The American Land Title Association (“ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (“NSPS”) revised the minimum standards for ALTA/NSPS land title surveys (“ALTA Surveys”) in 2016. An ALTA Survey is, in effect, a combination of a boundary survey, an as-built survey, and a title survey. Accepted in all 50 states, an ALTA Survey represents the highest standards in the industry.

Many lenders, attorneys, and commercial real estate buyers will only consider using an ALTA Survey for due diligence decisions relating to an acquisition or mortgage on a parcel of land. Only a professional land surveyor can prepare an ALTA Survey.

A professional land surveyor will also strictly adhere to state laws with regard to completing ALTA Surveys. ALTA Surveys are widely considered to be the most detailed and comprehensive form of a land survey for the commercial real estate market.

Want to learn more about who pays for a land survey? Click here for more information to learn about land surveys. 

ALTA Surveys are performed by trained professionals

worker writing on paper

There are four broad components to an ALTA Survey: research, fieldwork, drafting, and revision. A brief overview of what to expect during the ‘research’ step of the ALTA survey is a more in-depth investigation into private and public records. During the ‘fieldwork’ phase, surveyors identify boundary lines and markers. This step takes the longest and is considered the most challenging, depending on what features are on the land. Once all evidence is collected, surveyors begin drafting an analysis of the data and create a plat/map of the survey with all necessary details. The final revision of the survey will consist of many different additions. For example, if this property is located in a metropolitan area, the information would include parking spaces, access points, building locations, active construction sites, and natural land constructions, including bodies of water or landlocked geography. 

Depending on the complexity of the assignment the entire process can be typically performed in 2 to 3 weeks. When shorter time periods are needed, only larger staffed companies deploying the most recent technology and equipment should be engaged.

Related: Detailed Zoning Reports and ALTA Surveys 

Experience is important when selecting an ALTA surveyor

building a city

While ALTA Surveys are all performed to a very high standard, the amount of experience of the individual surveyor performing your survey can vary widely. For this reason, it is advisable to hire an ALTA surveyor who has extensive knowledge and experience in ALTA Surveys and commercial real estate closings.  Many local land surveyors perform other types of surveying such as residential surveys, construction staking, oil and gas surveying, and may only perform ALTA Surveys on occasion.

Millman National Land Services is a national firm with a local presence. With offices throughout the U.S., we bring local knowledge and experience to your project.

Related: What is a Land Survey and What are Other Types of Surveys? 

ALTA Surveys have strict standards

parking lot

Compared to other types of surveys, like boundary and as-built surveys, ALTA Surveys are required to provide extensive detail that has been determined to be needed by attorneys, title professionals, and lenders. The minimum standard details requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys were last adopted in February of 2016 and require the delineation and notation of the title matters affecting the property, along with many other mandatory and optional items such as:

    • All boundary monuments found during the fieldwork.
    • Rights of way and access to public streets and highways or private ways.
    • Lines of possession and improvements along the boundaries.
    • Buildings on the surveyed property.


  • Easements, Cemeteries, Water Features


  • All observed utilities at the site.
  • Optional items include zoning, flood zone classification, parking count, size and height measurements, underground utilizes, wetland, and offsite easements.

Millman National Land Services provides ALTA Surveys and Zoning Compliance Reports to clients nationwide, including REITs, private equity firms, law firms, and developers. We retain our own staff of surveyors to ensure impeccably high standards, and we invite your inquiries and questions.

Are you unsure if an ALTA Survey is right for you? Contact Millman National Land Services to learn more about  ALTA Land Surveys.