New ALTA Survey Standards Effective February 23, 2016

Changes to the American Land Title Association/American Congress on Surveying and Mapping survey (commonly referred to as an ALTA/ACSM Survey in contracts) standard details requirements go into effect on February 23, 2016. This is an important change that individuals and businesses involved in commercial real estate transactions must be aware of.

ALTA Surveys are important to commercial real estate transactions because they will be required by title companies to insure title to land without exception to the extent such is possible. ALTA Surveys assist in discovering matters that might not be evidenced by the public records.

Parties to a commercial real estate contract should make sure that the contract language refers to the proper survey. Under the 2016 standards, the survey is now referred to as an “ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey.” NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors) is the legal successor organization to the ACSM. Thus, contract language should make certain to correctly reference the required survey. Likewise, the contract should specify that the 2016 minimum standard detail requirements are required to avoid any confusion or room for contradicting interpretations.

Drafting and negotiating your commercial real estate contract to accommodate this change will help avoid potential misunderstandings or errors due to vagueness in contract language. Doing so may prevent costly mistakes such as ordering an incorrect initial survey and then being forced to order a second, more expensive ALTA Survey. Such an error could also impact contract deadlines and raise the risk of a contractual default.