©Jeanne Johnson & Associates
Consulting and Education for the Land Title Industry

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

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

ABSTRACT or ABSTRACT OF TITLE A condensed history or summary of all recorded documents affecting title to a particular tract of land. Most often in form of a book.

ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT 1) 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. 2) The specific name of the 20 year Judgment lien filed on behalf of an Agency of the Federal Government.

ABSTRACTOR or ABSTRACTER A professional familiar with the filing systems and retrieval of recorded land documents, tax information, etc. Often used synonymously with “searcher”.

ABUT To touch or border on. For example, a piece of land bordering on a street or an adjoining property is said to abut such street or property.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE Clause in a deed of trust or mortgage, which accelerates the time when the indebtedness becomes due. For example, some deeds of trust contain a 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.

ACCESSThe right to enter and leave a tract of land from a public way, or lands of another.

ACCOMODATION 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.

ACCRETION Building up of land due to natural forces of water depositing rock, sand, soil, etc. An increase in dry land created by the gradual accumulation of waterborne solid material over formerly riparian land, i.e accretion by alluvion.

ACRE An area of land encompassing 43,560 Square feet

ACKNOWLEDGMENT The act by which a party executing a legal document goes before an authorized officer or notary public and declares the same to be his/her voluntary act or deed.

ACTUAL LOSS The true financial cost of remedying a title or survey defect or the reduction in property value that can be directly attributed to a defect. The loss must have been actually incurred in order to receive payment.

ACTUAL NOTICE Information that can be observed, heard, or otherwise sensed.

AD LITEM A legal term meaning in this case only.
ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE Mortgages with an interest rate that may change up or down depending on a given index such as the current Treasury bill rate.

ADMINISTRATOR, ADM OR ADMIN. A person appointed by a probate court to settle the affairs of a deceased person who had no will.

ADVERSE POSSESSION Acquisition of title to real property through continued occupation over a period of time, as set by state statute. Title acquired in this way is not considered marketable until established by court proceedings against the owner of record.

AGENT Any relationship in which a party (agent) acts for or represents another (principal) under the authority of the latter. Title Agents sell Policies of a Title Underwriter, who actually holds reserves to pay title losses.

A written contract entered into between the seller (vendor) and buyer (vendee) for sale of real estate.

AFFIDAVIT A written statement, made under oath. A person who lies under oath is subject to penalty and recourse in a court of law.

AKA Abbreviation for “Also Known As”.

ALIEN a citizen of another country

ALIENATION Transfer, as in transfer of title .

ALIQUOT PARTS The name for the dividing of land in the public land survey into sections, quarter sections, etc.

ALLODIAL TENURE The absolute ownership of real estate which is subject to inheritance by the owner’s heirs or to disposition by the owner as he sees fit, as contrasted with the feudal system of ownership. Allodial tenure is characteristic of ownership in the United States.

ALLUVION The increasing of land, especially along riverbanks, caused by the natural deposits and build-up of sediment. Such sediment is also called alluvian.

ALTA The American Land Title Association is a trade organization of Title Insurers, Abstractors, Title Searchers, and other interested parties. They maintain standard forms used commonly in the primary and secondary mortgage markets.

ALTA FORM 1 ENDORSEMENT Assessments  This endorsement is designed for use with the Loan Policy to provide the insured lender with protection against loss sustained by reason of any assessments for street improvements, under construction or completed at the date of the endorsement, having priority over the lien of insured mortgage.

ALTA FORM 2 ENDORSEMENT Federal Truth in Lending:  It covers a lender for a loss arising from a judicial determination terminating the lien of an insured mortgage due to the exercise of a right of rescission granted by the Federal Truth in Lending Act or Consumer Credit Protection Act.

ALTA FORM 3 ENDORSEMENT Zoning Unimproved Land:  This endorsement insures certain zoning matters as they pertain to unimproved property. The endorsement specifies the zoning classification and the use or uses permitted thereunder.  Issuance of this coverage requires an examination of the applicable zoning ordinances and amendments thereto to determine the particular zone and permitted uses of the insured land.

ALTA FORM 3.1 ENDORSEMENT Zoning for Improved Property:  This endorsement covers zoning matters for improved property. Like the ALTA Form 3, it describes the zoning classification and permitted property uses, but additionally, it insures against loss resulting from a court order prohibiting the insured use or compelling the removal or alteration of a structure on the land because of certain specific zoning violations.  This endorsement may only be issued on already improved property when a determination can be made as to the property’s zoning classification, uses permitted thereunder, and zoning limitations as to building and building site size.

ALTA FORM 4 ENDORSEMENT Condominium:  The ALTA Form 4 endorsement provides insurance that the condominium estate is created in accordance with local laws. In addition, it covers violations of covenants, conditions and restrictions, as well as certain encroachment matters.  This endorsement may be issued after a review of the laws, the condominium declarations map and related documents indicates all of the listed assurances can be given.

ALTA FORM 4.1 ENDORSEMENT Condominium  :  The coverage afforded by this endorsement is essentially the same as the coverage afforded by the ALTA Form 4, F.A. Form 17, and the CLTA Form 115.1; except it provides affirmative coverage that there are no charges or assessments which are due and unpaid at Date of Policy.

ALTA FORM 5 ENDORSEMENT Planned Unit Development:  This endorsement provides similar coverage to the ALTA Form 4, but for planned unit developments. It insures against loss or damage due to violations of restrictive covenants, forfeiture or reversion provisions of restrictive covenants, assessments gaining priority over an insured mortgage, compelled removal of improvements due to encroachment and failure of title by reason of a right of first refusal.

ALTA FORM 5.1 ENDORSEMENT Planned Unit Development:  The coverage afforded by this endorsement is essentially the same as the coverage afforded by the ALTA Form 5, F.A. Form 18, and CLTA Form 115.2; except it provides affirmative coverage that there are no charges or assessments which are due and unpaid at Date of Policy.

ALTA FORM 6 ENDORSEMENT – Variable Rate Mortgages:  This endorsement affords insured lenders with protection against loss by reason of, among other things, the invalidity, loss of priority or unenforceability of the lien of the insured mortgage resulting from the provisions therein which provide for changes in the rate of interest (variable rate, convertible, renegotiable rate, adjustable rate, or shared appreciation mortgages).

