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The voluntary relinquishment of rights of ownership or another interest (such as an easement) by failure to use the property, coupled with an intent to abandon (give up the interest).

Abstract/Abstract of Judgment
A summary of money judgment obtained in court. (When this summary or abstract is recorded in the county recorder’s office, in some states the judgment becomes a lien on the debtor’s property, both presently owned or after-acquired.)

Abstract/Abstract of Judgment
A summary of the essential provisions of a court judgment, which when recorded in the county recorder’s office, creates a lien upon the property of the defendant in that county, both presently owned or after acquired.

Abstract of Title
A summary prepared by a licensed abstractor of all documents recorded in the public records of the political subdivision where the land is located. An abstract in some states or areas is reviewed by an attorney or other experienced title examiner to determine the status of title. Virtually every abstractor today provides actual copies of the records rather than an abstract of each document.

A reduction or decrease. Usually applies to a decrease of assessed valuation of ad valorem taxes after the assessment, and levy.

Acceleration Clause
This clause in a note and trust deed permits the payee or beneficiary to declare the entire unpaid balance immediately due and payable when a given condition occurs. Such a condition can be the sale of the land. This clause is sometimes called an “alienation clause”.

Acceleration Clause
Clause in a deed of trust or mortgage, which “accelerates,” or hastens, the time when the indebtedness becomes due. For example, some deeds of trust contain a provision (an acceleration clause) stating that the note shall become due immediately upon the sale of the land or upon failure to pay interest or an installment of principal and interest

Accommodator (Intermediate)
party to an IRC S1031 exchange transaction who, pursuant to an Exchange Agreement, acquires relinquished property, holds money from the sale of the relinquished property, acquires replacement property to the Exchanger.

Accommodation Recording
Recording of instruments with the county recorder by a title company merely as a convenience to a customer and without assumption of responsibility for correctness or validity.

A formal declaration before a duly authorized officer (such as a notary public) by a person who has executed an instrument that such execution is his own act and deed. An acknowledgment is necessary to entitle an instrument (with certain specific exceptions) to be recorded, to impart constructive notice of its contents and to entitle the instrument to be used as evidence without further proof. The certificate of acknowledgment is attached to the instrument or incorporated therein.


A tract of land 208.71 feet square and containing 43,560 square feet of land.

Ad Valorem
Literally, “according to value”. This term is usually used in reference to real property taxes, which are assessed according to value, i.e., ad valorum.

Adjustable Mortgage Loans (AMLs)
Mortgage loans under which the interest rate is periodically adjusted to more closely coincide with current rates. The amounts and times of adjustment are agreed to at the inception of the loan. Also called Adjustable Rate Loans, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), Flexible Rate Loans, Variable Rate Loans.

A person appointed by the probate court to carry out the administration of a decedent’s estate when the decedent has left no will. If a woman is appointed, she is called an administratrix.

Adverse Possession
A process of acquiring title to real property by possession for a certain (statutory) period of time, in addition to fulfilling other conditions.

A sworn written statement or declaration, sworn to before an officer who has authority to administer an oath. One who has authorization, either expressed or implied, to act for or represent another party, usually in business matters, such as issuing title insurance policies on behalf of a title insurer for a portion of the premium.

Any relationship in which one party (agent) acts for or represents another (principal) under the authority of the later. Agency involving real property should be in writing, such as listings, trusts, powers of attorney, etc.

Agreement of Sale
A written contract entered into between the seller (vendor) and buyer (vendee) for sale of real property (land) on an installment or deferred payment plan. It is also known as an agreement to convey, a long form Security Agreement or a real estate installment contract.


All-inclusive Rate

Rate which includes charges for title insurance, searching or abstract fees and examination fees.

All Inclusive Trust Deed (AITD/Wraparound)
A junior Deed of Trust securing a promissory note, the face amount of which is the sum of the liability secured by prior Trust Deeds plus the cash or equity advanced by the AITD lender.

ALTA (American Land Title Association)

Organization composed of title insurance firms which sets standards for the industry, including title insurance policy forms used on a national basis.


A change either to alter, add to, or correct part of an agreement without changing the principal idea or essence.

Amortized Loan

A loan that is paid off over a period of time, by regular equal or nearly equal payments, including both interest and principal.

Provision for the payment of a debt as to both principal and interest in equal installments over a period of time.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The yearly interest percentage of a loan, as expressed by the actual rate of interest paid. For example, 6% add-on interest would be much more than 6% simple interest, even though both would say 6%. The APR is disclosed as a requirement of Federal Truth in Lending statutes.

