An ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is the standard for just about all commercial real estate transactions that involve title insurance. These comprehensive surveys are boundary surveys prepared to a set of minimum standards that have been jointly prepared by the American Land Title Associated (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) to meet the specific needs of Title Insurers.

10 Reasons for ALTA/NSPS Surveys in Commercial Real Estate

In addition to Title Insurers, ALTA/NSPS surveys are indispensable to Lenders, Buyers, Sellers, or anyone that desires to have a clear understanding of some of the benefits or risks that are associated with a commercial land transaction.

Some of the information that can be provided by these surveys include:

  • Professional Survey Based on a Title Report: Exceeding a standard boundary survey, key elements of the ownership and history of the property are identified through a Title Report with relevant portions addressed on the face of the survey.
  • Matters of Record Affecting the Property: Another key element that the Title Report provides are encumbrances of record affecting the property such as easements, servitudes, and agreement. These matters are addressed on the face of the survey giving the investor valuable insight into current and future property usage.
  • Non-Record Matters: Non-Record Matters such as encroachments can be a serious consequence when purchasing property, especially if discovered after the transaction has taken place. During the field survey AEI inspects for these potential issues and clearly notes them of the face of the survey.
  • Physical Improvements: A detailed depiction of surface Improvements is presented including, but not limited to Building Dimensions with Square Footage, Parking Areas, Surface Utilities, Retention Ponds, and Roadway Access Points
  • Areas Under Construction or Undergoing Earth Moving Activity: Any areas undergoing active construction and earth moving actives could impact occupation and use plans. These areas are clearly identified on the face of the survey.
  • Land Area: Land areas presented in tax records and even deeds at times may not be accurate leading to costly mistakes. Area based on a current survey is the only way to know for sure.
  • Flood Zone Determination: Buying Property in a Special Flood Hazard (SFHA) can be a costly proposition. Having this identified up front on is essential to any real estate transaction.
  • Zoning Determination and Delineation: Zoning is another area that may severely impact current and future property use plans. AEI’s in-house Zoning Reporting combined with delineation on the face of the survey can remove this concern.
  • Base Topography for Conceptual Use: Current Topography is essential for any planned or future development activities or if you just need to have a better understanding of the lay of the land. AEI can provide base level topography for conceptual use right on the face of the survey.
  • Photographic Overlay: A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. AEI can provide a current orthophoto overlay (aerial photo properly scaled to remove distortions) so you have an immediate understanding of current conditions.

Other Types of Land Surveys

In addition to ALTA Surveys, AEI offers the following services specifically tailored to Commercial Real Estate:

  • FEMA Flood Elevation Certificates: Flood insurance is costly and not having enough information about a flood zone could even be costlier. A Flood Elevation Certificate is an Instrument to aid an investor in having a more thorough understanding of potential risks associated with Special Flood Hazards Areas.  In some cases, it can be used to request Letters of Map Amendment, potentially reducing insurance costs and increasing property value.
  • FEMA Letters of Map Amendment: Due to scale or topographic limitations in source maps used to prepare a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), small areas may be inadvertently shown within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) despite being on natural ground and above the one-percent-annual-chance flood elevation. These “inadvertent inclusions” can be removed through Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or fill process (LOMA-F). AEI handles field work and paperwork for these Letters.

3 ALTA/NSPS Survey Combos to Take Advantage Of:

Are you a commercial real estate stakeholder looking to streamline your due diligence process? If so, you may want to consider these three due diligence combos: 

#1 ALTA/NSPS Survey, Zoning Reports, ESA Phase 1, Property Condition Assessment:

This powerhouse ALTA/NSPS combo lays out the land details, while Zoning Reports ensure the property complies with local regulations. The ESA Phase 1 identifies environmental risks, and the Property Condition Assessment gauges the health and lifecycle of physical assets.

#2 ALTA/NSPS Survey, Property Condition Assessment, ESA Phase 1:

This trifecta combines the foundational property insights from the ALTA/NSPS Survey with a deep dive into the property’s structural and environmental condition. Together, they provide a 360-degree view of a property’s potential value, risks, and liabilities.

#3 ALTA/NSPS Survey, Property Condition Assessment, Valuation:

Pairing the ALTA/NSPS Survey with a Property Condition Assessment gives stakeholders a clear image of the property’s boundaries and physical status. The addition of Valuation ensures they understand the property’s worth in the current market.

Or make your own ALTA/NSPS combo to satisfy your CRE due diligence checklist!

Getting Started with ALTA/NSPS Surveys with AEI:

Getting started with ALTA/NSPS Surveys is easy! All you need to do is reach out to our licensed surveyors and provide them with the necessary information about your property. They will guide you through the process and ensure that all the required standards and specifications are met for an accurate and reliable survey. Let’s dive into the process:

Meet the Team:

  • Project Manager
  • Field Techs
  • CAD Techs
  • Researcher
  • Licensed Surveyors

Documents Needed (For Transactional Purposes)

  • Current Title Commitment / Preliminary Title Report – Typically within 90 days
  • Type of Lender – Agency, SBA
  • Closing Timeframe – Revision timing
  • Barriers to Site Entry
  • All Maps/Plats/Deeds as Mentioned in the Legal Description
  • All Underlying Documents Listed from the Schedule BII Exception List – On average there will be 4-6 exceptions a surveyor will need to review and address.
  • A Completed Table A Optional List
  • Certification Requests

ALTA/NSPS Process at a Glance:

  • Research and Logistics: Research includes items not provided such as tax maps or Record of Surveys, FEMA (flood) information, and adjoining property owner names
  • Field Work: Surveyor to locate, determine, or reestablish the perimeters, division lines, or boundaries of property.
  • CAD Work: Upload information from the field and provide it to the CAD Tech. CAD tech also reviews the exceptions in the title commitment listed in Schedule BII items.
  • Internal Review Period: If comments are made by staff, CAD tech will address.
  • Due Date: Delivery to client

Experience the AEI Difference

With over 30 years of experience in various aspects of Commercial Real Estate and a hard focus on the industry, AEI is the partner you want helping you with this decision. At AEI, we combine our expansive reach with regional insights, offering local solutions for your commercial real estate needs. Our deep regulatory knowledge and tailored bundles simplify and streamline your CRE journey. Have ALTA/NSPS questions or other due diligence needs? We can help. Let’s connect! Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving your CRE goals.