"Out With The Old, In With The New"- The New 2011 ALTA Survey Standards

The 2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys (the “2011 Standards”) went into effect February 23, 2011, replacing prior (2005) Standards. The 2011 Standards have been heralded as the first major amendment of the standards since their adoption.

Among the changes worth noting are the following:

1. Table A Items.

a) Mandatory Items. Previously, (1) the vicinity map (showing the surveyed property in relation to nearby highways and major streets) and (2) public way access (e.g., curb cuts and driveways) were optional Table A items under the 2005 Standards. Pursuant to the 2011 Standards, they are no longer optional Table A items, but mandatory survey items required to be displayed.

b) Misc. While Item 6 has been revised to allow the addition of a property’s zoning classification as an optional item, the surveyor is not required to be the source of the information. In theory, if zoning information is requested, it is now to be provided to the surveyor by the title company. In practice, however, private zoning report companies are being hired by title companies and lenders, as neither surveyors nor title companies seem to want to guaranty all zoning information. The following new Items have been added to Table A: (1) Item 2 - street address, (2) Item 19 -location of wetlands, (3) Item 20 - location of improvements within offsite easements, and (4) Item 21 - identifying/certifying to surveyor’s professional liability insurance.

2. Surveyor’s Certification: The 2011 Standards now mandate a “short-form” of surveyor’s certification which is to be “unaltered, except as may be required pursuant to [applicable laws or jurisdictional requirements].” While the 2011 Certification looks very similar to the 2005 Certification, the date of completion of a survey’s field work is now required to be added.

3. Access/Easements… Details: The 2011 Standards require more details to be shown regarding access, easements and servitudes. For example, the width of easements, whether or not they affect the property being surveyed, and whether or not they are “blanket” in nature must now be noted.

4. Title Information: The 2011 Standards require the name of the title company and the date and reference number of the title commitment or policy number.


Except as outlined above, legal descriptions, plottable title matters and the depiction of a property’s physical characteristics shown on a survey completed in accord with the 2011 Standards will differ very little from a survey completed in accord with the 2005 Standards. Many of the differences between the 2011 and the 2005 Standards are technical in nature, amending measurement standards, formatting changes and the creation of certain standard language terms. In fact, many lenders already required the now, mandatory items. It is important to note, however, that many lenders will not accept a “recent” survey based on the 2005 Standards for a deal closing in 2011 (after February 23, 2011). For a complete version of the 2011 Standards, log on to: www.alta.org/forms/download.cfm?formID=338&type=word

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