An opinion as to the fair market value of land and the improvements on it.


An estimate of value of property resulting from analysis of facts about the property; an opinion of value.

Approved Attorney

An attorney whose opinion is acceptable to a title company as the basis for issuance of a title insurance policy by the insurer. The insurer, rather than the attorney, executes the policy.


Adjustable Rate Mortgage

Assessed Value
The value placed on land and improvements as a basis for taxation. In California this is usually accomplished by the tax assessor’s office.

Assessed Value

The value placed on land and improvements as a basis for taxation. In California this is usually accomplished by the county assessor’s office, and the assessed values for real estate taxes are usually one quarter of market value.

Special and local levies on local property in the immediate vicinity of an improvement. Assessments can be imposed by such entities as flood control districts, street lighting districts and air pollution control districts which serve an area.

One to whom a transfer of interest is made. For example, the assignee of a Deed of Trust or Contract.

The transfer, in writing, of a person’s interest to another person or entity in an asset, such as an assignment of stock, a Deed of Trust and a note or a lease.

One who makes an assignment. For example, the assignor of a Deed of Trust or contract.

An agreement by one party to pay an obligation previously owed by another. For example, the assumption of an existing Trust Deed by a new owner may occur when property is sold.

The act of conveying real property; taking title to a property with the Buyer assuming liability for paying an existing note secured by a deed of trust against the property


Assumable Mortgage
A mortgage that allows a new owner to take over the previous owners obligations (The terms of the mortgage must allow this.)

Attorney in Fact
One who holds a power of attorney from another allowing him to act on behalf of the grantor of the power.

A special proceeding under federal, or in some instances state, laws by which the property of a debtor is protected by the court and may be divided among the debtor’s creditors and the debtor.


In a Trust Deed, the lender is designated as the beneficiary. He obtains the benefit of the security.

Beneficiary’s Statement

A report from the lender, usually in writing, setting forth the terms and conditions of a loan already of record, such as amounts still owed, interest rate, monthly payments, etc.

Bill of Sale

A document that attests to the transfer of ownership of personal property.

Blanket Mortgage/Trust Deed

A mortgage or trust deed that covers more than one lot or parcel of real property, and often an entire subdivision. As individual lots are sold, a partial reconveyance from the blanket mortgage is ordinarily obtained.

Bona Fide Purchaser

One who buys property in good faith, for fair value, and without notice of any adverse claim or right of third parties.


One who obtains a loan and owes money to a lender.



A subordinate or division office, as opposed to an affiliate, agent, subsidiary or underwritten firm associated with the headquarters.

Breach of Contract
Failure to perform a contract, in whole or part, without legal excuse.

Building Contract
An agreement between an owner or lessee and a building contractor, setting forth terms relative to the construction of a proposed structure.

A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer, third party, or some combination of these, causing the lender to reduce the interest rate during the early years of a loan. The buydown is usually for the first one to five years of the loan.

One who purchases or acquires property.

Capitalization Rate
The percentage (acceptable to an average buyer) used to determine the value of income property through capitalization.

Certificate of Title
In areas where attorneys examine abstracts or chains of title, a written opinion, executed by the examining attorney, stating that title is vested as stated in the abstract.

Clear Title
A title that does not have defects.

Close of Escrow
The date the documents are recorded and title passes from Seller to Buyer. On this date, the Buyer becomes the legal owner, and title insurance becomes effective.



The final procedure in the real estate sales process, where the sale and pertinent loan are completed by the execution of documents for recording. In some areas, this procedure is known as the closing of escrow.

Cloud on Title
An irregularity, possible claim, or encumbrance which, if valid, would adversely affect or impair the title.

Ordinary coinsurance is defined as a transaction under which each of two or more insurers assumes a designated portion of the liability for the total risk and is liable for only such portion of any loss beginning at the first dollar of loss.

By or at the side, additional or auxiliary. Mistakenly used to mean collateral security.

Collateral Security
Most commonly used to mean some security in addition to the personal obligation of the borrower.

Collection Service
A service performed by a neutral third party in receiving and disbursing loan payments as instructed by the parties concerned.


A binding contract with a title company to issue a specific title policy, showing only those exceptions contained in the commitment and any intervening matters after the date of the commitment and prior to the effective date of the policy. The commitment contains all information included in the preliminary title report, plus a list of the title company’s requirements to insure the transaction. It also includes the standard exceptions from coverage that will appear in the policy.

Community Driveway
A driveway which is jointly owned, used and maintained by two or more persons. Usually, a portion of each owner’s property is burdened by the driveway.

