Glossary of Terms

Abandonment

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

A summary.

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.)(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Abatement

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

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Acknowledgement

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.(back to top)

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. See also Indexing, Rate Index.(back to top)

Administrator

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.(back to top)

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 valorem.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Affidavit

A 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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

All-Inclusive Rate

Rate which includes charges for title insurance, searching or abstract fees and examination fees.(back to top)

All Inclusive Trust Deed (AITD/Wrap-Around)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Amendment

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

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Appraisal

An estimate of value of property resulting from analysis of facts about the property; an opinion of value.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Assessments

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.(back to top)

Assignee

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

Assignment

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.(back to top)

Assignor

One who makes an assignment. For example, the assignor of a Deed of Trust or contract.(back to top)

Assumption

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.(back to top)

Attorney in Fact

One who holds a power of attorney from another allowing him to act on behalf of the grantor of the power.(back to top)

Back Title Letter or Certificate

See Starter.(back to top)

Bankruptcy

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.(back to top)

Beneficiary

See Deed of Trust.

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Branch

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

Breach of Contract

Failure to perform a contract, in whole or part, without legal excuse.(back to top)

Building Contract

An agreement between an owner or lessee and a building contractor, setting forth terms relative to the construction of a proposed structure.(back to top)

Buy down

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 buy down is usually for the first one to five years of the loan. See also Certificate Backed Mortgage.(back to top)

Capitalization Rate

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

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Closing

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.(back to top)

Cloud on Title

An irregularity, possible claim, or encumbrance which, if valid, would adversely affect or impair the title.(back to top)

Coinsurance

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. See Reinsurance.(back to top)

Collateral

By or at the side, additional or auxiliary. Mistakenly used to mean collateral security.(back to top)

Collateral Security

Most commonly used to mean some security in addition to the personal obligation of the borrower.(back to top)

Collection Service

A service performed by a neutral third party in receiving and disbursing loan payments as instructed by the parties concerned.(back to top)

Commitment

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Comparable Sales

Sales that have similar characteristics as the subject property, used for analysis in the appraisal. Commonly called “comps.”(back to top)

Condemnation

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.”(back to top)

Condominium

A multi-family or other structure in which units are individually owned and in which owners of individual units also own an undivided interest in common areas.(back to top)

Conservator

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.(back to top)

Constructive Notice

Notice imparted by the public records of the county when documents entitled to recording are recorded.(back to top)

Contingent

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

Conveyance

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

Corporation

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.(back to top)

County Assessor

One who sets value of property for taxation purposes.(back to top)

Covenant

(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.(back to top)

Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions

Commonly called “CC&R's” 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&R's are sometimes referred to as private zoning.(back to top)

Debt

Money owing from one person to another.(back to top)

Debtor

One who owes a debt.(back to top)

Decree of Distribution

A probate court decree which determines how the estate of a decedent shall be distributed.(back to top)

Deed

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Deed Restrictions

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

Defect  

A blemish, imperfection or deficiency. A defective title is one that is irregular and faulty.(back to top)

Default

Failure to perform a duty or pay an obligation.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Deficiency Judgment

A personal judgment in a judicial foreclosure action for the remaining amount due after the sale of the security.(back to top)

Demand Note

A note having no date for repayment, but due on demand of the lender.(back to top)

Deposit

(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.(back to top)

Description

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.(back to top)

Earnest Money

Down payment made by a purchaser of real estate as evidence of good faith; a deposit or partial payment.(back to top)

Easement

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.(back to top)

Effective Demand

A qualifying term meaning the ability to pay as well as desire to buy.(back to top)

Eminent Domain

The right of a government to take privately owned property for public purposes under condemnation proceedings upon payment of its reasonable value. See Condemnation.(back to top)

Encroachment

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.(back to top)

Encumbrance

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.).(back to top)

Endorsement

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

Equity

(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.).(back to top)

Escheat

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

Escrow

An independent third party, such as International City Escrow, 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.(back to top)

Estate

(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.(back to top)

Exception

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.(back to top)

Execution

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.(back to top)

Executor

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage having a rate of interest which remains the same for the life of the mortgage.(back to top)

Foreclosure

The sale of property used as security for a debt after default in payment.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Good Faith or Mortgage Savings Clause

A clause in CC&R's 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.”(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Grant

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

Grantee/Grantor  

See Deed.  (back to top)

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.(back to top)

Guardian

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Homestead

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.(back to top)

Impounds

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.(back to top)

Indemnity

Insurance against possible loss or damage. A title insurance policy is a contract of indemnity.(back to top)

Intestate  

(1) Deceased without leaving a legally valid will.

(2) Property not disposed of by will or bequest.(back to top)

Judgment Lien

A lien against the property of a judgment debtor. An involuntary lien.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Lease

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).(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Lender

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

Lessee

The tenant under a lease.(back to top)

Lessor

The landlord under a lease.(back to top)

Lien

An encumbrance against property for money, either voluntary or involuntary. All liens are encumbrances but all encumbrances are not liens.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Mortgage  

(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.(back to top)

Mortgagee

The party lending the money and receiving the mortgage.(back to top)

Mortgagor

The party who borrows the money and gives the mortgage.(back to top)

Note

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Notice of Default Recorded notice that a default has occurred under a Deed of Trust and/or Note.(back to top)

Obligee

One to whom an obligation (promise) is owned.(back to top)

Obligor

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

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Original Cost

The purchase price of property, paid by the present owner. The present owner may or may not be the first owner.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Parcel

Any area of land contained within a single description.(back to top)

Partnership

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

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.(back to top)

Patent

A conveyance of title to land by the Federal or State Government.(back to top)

Payee

One who receives payments.(back to top)

Payor

One who makes payments.(back to top)

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).  (back to top) 

PIQ

A title term referring to Property In Question.  (back to top)

PITI

A payment that combines Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.(back to top)

PLAT

A plan, map or chart of a tract or town site dividing a parcel of land into lots.(back to top)

Points

A charge made by a lender. One point equals one percent of the loan.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Priority

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Proration

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

Public Domain

Land owned by the government and belonging to the community at large.(back to top)

Public Records

The transcriptions in a recorder’s office of instruments which have been recorded, including the indexes pertaining to them.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

REO (Real Estate Owned by Lending Institutions)

Properties acquired by lenders through foreclosures or deeds in lieu of foreclosures.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Reconveyance

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.(back to top)

Recording

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.(back to top)

Reinsurance

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.(back to top)

Requests for Notice of Default

A recorded request for notification of a recorded notice of default on a Deed of Trust.(back to top)

Reservation

Right reserved by the grantor in conveying property, or a right which had previously been reserved.(back to top)

Restrictions

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Search

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.(back to top)

Separate Property

Real property owned by one spouse exclusive of any interest of the other spouse.(back to top)

Squatter

One who settles upon unoccupied land without legal claim or authority. See Adverse Possession.(back to top)

Starter

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Subdivision

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Survey

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.(back to top)

Tax Deed

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

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.)(back to top)

Testate  

Leaving a legally valid will at death.(back to top)

Title

(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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Title Report

See Preliminary Report.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Trustee/Trustor (in a Deed of Trust)

See Deed of Trust.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

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.(back to top)

Vendee/Vendor

See Agreement of Sale.

Vendor’s Lien

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

Venue

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.(back to top)

Vesting

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.(back to top)

Waive

To voluntarily and intentionally relinquish a known right, claim or privilege.(back to top)

Warranty Deed

A deed used in many states to convey fee title to real property (back to top)