ALTA FORM 6.1 ENDORSEMENT Variable Rate Mortgages, Regulations:  ALTA lender’s renegotiable rate coverage.

ALTA FORM 6.2 ENDORSEMENT Variable Rate Mortgage with Negative Amortization:  Coverage for a variable interest rate loan which contains negative amortization features may be extended with the ALTA Form 6.2 Endorsement.  Disclosure of variable interest and negative amortization provisions in the recorded instrument is necessary to consider issuance of the ALTA Form 6.2. Requests to issue this endorsement will usually be accompanied with a request to issue the policy with a liability for 110 percent or 125 percent of the loan amount.

ALTA FORM 7 ENDORSEMENT Manufactured Housing:  To remove doubts as to whether or not a manufactured housing unit or mobile home on subject property is included within the policy coverage, the ALTA Form 7 Endorsement is available.  It expands the definition of “land” as used in the policy to include the manufactured housing unit as real property.  Issuance of this endorsement relies on provisions in state laws allowing the manufactured housing unit to be converted into real property.  If the conversion has been proper and if such unit is now being taxed as a real property improvement, the endorsement may be issued.

ALTA FORM 8.1 ENDORSEMENT Environmental Protection/Residential:  This endorsement is designed for use with any ALTA loan policy. When the loan is secured by a deed of trust or mortgage on property used primarily for residential purposes to provide the insured lender with certain protection against loss or damage sustained by reason of loss of priority of the lien of the insured mortgage over any environmental protection liens recorded in the public records or created pursuant to certain state statutes.  This Coverage is not available for owner’s policies

ALTA FORM 9 ENDORSEMENT Restrictions, Encroachments & Minerals:  This endorsement is designed as an explicit extension of coverage otherwise provided to insured lenders by the ALTA Loan Policy. ALTA Form 9 was developed to meet “off-record” occurrences. The Endorsement extends the lender’s coverage in three general areas: (a) covenants, conditions and restrictions, (b) encroachments, and (c) rights of others to use the surface of the land for mineral development.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE PRODUCTS A series of products introduced which use little or no title research, but rather substitute risk underwriting, credit scores, or cursory title checks in place of title insurance. No protection is offered for an owner under these products, and in some states they have been determined as illegal.

AMORTIZE To reduce a debt by means of regular periodic payments which include amounts applicable to both principal and interest.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR.) The actual rate of interest paid to the lender per the requirement of federal truth in lending statute. The APR includes such things as prepaid interest, points and other fees that increase the lender’s yield.

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

APOSTILLE A certificate issued by the Secretary of State that proves the authenticity of a Notary’s signature and seal. An apostille alone is sufficient proof of authentication for notarized documents exchanged between countries which abide by the Hague Convention; otherwise a chain of authenticating certificates may be necessary.

APPROVED ATTORNEY An attorney, pre-approved by a title insurer, whose title opinion is acceptable for a title insurer to issue a title insurance policy.

APPURTENANCE Anything that is automatically transferred with the land – includes fixtures, improvements and rights, which routinely go with the land, or “run with the land” unless specifically severed.

ARB, ARBITRARY MAP or Arbitraries “ARBS” a word used in the title industry which refers to simplified forms of land descriptions arbitrarily used in indexing in title plants in lieu of the more involved and complex descriptions contained in deeds, mortgages and other real estate instruments.
ARELLO The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials is comprised of the official governmental agencies and other organizations around the world that issue real estate licenses/registrations in addition to regulating real estate practice and enforcing real estate law.
ARPENT Unit of length and area used in France, Louisiana, and Canada. As a unit of length, approximately 191.8 feet (180 old French ‘pied’, or foot). The (square) arpent is a unit of area, approximately .845 acres, or 36,802 square feet.
ASSESSMENT A local tax levied against a property for a specific purpose, such as a sewer or street lights. May also be referred to as a special, levied or pending assessment.
ASSESSMENT ROLLS The public record of taxable property.

ASSESSOR A public official who establishes the value of a property for purposes of taxation.

ASSET Anything with a dollar value that you own.

ASSIGNMENT The transfer of a mortgage or other instrument from one individual or entity to another.

ASSIGNEE One to whom a transfer of interest is made. For example, the assignee of a mortgage or contract may not be the original person that signed the documents, but is now receiving the benefit of those documents. Mortgage Co. A originated the loan, assigned it to Mortgage Co. B, (the assignee), so Co. B receives the payments.

ASSIGNOR One who makes an assignment. Mortgage Co. A in the example above.

ASSUMPTION A mortgage where a new owner takes over payments. The original borrower remains liable on the mortgage note, however, unless released by the lender

ATTACH the act of a sheriff or other court officer in taking possession of a person or property under the authority and direction of a write or order issued by a court.

ATTORNEY IN FACT One who holds a power of attorney from another allowing him to execute a legal document, such as a deed, mortgage, etc. on behalf of the grantor .

ATTORNEY’S OPINION the written statement of an attorney setting forth what he believes to be the condition of a real estate title.

AUDITOR A public official who maintains records on real property assessments, delinquent taxes, etc.

AUTHENTICATE To prove a document or work is not a forgery

AVULSION A sudden loss of land due to natural forces, such as washing away of shore. It is often the result of a flood, earthquake, etc.

AZIMUTH A measure of Degrees, Minutes and Seconds going in a clockwise direction, generally measured from North, but which can be measured from south , so long as the initial direction is given from which the measurement is to be deflected.

BACK TITLE LETTER Also called “Back Title Certificate” in some areas, or “Starter” in others. When titles have been previously examined, title companies often give subsequent examiners the information setting forth the condition of the title at the time of the previous examination and authorizing them to begin their subsequent examination from the previous examination.

BARGAIN AND SALE DEED Also called “Fee Simple Deed,” this is a type of deed of conveyance that presumes that the grantor holds title, but that makes no warranty with respect to the title.

BASE LINE The major East/West designation of the Public Land survey.