Community Property
Property acquired by husband, wife or both during marriage which gives each spouse an interest in the property whether each appears in title or not.


Comparable Sales
Sales that have similar characteristics as the subject property, used for analysis in the appraisal. Commonly called “comps.”

Conditions and Restrictions : Designates what land may be used for.

Consolidated Mortgage :
Original mortgage balance is incorporated into the new mortgage.


The exercise of the power of eminent domain by which property is taken for a public use upon payment of just compensation. Condemnation can also refer to the condemning of unsafe structures.

The taking of private property by the government for public use – as for a street or a storm drain – upon making just compensation to the owner. This right or power of government to take property for a necessary public use is called “eminent domain.”

A multifamily or other structure in which units are individually owned and in which owners of individual units also own an undivided interest in common areas.

A person appointed by the court to care for the person and/or property of an incompetent adult or an adult unable to care for their person or property because of health.

Constructive Notice
Notice imparted by the public records of the county when documents entitled to recording are recorded.

Dependent upon conditions or events specified but not yet accomplished. Property may be sold contingent upon the seller or buyer meeting a predetermined condition.


A written document that transfers title to an asset from one person to another. A deed and an assignment are both conveyances, as is a bill of sale.



An entity authorized by law and established by a group of people, the stockholders, which is endowed with certain rights, privileges and duties similar to an individual.

County Assessor

One who sets value of property for taxation purposes.

(1) A formal agreement or contract between two parties in which one party gives the other certain promises and assurances, such as the covenant of warranty in a warranty deed.
(2) Agreements or promises contained in deeds and other instruments for performance or nonperformance of certain acts, or use or nonuse of property in a certain manner.

Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
Commonly called “CC&Rs” the term usually refers to a written recorded declaration which sets forth certain covenants, conditions, restrictions, rules or regulations established by a subdivider or other landowner to create uniformity of buildings and use within tracts of land or groups of lots. The restrictions also can be established by deed. CC&RS are sometimes referred to as private zoning.

An instrument in writing, such as a deed or trust deed, used to transfer (convey) title to property from one person to another.

Money owing from one person to another.

One who owes a debt.

Decree of Distribution
A probate court decree which determines how the estate of a decedent shall be distributed.

Written document by which an estate or interest in real property is transferred from one person to another. The person who transfers the interest is called the “grantor.” The one who acquires the interest is called the “grantee.” Examples of deeds are grant deeds, administrators’ deeds, executors’ deeds, quitclaim deeds, etc. The deed to use depends on the language of the deed, the legal capacity of the grantor and other circumstances.


A written document which conveys ownership of land from one person to another.

Deed of Trust

A document executed by the owner of land by which the land is given as security for the payment of a note or other performance obligation. In California and some other states, the Deed of Trust is usually used in place of a mortgage.

Deed of Trust or Trust Deed

A written document by which the title to land is conveyed as security for the repayment of a loan or other obligation. It is a form of mortgage. The landowner or debtor is called the “trustor.” The party to whom the legal title is conveyed (and who may be called on to conduct a sale thereof if the loan is not paid) is the “trustee.” The lender is the “beneficiary.” When the loan is paid off, the trustee is asked by the beneficiary to issue a “recon” or reconveyance. This reconveyance corresponds to the release that the holder of a mortgage executes when the mortgage is paid off.

Deed Restrictions

Limitations in the deed to a property that dictate certain uses that may or not be made of the property.


Failure to perform a duty or to pay an obligation.



A blemish, imperfection or deficiency. A defective title is one that is irregular and faulty.

Defective Title
(1) Title to a negotiable instrument obtained by fraud.
(2) Title to real property which lacks some of the elements necessary to transfer good title.

Deficiency Judgment
A personal judgment in a judicial foreclosure action for the remaining amount due after the sale of the security.

Demand/Beneficiary Demand
A statement from a lender showing the amount due on a loan.

Demand Note

A note having no date for repayment, but due on demand of the lender.

(1) Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase. Shows good faith. Also called Earnest Money.
(2) A natural accumulation of resources (oil, gold, etc.) which may be commercially recovered and marketed.

The exact location of a piece of real property stated in terms of lot, block, tract, part lot, metes and bounds, recorded instruments, or U.S. Government survey (sectionalized). This is also referred to as legal description of property.

Earnest Money
An advanced payment of part of the purchase price for property given by the buyer to the seller.

Earnest Money
An amount of money given as part of the purchase price of property to bind the agreement between buyer and seller.

Earnest Money
Down payment made by a purchaser of real estate as evidence of good faith; a deposit or partial payment.



