New ALTA Survey Standards
The ALTA Survey Standards are being revised and will become effective February 23, 2011. Recently, committees from both the NSPS and ALTA met to review and approve the upcoming standards. The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), which is a member organization of the American Congress on Surveying & Mapping (ACSM) is a trade organization for the profession of surveying and mapping. For years ACSM has been the leader among surveying organizations in working with ALTA to develop these nationally recognized surveying standards. ALTA is the American Land Title Association, and is the trade association and national voice of the abstract and title insurance industry.
Changes to ALTA Survey Wording
The ACSM website has a “Summary of Significant Wording Changes” document, which spells out changes to the ALTA survey standards, which have not changed since 2005. Some of the noted changes are:
- Expands on the “Relative Precision” of the survey
- Expands on documents to be provided by surveyors
- Requires more measurements when a water feature is one of the boundaries
- Suggests that new legal descriptions might not be necessary
- Requires a lot more information on easements
- Reinforces that the title opinion should be furnished to the surveyor before the survey begins
- Expands Table A to include a number of new items which may be requested by clients
While none of these are major changes, surveyors AND those ordering an ALTA survey should be aware of them. One item that I’ve heard a lot of noise about is item #21 on Table A, which, if checked, would required the surveyor to obtain professional liability insurance for the particular survey project. Many surveyors don’t carry professional liability insurance because of the expense of this type of insurance. This will significantly change the price of an ALTA survey if the item is checked.
Surveyors and Clients should discuss the Table A items in detail each time anyway, but this is a big red flag that should be addressed. We’ll see how this plays out in the future and what it will be doing for ALTA Survey.