BANKRUPT A person who, through a court proceeding, is relieved from the payment of debts after surrender of all his assets to a court appointed trustee.

BEARING The direction of a point or object with respect to another.

BEARING TREES To help locate a monument which could not be placed properly, due to terrain, surveyors blazed ‘witness’ trees near the monument, or built an earth mound with trenches around the post in prairie. The surveyors recorded all or some of the blazed trees in their notebooks, and these survey markers are known as bearing trees.

BENCH MARK A survey marker of known location and elevation.

BENEFICIARY 1) The lender on the note secured by a deed of trust 2)One for whose benefit a trust is created 3) A person who receives and benefits from the gifts or acts of another

BEQUEATH To leave Personal property in an estate by a will.

BILL OF SALE The instrument by which title to chattels or personal property (not real property) is transferred.

BLACKACRE or BLACK ACRE A generic name for a parcel of land. John Doe is to any person as Blackacre is to any piece of land.

BLANKET EASEMENT An easement, covering a large portion of land, which is not defined as to location or width. In some locations a blanket easement is considered a title problem, in others, customary.

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

BLOCK An area of land within a subdivision that has been surveyed and platted, most often containing lots or outlots.

BOILERPLATE The pre-printed part of a form that is the same for all properties. For example, a FNMA mortgage, where the language is the standard for all loans, except the fill-in portion.

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.

BOND 1) A written promise to pay to the bearer or owner a stated sum of money at a specified time, with interest usually represented by interest coupons attached to the bond. 2) A written commitment assuring the payment of a stipulated sum of money. 3) A certificate of debt issued by a government or corporation guaranteeing payment to bearer of a specified sum of money, plus interest, on a specified future date.

BOOK AND PAGE The location of a recorded document in an office of records is referenced by a specific book number and page number within that book. Ther term is now frequently replaced by Document No. or Official Record.

BOUNTY LAND Land promised as an inducement for enlistment or payment for military services.

BREACH OF CONTRACT Failure to perform a contract, in whole or part, without legal excuse.

BUNDLE OF RIGHTS A framework designed to help understand the concept of liens, encumbrances and rights in title to real estate, and how they are separate, but interrelate. Individual rights are often referred to as “sticks” in the bundle.

BUYDOWN A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer, third party, or some combination of these, causing the lender to reduce the interest rate

CALL The direction of one point to another.

CAVEAT Latin for “Beware”, i.e. “watch out” for this!

CAVEAT EMPTOR Latin for “Let the Buyer beware”

CERTIFICATE OF REDEMPTION In some states, legal evidence of buying back a property by the owner after losing it through a foreclosure. The time limit for redemption is set by state statute.

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE 1) In areas with Torrens or Registered Land, a Certificate of Title is issued by the County Registrar showing ownership and encumbrances on the land 2) In some areas, a written opinion by an attorney that explains ownership of a particular property is as stated in his or her certificate.

CHAIN 1) A chronological list of previous owners and encumbrances on a parcel of land 2) A unit of measurement equaling sixty-six feet, or 4 Rods.

CHAIN CARRIER An assistant to the assigned surveyor under the Public Land Survey Sysem, the chain carriers moved the surveying chain from one location to another under the direction of the surveyor. This was a position of some responsibility, and the chain carriers took an oath as “sworn chain carriers” that they would do their job properly.

CHAIN OF TITLE The history of ownership of a parcel of real estate; each deed or other instrument transferring an interest in the title is called a link and all of these links make up the chain of title.

CHATTEL Another name for personal property (i.e. all property except real property).

CHATTEL MORTGAGE A mortgage placed on personal property.

CHECK OR TRACT A square that is approximately 24 miles on each side (24 miles by 24 miles) containing 576 square miles (16 townships; 576 sections; 368,640 acres); used to correct for the earth’s curvature.

CHORD The straight line connecting the end points of an arc.

CLAIM A right to assert a demand for payment of money due; or the surrender or delivery of possession of property or the recognition of some right.

CLEAR TITLE Marketable Title- ownership where all liens, liabilities or charges upon a parcel of land have been identified and are understood, so that title is acceptable for purchase. (One knows where all “the sticks” are in the bundle of rights.)

CLOSED END MORTGAGE A mortgage with a principal amount that is fixed and cannot be increased during the life of the loan.

CLOSER An attorney or other person responsible for orchestrating a closing, often including drafting legal documents, receipting and explaining documents, handling funds, as well as meeting terms of the purchase agreement, lender requirements and title underwriter.

CLOSING The consummation of a real estate sale, where funds change hands and property is legally transferred, also called ‘settlement.’

CLOSING AGENT The person at the title company, attorney’s office or other, who supervises the closing and disbursing of the funds. Also referred to as an escrow agent or settlement agent.

CLOSING PROTECTION LETTER aka Insured closing letter A letter issued by a Title Underwriter, accepting responsibility for certain closing (non-title) issues. Available in most states (not legal in NY).

CLOUD or Cloud on Title A generic term for any irregularity, possible title claim or encumbrance, which, if valid, would adversely affect or impair the title.

CO-INSURANCE Risk divided equally among two or more underwriters at the onset of a transaction -each picks up their respective half, one-third, etc.

CODICIL A supplement or addition to a will

COMMUNITY PROPERTY In some states, property acquired by husband, wife or both, during marriage gives each spouse an interest in the property whether each appears in title or not.

COMPERABLES OR COMPS Sales that have similar characteristics as the subject property, used for analysis in the appraisal.

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.

CO-TENANCY Ownership shared by more than one person; tenancy in common and joint tenancy are both co-tenancy arrangements.

COURSES AND DISTANCES Terminology used in surveying, meaning metes and bounds or direction and space between objects.

COLLATERAL An asset (such as a home) that can be used to secure the repayment of a debt. The borrower risks losing that asset if the loan is not repaid in a timely fashion. Real Estate is used as collateral for a mortgage debt. Mortgages are used as collateral for Securities.

COMMITMENT Preliminary report issued before the actual policy, showing the condition of the title as of a certain day and time and steps necessary to clear and transfer title.

