Abstract of Title - A condensed history or summary of all transactions affecting a particular tract of land.
Access - The right to enter and leave a tract of land from a public way. Can include the right to enter and leave over the lands of another.
Accretion - The slow build up of lands by natural forces such as wind or water.
Acre - A tract of land containing 43,560 square feet of land.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) - A residential mortgage loan that has an interest rate that is subject to change. The times of adjustment are agreed upon at the inception of the loan.
Adverse Possession - A claim made against the lands of another by virtue of open and notorious possession of said lands by the claimant.
Affidavit - A sworn statement in writing.
Agent - A person or company that has the power to act on behalf of another or to transact business for another.
Air Rights - The right to ownership of everything above the physical surface of the land.
Appraisal - A written opinion of market value based upon a factual analysis or relevant local market information.
Appurtenance - Anything so annexed to land or used with it that it will pass with the conveyance of the land.
Assignee - One whom a transfer of interest is made. For example, the assignee of a mortgage or contract.
Assignor - One who makes the an assignment.
Assumable Mortgage - A mortgage which, by its terms, allows a new owner to take over its obligations.
Balloon Mortgage - A mortgage that is amortized over a specific period of years beyond the maturity date, requiring a lump sum payment in full at that earlier maturity date.
Bankruptcy - A federal court proceeding in which debtors are relieved of liability for their debts after surrender of their assets to a court appointed trustee.
Chain - A term of land measurement that is 66 feet in length.
Chain of Title - A term applied to the past series of transactions and documents affecting the title to a particular parcel of land.
Clear Title - One of which is not encumbered or burdened with defects.
Closing Costs - Expenses for services incidental to a sale of real estate, such as sales commissions, loan fees, title fees, appraisal fees, etc.
Commitment to Insure ("Title Commitment") - A report issued by a title insurance company, or its agent, committing the title insurance company to issue the form of policy designated in the commitment upon compliance with and satisfaction of requirements set forth in the commitment.
Condemnation - A government court proceeding pertaining to the taking of private property for public use.
Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions ("CC&Rs") - A common term used to designate conditions and restrictions on the use of land. Includes penalties for failure to comply. Commonly used by land subdividers on newly platted areas.
Condominium - A system of individual fee ownership of units in a multi-unit structure, combined with a joint ownership of a common areas of the structure and land.
Contract for Deed - An agreement to sell and purchase under which title is kept and held as security by the seller until such time as all of the required payments to the seller have been completed.
Conveyance - An instrument by which title is transferred; a deed. Also, the act of transferring title.
Cooperative - A residential multi unit building owned by a corporation in which each unit is occupied by a member of the corporate pursuant to a lease or occupancy agreement.
Covenant - An agreement written into deeds and other instruments promising performance or non-performance of certain acts, or stipulating certain uses or non-uses of the property.
Deed - A written document by which the ownership of land is transferred from one person to another.
Deed of Trust - An instrument used in many states in place of a mortgage. Property is transferred to a trustee by the borrower, in favor of the lender, and re-conveyed upon payment in full.
Devise - The disposition of real property by will.
Due on Sale Clause - Provision in a mortgage or deed of trust which requires loan to be paid in full if property is sold or transferred.
Earnest Money - Advance payment of part of the purchase price to bind a contract for property.
Easement - An interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use, such as laying a sewer, putting up electric power lines, or crossing the property.
Egress - The right to leave a tract of land; often used interchangeably with "access".
Eminent Domain - The right of the government to take private property for public use upon payment of just compensation. See "condemnation" for the process.
Encroachment - A trespass or intrusion onto another's property, usually by a structure, wall or fence.
Encumber - To burden a parcel of land with a lien or charge, e.g., a mortgage.
Escrow - A procedure whereby a disinterested third party handles legal documents and funds on behalf of a seller and buyer, and delivers them upon performance by the parties.
Estate - Any interest in land that includes possession, such as a leasehold (lease) or a freehold (ownership) interest.
Examination of Title - The investigation and interpretation of the record title to real property based on the title search or abstract.
Fannie Mae - Federal National Mortgage Association is a private corporation, federally chartered to provide financial products and services that increase the availability and affordability of housing by purchasing mortgage loans.
Federal Housing Administration ("FHA") - An insurance contract in which HUD through the FHA insures that the named lender will recover a specific percentage of the loan amount from the insurer in the event that the loan goes bad.
Fee Simple Absolute - The greatest estate/interest in a parcel of land that is possible to own.
Fixtures - Any item of formerly personal property so attached to real property that it becomes a part of the real property.
