Due Diligence Tool #2: The ALTA/NSPS Land Title SurveyNovember 26, 2018 Residential Development
The Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys have become the bridge that allows all of the parties involved in a real estate transaction to understand a piece of real property on common terms. By creating a national set of standards for land surveys, the owner, surveyor, attorney, and Title Company are all in sync when it comes to understanding the matters that affect a particular piece of property. In addition, ALTA surveys provide a consistent framework for the preparation and presentation of the survey. This helps to eliminate costly mistakes, such as missing or unnecessary information.
Our team recently prepared an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey where the title commitment listed over 52 exceptions. As our team poured through the hundreds of pages of documents, they began to realize that many of the easements and covenants did not serve or affect the subject property whatsoever. The property had not been surveyed in over 40 years and the subject property was a remnant portion. It turned out that, of the 52 exceptions on the title, 41 documents referenced the overall parent tract and original Survey/Abstract. The title commitment then had to be updated, which removed many of the encumbrances burdening the subject property.
The value of an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey coincides perfectly with the surveyors’ ultimate duty – to protect the public. Through uniform standards and expectations, owners and developers are armed with knowledge provided by the surveyor, Title Company, and other stakeholders through the necessary research, analysis, and field work.
Benefits of an ALTA Survey
Development Opportunities and Encumbrances. When used at the beginning of a property conveyance or lease agreement, and as a part of the due diligence process, stakeholders can use the information that has been discovered throughout the research process to better understand the property’s potential development opportunity. In addition, the ALTA survey also identifies encumbrances such as special zoning districts, building setbacks, blanket or described easements, boundary line agreements that perpetuate from grantors to grantees, and many other covenants and restrictions.
Protrusions and Property Lines. ALTA surveys illustrate on the face of the survey observed protrusions of improvements crossing property lines. Whether or not the protrusion actually violates any property rights is a matter of legal reconciliation. Furthermore, unrecorded easements can be uncovered through diligent field work.
Protection and Added Value. As earlier alluded, ALTA’s are nationally recognized – by lenders, title professionals, attorneys, and surveyors. When an ALTA is ordered, these professionals are immediately on the same page of what is required and accepted as a complete product. This eases the research, review, and revision process between all parties through the issuance of title commitments, Table A checklists, and consistent scopes of work. ALTA’s have been used for over 25 years to protect the public and all stakeholders involved in the process of land conveyances and lease agreements. An ALTA survey adds to the total value of the property investment.
Licensed nationally, Westwood’s team of land surveyors can facilitate the ALTA survey process in a very efficient manner. In addition, with the ability to complete the entire due diligence process in-house, we can effectively communicate evidence, documents, zoning reports, etc. between our subject experts to accurately and precisely deliver the relevant information needed to complete our clients’ projects.
Be on the lookout for future information on additional tools to help ensure peace of mind investing.