COMMON AREAS All the areas in a condominium or planned unit development that are not specifically reserved for individual owners; includes such things as walkways, roads, parking lots, and yards.

COMMON ELEMENTS Shared interests among owners where property is used in common with others, such as in Townhouse Developments, Condominiums, etc.

COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITY (CIC) Property which has certain shared characteristics such as driveways, common walls, parks, etc. Identified by a Declaration of Covenants filed on the property and conditions and restrictions on the title.

COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE In some states, a couple is considered married if they meet certain requirements, such as living together as husband and wife for a specific length of time. Such a couple has all the rights and obligations of a traditionally married couple.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY The basic principle of community property is that a husband and wife and in some cases a common-law husband and wife, deserve to share equally in any property acquired through their joint efforts during marriage.

COMPETENT legally qualified.

CONDEMNATION The process of taking of private property for public use.

CONDITIONS 1) Additional information that must be supplied to an Underwriter before a Policy will be issued free of an exception. 2) Specifications detailed in a deed or other document; they may cover such things as setbacks, types of dwellings that can be built on the land, etc. also known as covenants, conditions and restrictions.

CONDOMINIUM A building in which each unit owner has title to a specific air space unit. They may also have the exclusive use of certain limited common areas. Identified by a Declaration of Covenants filed on the property, which identifies covenants, conditions and restrictions and sets forth the Condominium designation.

CONDOMINIUM DECLARATION The document establishing the percentages of ownership of unit owners of a condominium project and the project’s common areas including the covenants, conditions and restrictions upon their ownership and their use.

CONFIRMATION OF SALE A court approval of the sale of property by an executor, administrator, guardian, or conservator

CONSERVATOR A person appointed by law to care for or administer the affairs of another due to that person’s being judged unable to administer their own affairs.

CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE Notice given to the world by recorded documents. People are charged with knowledge of recorded documents under the law.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN (or interim loan) A loan to provide the funds necessary to pay for the construction of buildings or homes. The lender generally advances funds to the builder at periodic intervals as the work progresses.

CONTIGUOUS Being in actual contact; adjoining or touching.

CONTRACT FOR DEED also known as LAND CONTRACT An agreement to sell and purchase under which the legal title is withheld from the purchaser until such time as the required payments to the seller have been completed.

CONVEY The act of deeding or transferring title to another, alienation of title.

CONVEYANCE An instrument which transfers title to a property such as a deed.

CO-OPERATIVE Ownership by a co-operative association which in turn leases to tenants who are members in the co-operative association.

CORRECTION LINES Lines running parallel with Principle Meridians and Base lines, used each 24 miles (each four townships) to compensate for the curvature of the earth. Along these lines, sections are necessarily smaller, creating Government Lots, also known as Fractional lots.

COVENANTS, CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS Legally enforceable limitations on the use of land.

CURTESY RIGHTS The rights of a husband to the assets of his wife for his support and those of offspring. It does not prevail in all states.
CUT OUT A word used in the title industry that is applied when a parcel or a portion of the property is taken or “cut-out” from a larger parcel on an arbitrary map.

DBA Abbreviation for “doing business as,” an assumed name.

DEBT Money owing to another.

DEBTOR One who owes money to another.

DECREE OF DISTRIBUTION The final declaration by a court of the rights of heirs to receive the property of an estate.

DEDICATION 1) The giving of streets and easements to a City, Township, etc. on a subdivision Plat. 2) The written portion of a plat that describes the plat’s legal name, the lots, blocks, outlots, names of streets, ways, roads, easements, etc. 3) The giving by an owner of private property for public use. 4) The acceptance by the proper public authority of public land or easements.

DEED A written document by which title to land is transferred to another, if valid legal requirements are met.

DEED OF RECONVEYANCE (DOR) A legal instrument that conveys title from a trustee back to the borrower under a deed of trust once the mortgage has been paid off.

DEED OF TRUST (DOT) An instrument used in many states in place of a mortgage. Property is transferred to a trustee in favor of the lender and re-conveyed upon payment in full.

DEED RESTRICTION A legal restriction placed on a property or group of properties limiting their use or placing requirements upon their maintenance, etc.

DEEMER PERIOD Refers to the way some states regulate and approve rate filing by title companies
DEFAULT The omission or failure to perform a legal duty or obligation.

DEFEASIBLE Title that can be “defeated” due to a deed restriction or forfeiture provision.

DEFECT A blemish, imperfection or deficiency. A defective title is one that has an irregularity and is therefore faulty.

DEFICIENCY JUDGMENT A court judgment obtained against a borrower after foreclosure to recap a loss suffered by a lender where the dollars recouped from the sale of real estate does not cover the remaining loan balance. The judgment is obtained under the terms of the mortgage note, or promise to repay the full amount of the loan.

DEFLECTION ANGLE The moving from one direction to another, right, left or clockwise in a legal description.

DEGREES A measurement – 1/360th of a circle.

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

DEVISE To give property by will; a devisee is the beneficiary to whom the property is willed, and the devisor (aka testator) is the deceased person through whom the property is devised. A gift of real estate by a will.


DISSOLUTION A legal cancellation or annulment of a contract, a business association, such as a partnership or corporation, or a marriage.

DIVIDED INTERESTS Where owners of real estate have specific interests that are separate from those of another. They have complete rights to use, possess, and enjoy all of the specified property.

DISPOSSESS To deprive one of the possession and use of real estate.

DIVEST To deprive someone of a right or title.

DOCUMENT NUMBER The identifying number assigned to a document by the local recording agency’s office. Documents may be expressed as Book & Page, Docket & Page, Liber & Page, Official Record or a simple chronological document number.

DOCUMENT STAMPS A tax applicable to property transfers and affixed to the grant deed; varies from region to region; sometimes called a transfer tax or deed tax .

DOMINENT ESTATE The property for the benefit of which a right-of-way easement exists across another’s adjoining piece of land is the dominant estate. The land across which the easement runs is the servient estate.

DOWER RIGHTS The legal rights of a widow to the assets of her husband for her support and care of children.

DOWNDATE To bring real estate title information current by searching the public record for recently recorded documents and information. Also known as continuation or update.

