Glossary

 
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Abstract of Title - A history or summary of all transactions affecting a particular tract of land as recorded in the public records.

Access - A right to ingress and egress a property from a public street or road.

Adverse Possession - The possession, by one person, of land belonging to another in a manner deemed adverse to the interest of the owner. In some instances, title to the land becomes vested in such person after a fixed number of years if the owner fails to assert his or her rights.

Affidavit - A written statement made under oath before a notary public or other judicial officer.

Amortization - Payment to reduce the principal of a debt in regular, periodic installments.

Assessment - A local tax levied against a property for a specific purpose, such as a sewer, curb, or street lights.

Assignment - A recordable document transferring the interest in a specific piece of property from one party to another.

Attorney in Fact - The person holding a power of attorney from another person allowing that person to execute legal documents such as deeds, mortgages, etc., on behalf of the grantor of power.

Beneficiary - A person named to receive a benefit from a trust, will, or insurance policy.

Bill of Sale - The instrument by which title to personal property is transferred.

Certificate of Occupancy - A certificate issued by a local governmental body stating that the building is in a condition to be occupied.

Chain of Title - The past series of transactions and documents affecting the title to a particular parcel of land.

Clear Title - One which is not encumbered or burdened with defects.

Closing - The process of completing a real estate transaction. During this settlement process deeds, mortgages, leases, or other required instruments are executed by all required parties. In addition to the execution of documents, the accounting between parties is made, funds are disbursed and recording of all pertinent documents prepared.

Commitment to Insure - A title insurance company drafts a report stating the condition of the title and committing the title insurance company to issue a policy. The policy is issued after compliance with and satisfaction of requirements as set forth in the commitment, and payment of appropriate fees.

Conditions and Restrictions - The designated uses to which land may not be put and the penalties for failure to comply. Commonly used by land sub-dividers on newly platted areas.

Condominium - A system of individual fee ownership of units in a multi-unit structure, combined with joint ownership of common areas of the structure and land.

Contract for Deed - An installment contract for the sale of land. The seller (vendor), remains in title until paid in full. The buyer (vendee) has equitable title during the term of the contract.

Deed - The instrument used to convey real estate property from one party to another.

Earnest Money - A partial advance payment of the purchase price to bind a contract for property.

Easement - A right granted to a person to use the land of another for a specific limited purpose. Examples include utility lines, driveway, and ingress and egress. Easements can be temporary but more commonly are permanent.

Encroachment - Any building, improvement, or structure located on one property (such as a wall, fence, or driveway), that intrudes upon the property of another.

Encumbrance - A claim, right, or lien placed against the title to real estate held by someone other than the real estate owner.

Equity - The value which an owner has in real estate over and above the debits against it.

Escrow - A deposit of money or documents from a real estate transaction with an impartial third party (escrow agent). Disbursement is made to the rightful party when all conditions of the transaction have been met.

Examination of Title - The analysis of the record title to a real property based on the findings in a title search or abstract.

FHA - Federal Housing Administration, an agency of the federal government, which insures private loans for financing of new and existing housing and for home repairs under government approved programs.

FHLMC (Freddie Mac) - Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, an affiliate of the Federal Home Loan Bank, which creates a secondary market in conventional residential loans and in FHA and VA loans by purchasing mortgages from members of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

FNMA (Fannie Mae) - Federal National Mortgage Association, a private corporation dealing in the purchase of mortgages.

Fee Simple - An estate under which the owner is entitled to unrestricted powers to dispose of the property, and which can be left by will or inherited. Commonly, a synonym for ownership.

Filing - The delivery of real estate documents to a county recorder for recording.

First Mortgage - A mortgage having a first lien or priority position over any other mortgage or lien on the same property.

Foreclosure - The legal process by which the mortgagor(s) of real property is deprived of his interest in that property following to failure to comply with terms and conditions of the mortgage.

General Warranty Deed - A document containing a covenant whereby the seller agrees to protect the buyer against being dispossessed because of any adverse claim against the land.

Grantee - The person acquiring an interest in land by deed, grant or other written instrument.

Grantor - A person who, by a written document, transfers to another interest in land.

Homestead - Property designated as the primary residence. Also defined as land claimed by a settler under the National Homestead Act.

HUD Settlement Statement - A breakdown of the financial portion of the real estate transaction required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Insurance of Title - Insurance as to whom owns a specified interest in designated real estate, and stating as exceptions to the insured interests, the defects. Defects to include, but not limited to liens and encumbrances which exist as against that insured interest.

Intestate - To die without a Will.

Joint Tenants - Two or more persons owning property in a manner that upon the death of one joint tenant, their interest passes to the surviving joint tenant(s) rather than heirs of the deceased.

Junior Mortgage - A mortgage lien which is subordinate to that of another mortgage.

