Mindel Scott

The Importance of ALTA Surveys for Commercial Real Estate Projects

One of the first things the title insurance company and/or lender on a new commercial real estate project will request is an ALTA Survey. The American Bar Association even recommends a standard ALTA Survey to be addressed in a buyer’s title insurance policy. There are several reasons why this is the preferred type of land survey in commercial real estate deals, primarily because ALTA Surveys adhere to national standards known as Minimum Standard Detail Requirements (MSDRs) which were established by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

Below we provide an overview of ALTA Surveys and our approach to creating them.

What is an ALTA Survey?

ALTA Surveys are incredibly detailed land surveys that show boundary lines, boundary calls, boundary monumentation, gross land area, flood zone classification, structures, land improvements, parking spaces, encroachments, water features, aboveground utilities, easements, and road right-of-way. They can also include zoning information, building setbacks, and contour lines, if requested, all of which is important in establishing the property’s value and protects both the buyer and lender if any disputes come up against the property.  

On ALTA Surveys, a surveyor certifies the property’s existence and the encumbrances that may affect the subject property. It shows any discrepancies between the actual size of the property and the existing legal description. It indicates the relationship of the property to the adjoining properties and the location of everything within the subject property itself such as aboveground utilities and easements. It can also include optional features such as vertical relief contours, landscaped areas, the relationship and location of certain division or party walls, and substantial features observed while conducting the fieldwork.

In commercial real estate transactions, ALTA Surveys are an essential tool for the buyer and lender to determine whether to proceed with financing the project. They can reveal critical discrepancies that would need to be resolved like zoning information because you can’t build a factory on a piece of land zoned for residential development.

How is an ALTA Survey created?

Mindel Scott has the capability to perform exceptionally detailed ALTA Surveys with our experienced Survey Field Coordinator, Survey Field crews, Survey Drafting Technicians, and Professional Land Surveyors.

When a client requests a proposal for an ALTA Survey, we start by researching the property by visiting the site and/or utilizing tools like the County’s Property Valuation Administration, the County Clerk’s website, LOJIC, and Google Earth to get an idea of the site dynamics. We will use this information to aide us in giving our clients the best pricing for each job and creating the proposal for the scope of work that our client requests.

After receiving a signed contract for an ALTA Survey, our Field Coordinator will plot out all the known site information and our Field Crews will use this information while on site to aide in the location of the existing boundary monumentation, structures, utility lines, road right-of-ways, and any other improvements indicated in the scope of work. The field crew will then bring the located data back to the office for our surveyors use.

Our Professional Land Surveyor will then resolve the boundary of the subject property by using the field located data, any existing surveys of the property, and the existing deed and plat information and start the drawing.

All information is placed into an ALTA Survey drawing that shows the following:

When it comes down to it, an ALTA Survey can provide incredibly valuable information for commercial real estate projects and will protect both buyers and lenders alike. Learn more about our Surveying capabilities. If you’re ready to schedule an ALTA Survey for your project, contact us.