A right or interest in the use of the land of another which entitles the holder to some use, privilege or benefit, such as to place pole lines, pipe lines or roads thereon.


A right or interest in the land of another, such as a right to cross over another person’s property to reach yours.

Effective Demand

A qualifying term meaning the ability to pay as well as desire to buy.

Eminent Domain
The right of a government to take privately owned property for public purposes under condemnation proceedings upon payment of its reasonable value.

Eminent Domain
The right or power of a governmental body to take property for a public purpose upon payment of just compensation.


The presence of an improvement such as a building, a wall, a fence or other fixture which overlaps onto the property of an adjoining owner.

A right or claim upon real property (land) held by one other than the property owner. Encumbrances are divided into two classes, as follows
b) Encumbrances other than liens which are limitations on the ownership of the land (such as conditions, restrictions, reservations, easements, etc.).


A lien affecting the land and improvements, such as a mortgage or Trust Deed.


Addition to or modification of a title insurance policy which expands or changes coverage of the policy, fulfilling specific requirements of the insured.

(1) A legal doctrine based on fairness, rather than strict interpretation of the letter of the law.
(2) The market value of real property, less the amount of existing liens.
(3) Any ownership investment (stocks, real estate, etc.) as opposed to investing as a lender (bonds, mortgages, etc.).



Market value of property, less any encumbrance or other liens on it.


The reversion of property to the state when an owner dies leaving no legal heirs, devisees or claimants.

An independent third party, such as American Major Escrow, Inc. , who acts as the agent for buyer and seller, or for borrower and lender, carrying out instructions of both and disbursing documents and funds. Escrow closes and the transfer of property or document is completed upon fulfillment of certain conditions specified in the written instructions, whereupon the necessary deeds and other instruments are recorded.

According to section 17003 of the State of California Financial Code: “…any transaction wherein one person, for the purposes of effecting the sale, transfer, encumbering, or leasing of real or personal property to another person, delivers any written instrument, money, evidence of title to real or personal property, or other thing of value to a third party to be held by such third person until the happening of a specified event or the performance of a prescribed condition, when it is then to be delivered by such third person to the grantee, grantor, promisee, promisor, obligee, obligor, bailee, bailer, or any agent or employee of any of the latter.”

Escrow :
A disinterested third party handles legal documents and funds on behalf of a buyer and seller.


(1) The interest or nature of the interest which one has in property, such as a life estate, the estate of a deceased, real estate, etc.
(2) A large house with substantial grounds surrounding it, giving the connotation of belonging to a wealthy person.

Examination of Title : Interpretation of the record title to real estate property based on the title search.


An interest in real property which is excluded from the conveyance and remains in the grantor or which had been excluded in a prior conveyance.


An exclusion  from conveyance (such as an interest in real property) and retained by  the grantor, or that which had been excluded in a prior conveyance.



An order directing a sheriff, constable, marshal or court-appointed commissioner to enforce a money judgment against the property of a debtor. This officer, if necessary, may sell the property to satisfy the judgment.

A person appointed in a will and affirmed by the probate court to cause a distribution of the decedent’s estate in accordance with the will. (The one who makes the will is called a testator.) If a woman is appointed, she is referred to as the executrix.

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.

File and Use

In most states, title insurers file rate schedules, title insurance policies and endorsement forms with the State Insurance Department or other state agency and then may use such items or rates starting within a specified period of time after filing. Rates so filed usually are mandatory.

Fire Insurance

Insurance against loss or damage by fire to specific property.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage having a rate of interest which remains the same for the life of the mortgage.

A proceeding to enforce a lien by the sale of the property in order to satisfy the debt.


The sale of property used as security for a debt after default in payment.

Forfeiture of Title
A common penalty for the violation of conditions or restrictions imposed by the seller upon the buyer in a deed or other proper document. For example, a deed may be granted upon the condition that if liquor is sold on the land, the title to the land will be forfeited (that is, lost) by the buyer (or some later owner) and will revert to the seller.


Full Disclosure

In real estate, revealing all the known facts which may affect the decision of a buyer or tenant. A broker must disclose known defects in the property for sale or lease.

General Warranty Deed : Most common form of deed in Ohio. If there is just one buyer, title will upon death pass to such owner’s heirs unless otherwise provided for by the owner’s will. If there is more than one buyer then a tenancy-in-common among owners is created, which means that each buyer owns an ‘undivided’ interest in the property. Upon the death of one of the owners, title to their ‘undivided’ part interest will pass to that owner’s heirs  unless otherwise provided for by the owners will. The seller warrants the title to be free and clear except as stated in the deed.
The seller takes on the responsibility for soundness of entire chain of title. Although the seller’s warranties are desirable, title insurance has reduced their importance. Buyers and lenders generally rely on title insurance to protect the investment. Therefore, title insurance is also a benefit to the seller as it may reduce actual exposure if old title defects arise

Good Faith or Mortgage Savings Clause

A clause in CC&RS which provides that “a violation thereof shall not defeat or render invalid the lien of any mortgage or deed of trust made in good faith and for value.”

