An ALTA Survey is the “Gold Standard” of land surveys, performed to nationally recognized standards as adopted by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

This survey delineates the property boundary and includes the location of all-above ground property improvements, including buildings, structures, fences, parking facilities and roadways. It also includes the location of all access, utility and other easements of record as identified in the current title commitment falling within the property.

Why Is an ALTA Survey Needed?

The title company requires an ALTA Survey when it is asked to issue extended coverage over the “standard survey exception for commercial and industrial properties.” Typical wording for this exception is “Claims of parties in possession, boundary line disputes, overlaps, encroachments and any other matters not shown by the public records which would be disclosed by an accurate survey and inspection of the property.”

Once the title company receives an acceptable ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, it will waive the standard survey exception and identify the specific items in their title commitment as discovered by the survey.

Compass performs the following steps in the preparation of each ALTA Survey:

Research ׀ We extensively research public and private survey records, including recorded subdivisions, deeds, and easement documents for both the subject property and adjoining properties.

Field Work ׀ Our skilled field technicians diligently search for property corners. They locate and measure all monumentation on site as well as on adjoining properties, including additional boundary evidence such as fences and improvements. Our technicians also field-locate and map all site improvements such as buildings, walks, drives, parking and visible utilities.

Boundary Resolution ׀ Our experienced land surveyors sort through all measurements, weigh all evidence and develop a defensible opinion concerning the location of the boundary lines. They apply boundary-law principles to arrive at the location that represents the land boundary as established by the original surveyor.

Set Property Corners ׀ Guided by a professional land surveyor, our experienced field technicians return to the site to set missing property corners, mark existing ones, and locate and measure fences and improvements near these locations.

Analyze Title Commitment ׀ We analyze all legal descriptions, subdivision plats, roadway dedications and easement documents per the title commitment, identifying those that affect the property and those that do not.

Prepare Plat ׀ Led by our land surveying experts, our CAD technicians produce a detailed plat showing the record and measured land boundary, all site improvements, off-site neighboring improvements within 5 feet of property boundary lines, all site improvements and all survey-related encumbrances as disclosed by the title commitment. The survey also shows all Table A items per our agreement. The plat is certified to the parties as designated by the client in accord with the 2021 ALTA Survey Standards.

Nearly completed construction site

How Is an ALTA Survey Fee Calculated?

ALTA Survey fees are determined by the following factors:

Complexity of the legal description

  • Is it a metes and bounds or “sectionalized” description?
  • Are there multiple land parcels?

Property size

  • Is the property one acre or 100 acres?


  • Is the property over 20 miles away from our office?

Site conditions

  • Is the property a swamp?
  • Is the property heavily wooded?
  • Is the property under construction?
  • Are any of the boundary lines a river, railroad or interstate?
  • Is the property heavily developed with site improvements or utilities?

Weather conditions

  • Are there snow piles in parking areas?

Number of Table A items

  • Did you include only those items needed?

Expedited time frames

  • Was enough time allowed to perform the survey?


  • Was there recent roadway construction or utility construction?

Compass can provide you with a lump-sum fee or “not to exceed” budget for your project. Our usual turnaround is 3-4 weeks from authorization; however, we can expedite our work to accommodate your schedule.

Sunstar hearquarters

How to Order an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey

Ordering an ALTA Survey has the following requirements:

  • Your timeframe or schedule
  • Optional Table A items as required by the terms of the real estate sales contract
  • The parties the land title survey will be certified to
  • A copy of the current title commitment, including survey-related Schedule B documents (if you don’t have a title commitment, we can help you procure one – just ask us how)

ALTA Surveys for Land Development

ALTA Surveys can also be combined with topographic surveys to create an accurate, comprehensive base map that shows all natural and man-made features along with property lines, restrictions, easements, and existing elevations, contours and drainage. Civil engineers and architects use this “comprehensive existing conditions” survey for the site design for proposed land development projects.

An ALTA Survey is vital to land development projects. It eliminates the risks associated with inaccurate property line locations and unforeseen easements that can adversely impact project budgets and schedules.

To further discuss the land survey service your project needs, contact us at (630) 820-9100 today to speak with a Compass professional.

Download 2021 version Table A

Download 2021 ALTA/NSPS Standards