Minimum Standards Revised for ALTA/NSPS Surveys


Celebrating the festival of Terminalia?

surveyorAmerican Land Title Association and National Society of Professional Surveyors have spent two years working on a new set of minimum standards for surveys. Their efforts resulted in the adoption of new 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys which go into effect on February 23.  The standards can be found here.

A notable change is the title which acknowledges the merger of ASMC with NSPS. The list of atypical interests in real estate has been expanded to clearly include easements. And a surveyor should now be provided with the most recent title commitment. The term “record documents” has been abandoned in favor of referencing documents that are “to be provided to the surveyor”.

A significant change is the new duty of the surveyor to show “the location of each edge of the traveled way”, including divided streets and highways. The 2011 standards required showing the “width and location of the traveled way”. The change will require surveyors to show the width of the dedicated road in addition to the width of the asphalt.

The requirement to show water features has beefed up. Previously, surveyors were required to show springs, ponds, lakes, streams and rivers bordering or running through the property. Now surveyors must also show canals, ditches, marshes and swamps if any are “running through, or outside but within five feet of the perimeter boundary of the surveyed property.”

If a new legal description is prepared, the surveyor must include a note stating that the new description describes the same real estate as the record description, or if it does not, then the surveyor has to explain how the new description differs from the record description.

The surveyor must now show all observable evidence of both easements and utilities on his plat. Previously, there was some confusion as to whether both had to be shown.terminus 2

There are other modifications, most of which will assist surveyors while not diminishing the value of their surveyors to commercial practitioners and title insurers.

What’s the significance of the date? The Roman god Terminus protected boundary markers. The name “Terminus” was the Latin word for boundary marker. On February 23, Roman landowners celebrated a festival called Terminalia in honor of Terminus. Let’s throw a party!

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