includes contours, elevations, trees, buildings, and water bodies. The purpose of the survey is to provide accurate information about the land and its features, which engineers, architects, and developers can then use for design and construction purposes. 

When to Choose an ALTA Survey

While it is not always necessary, an ALTA survey is highly recommended for properties involved in commercial real estate transactions or development projects. ALTA surveys adhere to stringent standards set by the American Land Title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors. These standards ensure that all the necessary information critical to property ownership and development is covered in the survey. 

Working with Anderson Engineering can help you make an informed decision based on your ALTA survey and give you peace of mind for the future of your project.

Choose Anderson for Your ALTA Survey

In any commercial real estate transaction, it is critical to have a comprehensive understanding of the property’s boundaries, potential encumbrances, and zoning restrictions. And the most effective way to obtain such information is with an ALTA survey. Ultimately, investing in an ALTA survey can provide peace of mind and well-rounded due diligence for any commercial property transaction. 

Ready to get started? Get in touch with Anderson today.

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