ALTA Survey LSU Feed

  • What is a Title Exception or Survey Exception?
    on November 30, 2019 at 12:20 am

    From Thompson Reuters WestLaw, a Survey Exception is… An exception in the title insurance policy that may either be:A general survey exception. This is an exception that the title insurance company includes in a policy if there is no satisfactory survey of the real property described in the policy. The general survey exception excepts from the policy any state of facts that an accurate survey and inspection of the land would show. An exception with a detailed survey reading. This is an exception that the title insurance company includes if there is a current and satisfactory survey of the property described in the policy. The title insurance company reviews the survey and lists any specific encroachments or other problematic survey matters as exceptions to the policy. To avoid any unknown risks that a general survey exception carves out of a title insurance policy, a land survey is usually prepared or updated when purchasing title insurance. If the owner’s or lender’s policy must be issued without a general survey exception, generally a title insurance company must be furnished with an ALTA/NSPS land title survey that shows all existing improvements and is no more than six months old. An older survey may be updated by a surveyor if the title insurance company requires a current survey. Let’s explore what this means to you, the landowner, or purchaser of the property. A recent client was spending $850,000 on a 5 acre parcel of land with a metal building on it. To me, that’s a lot of money. If you’re going to purchase a “Title Insurance Policy” you should understand it. Though, frankly, this is what you hire an Attorney for. THEY should be explaining this, or at least looking out for your interest. “…no satisfactory survey of the real property…” If there is NO survey done of the property, then the Title Insurance company will use this general exception. They except or remove “from the policy any state of facts that an accurate survey and inspection of the land would show.” This means that any property line disputes, legal description problems, any encroachments, a zoning issue, any lack of parking for the intended use, an easement for a needed utility is missing, or other matters. Any number of issues that a Land Surveyor would have found, if you hired a surveyor. So, if they “except,” or remove this from the policy, you are NOT insured for it. You, in essence are insuring yourself against anything a surveyor might find. From Shannon Skinner’s well written “A Practical Guide to Title Review” a couple of relevant points are: After conveying that “much of a real estate lawyer’s effort in closing the transaction is directed to reviewing the state of title,” she follows by saying “Conducting a comprehensive title review is impossible without a current survey of the property.” (emphasis added) In another place, she says “Obtaining extended coverage, even if available without a survey (as it sometimes is for lenders on a risk-underwritten basis) most certainly does not eliminate the need for careful review of a complete and current survey of the property.” I certainly agree with Ms Skinner. A “comprehensive” review should be done. If I’m paying $850,000 for 5 acres of land, you better believe I want a comprehensive review from my attorney, AND I want my Title Insurance policy to cover anything that might come up. So, I’m getting a survey EVERY time. Of course, I’m a surveyor. You may think that my advice is coming from a position of knowing that I make money from the survey. Well, I do make some money if I do the survey. But I don’t do surveyors for everyone. And, my advice is based on my experience from over 30 years working with land and the development and use of it. So, as the commercial says, “I’ve seen a few things.” In another well written article by Attorney Daniel F. Schmeeckle titled “Imperfect Title: A Survey Exception Primer,” we find Essentially, the title company puts the risk of not surveying the property on the insured. The property owner can limit this risk by either obtaining a survey or arranging for the removal of the survey exception. I’ll let Mr. Schmeeckle summarize my article – “Whether you are working with a realtor or purchasing a for sale by owner property, it is important to understand your title insurance policy and the exceptions to coverage. Review your title insurance terms and exceptions to ensure your property is protected. If you have questions about your title insurance policy and what it covers, make sure you call your attorney.” And, I’ll add, call your Surveyor.

  • What is an ALTA Land Survey?
    on September 6, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    ALTA Land Survey An ALTA Land Title Survey is completed based on the “Minimum Standard Detail Requirements and Accuracy Standards For ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.” This ALTA survey standards document was developed and is revised on a regular basis by a combination of Title industry (the American Land Title Association) and Surveying industry (the National Society of Professional Surveyors) professionals. The latest version of this document is the 2016 revision. Call (800) 798-9540 today to discuss your ALTA Survey project, or submit our online ALTA Quote Request & Table A. Download the ALTA Standards: ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards, 2016 Version – PDF version 2016 ALTA Table A – a PDF of Table A for ordering the survey. This must be provided to the surveyor in order to get a quote. Here is an MS Windows .docx Version of Table A. An ALTA Land Survey is generally similar to a boundary or lot survey on a piece of property. But, the ALTA survey goes a little farther in the requirements on the land surveyor as he/she carries out the survey, both in the field and in the office. ALTA Title Surveys are generally used on commercial or multi-family residential sites and also when either the lender or owner is in another state. The ALTA standards are a “national standard” for surveying, intended to yield a consistent survey no matter what state the work is done. Most States have surveying standards, but they vary widely from one to the other. So, the ALTA standards are used to minimize the variation. Call (800) 798-9540 today to discuss your ALTA Survey project, or submit our online ALTA Quote Request & Table A. ALTA Survey Costs Since ALTA Surveys take more time and effort, these surveys typically cost more than a survey done according to a particular state standard. It should be pointed out that if the state standard is more restrictive on a certain point, then the most restrictive standard is required on the survey. I see ALTA surveys priced from 50% to 200% more than a comparable boundary survey. This depends on the items checked in “Table A – Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications.” This table adds additional or specific tasks to the surveyor’s scope of work. One item that is usually included with most all ALTA survey requests is Item #1, monuments placed. Most States’ surveying standards include this and, in my opinion, all surveys should, but the ALTA survey leaves this optional unless the item is checked on Table A.

Renting Survey Equipment vs Buying Survey Equipment


I recently wrote an article for, a neat new way to make money off your unused equipment, and to rent directly from fellow surveyors.

J. Keith Maxwell is a licensed land surveyor and civil engineer, and the owner of, LLC, which helps local surveyors get found on Google, where people are looking for them every day.


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