Breaking it Down: 2021 ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standards

The big day is right around the corner – February 23, 2021 – the effective date for the new version of the ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standard Detail Requirements. Are you prepared? We’ve got you covered with what’s new! Let’s dive in. 

Changes to the Minimum Standards:

  • Section 3.E.1:  Measurement Standards
    • An update has been made to the definition of “Relative Positional Precision”. For the specifics of the update, see the red-line version of the standards linked below. But the important takeaway here is that your ALTA will be as highly precise as ever, or even more so, as ALTA and NSPS work to further define and clarify how we, as a Survey community, determine relative positional precision.
  • Section 4:  Records Research
    • The new standards have clarified responsibilities as to what’s provided to the Surveyor in order to complete an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey including:
      • Current Descriptions
      • Title Commitments
      • Relevant Adjoiner Information
      • Recorded Easements
      • Unrecorded Documents affecting the property (if desired by the client)
  • Section 5.E:  Easements & Servitudes 
    • More specific language has been added regarding utility locations. The primary highlights include:
      • The surveyor must locate and show Utility Locate Markings if they are present on the property at the time of survey – think utility flags and/or paint markings.  
      • Locating utility poles within 10 feet of the surveyed property.
  • Section 6.C.viii:  Easements, Servitudes, Rights of Way, Access, and Documents 
    • Sub section viii has been added as follows:
      • “If, in the process of preparing the survey, the surveyor becomes aware of a recorded easement not otherwise listed in the title evidence provided, the surveyor must advise the insurer prior to delivery of the plat or map and, unless the insurer provides evidence of a release of that easement, show or otherwise explain it on the face of the plat or map, with a note that the insurer has been advised.”
    • This addition makes it clear that the Surveyor is responsible for communicating to Title any recorded easement we find in our process that they may not be already aware of.  

Changes to the Optional Table A Items:

  • Item 10(b): “As designated by the client, a determination of whether certain walls are plumb (client to obtain necessary permissions)”
    • This item has been Eliminated
    • If needed, this can be negotiated under Optional Table A Item number 20, where all miscellaneous or additional items can be added.
  • Item 11:  Underground utilities
    • Under the new standards, a client must now not only choose if they want underground utilities located, but also, how they want them shown on the survey:
      • 11(a):  By plans provided by the client
      • 11(b):  By markings from a private utility locate request coordinated by the surveyor
    • This may be one of the biggest changes when ordering an ALTA. So here’s where to tune in! When selecting Item 11, the client now needs to select not only 11, but also item 11(a) OR 11(b). Make sure you let your surveyor know where the utility information should come from.
  • Item 18: Delineation of Wetlands
    • This item has been Eliminated
  • New Item 18 (formerly 19): Offsite Easements
    • A wording change was made here to clarify. The full change can been seen in the red-line version below, but the takeaway is this:
      • The title company will likely insure an offsite easement affecting the parcel, so from a survey perspective, we (the surveyor) will treat any offsite easement in question the same way we would the subject parcel – completing all relevant survey work (with the exception of setting monumentation).  

Those are the highlights for those of you looking for the reader’s digest version. But for those who get really excited about their surveys (and hey, we don’t blame you – we do too!), here’s a link to the red-line version of the standards so you can see word for word all the changes coming to play in a few short weeks.  

See the red-line version of updates here

Now for the GOOD NEWS … you likely won’t be too impacted by any of these changes when working with us at McSteen. If you’re familiar with our ALTA Surveys, the changes described above are things that we’ve been including in our standard product for quite some time. These updates to the standards made by ALTA and NSPS are in an effort to make sure you’re receiving a universal, standardized product, no matter what surveyor you’ve contracted, nationwide.

Have questions or need something clarified? Our team of Survey professionals would love to help. Contact us today at or (440) 585-9800.

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