ALTA Survey

5 Tips: ALTA Surveys and Table A Items

Sep. 19 2019

From Acquisition to Disposition, the real estate due diligence process has a lot of moving parts. Add in an ALTA Survey and a few Table A Items and you've possibly stirred up some confusion. 

Utilities, Wetlands, Easements, Encroachments, and Setbacks. Oh My!

You know an ALTA Survey will show any encroachments or title issues on the property. Great. What are Table A Items? Table A is an important, optional piece of the ALTA Survey process providing additional items beyond the normal boundary information. Which ones should you choose for your transaction? 

Simplify your ALTA Survey process. Clarify when and why you need Table A items. Get our take.

#1: If you want Utilities shown on a survey, do you need to select Table A Item 11?

Our Take: We typically recommend Table A Item 11 only if construction will take place.

Why: When the ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standard Detail Requirements were revised in 2016*, the requirement to locate above ground evidence of utilities was moved into the base standards and is now required on all ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys. In addition to above ground evidence, if a client wants underground utilities marked and shown they must now select Table A Item 11.

*ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standards are updated every 5 years. Updates are not expected until 2021.

#2: Will all Wetlands be shown on the survey if Table A Item 18 is requested?

Our Take: Wetlands can only be shown on a survey if a field delineation has been conducted by a certified wetland specialist hired by the client.

Why: If Table A Item 18 is requested and a field delineation has not been performed, then a note stating such must be placed on the survey.

#3: Should Table A Item 19 be selected to depict Appurtenant Easements?

Our Take: The latest version of the ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standard Detail Requirements states that all easements benefiting the property will be depicted.

Why: Table A Item 19 requires that those easements also be surveyed on the ground. This is typically not necessary (and usually costs more).

#4: Does the surveyor determine Encroachments?

Our Take: The surveyor cannot express a legal opinion.

Why: Although surveyors can make a statement about possible encroachments such as improvements located across boundaries, the surveyor cannot express a legal opinion regarding ownership or otherwise allowed encroachments.

#5Should the survey always depict Building Setback lines?

Our Take: Table A Item 6(b) does state that the surveyor shall graphically depict the setback lines (if provided in a zoning report).

Why: Table A Item 6(b) specifies that the surveyor can only do so if it does not require an interpretation by the surveyor. Such interpretations might be:

  • Which property line is considered by the jurisdiction as front, side, and rear
  • Setbacks have multiple “overlay” districts with conflicting setback requirements

Want to Know More?

Get 5 more tips with examples and answers based on over 30 years of experience from our Professional Land Surveyors (PLS)Download your ALTA Survey and Table A Tip Sheet today!

Download ALTA Survey Tip Sheet

Table of contents