DUE ON SALE CLAUSE A provision in a mortgage or deed of trust which requires the loan to be paid in full if a property is sold or transferred without the consent of the lender.

EARNEST MONEY Advance payment of part of the purchase price to bind a contract to purchase property.

EASEMENT An interest in land, owned by another, that entitles its holder to a specific limited use, such as laying a sewer, installing power or telephone lines, or crossing property.

EASEMENT APPURTENANT An easement created for the benefit of a specific parcel of land to which it attaches, i.e. the easement belongs with the land.

EASEMENT IN GROSS 1) An easement that is not appurtenant to any one parcel; for example, public utility easement. 2) An easement given for the benefit of a specific party, that does not run with the land.

EGRESS The right of Exit from a property.

EMBLEMENTS Crops, an exception to the real property rule, because, although they are attached to the land, they are considered personal property rather than real property.

EMINENT DOMAIN The Government’s right to take property, with just compensation, when for the public good.

ENCROACHMENT An improvement, such as a house, wall, fence or garage, which illegally intrudes upon another’s real property (includes subsurface, surface and air rights).

ENCUMBRANCE Any burden or charge against the title, such as a mortgage, restriction, lease, judgment or easement.

ENDORSEMENT An addition or modification of an insurance policy, which expands or changes the coverage of the policy, often fulfilling specific requirements of the insured.

EQUITABLE RIGHTS Rights established primarily by court decisions based upon principles of fairness, honesty, justness and morality, and not upon enacted law or common law.

EQUITABLE TITLE Equitable title means there is a legal right to require the seller to transfer the property to the buyer. Purchase Agreements, Land Contracts, Contracts for Deed and Options to Purchase are all forms of equitable title, because they are legal contracts obligating sale of the property under the terms of the agreement.

EQUITY The value that an owner has in real estate over and above debts against it.

EROSION The wearing away of land surfaces by forces of nature such as wind and water.

ESCHEAT The government’s right to take property when someone dies with no will and no heirs.

ESCROW 1) A procedure whereby a disinterested third party handles legal documents and funds on behalf of a seller and buyer in closing a transaction. 2) Money that is retained to ensure that encumbrances, such as taxes, can be paid.

ESTATE 1) A person’s possessions, both real and personal. 2) The degree, quantity, nature and extent of a person’s interest in a property.

ESTATE BY ENTIRETY An estate or interest in real estate predicated upon the legal fiction that a husband and wife are one person. A conveyance or devise to them vest title in them as one person. Upon the death of either husband or wife, full title passes to the survivor.

ESTOPPEL A legal restraint which stops or prevents a person from contradicting or reneging on his previous position or previous assertions or commitments.

EXECUTE The signing of documents in order to show their validity.

ET AL or ETAL Latin for “and others.”

ET VIR Latin for “and husband.”

ET UX or ETUX Latin for “and wife.”

EXAMINATION OF TITLE The interpretation of the record title to real property based on a thorough search of public records and other information, to determine ownership, liens and encumbrances.

EXCEPTION 1) An objection or an encumbrance to title that will not be insured by a title insurance policy, such as a survey exception for encroachments.
2) A portion of land deleted or excluded from a legal description.

EXCEPTIONS TO COVERAGE Items which are not covered by a title policy such as recorded encumbrances .They are specifically outlined in the title commitment and title policy and apply to a particular property as opposed to Exclusions from Coverage that apply to all properties.

EXCLUSIONS TO COVERAGE A list of items shown on the title policy which are not covered by the title policy, and are general to all properties. Exclusions are shown on the Title Policy cover.

FBO Abbreviation “For the benefit of”

FKA Abbreviation for “Formerly Known As”.

FAIRWAY ENDORSEMENT A title insurance policy endorsement that protects against any lapse of coverage resulting from a change in the membership of the LLC or from any resulting dissolution.

FEE SIMPLE ESTATE The greatest private interest in a parcel of land that is possible to own. Sometimes stated simply as “fee”.

FEE TAIL An archaic form, an estate in land where title to the property was limited to the owner and his descendants with no power to transfer. Usually created by a transfer to the person “and the heirs of his body.”

FEME SOLE An unmarried woman or a married woman with property independent of her husband.

FIDUCIARY 1) Someone entrusted with financial responsibility on someone else’s behalf. 2) A person in a position of great trust and confidence, as the relationship between principal and broker

FILE AND USE STATE States where Insurers file rate schedules, policy and endorsement forms with the state insurance department and after a specified waiting interval rates so filed become authorized.

FILING 1)A system of legal recording where the Court or Office maintains the original document, as in District Court Proceedings or makes a record of such document. 2) In many locales, filing is used interchangeably with “recording”.

FINANCING STATEMENT A document encumbering personal property or chattels with debt also known as a uniform commercial code (UCC) conveyance.

FIRST MORTGAGE A mortgage having priority as a lien over any other mortgage on the same property.

FIXTURE Personal property so attached to real estate, by intent, that it becomes real property (e.g. plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, heating fixtures…)

FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION (aka FHLMC or Freddie Mac) An affiliate of the Federal Home Loan Bank, which creates a secondary market in conventional residential FHA and VA loans by purchasing mortgages from members of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Home Loan Bank System.
FEDERAL HOUSING AUTHORITY (aka FHA) 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.

FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ADMINISTRATION (aka FNMA or Fannie Mae) Association, a federally sponsored private corporation that provides a secondary market for housing mortgages.

FIXED RATE MORTGAGE Mortgages with a fixed interest rate. You payment for principal and interest will not change for the life of the loan.

FORECLOSURE A proceeding in or out of court, to extinguish all rights, title, and interest of the owner of a property to satisfy a debt.

FORECLOSURE BY ADVERTISEMENT In some states, when a mortgage contains a “Power of Sale” clause, Creditor’s have the remedy of foreclosing without going to court, by providing public notice and following state statutes.

A withholding obligation of 10% of the gross sales price (not the net proceeds) imposed on the buyer(s) when a real property interest in the U.S. is acquired from a foreign person.

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, where the owner loses title to property for non-compliance with said conditions.