Lender's Title Insurance - An insurance policy, which protects the interest of the lender against claims, and losses that may arise if the title is unmarketable or defective.

Lien - A hold, claim, or charge allowed to a creditor upon the lands of a debtor. Liens may be mortgage liens, judgment liens, and mechanic liens.

Life Estate - A grant or reservation of the right of use, occupancy, and ownership for the life of an individual.

Lot - A measured parcel of land having fixed boundaries.

Marketable Title - A title which a court of equity considers to be so free of material defects and liens that it will force acceptance by a purchaser.

Mechanic's Lien - A lien placed on real estate which secures the payment of debts that are due to persons who perform labor or services or furnish materials for the construction of buildings and improvements on the real estate.

Metes and Bounds - A means of describing land by directions and distances rather than reference to a lot number. Generally used when land has not been subdivided into lots.

Mortgage - An instrument used to encumber land to secure a debt.

Mortgagee - The holder of a mortgage. The party to whom a mortgage is, generally this is a lender.

Mortgagor - The designation for the mortgage borrower on real property.

Notary Public - A designated official authorized by law to attest and certify certain documents by his or her hand and official seal.

Note - A document promising to pay a certain amount of money at a certain time, or in a certain number of installments. The terms of the note usually provides for payment of interest and its payment is at times secured by a mortgage.

Owner's Title Insurance - A policy of title insurance usually insuring an owner of real estate against loss occasioned by certain defects in, liens against, or unmarketability of the owner's title.

Party Wall - A wall built along the boundary line of adjoining properties and shared by the respective property owners.

Plat Drawing - A drawing prepared from visual inspection detailing the location of improvements on a piece of property. It may also show any easements of record.

Power of Attorney - An authority by which one person (principal) enables another (attorney in fact) to act for him/her. The power can be general, covering all acts, or specific for a particular act.

Prepayment Penalty - Penalty to the mortgagor for payment of the mortgage debt before it becomes due, as stated in the promissory note.

Probate - Any action over which probate court has jurisdiction.

Pro Rate - The division in proportional shares, taxes, rents, or other items which a buyer and seller share at the time of closing.

Quiet Title - A suit brought to remove a claim or objection of title.

Quit Claim Deed - A deed which does not imply that the grantor hold title and making no warranty, but which releases and gives to the grantee any possible interest or rights which the grantor may have in the property.

Real Estate - Land; including all inherent natural attributes and man made improvements of a permanent nature placed thereon.

Recording - Filing instruments for pubic record (and notice) with a recorder (usually a county official).

Refinance - Obtaining a new mortgage loan on a property already owned. New mortgage replaces existing loans on the property.

Release - The document by which a lien is released from the real estate it encumbers.

Reissue credit - A discounted rate for title insurance when the title was previously insured with a title insurance policy.

Riparian - Pertaining to the banks of a water course. The owner of land adjacent to a watercourse is called a riparian owner. The rights of the riparian owner related to that watercourse are called riparian rights.

Search - Examination of public records in an effort to find all recorded instruments related to a particular chain of title.

Special Warranty Deed - A deed containing a covenant whereby the seller agrees to protect the buyer against being dispossessed because of adverse claims to the land by the seller, or anyone claiming through him.

Subdivision - A tract of land surveyed and divided into lots and obtaining governmental approval for the division.

Survey - The process of measuring land to determine its size, location, and physical description. Must be performed by a licensed surveyor.

Tenants in Common - A form of ownership of real estate by two or more persons. The interest need not be equal, and upon death of one of the owners, their share passes to their heirs rather than surviving tenants.

Testate - To die with a Will.

Title - Legally the right to own, possess, use, control, and dispose of real estate, or an inheritable right or interest.

Title Defect - Any legal right held by others to claim property or to make demands upon the owner.

Title Insurance - Insurance against loss or damage arising from claims, defects, or failure of title to a particular parcel of real property.

Torrens Title - A system whereby, after court proceedings, a certificate of title is issued setting for the extent of the applicant's estate in land subject to the exceptions shown. Title is registered with a registrar of land titles in the county, instead of being recorded.

Trust - A right of property held by one for the benefit of another.

Trustee - The person holding property in trust.

Trustee's Deed - A deed transferring title from a trust.

Vendee - The purchaser of real property by a Contract for Deed.

Vendor - The seller of real property by a Contract for Deed.

Veterans Administration (VA) Loan - Housing loans to veterans by banks, savings banks, or other lenders that are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration, enabling veterans to buy a residence with little or no down payment.

Warranty Deed - A deed conveying the title of real property. The grantor conveying the real property warrants clean, clear marketable title.

Will - A document outlining the disposition of the property that takes effect upon death. Certain procedures must be followed for it to be valid.

Zoning - Laws passed by local governments regulating the size, type, structure, nature, and use of land or buildings in particular areas.