Understanding the ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Table “A”

 · 
February 2, 2024
 · 
3 min read
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One of the more common types of surveys we do at Howell Surveying is what is called an ALTA (American Land Title Association)/NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors) survey, which is often required by lenders for commercial real estate transactions, as well as use in future land development projects. Without going into detail, the ALTA/NSPS Survey identifies easements and restrictions on the property(s) as well as potential encroachments on both the boundary of the property and, in some cases, building and zoning setbacks.

Most often, when someone calls me on the phone about an ALTA/NSPS Survey that I have not worked with in the past, my first question is, "What are the Table "A" lender requirements?" A good 50% of the time, there is a long pause, and finally, the question is, "What is Table "A?" and "I do not know my lender's requirements."

I tell clients to think of Table "A" as an ala carte menu of items that need to be shown on the ALTA/NSPS plan. Most lenders have their own specific requirements, and this list of 20 items can add a significant amount of time and cost depending on what is required! You can view the Table A items by clicking the link below:

2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys 

For example, let's say that a lender has item #5 selected, then you are looking at site wide topography, which generally is a significant add in cost to the project. Or perhaps the lender requires 6A and 6B, which are zoning-related items; these items are a double whammy to the client! Not only do these items add to the cost of the ALTA/NSPS Survey, but with the zoning-related items, it is the responsibility of the client to provide the surveyor with either a zoning or PZR report as zoning determinations are no longer the responsibility of the surveyor to determine.

For one last example, let's use item 11B, the surveyor or client subcontracting a private utility service to mark the underground utilities on site. Not only does this add a chunk of change to the cost of the ALTA/NSPS Survey, but it requires all kinds of additional coordination to make sure that the utility markouts are done before the fieldwork is conducted. On the flip side, you also have to make sure that the fieldwork is done before that next weather event with rain or snow. So often there are very small windows of time to complete what needs to happen in the field!

Finally, I get to the biggest reason this is so important and has caused more headaches for surveyors and clients alike: making assumptions! This pertains to clients and surveyors alike and can very often be avoided if discussed upfront. Most companies will have their own standard Table "A" items that they will do on all of their ALTA/NSPS surveys and will generally do this if there are no provided client or lender requirements.

What you don't want to happen is the day before closing to find out that your lender requires something listed on the Table "A" that was not discussed before the contract is finalized between the client and surveyor. This turns into a last-minute fire drill for everyone involved, and it is almost always the client who feels the pain and endures the costs of this. Some items can require last-minute trips to the field, last-minute drafting revisions, the client begging the lender to waive one of their requirements, or worse, the delay in closing because there is simply no budging by a lender for one reason or another. Most often, the latter does not happen, but I have certainly seen every one of these scenarios play out more than I care to mention.

So, if you have any questions about ALTA/NSPS surveys, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Howell Surveying to discuss your project with one of our Licensed Professional Surveyors and alleviate some of the last-minute surprises before they happen.

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