FORGERY The fraudulent signing of another’s name to an instrument such as a deed, mortgage or check.

FORM 1, 2, 3, etc. See ALTA Form 1…

FRACTIONAL LOT See Government Lot

FREEHOLD ESTATE A life estate or a fee simple estate.

FRONT FOOT A unit of measurement, one foot in length, along the front or street boundary line of a piece of property. The measurement is frequently used in determining the total value or sale price of a tract of land, or the dollars owing under an assessment such as street paving.

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.

FURLONG Unit of length equal to 40 poles (220 yards). Its name derives from “furrow long”, the length of a furrow that oxen can plow before they are rested and turned. See Gunter’s chain.

FUTURE ADVANCE CLAUSE Also called an additional advance clause, this clause in a mortgage or deed of trust allows the borrower to borrow additional sums at a future time, secured by the same instrument and by the same real property security. The clause is usually contained in an open-end mortgage or deed of trust.

GAP 1) The period of time between which a search has been done of the public record, and the current date. 2) A Sliver of land between two other parcels.

GENERAL LIEN A lien filed against the name of an individual, corporation, etc. that attaches or can be attached to all properties owned by the individual, both real and personal.

GENERAL PLAN RESTRICTIONS Restrictions on the use of property imposed for the benefit of more than one parcel of property, usually a subdivision tract containing many lots.

GENERAL INDEX or GI An alphabetical index of all matters affecting persons or corporations which are not entered against a legal description, because no specific property is prescribed. Items in the General Index include Divorce Decrees, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Guardian and Probate Documents, etc. that are filed with the county.

GENERAL WARRANTY A warranty provision in a deed or mortgage or other real estate instrument containing all of the common law items of warranty.

GEOCODE “Smart” numbers used to identify the specific location of a property such as the Section, Township and Range numbers. Often used in Tax Parcel Identification.

GEOGRAPHIC INDEX The listing in abstract and title plants of recorded real estate instruments according to land descriptions is known as a geographic index. The index acts as a reference to locate information on the original or source document, which may be a photocopy, microfilm, image or just pertinent information on the original document.

GIFT DEED A deed granted out “of love and affection” rather than any material consideration.

GOOD FAITH ESTIMATE (GFE) A requirement under the Federal Truth in Lending Law, disclosing estimated costs pertaining to settlement of a mortgage.

GOOD FAITH PURCHASER/ LENDER A person who buys or lends in good faith, that is, without notice of any existing problem, where value is paid or lent.

GORE 1) A thin piece of land, the boundaries of which are defined by surveys of adjacent properties. 2) Loosely, an overlap or gap between properties.

GOVERNMENT LOT A designation in the Public Land Survey System denoting that boundaries are irregular, and that the 1/4 1/4 Section will be larger or smaller than the 40 acre standard due to correction for the shape of the earth, interference by a lake or body of water, an Indian reservation, or other item surveyed around, etc.

GOVERNMENT NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION (Ginnie Mae OR GNMA) Created by Congress to facilitate the sale or residential loans insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA in the secondary market in the form of government securities. Since loans in the GNMA securities are insured or guaranteed by a department of the government, the securities are protected by the “full faith and credit of the United States”.

GOVERNMENT RIGHTS The category of rights including Eminent Domain, Escheat, Police Powers and Taxation, which are always unavailable to an individual.

GRANT To convey title of property by means of a deed

GRANTEE A person who receives an interest in land by a written instrument.

GRANTEE INDEX The alphabetical listing in abstract and title plants, by names of the Grantee of all recorded instruments wherein the party appears as the recipient.

GRANTOR A person who transfers by a written instrument, an interest in land.

GRANTOR INDEX The alphabetical listing in abstract and title plants, by names of the Grantor of all recorded instruments wherein the party appears as the giver of the instrument.

GRANTOR / GRANTEE INDEX Found in almost all Counties, the official records used to identify documents filed on real estate, using names of the Grantors and Grantees.

GUARANTY An agreement in which a guarantee or assurance of a set of facts or the performance of an objective or obligation is given.

GUARDIAN A person who is legally responsible for the care and management of the person or property of one who is legally incompetent to manage his own affairs.

GUIDE MERIDIANS A line running North and South, used each 24 miles (each four townships) to compensate for the curvature of the earth, along which Sections are necessarily smaller, creating Government or Fractionalized lots .

HABENDUM CLAUSE The “to have and to hold” clause in a legal document which defines the extent of the estate being conveyed. It is commonly followed by a statement clarifying what the buyer is taking title subject to. For example, “subject to easements and restrictions of record,” “subject to a first mortgage that the buyer agrees to assume,” etc.

HAZARD INSURANCE Also known as Home Owner’s Insurance or fire insurance.
The homeowner’s insurance policy protecting against fire, wind, vandalism, etc., as outlined in the policy.

HEIR A person who is entitled by law or by the terms of a will to inherit the estate of another

HELOC Acronym for Home Equity Line of Credit.

HEREDITAMENTS Inheritable rights.

HIATUS A separation, gap or unaccounted for area. For example, usually a strip of land between two tracts where the two tracts do not adjoin because of faulty descriptions.

HOLOGRAPHIC WILL A will that is handwritten, dated and signed by the person making it. Holographic wills are generally not witnessed. Although it’s legal in many states, making a holographic will is never advised.

HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT A secured line of credit using the available equity in the applicant’s real property as collateral, a type of mortgage.

HOMESTEAD 1) Property Tax homestead – A tax classification for a personal residence, allowing a discount on real estate taxes. 2) Legal Homestead – A right which allows a property to be exempt from certain judgments and taxes. Legal Homestead is proved through a court order called a Declaratory Judgment.

HYPOTHECATE To give a thing as security without giving up possession, as in giving a mortgage.

IDEM SONANS The doctrine of sounding the same. In some states, names improperly spelled need not void an instrument, provided the written name sounds the same as the other spelled name, and there is no evidence of any intent to deceive by incorrect spelling.

IMPLIED Presumed or inferred, rather than expressed.

