Top 10 Changes to the minimum requirements for ALTA surveys

10. What’s with the new name?

ALTA/ACSM is now ALTA/NSPS. Since 1962, the minimum standards for ALTA surveys have been jointly adopted by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). Providing a balance of interests for both the title and survey professions, ALTA and ACSM have worked jointly to establish and adopt minimum standards for surveys of real property. While the basic framework for buying and selling real property hasn’t changed, the minimum standards have evolved over decades in order to address the needs of buyers, sellers, surveyors, title companies and attorneys. 

On February 23, 2016, new minimum standards superseded the version from 2011.  While there are various changes to the new standards, one of the more subtle ones, and likely to be overlooked, is the change from ACSM to NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors). In 2012, ACSM made the decision to formally merge and absolve their business into NSPS in order to combat financial issues. While the merger was fairly quiet, it has given NSPS the authority of representation on the ALTA standards committee on behalf of surveyors around the country. NSPS is a long-standing organization which exists to provide a platform for the surveying community from which to organize regional and national efforts relating to the profession of land surveying. Committees and groups within NSPS represent a wide range of interests to the organization from providing ongoing training to both students and professionals, to providing input on professional standards, such as ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.  As a member of NSPS myself, I find that the voice of NSPS has done great things for the survey and title communities. With ACSM going the wayside, it is nice to see NSPS pick up the torch in order to keep initiatives such as the ALTA standards moving forward.

There are sure to be questions surrounding the new ALTA standards and how the changes impact real property transactions. This change to “2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys,” while slight, will likely be overlooked or misstated on surveys, documents, and correspondence as folks in the industry get used to eliminating ACSM from their vocabulary. Old habits die hard. I don’t think this case will be any different.

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