Good Faith Purchaser or Mortgagee
A person who buys or lends in good faith, that is, without notice of any existing problem, where value is paid or lent.

A transfer of real estate, between individuals, by deed. A transfer of real estate from a sovereign is accomplished by patent or royal decree.

Grant Deed
One of the many types of deeds used to transfer real property. Contains warranties against prior conveyances or encumbrances. When title insurance is purchased, warranties in a deed are of little practical significance.

The buyer on a deed.


The seller on a deed.



A person appointed by a court to manage the person and/or property of one who is legally incompetent to handle his/her own affairs.

Hazard Insurance
Real estate insurance protecting against fire, some natural causes, vandalism, etc., depending upon the policy. Buyer often adds liability insurance and extended coverage for personal property.

A statutory protection from execution or the establishment of title by occupation of real property in accordance with the laws of various States or the Federal Government.

A trust type of account established by lenders for the accumulation of borrower’s funds to meet periodic payments of taxes, mortgage insurance premiums, and/or future insurance policy premiums, required to protect their security.

Impound Account

An account held in trust by the lender in which the borrower is required to place monthly deposits for taxes, insurance and other purposes.

Insurance against possible loss or damage. A title insurance policy is a contract of indemnity.

(1) Deceased without leaving a legally valid will.
(2) Property not disposed of by will or bequest.

Joint and Survivorship Deed : Warranty Deed creating Tenants in Common with the Right of Survivorship-Used when two or more persons are buyers. Upon the death of one of the owners, interest is not considered an  asset of the estate buy title to the interest transfers by contact to the survivor(s). Such interest, however,  must be considered in the decedents estate for Ohio Estate Tax purposes (and for federal tax purposes)  as if it was an asset of the estate. The seller also warrants title to be free and clear except as otherwise stated in the deed.


Judgment Lien

A lien against the property of a judgment debtor. An involuntary lien.

Land Contract (Land Sale)
An installment contract for the sale of land whereby the seller (vendor) holds legal title and the buyer (vendee) has equitable title until the sales price is paid in full.

Land Sale Contract

An agreement to sell and purchase wherein legal title is withheld from the purchaser until such time as the required payments to the seller have been completed.
Lease Option (Lease with the option to purchase)
A lease containing an option giving the lessee the right to purchase the property. The price and terms of the purchase must be set forth for the option to be valid. The option may run for the length of the lease or only for a portion of the lease period.


One who lends money to borrowers.

An agreement by which an owner of real property (lessor) gives the right of possession to another (lessee), for a specified period of time (term) and for a specified consideration (rent).

Lease Option (Lease With Option To Purchase)
A lease containing an option giving the lessee the right to purchase the property. The price and terms of the purchase must be set forth for the option to be valid. The option may run for the length of the lease or only for a portion of the lease period.

Legal Description

A description of land recognized by law, based on government surveys, spelling out the exact boundaries of the entire piece of land. It should so thoroughly identify a parcel of land that it cannot be confused with any other.


Any person or entity advancing funds which are to be repaid. A general term encompassing all mortgagees, and beneficiaries under deeds of trust.


The tenant under a lease.

The landlord under a lease.

Legal Description
Description of real property, as used in legal documents in contrast to a street address by which the property is commonly known. Legal descriptions usually refer to recorded maps, surveys, or other public documents.

A hold, a claim or charge allowed a creditor upon the lands of a debtor.

A security interest in real or personal property which places the holder in a position prior to the rights of the general creditors of the owner. Examples include Trust Deeds, mortgages, special assessments, recorded judgments, mechanic liens, taxes, etc.

An encumbrance against property for money, either voluntary or involuntary. All liens are encumbrances but all encumbrances are not liens.

Limited Warranty Deed : The seller only warrants title as to the period that he/she held the title. They are not
responsible for matters previous to the sellers acquisition. This is often used on commercial transactions where the
seller and buyer agree to rely on the title insurance for protection but require the seller to account, if necessary, for
matters occurring during the seller’s ownership.

Lis Pendens
A notice recorded in the official records of a county to indicate that a lawsuit is pending affecting the lands described in the notice.

