A land title survey is a thorough survey of real property performed by licensed professional land surveyors. Lenders typically order the survey for title insurance purposes. Also, they are essential for real estate transactions and are also called ALTA or ALTA/NSPS surveys.
These surveys must meet strict requirements instituted by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). Today, ALTA/NSPS land title surveys can be delivered more accurately and faster than ever, thanks to streamlined research methods and cutting-edge technology.
What Is the Difference Between a Boundary Survey and a Land Title Survey?
A boundary survey, also referred to as a mortgage survey, is used to examine a property’s boundaries. It typically includes possible encroachments and improvements like buildings, and roads.
A boundary survey is needed for anyone purchasing, improving upon, or subdividing land. They help establish a property’s perimeter and ensure it matches the legal description.
Boundary surveys often lack the detail level required for a commercial lender or real estate purchaser to evaluate the property thoroughly; therefore, you may need an ALTA/NSPS land title survey.
An ALTA survey is more comprehensive than a mortgage survey and includes a combination of a boundary, location, and title surveys with information including:
- Utility easements
- Perimeter measurements
- Roads, right of ways, trails, fences,
- Building location and improvements and other features that may impact property ownership
A land title survey will also show zoning classification, means of accessing the property, and flood zone classification.
Furthermore, a land title survey goes above and beyond a boundary survey’s physical markers by including research records to make sure the title is clear. This helps highlight and prevent issues ahead of title insurance requirements and the land changing hands.
What Is the Main Purpose of a Land Title Survey?
An ALTA/NSPS land title survey is required to protect the buyer and lender in a commercial real estate purchase. Land title surveys are performed by a registered professional land surveyor and used by lenders prior to granting a loan and title insurance agencies before issuing title insurance.
Lenders Require a Land Title Survey
Title insurance may be necessary to obtain a commercial property mortgage. Lenders require insurance to protect their interests if there’s ever a title dispute. Title insurance can’t be issued until a land title survey is conducted on the property.
A Land Title Safeguards You as a Property Investor
An ALTA survey can ultimately protect you as an investor by potentially uncovering details that may demonstrate the land purchase would not be in your best interest.
How Does Your Lender Review a Land Title Survey?
Performing your due diligence is crucial when investing in a property. An ALTA survey provides you and your team of professionals a clear document outlining right-of-way, easements, and improvements that may impact your use of the property.
It also ensures that any issues are identified, reviewed, and addressed. Your lender will likely require a land title survey to protect its interests from adverse claims that didn’t appear in a title search.
Generally, when reviewing your ALTA/NSPS survey documents, your lender will take a closer look at five areas of concern:
If your lender orders a land title survey, they will likely want your surveyor to draft a legal property description. This way, your lender can compare your surveyor’s legal description with the details in the title commitment (or title binder).
If the legal descriptions don’t match up, there may be an issue or dispute that needs to be examined closer.
Easements and Rights
Your lender may need to study rights of way and easements to decide if they benefit or encumber the property.
Specific rights of way, easements, and their locations may impact how you plan to use your property. Therefore, comparing and contrasting survey easements with the easements recorded as exceptions in the title commitment is also crucial. This will help affirm that all exception easements are shown on the land title survey.
Your lender should use your ALTA survey to decide if there’s an encroachment related to your land. An encroachment is common and happens when one property’s improvement overlaps another or overlaps an easement.
To cure this issue, you may need to obtain an easement grant. Yet, some property encroachments may be difficult and expensive to remedy.
Your lender will use a land title survey to determine if there are setback violations for property improvements. An ALTA/NSPS survey will demonstrate setback requirements per the property’s local zoning ordinance.
If the improvements on the property are closer to the property line than the zoning ordinance permits, a setback violation is indicated against the current owner.
As with an encroachment, a setback violation can usually be resolved with a simple cure, like the local government issuing a variance. Or it may require a complicated and expensive remedy (i.e., demolishing the building that violates the setback requirement.
Finally, your lender may utilize the land title survey to establish how you, as the purchaser or owner, will access the property. An ALTA document shows the surveyed property along with surrounding land or property and will assist the lender in figuring out whether you have dedicated roadway access.
If your property is landlocked, you won’t have a legal route to access your land. If this is the case, your lender will likely insist that you purchase an easement for entering and exiting your property. You will have to do this before your transaction closes.
Contact Scalice Land Surveying for a Free Quote
If you’re purchasing a new property or need an up-to-date land title survey, contact Scalice Land Surveying for a free quote. Our experienced teams can perform ALTA/NSPS land title surveys on time and within budget with total transparency. Along with our easy-to-read surveys, you’ll receive:
- Continual status updates via email
- Monthly account receivables
- Weekly quote reports
And if you have questions regarding items on your land title survey, please contact our friendly experts at Scalice Land Surveying. We pride ourselves on friendly customer service. To learn more, contact us today!