The process of acquiring property requires significant research (Due Diligence) and is typically an expensive endeavor. An important Due Diligence tool is procuring an ALTA Survey. This is not a legal requirement; however, it is required if the desire is to have ALTA title insurance coverage for Survey Risks (aka Extended Coverage) and to specifically locate both record and non-record matters that affect the property.
An ALTA survey maps the property’s boundaries, the location of the improvements on the property, including buildings and other structures, fences, utility lines and installations, trails, and roads, etc., and the location of all access, utility and other easements recorded against the property.
Some key elements of an ALTA survey include a.) Identifying and locating improvements such as buildings, fences, etc. (“Improvements”) from neighboring properties that encroach onto the property being acquired; b.) Improvements located on the subject property that encroach onto neighboring properties; c.) Improvements on the subject property that encroach onto existing easements located on the subject property; d.) Existing record easements that may affect the proposed development of the subject property; e.) Potential prescriptive rights that could encumber the property that may have become legally established or accepted by long usage or passage of time – access way, trail, etc. across the subject property that would only be identified as a potential issue by an “on-site” survey (“facts on the ground”).
It is possible to forgo the expense on an ALTA survey if, for example, the preliminary title report does not disclose any easements or other matters of concern for the proposed property acquisition, and a visual inspection does not raise any “red flags” regarding boundary disputes or encroachments. It comes down to weighing the risks associated with not having title insurance coverage for Survey Risks.
I generally recommend proceeding with an ALTA survey as the cost, though not cheap, is worth the additional Title Insurance coverage you can purchase to protect you from very expensive boundary disputes and lawsuits after the acquisition of the subject property.
Blog Written By: Bob Garrison, Director of Consulting Services
Comments or questions? Please feel free to contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org