Lot : A measured parcel of land that has fixed boundaries.

Market Value
The price that real property would reasonably be expected to bring were it to be offered for sale with a reasonable sales effort over a reasonable period of time.


Mechanics Lien

A lien created by statute for the purpose of securing priority of payment for the price or value of work performed and materials furnished in construction or repair of improvements to land, and which attaches to the land as well as the improvements.

Metes and Bounds
A term used in describing the boundary lines of land setting forth all the boundary lines together with their terminal points and angles.


A written document executed by the owner of land by which the land is given as security for the payment of a debt or performance obligation (rarely used in California).

(1) To hypothecate as security, real property for the payment of a debt. The borrower (mortgagor) retains possession and use of the property.
(2) The instrument by which real estate is hypothecated as security for the repayment of a loan.

The party lending the money and receiving the mortgage.

Mortgagee’s Policy of Title Insurance
Insurance that protects the lender by guaranteeing that the lender’s mortgage is the first and best lien on the subject property. Coverage decreases with each mortgage payment.


The party who borrows the money and gives the mortgage.

A unilateral agreement containing an express and absolute promise of the signer to pay to a named person, or order, or bearer, a definite sum of money at a specified date or on demand. Usually provides for interest and, concerning real property, is secured by a mortgage or trust deed.


Written evidence of a debt by a borrower that included a promise of payment in accordance with specified terms. A valuable document which must not be lost even when paid in full. In real property transactions, a note is usually secured by a Deed of Trust.

Notice of Completion

A notice which should be recorded to indicate completion of a work of improvement to real property. A valid notice of completion limits the time for filing valid mechanic’s liens.

Notice of Default
Recorded notice that a default has occurred under a Deed of Trust and/or Note.

One to whom an obligation (promise) is owned.

One who legally binds (obligates) oneself, such as the maker of a promissory note.

Offset Statement
A statement furnished to an escrow from an owner of land subject to an encumbrance (note) as to the balance due. Not to be confused with a beneficiary’s statement. This can also be provided by a tenant regarding his rights of possession.

Open End Deed of Trust

A Deed of Trust which secures additional notes for funds that a lender may advance to a trustor, subsequent to the execution of the original loan.

Original Cost
The purchase price of property, paid by the present owner. The present owner may or may not be the first owner.

Owner’s Policy
A policy of title insurance usually insuring an owner of real estate against loss occasioned by defects in, liens against or unmarketability of the owner’s title.


Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance : Insurance against loss by virtue of defects, liens, encumbrances and other matters of public records; PLUS protection against hidden defects that cannot be discovered by any title examination.   Examples are forgery, fraud, missing heirs outstanding dower interest, etc.

Any area of land contained within a single description.

An association of two or more persons who have contracted to join in business and share the profits.

Party Wall
A wall generally erected on a property boundary or between two lots for the common benefit and use of the property owners on either side.

A conveyance of title to land by the Federal or State Government.

One who receives payments.


One who makes payments.

Personal Property (movable) 
Any property that is not designated by law as real property (i.e., money, goods, evidences of debt, rights of action, furniture, automobiles).

Personal Property

All property which is not land or improvements permanently affixed to land. Example: stocks, bonds, furniture, automobiles, clothing, promissory notes, etc. Items of tangible personal property are often referred to as chattels.


A title term referring to Property In Question. 



A payment that combines Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.

Plat map
A plan, map or chart of a tract or town site dividing a parcel of land into lots.

Plat map
A map that shows how land is subdivided into lots.

A charge made by a lender. One point equals one percent of the loan.

A written contract of title insurance.

Power of Attorney

A document by which one person (called the “principal”) authorizes another person (called the “attorney-in-fact”) to act for him/her in a specific manner in designated transactions.

Power of Attorney
A written authorization to an agent to perform specified acts on behalf of his principal. This may be granted as either a general or a limited power.

Preliminary Title Report

A report from a title company of the present condition of title made prior to the issuance of a title policy.

Pre, Prelim or Preliminary Report

A written report issued by a title company, preliminary to issuing title insurance, which shows the recorded condition of title of the property in question. See Commitment.

Prepayment Penalty

An agreement to pay a penalty for the payment of a note before it actually becomes due.



The order of preference, rank or position of the various liens and encumbrances affecting the title to a particular parcel of land. Usually, the date and time of recording determine the relative priority between documents.

Priority Inspection
A title term referring to the type of inspection made in connection with insuring a new construction loan. In making the inspection of the property, the title company must be assured that the work of improvement had not yet begun when the lender’s deed of trust was recorded.