IMPLIED NOTICE A form of legal notice about which a prudent person must inquire. For example, Bob plans to purchases property from Al, but he sees that Charlie is in possession. Bob has implied notice that Charlie may have an interest in the property, and Bob needs to inquire about Charlie’s interest.

IMPOUNDS A trust account established by lenders for the accumulation of borrower’s funds to meet periodic payments of taxes, mortgage insurance premiums, insurance premiums

IMPROVEMENT LIENS Liens imposed by municipalities on real estate that has been directly benefited by municipal improvements such as the construction of streets, sidewalks and sewer lines. Such liens secure payment of the proportionate costs of such improvements.

INGRESS The right of entrance to a property.

IN GROSS An easement created for the benefit of an individual apart from the ownership of the land; a public utility easement is one example.  It is not assignable or inheritable.

INCHOATE Immature or not fully developed. Incomplete. An inchoate right of dower held by a wife matures and becomes exercisable only upon the death of her husband.

INDEMNITY Payment or compensation for loss or damage. A policy of title insurance is a contract of indemnity.

INDENTURE A deed or other real estate contract executed between two or more parties.

INDEX A listing of recorded real estate instruments either alphabetically, by Grantor/ Grantee, or by the legal description of the property, together with the book and page number (liber or document number) of the record. The index acts as a reference to locate information on the original or source document, which may be a photocopy, microfilm, image or just pertinent information retained about the original document.

IMPROVEMENTS Those additions to land, made with the intent of being permanent, and tending to increase value such as buildings, fixtures, streets, sewers, etc.

IN PERSONAM Directed at specific person/s rather than against property. Used in reference to a judgment or an action.

IN REM Against a thing, such as property, status, or a right, rather than against a person.

INDEMNIFY To agree to make payments for a loss. Title Insurance indemnifies
owners and lenders.

INDIAN LAND PATENT Also known as a “restricted fee Patent”, this document required the U.S. government to hold lands in trust for a certain period of time before a fee patent could legally be given to an Indian.

INDIAN RESERVATION LANDS Lands retained by Indians based on treaty signings, which are sovereign to Indian Nations. The tribes maintain their own records on these lands, and oversight falls under the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


INFLATION ENDORSEMENT Coverage that may be added to the standard owner’s policy of title insurance; it adjust the amount of coverage according to the cost-of-living index or a percentage increase on the property.

INGRESS The right to enter upon a property.

INITAL POINT The 34 initial points of Survey in the Public Land survey, created by the intersection of the Base Line and Principle Meridian.

INSTRUMENT Any writing having legal form and significance, such as a deed, mortgage, will, lease, etc. The word Instrument is often used interchangeably with words Document and Record.

INSURED CLOSING LETTER A letter issued by a Title Underwriter, accepting certain legal and financial responsibility for certain closing (non-title) issues when a closing is handled by a title agent.

INSURING PROVISIONS An outline in the title policy explaining what coverage is being provided to an insured.

INTERMEDIATE THEORY A state in which the security for the mortgage is based on the title theory or deed of trust, but that requires the lender to foreclose to obtain legal title.

INTER VIVOS TRUST A living trust; inter vivos is a Latin expression meaning “among the living.”

INTERVAL OWNERSHIP Same as time-share ownership, or partial ownership for a given time-frame.

INTESTATE Without a last will and testament.

INVOLUNTARY LIEN A lien placed on property without the consent of the owner, such as a judgment or tax lien.

INVOLUNTARY TRANSFER A transfer of title to property without the written consent of the owner, such as in a tax sale or foreclosure.

ISSUE Children, descendants, offspring

JOINT TENANCY Ownership by several persons who hold title to an undivided equal interest and have equal rights to use the entire property. They are said to have the right of survivorship, i.e. they inherit the property automatically upon the death of the other joint tenant

JUDGMENT OR JUDGMENT LIEN A decree of the court. In practice, this is a lien or charge affecting property of a debtor resulting from the court’s award of money to a creditor. A judgment is an involuntary lien.

JUDICIAL Of, or pertaining to, courts of law or the administration of justice

JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE A type of foreclosure that requires a court proceeding. Mortgage foreclosures may require court proceedings while deed-of-trust foreclosures generally do not; state laws dictate. See also Foreclosure by Advertisement.

JUNIOR LIEN Any lien or mortgage that has less priority than a prior mortgage. May be a judgment or a second or third mortgage.

JURAT certificate of an officer, such as a notary public or magistrate, who has witnessed someone’s signature to a sworn document; also, that part of an affidavit stating by whom, where, when, and before whom it was sworn.

JURISDICTION the right and power of courts to interpret and apply the law. Also, the legal power of control over persons and property.

LABOR A unit of area used in Texas. It equals 177.14 acres (or 1 million square varas).

LAND CONTRACT See Contract for Deed.

LAND RECORDS Record of deeds and other documents pertaining to ownership of land

LANDMARK A survey mark made on a ‘permanent’ feature of the land such as a tree, pile of stones, etc.

LEASE A grant of the use of land and/or land improvements for a specific length of time in consideration for the payment of rent.

LEASEHOLD ESTATE An estate created by a lease for a certain period of time; in contrast to a fee simple estate, it is a lesser interest.

LEGACY Property or money bequeathed to someone in a will.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION A description of a tract of land in legally acceptable terms, intended to show the location and dimensions of a piece of property to such a degree that a surveyor can locate it on the ground. Typically described as: Section, Township and Range; Metes & Bounds; or Lot, Block and Subdivision.

LEGUA OR LEAGUE Unit of area used in the southwest U.S., equal to 25 labors, or 4428 acres (Texas), or 4439 acres (California). Also, a unit of length– approximately three miles.

LESSEE A person leasing property from an owner.

LESSOR An owner leasing property to a tenant.

LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION A legal document naming someone to administer an estate when no executor has been named.

LETTERS TESTAMENTARY Documents issued by the court of proper jurisdiction indicating what person, bank or organization has been appointed as executor or administrator of an estate.

LIBER Book of public records, French.

LIC. License

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

LIEN THEORY STATES States in which the mortgagor (borrower) retains legal title to the property; lender (mortgagee) has a lien on the property as security for the debt.

