View Full Version : ALTA Surveys & ExpressMap by First American Title
Michael J Foley
01-15-2003, 09:06 AM
December 2002 ACSM Government Affairs Update received on 1/14/03 by MJF as follows:
"Lately, there has been increasing dialog among the surveying community regarding a product called ExpressMap that is being offered by First American Title. The product is being touted as an alternative to the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey. It appears that the basic premise is, in selected instances, title insurance underwriters do not need an ALTA/ACSM survey in order to make decisions regarding survey matters.
ACSM has reviewed the promotional materials found at www.fatcoboundaries.com and has compiled comments and questions regarding ExpressMap that it intends to send to First American. The state surveying societies have been notified of this, and will receive a copy of the correspondence when it is completed.
Readers are encouraged to review the promotional materials for ExpressMap and contact Curt Sumner (firstname.lastname@example.org) at ACSM headquarters with their comments."
01-16-2003, 06:06 AM
I sent the following to Curt Sumner at ACSM. I'm sure that there are many more items.
After reviewing their web site, I have the following observations:
1. How will they determine building square footages from an aerial photograph? How will they account for building overhangs and building notch outs?
2. How do they establish the boundary without a field visit and found monumentation?
3. How do they relate their "boundary" to the aerial photograph, which has no exact scale (or even an approximate one) due to no ground control being utilized?
4. They are practicing Land Surveying in every State that I am aware of. Who signs and certifies anything, even if it's only a document to be used internally?
5. They are offering to prepare Constraints Maps. That would not just be for internal use. The client will rely on this map and will assume that it was prepared by a Land Surveyor licensed in their state or not be aware that it should be.
6. From their web site, I gather that all the ExpressMap work will take place in Arroyo Grande, California. They are offering this service throughout the U.S. Do the have Land Surveyors licensed in in each and every state that they are practicing in?
7. Where are the independant checks involved to protect the public?
8. An observation: They seem ready to accept this slop while still holding our feet to the fire every chance that they get. Is this a double standard or what?
9. A new one... Who's building an Empire???
Jim Langone RLS PE
01-23-2003, 05:27 AM
Just took a quick glance through the ExpressMap site.
I'm NOT SAYING I AGREE WITH what they are doing, and it "definitely" could be viewed as something that it isn't, but I'm not really sure that it does anything more than provide what a title company offers under the terms of a typical "standard coverage" policy (which isn't much), except that it's "graphic", rather than in a "text" format. Considering the availablility of GIS (not saying that boundaries depicted in these systems are correct), it's not to hard to see where the idea came from.
It says (paraphrasing) that it "costs" less than a typical ALTA...but it doesn't really say that it can be "substituted" FOR an ALTA (where one is required...by a lender or buyer) and I didn't see anything that actually said that the title company is willing to provide the "same coverage" as with an (actual) ALTA.
This is strictly opinion: There is this type of "document" which exists (not in CA.) called "Mortgage Inspections" (or Mortgage Surveys), most of which (at least the ones I've seen anyway) aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Boundaries aren't really "retraced", they tend to be "represented"..based on what can be accomplished in 20-30 minutes (maybe slightly over estimated) and most have some kind of waiver of minimum standards included in their certifications. I find them filed as "Plats-of-Survey"...mostly on residential stuff.
It may be that this ExpressMap thing is replacing something like that. As I said, they aren't worth a tinkers damn anyway and having some idiot put his signature and seal on them doesn't do the rest of us any favors. Better the title company stick their neck out "all on their own".
01-23-2003, 07:57 AM
I think CA Title Co. used them in the late 60s & 70s and were called Survey Plats and were shown on 8 1/2" x 11" paper and turned into the Title Co. at their request for the work to be done!!
01-26-2003, 08:22 AM
Does it surprise anyone that Roy Minnick is involved with and is the licensed surveyor mentioned in the Express Map advertisement?
After viewing the web site how can anyone not conclude these maps fall under the definition of "land surveying" in California. They depict property boundaries, easements, etc. in relationship to fixed works on the face of the earth (i.e. buildings, curb lines, water courses). Furthermore, they don't show meta data indicating the origin or accuracy of the information depicted. These "pictures" are misrepresented as maps. How does this protect the consuming public as prescribed in the Calif. Land Surveyors Act?
The acronym F.A.T. (First American Title) may be prophetic. They want to get fatter on the backs of we Land Surveyors by taking potential work away from us. Guess what company I won't be recommending to my clients for their title work?
Michael J Foley
01-28-2003, 04:37 PM
I reveived these comments that were prepared by Curt Sumner, Executive Director of ACSM for forwarding to First American Title Company. Please see the attached file.
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