The allocation of property taxes, interest, insurance premiums, rental income, etc. between buyer and seller proportionate to time of use.

Public Domain

Land owned by the government and belonging to the community at large.

Public Records
The transcriptions in a recorder’s office of instruments which have been recorded, including the indexes pertaining to them.

Quiet Title
To free the title to a piece of land from the claims of other persons by means of a court action called a “quiet title” action. The court decree obtained is a “quiet title” decree.

Quitclaim Deed
A deed operating as a release; intended to pass any title, interest, or claim which the grantor may have in the property, but not containing any warranty of a valid interest or title in the grantor.

Quitclaim Deed

A deed which conveys whatever right, title or interest the grantor may have in property at the time of conveyance. There is no guarantee implied in a quitclaim deed.


Quit claim Deed
Simplest form of deed as it only conveys whatever interest the seller owns or may own; nor
warranties are expressed or implied. It creates tenancy-in-common if more than one buyer is involved. The  buyer has no recourse against the seller for defects in the title. Title insurance is advisable whenever the buyer accepts title by Quit Claim Deed.

REO (Real Estate Owned by Lending Institutions)
Properties acquired by lenders through foreclosures or deeds in lieu of foreclosures.

Real Property (immovable)
Land, from the center of the earth and extending above the surface indefinitely, including all inherent natural attributes and any man-made improvements of a permanent nature place thereon. For example minerals, trees, buildings, appurtenant rights.

Real Property
Land or improvements permanently affixed to land.


An instrument used to transfer title from a trustee to the equitable owner of real estate, when title is held as collateral security for a debt. Most commonly used upon payment in full of a trust deed. Also called a deed of reconveyance or release.

The document that is evidence that the Deed of Trust affecting real property has been paid in full and that the lender and the trustee no longer have any interest in the property.


Filing for recording, an executed document, in the office of the county recorder, a very necessary process in dealing with real property.


Filing documents affecting real property as a matter of public record, giving notice to future purchasers, creditors, or other interested parties. Recording is controlled by statute and usually requires the witnessing and notarizing of an instrument to be recorded.


A contract which one insurer makes with another to protect the first insurer, wholly or partially, against loss or liability by reason of a risk under a separate and distinct contract as insurer of a third party. Reinsurance differs from coinsurance in that, in the case of reinsurance, only one insurer has a direct contractual relationship with the insured, and that insurer (commonly referred to as the “lead insurer”) purchases reinsurance in order to lessen or spread the risk. The “lead insurer” will assume a risk up to a limit (the amount of which is referred to as the “retention”) and any loss which exceeds this limit would be borne by the reinsurers. In the case of coinsurance, each coinsurer has a direct contractual relationship with the insured, and the risk is shared in agreed-upon proportions from the first dollar of loss.

Requests for Notice of Default
A recorded request for notification of a recorded notice of default on a Deed of Trust.

Request for Notice of Default
A recorded request for notification of a recorded notice of default on a Deed of Trust.


Rights reserved by the grantor in conveying property, or a right which had previously been reserved.


Often called restrictive covenants. Provisions in a deed or other instrument whereby an owner of land prohibits or restricts certain use, occupation or improvement of the land.

This is often referred to as covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R) in regards to a piece of property, setting limitations on its use.

Right of Way
(1) The right to pass over property owned by another, usually based upon an easement.
(2) A path or thoroughfare over which passage is made.
(3) A strip of land over which facilities such as highways, railroads or power lines are built.

Sale and Leaseback
A situation in which the grantor in a deed to a parcel of property sells it and retains possession by simultaneously leasing it from the grantee.



In title industry parlance, a careful exploration and examination of the public records in an effort to find all recorded instruments relating to a particular chain of title.

One who sells property to another.

Separate Property
Real property owned by one spouse exclusive of any interest of the other spouse.

Special Purpose Deeds
Other types of deeds are necessary under particular situations, but since their applications is limited; no description need be given here. Such special purpose deeds include Sheriffs Deed (foreclosure), Executor and Administrators Deed and Guardians Deed (Probate Court), Trustees Deed (Bankruptcy) and Auditors Deed (tax sales). For further explanation or advice as to the use or preparation of any deed, it is suggested that you consult an attorney.


One who settles upon unoccupied land without legal claim or authority. See Adverse Possession.

A copy of the last policy or report issued by a title insurer which described the title to land upon which a new search is to be made. In some states, this is called a back title letter or back title certificate.

