What is an ALTA/NSPS Survey & How is it Used?


When it comes to land deals, such as real estate transactions, development and more, a key part of due diligence is to have a standard format for the various parties to evaluate the investment. While there are a variety of land surveys available, an ALTA/NSPS Survey provides a standard base that all parties recognize. Parties include owner, attorney, developer, engineer, lender, and title company. Furthermore, with the USA recognized standard format for ALTA/NSPS Surveys, the survey can also be used for design, as-built and construction loans.bhcRhodes_april2015_048

Ownership of land is a significant part of modern civilization that has roots back to the ancient Egyptians. When it comes to land surveying, one method that people are often familiar with is a boundary survey. These types of surveys are used to show property lines and easements and are generally recommended when buying, improving, or building upon a parcel of land to help identify any issues that can lead to boundary disputes.

For commercial and other transactions, there is a necessity for a standard format detailed survey known as an ALTA/NSPS Survey. ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and NSPS stands for National Society of Professional Surveyors. An ALTA/NSPS Survey includes a boundary survey and includes additional relevant detail such as improvements and must uphold national standards set by both ALTA and NSPS. Beyond national standards, each state also maintains their own Minimum Survey Standards, the professional surveyor is required to use whichever is the more rigorous survey standards. Because of the detail of an ALTA survey, it is necessary that surveyors uphold the more stringent of the standards, whether that be state or national.

bhcRhodes_april2015_045ALTA/NSPS Surveys show necessary details such as property boundaries, easements, rights-of-way, and other factors that impact land ownership. This level of detail and knowledge is often required by lending institutions and title companies when purchasing real estate or refinancing. For that reason, an ALTA survey is most commonly used with commercial real estate transactions due to the value of the investment needed for commercial development.

2016 NSPS Standard Updates

Every five years, on February 23rd, the ALTA/NSPS standards are updated. Updates were released on February 23, 2016 and will be again on February 23, 2021. Beyond just being a consistent date, February 23rd also has historical roots that can be traced all the way back to the ancient Roman festival, Terminalia which honored Terminus, the God of Boundaries.

In this helpful video from GeoLearn, Gary Kent (Chair of NSPS ALTA/NSPS committee) talks through what has changed in the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

As-Built ALTA Survey

An ALTA/NSPS Survey can be completed at a variety of stages of a development to support a construction loan. When completed at the end of a project it is known as an as-built ALTA/NSPS. An as-built ALTA/NSPS can be used for several reasons, such-as a request by lenders to protect assets or local municipalities to verify compliance. This is also an effective way to document any variations from engineering plans to the built structure. As-Builts are generally done after an improvement has been made to a piece of property that may change the monetary value. This process carefully documents the size and location of any improvements, which would be beneficial to future development on the property.

ALTA/NSPS Surveys are a great way to coordinate due diligence efforts when acquiring commercial real estate. It is a base component of the due diligence process that identifies unknowns or issues that may devalue, restrict the use of a property or halt the transaction or development. Likewise, lenders use this type of survey to ensure the value of the property, that it is zoned correctly, and compliant with that Zone.

Our Dedication to Surveying

BHC RHODES is home to one of the largest land records library in the Kansas City metro area and offers comprehensive surveying services to meet the needs of our customers. Our team is dedicated to surveying and mapping with over fifty years of knowledge and experience in the field. We pride ourselves on our “No Problem” customer service pledge which helps you get your deal done. Learn more about our services and contact us.

Brooke Lickey

Brooke Lickey Marketing Coordinator

very informative, thanks.

ALTA/NSPS Land title Surveys because of the set standards allows the parties involved in the transaction to compare apples with apples.


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