ALTA Surveys: How to Avoid Delays When Engaging a Surveyor

When engaging a Surveyor to provide an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, the orderer should consider several items to guaranty receipt of a quality survey that meets their needs and delivers on-time.

Per Section 2 of the Minimum Standard Detail Requirement for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys, the client must provide written authorization to proceed to identify complete contact information for the party responsible for paying for the survey to the surveyor. A surveyor typically provides a written proposal outlining the scope of services and the timing for performance. Often, a written acknowledgment of the proposal identifying the paying party is enough for the surveyor to begin work. The client should verify the proposed scope of service in the proposal to be sure their requirements and the requirements of all transaction parties have been included.  There should also be a clear understanding of the delivery time. Does the surveyor quote calendar days or business days?  Do they take any exception to holidays? When reviewing the proposal, the ordering party should request the surveyor’s insurance coverages for general liability, workmen’s compensation, and professional liability insurance, if applicable.

Instructions for the Ordering Party

The ordering party should also consider that by authorizing the surveyor, they are granting permission to the surveyor and their crews to be on the subject property. Frequently, the ordering party is not the owner or occupant of the subject property and therefore is responsible for and must seek out this permission. The client should be prepared to provide the surveyor with the name of a contact on-site who is aware that a survey is being performed. For a buy/sell transaction, employees on the property may be unaware of a pending deal, and the surveyor should not show up unannounced and cause alarm. The best way to avoid this is getting the contact information to the surveyor who, in turn, should not speak with anyone besides the contact person. If another employee on the site approaches a surveyor, they should direct any questions to the contact or advise that they are updating the company’s real estate records. On occasion when surveying industrial properties, a surveyor may need to complete safety training to access certain portions of the property or may need to be escorted. The site contact would advise accordingly. Also note that if Optional Table A Items 10 or 19 are included in the scope of service, the client is responsible for securing access for any adjoining applicable properties.

Another essential item is securing delivery of the current title commitment or report along with the underlying documents on which the survey is to be based as soon as possible. The earlier the surveyor receives these documents can assist in avoiding any late delivery of the survey.

Optional Items

If Optional Table A Item 6a, 6b are to be addressed in the survey, the client must provide to the surveyor a zoning report and/or zoning letter as soon as practicable. Item 18 requires the client to have any wetlands on the property delineated before the survey so the surveyor can then report the marked limits of the wetlands as determined by others.

These matters, when considered at the time of engagement, should help avoid any eleventh-hour surprises, miscommunications, or delays in delivery.