Street Improvement Bonds
Interest-bearing bonds issued, usually by a city or county, to secure the payment of assessments levied against land to pay for street improvements. The property owner may pay off the particular assessment against the property, or may allow the assessment to “go to bond” and pay installments of principal and interest over a period of years, usually at the city or county treasurer’s office. The holder of a bond received payments from these offices.

An area of land laid out and divided into lots, blocks, and building sites, and in which public facilities are laid out, such as streets, alleys, parks, and easements for public utilities.


Subject To
Usually referred to as the condition of title that exists at the time of acquisition by the buyer, such as subject to a Deed of Trust of record.

Subordination Agreement
An agreement by which a prior lien is made inferior to an otherwise junior lien.

Subordination Agreement

An agreement by which one encumbrance (i.e. a mortgage) is made subject to another encumbrance (i.e. a mortgage) is made subject to another encumbrance (perhaps a lease). To “subordinate” is to “make subject to,” or to make of lower priority.

Surface Rights
Rights to enter upon and use the surface of a parcel of land, usually in connection with an oil and gas lease or other mineral lease. They may be “implied” by the language of the lease (no explicit reservation or exception of the surface rights) or “explicitly” set forth.

The measurement by a surveyor of real property which delineates the boundaries of a parcel of land. An ALTA survey additionally delineates the exact location of all improvements, encroachments, easements and other matters affecting the title to the property in question. A survey may be required by a title insurance company whenever the company is requested to issue an ALTA Extended Coverage Policy.

Tax Collector
One who collects taxes on property.

Tax Deed

A deed executed by the tax collector to the state, county or city when no redemption is made from a tax sale.

Tax Sale
Property on which current county taxes have not been paid is “sold to the state.” No actual sale takes place – the title is transferred to the state and the owner may redeem it by paying taxes, penalties and costs. If it has not been redeemed within five years, the property (referred to as “tax sold property”) is actually deeded to the state. (Similar “sales” to cities take place for unpaid city taxes.)

Leaving a legally valid will at death.



Evidence of a person’s right to or the extent of his interest in property.


The evidence a person has to prove ownership of land. 

(1) A combination of all the elements that constitute a legal right to own, possess, use, control, enjoy and dispose of real estate or a right or interest therein.
(2) The rights of ownership recognized and protected by the law.

Title Guaranty :
A guaranty that protects owners and lenders that reports all defects, liens, encumbrances and other matters of public record which affect the title to the real estate being examined.

Title Insurance

Insured statement of the condition of title or ownership of real property. For a one-time-only premium, the named insured and their heirs are protected against title defects, liens and encumbrances existing as of the date of the policy and not specifically excluded from it. In the event of a claim, the title company provides legal defense from the policyholder and pays any covered losses incurred as a result of such claim.

Title Insurance

Insurance against loss or damage resulting from defects in title to a particular parcel of real property.

Title Report

See Preliminary Report.

Title Search

An examination of public records, laws and court decisions to disclose facts regarding ownership of real estate.

Title Search

A review of all recorded documents affecting a specific parcel of land to determine the present condition of title. An experienced title officer or attorney reviews and analyzes all material relating to the search, then determines the sufficiency and status of title for insurance of a title insurance policy.


Trust Deed

see Deed of Trust.

Trustee (in a Deed of Trust)
The entity to which property is conveyed in trust, not to be confused with the beneficiary. The Trustee is the entity which issues a Full Reconveyance upon satisfaction of the debt secured by the Deed of Trust.

Trustee/Trustor (in a Deed of Trust)
See Deed of Trust.

The entity to which property is conveyed in trust, not to be confused with the beneficiary.

Trustor (in a Deed of Trust)
The borrower under a Deed of Trust.

Underwritten Company
A title firm which conducts title searches but is not qualified to insure, and therefore issues policies of a qualified title insurer (underwriter) in return for a portion of the premium.

Variable Interest Rate
An interest rate that fluctuates with the current cost of money; subject to adjustment if the prevailing rate moves up or down.

One who is purchasing property under a land sale contract.


One who is selling property under a land sale contract.

Vendor’s Lien

An implied lien given by law to a vendor for the remaining unpaid and unsecured part of a purchase price.



Neighborhood; often used to refer to the county or place in which an acknowledgment is made before a notary; also refers to the county in which a lawsuit may be filed or tried.


The names, status and manner in which title of ownership is held with a fixed or determinable interest in a particular parcel of real property; also that portion of a title report or policy setting forth the above.


The manner in which the owner of real property holds title. For example, John Jones, a single man.

To voluntarily and intentionally relinquish a known right, claim or privilege.

Warranty Deed
A deed used in many states to convey fee title to real property.

Local government regulations relating to the use of property