What is an ALTA Survey?

ramaker insights

What is an ALTA Survey?

civil engineering

What is an ALTA Survey?


When dealing with zoning codes and land use, thoroughness and knowledge of up-to-date requirements are key to making sure your property transactions proceed smoothly. That’s why ALTA surveys have become a standard—and often required—form of surveying.  

ALTA surveys strictly follow the national requirements established by both the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). With these standards in place, ALTA surveys provide title insurance companies, buyers, lenders, developers, designers, and attorneys with peace of mind when moving forward with commercial real estate transactions and vacant land purchases. 

In this post, we explain everything you need to know about ALTA surveys. What are they? Why do they matter? And when do you need them?  

What’s the difference between ALTA surveys and boundary surveys? 


The main thing that separates ALTA surveys from other boundary surveys is that ALTA surveys respond to a highly specific set of requirements determined by ALTA and NSPS. These standards act as a reference for all parties involved in commercial real estate or vacant land purchases.  

ALTA surveys combine aspects of boundary surveys, title surveys, and existing conditions surveys to help buyers and lenders avoid liabilities related to boundary disputes, encroachments, and easements—or claims of easements—for commercial property and other land purchases. For this reason, it’s important for engineers and licensed surveyors to achieve the highest possible levels of precision. 

What is an ALTA Survey?

What does the result look like?


Finished surveys will present an accurate parcel map and detail existing aspects and observations of a property with the licensed surveyor’s findings. These results can answer questions regarding property boundaries, easements and exceptions, and coverage in the title commitment. They’ll also give interested parties necessary information about utilities and public access. 

Finally, ALTA surveys allow decision-makers to negotiate with the land surveyor and explore optional Table A items, which can provide information about their property relating to zoning, flood hazards, topography, parking, and more.  

Why ALTA surveys matter 


For starters, ALTA surveys are often required by title insurance companies and lenders as part of the transaction process for purchasing or refinancing properties. It’s easy to see why. ALTA surveys help buyers avoid liabilities concerning boundaries. Without this type of survey, new property owners could be liable for problems ranging from boundary line disputes and encroachments to easements—or claims of easements—that were not publicly recorded.  

ALTA surveys are also an integral part of keeping properties up to date with zoning ordinances and compliances. This due diligence service protects property owners, even when policies change.  

In short, ALTA surveys give decision-makers and financial institutions the information they need before conducting real estate transactions or refinancing properties.  


Professional surveyors in Wisconsin 


Whether you’re planning to buy, sell, or broker an agreement, ALTA surveys are a necessary component of modern commercial real estate transactions. Need a reliable ALTA surveying partner who can protect you from potential liabilities? Request an ALTA survey from Ramaker here.

Our team of licensed surveyors offers years of ALTA surveying experience and is dedicated to helping you assess properties of interest, protect investments, and add value.  

What is an ALTA Survey?
A photo of Eric Kaul


Service Group Leader — Aquatics, Civil, Surveying

Eric’s career at Ramaker began in the Land Surveying department while he attended college for his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Now, Eric helps lead the ACS team.


Surveying Manager — Aquatics, Civil, Surveying

Jim contributes more than 15 years of land surveying and civil engineering experience. His specialty lies in managing the land survey field and design teams. Jim’s expertise includes ALTA surveys, Certified Survey Maps (CSM), and plat of surveys for telecommunications sites.

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