ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and its members are major title insurance companies and title agencies across the United States. ACSM stands for American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and its members are surveyors, cartographers and photogrammatrists. In the 1980's both groups jointly formulated standards for companies purchasing commercial properties. The standards established in the 1980's are continually revised to reflect the current standards that we have for ALTA surveying across the United States. Since these two member organizations agreed on ALTA standards, the client and/or title company is assured that the survey will be in accordance with these standards whenever an ALTA survey is requested.

The surveyor will identify the location of all improvements to the property lines along with a summary of how the physical property line matches the existing deed of record or the report contained in the title commitment. It should also be noted that in the ALTA survey, the surveyor will normally show any easements, building setback lines and if the structure or improvements are located inside any of these encumbrances. The data that must be shown on the survey includes boundary lines, location of the main building including improvements, location of ancillary buildings and the identification of easements (access rights by service companies such as water, gas, telephone, railways and other utilities). ALTA surveys are very complex and can take weeks to complete. For that reason most ALTA surveys are performed only on commercial properties.