Understanding ALTA Requirements at Closing
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
An American Land Title Association (ALTA) Survey is a boundary survey that shows improvements, easements, rights-of-way, and other elements impacting the ownership of land. There are two main reasons you need to obtain an ALTA survey. The first is to satisfy the title insurer’s requirements for the issuance of the ALTA title insurance coverage for survey risks. Secondly, an ALTA survey specifically locates both record and non-record matters that affect the property. These can be critical decision points as you evaluate whether you want to move forward, or on what terms to proceed with the property acquisition or investment. In 2011, newly adopted regulations changed the way zoning information is reported on ALTA Surveys, however, additional legislation is being passed to require more robust zoning review as it pertains to survey, title, and lending requirements.
Prior to 2011, ALTA Surveys were prepared by a Professional Land Surveyor who would perform property research with the zoning authority and then report this information as part of the survey. However, in 2011, the American Land Title Association together with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping adopted the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements, which changed the way the information is shared on the survey. Per these new requirements in order for the zoning information to appear on the survey the insurer, which is the title company, must provide the information to the surveyor. However, since the adoption of the new standards, it is rare that title companies (the insurer) actually provides this information. In most cases, the surveyor is provided with a copy of a zoning report and/or a zoning letter from a third-party zoning company and then states the source of the information.
Zoning Research Group (ZRG) was formed in response to this legislative change. We specifically developed a more sophisticated and robust approach to third-party zoning review by requiring our zoning analysts be certified planners and/or zoning inspectors. You can learn more about why that is important here.
All this has an impact the closing process, and hiring a well-qualified, third-party zoning consultant is the key to making sure your ALTA survey includes the critical information necessary to protect your potential investment. When you retain ZRG, the only certified third-party zoning consultant, at the onset of the project will ensure an efficient and low-risk closing.