Forfeiture of Title - Provision in a deed creating a condition which will cause title to be passed to another should certain circumstances occur.
Freddie Mac ("FHLMC") - The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, also known as "Freddie Mac", is a stockholder owned corporation chartered by Congress that purchases mortgage loans.
Ginnie Mae - The Government National Mortgage Association, also known as "Ginnie Mae", is a wholly-owned United States corporation that guarantees privately issued securities backed by pools of mortgages insured by FHA, FMHA, or VA.
Grantee - A person who acquires an interest in land by deed, grant, or written instrument.
Grantor - A person who, by written instrument, transfers to another an interest in land.
Guardian - One appointed by the court to administer the affairs of an individual not capable of administering his or her own affairs.
Hazard Insurance - Insurance protecting against loss, such as: fire, windstorm, lightning, hail, explosion, riot, smoke, property damage, flood, or mudslide.
Heir - One who might inherit or succeed to an interest in land of an individual who dies without leaving a will.
HUD-1 (now "Closing Disclosure") - The HUD-1 is a form settlement statement previously required by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development where federally related mortgages are being made on residential properties. It has been replaced by the Closing Disclosure, which is a balance sheet showing the source of funds and the distribution of funds in connection with the purchase and/or mortgaging of residential property.
Indemnify - To make payment for a loss.
Ingress - The right to enter a tract of land. Often used interchangeably with "access".
Joint Tenancy - An estate where two or more persons hold real estate jointly for life, the survivors to take the interest of the one who dies.
Judgment Lien - The charge upon the lands of a debtor resulting from the decree of a court properly entered into the judgment docket.
Lease - A grant of the use of lands for a term of years in the consideration of the payment of a monthly or annual rental.
Lender's Policy - A form of title insurance policy which insures the validity, enforceability and priority of a lenders lien. This form does not provide protection for the owner.
Lessee - One who takes lands upon a lease.
Lessor - One who grants lands under a lease.
Lien - A hold, claim, or charge allowed a creditor upon the lands of a debtor. Some examples are mortgage liens, judgment liens, and mechanics liens.
Life Estate - A grant or reservation of the right of use, occupancy and ownership for the life of an individual.
Lis Pendens - A notice recorded in the official records of a county to indicate that a suit is pending affecting the lands where the notice is recorded.
Lot - A part of a subdivision or block having fixed boundaries ascertainable by the reference to a plat or survey.
Majority- The age at which a person is entitled to handle his or her own affairs.
Marketable Title- A good title about which there is not fair or reasonable doubt.
Mechanic's Lien- A lien allowed by statue to contractors, laborers and material suppliers on buildings or other structures upon which work has been performed or materials supplied.
Metes and Bounds- A description of land by courses and distances.
Monument of Survey- Visible marks or indications left on natural or other objects indicating the lines and boundaries of a survey. May be posts, pillars, stones, cairns, and other objects. May also be fixed natural objects, blazed trees, roads, and even a water course.
Mortgage Banker- a specialized lending institution that lends money solely with respect to real estate and secures its loans with mortgages on the real estate.
Mortgage Broker- A person or company that buys and sells mortgages for another on commission or who arranges for and negotiates mortgage contracts.
Mortgage Insurance- Insurance protecting against the nonpayment of, or default on, and individual mortgage or loan involved in a residential mortgage transaction. It protects the mortgage lender against loss incurred by a reason of nonpayment or mortgage default.
Mortgagee- The mortgage lender.
Mortgagor- The mortgage borrower.
Negative Amortization- An actual increase in the principle amount of real estate loan because of the addition of matured but unpaid interest to the loan balance. Usually the result of monthly payments which are temporarily set at a lower than needed level.
Note- The instrument evidencing the indebtedness secured by a security instrument such as a mortgage or deed of trust.
Origination Fee- The administrative fee charged by the lender to prepare loan documents, run credit checks, inspect and sometimes appraise a property, usually computed as a percentage of the face value of the loan.
Owners Policy- A policy of title insurance which insures a named owner against loss by reason of defects, liens and encumbrances not expected to in the policy or unmarketability of the title. The company also agrees to defend covered claims made against the title.
Ownership- The right to possess and use property to the exclusion of others.
Patent- A document or grant by which the federal or state government originally transferred title to public lands to an individual. the first in the series of transfers by which title comes down to present owners.
Personal Representative- A person appointed by the probate court to administer a decedent's estate.
Plat or Plot- A map representing a piece of land subdivided into lots with the streets shown thereon.
Private Mortgage Insurance- An insurance contract which insures that the named lender will recover a specific percentage of the loan amount from the insurer in the event the loan goes bad. Many lenders require this on higher percentage loans.
Policy- A written contract of title insurance.
Policyowner- The insured on a title insurance policy.
Power of Attorney- An instrument authorizing another to act on one's behalf of his or her agent or attorney.
Power of Sale- A clause in a will, mortgage, deed of trust or trust agreement authorizing the sale or transfer of land in accordance with the terms of the clause.
Prorate- To allocate between seller and buyer their proportionate share of an obligation paid or due. For example, a proration of real property taxes or fire insurance premiums.
Quiet Title- An action in a proper Court to remove record defects or possible claims of other parties named in the action.
Range- A part of the government survey, being a strip of land six miles in width, and numbered east or west of the principle meridian.
Real Property- Land, together with fixtures, improvements and appurtenances.
Realtor- A federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Realty- A brief term for real property.
Redeem- Literally "to buy back". The act of buying back lands after a mortgage foreclosure, tax foreclosure, or other execution sale.
Reinsurance- To insure again by transferring to another insurance company all or part of an assumed liability, thus spreading the loss risk any one company has to carry.
Real Estate Investment Trust- A product of federal tax legislation formed as a business trust, under a special state REIT statute or as a corporation for the purpose of investing in real estate or mortgages on real estate.
Reverse Annuity Mortgage- A mortgage for which the borrower pledges home equity in return for regular payments, rather than a lump sum distribution of loan proceeds. Repayment is usually not required until the home is sold or the borrowers estate is settled, provided the borrower continues to live in the home and keeps current all taxes and insurance.
Right-of Way-The right which one has to pass across the lands of another. An easement.
Riparian- Rights to use waterways in adjoining lakes or rivers.
Second mortgage- A second loan on real estate that already has a mortgage. Usually of shorter term and often at a higher interest rate.
Section of Land- A parcel of land comprising one square mile or 640 acres.
Set Back Lines- Those lines which delineate the required distances for the location of structures in relation to the perimeter of the property.
Sub-surface Right- The right of ownership to things lying beneath the physical surface of the property.
Survey- The process of measuring land to determine its size, location and physical description and the resulting drawing or map.
Tax Lien- A lien for annual real property taxes. Attaches only to the property upon which the taxes are due. It may be foreclosed for nonpayment.
Tenancy by the Entirety- Ownership by married persons which each owns the entire estate, with the survivor taking the whole upon the other's death.
Tenancy in Common- An estate or interest in land held by two or more persons, each having equal rights of possession and enjoyment, but without any right of succession by survivorship between the owners.
Tenant- Any person occupying real property with the owners permission.
Title- The evidence of right which a person has to the ownership and possession of land. Commonly considered as a history of rights.
Title Defect- Any legal right held by others to claim property or to take demands upon the owner.
Title Insurance- Insurance against loss or damage resulting from defects or failure of title to a particular parcel of real property.
Title Plant- The total facilities- records, equipment, fixtures, and personal- required to function as a title insurance operation. Technically, the origination of official records affecting real property into a system which allows quick and efficient recovery of title information.
Title Search- An examination of public records, laws, and court decisions to disclose the current facts regarding ownership of real estate.
Township- A division of territory six miles square, containing 36 sections or 36 square miles.
Tract- A particular parcel of land.
Trust- A property right held by one as a fiduciary for the benefit of another.
Trustee- A person holding property in trust as a fiduciary for the benefit of another.
Truth in Lending Disclosure- Federal legislation designed to protect borrowers by requiring lenders to furnish information in writing regarding the cost of the loan. The law requires interest to be expressed as the annual percentage rate to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. It also requires disclosure of the finance charge, amount financed, total of payments, payment schedule, late payment fees, and other items.
VA Guarantee- An insurance contract in which the Veterans Administration insures that the named lender will recover a specific percentage of the loan amount from the insurer in the event the loan goes bad.
Variable Rate Mortgage- A loan in which the interest rate fluctuates with the cost of funds or some other index.
Vendee- A purchaser of real property under land contract.
Vendor- A seller of real property under land contract.
Vest- To pass to a person an immediate right or interest. Title may be said to vest in John Smith.
Vestee- A nonlegal term used by the title insurers to indicate the owner of real property in a policy or report.
Warranty- A promise by the grantor of real property that he or she is the owner and will be responsible to the buyer if title is other than as represented.
Will- A written document providing for the distribution of property owned by a person after his or her death.
Zoning- The right of a municipality to regulate and determine the compatible character and use of property