LIFE ESTATE use of property only during a person’s lifetime; this interest may be sold, encumbered, or leased, but only for the term of the life estate.

LIMITED COMMON ELEMENTS A space designated in a condominium or other shared use real estate which has been designated on the plat as for the use of less than one particular unit.

LINE OF CREDIT An agreement negotiated between a borrower and a lender establishing the maximum amount of money against which a borrower may draw.

LINEAGE Direct line of descent from an ancestor

LINK A distance of 7.92 inches, also the length of one link in a surveyor’s chain.

LIS PENDENS A legal notice that litigation is pending on a certain property and that anyone obtaining an interest in the property after the notice date may be bound by the judgment.

LITIGANT A person involved in a lawsuit.

LITTORAL Referring to land that borders a stationery body of water (such as a lake or pond) as opposed to a flowing body of water such as an ocean, a river or stream.

LOSS As referred to in the title industry, damage suffered by a person resulting from defects or liens upon his title to real estate. Also could be money paid by a title insurance company in settlement of policy claims.

LOT BOOK REPORT A title term used in some areas, for an abbreviated title company report providing the property owner’s name, the vesting, the property’s legal description, and a plat map.

LAWS OF INTESTATE SUCCESSION Laws used to divide property among heirs under the terms of the law, when there is no will.

LESSEE One who rents land under a lease.

LESSOR One who grants the use of lands under the terms of a lease.

LETTERS TESTAMENTARY Order of a probate court granting authority to the personal representative of an estate.

LIEN A dollar claim upon a piece of property for the payment or satisfaction of a debt or obligation. Examples are mortgage liens, judgment liens, and mechanics liens.

LIEN WAIVER A document provided by a Contractor, Subcontractor or Materialman, showing that they have been paid for their work, and are waiving rights to file a lien.

LIFE ESTATE The right of use, occupancy and ownership for the life of an individual.

LIMITED COMMON AREA The common area of a project assigned to a specific homeowner for the homeowner’s exclusive use.

LIS PENDENS Latin, “Pending Litigation” A notice recorded to indicate that a LAW suit is pending affecting the lands where the notice is recorded.

LITTORAL Land that borders a stationery body of water such as a lake, as opposed to a flowing body of water such as a river or stream.

LOCAL RULES The Public Land survey allowed surveyors to make up rules, “according to the dictates of their own judgment,” when running into survey issues that were not addressed under the Public Lands Law of 1786. They were to write down what had occurred and how they handled the situation.

MAJORES Ancestors

MARKETABLE TITLE A “good” title, one where there is no reasonable doubt as to the interests held in land; one that can be readily transferred to another party.

MARKETABLE TITLE ACT (also known as MARTA) State law establishing a “source of title.” Under marketable title acts, no action affecting possession or title to any real estate can be commenced to enforce any right, claim, interest, encumbrance, or lien founded upon any instrument, event or transaction that was executed or occurred before the source of title. The source date is established by state law.

MARKET VALUE An average between the highest price which a buyer, willing, but not compelled to buy, would pay and the lowest price a seller, willing, but not compelled to sell, would accept.

MEANDER CORNER Monuments set by the original U.S. Government Surveyors where a true section corner could not be set, for example in the middle of a tree or swamp. It is not the true section corner, but a reference marker used to assist in finding location of the true section corner.

MEANDER LINE Traverse line around water, used as a reference lines, instead of the real boundary. Government survey instructions were to meander bodies of water 25 acres or more.

MECHANIC’S LIEN A lien allowed by statute for an amount owed to contractors, laborers, and suppliers of materials to buildings or other structures where work was performed or materials supplied for the improvement of the land.

MEETING OF MINDS The state that exists when all parties to a contract agree to the exact terms thereof.

MERESTONE A stone that marks a boundary line.

MERIDIAN In the U.S. public land surveying system, a surveyed north-south (longitudinal) reference line, from which ranges are surveyed to the east and west.

METE A measure.

METES AND BOUNDS A description of land by measures and distances. It must have a known point of beginning, define the perimeter of a parcel, and return to the point of beginning to be legally binding.

MILE A length of 5,280 feet or 80 chains. Theoretical distance of a Section of land under the Public Land Survey System.

MINERAL RIGHTS Ownership of minerals found on a property.

MINOR A person under 18 years of age or 21 years of age as determined by state law.

MINUTE 1/60 of one degree in a 360 degree circle.

MISCELLANEOUS INDEX. Sometimes referred to as the general Index or name index. The alphabetical listing in abstract and title plants, by names of either the Grantor or the Grantee of all recorded instruments which affect but do not describe particular real estate, such as judgments, powers of attorney, affidavits, will and probate proceedings.


MONUMENT Physical evidence, either natural, such as a tree, rock or river, or artificial, such as a road, concrete marker or pile of stones, which has been established as the boundary for a parcel of land.

MORTGAGE A document used to encumber real estate as a security for repayment of a debt.

MORTGAGE POLICY (or Lender Policy) a policy of title insurance insuring the hold of a mortgage against loss caused by the impairment or invalidly of the lien of such mortgage or because of defects in, superior liens upon, or unmarketability of the title.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE Insurance required to be paid for by the borrower to protect the lender in the event payment s are not made on time; most often required when the loan amount exceeds 80% of the purchase price.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM The premium paid for obtaining insurance on a mortgage loan through HUD, payable in cash or financed as part of the loan. Mortgage: The security instrument used in some states signed by a property owner pledging the property as collateral for repayment of a note.

MORTGAGE NOTE A negotiable (transferable to a third party) instrument used in conjunction with a mortgage that outlines the terms of the mortgage and promises to repay the debt.

MORTGAGEE A designation for the mortgage lender.

MORTGAGOR A designation for the mortgage borrower.

MORTGAGE REGISTRATION TAX (MRT) A tax charged by some States to record a mortgage deed. It is based on the value of the mortgage as spelled out on the mortgage deed. It is most often paid by the borrower in the transaction.

MUNIMENTS OF TITLE Deeds and other original documents showing a chain of title.

MUTUAL CONSENT Approval of both parties to terms of a contract.

NA Not applicable

NALTEA National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors. A national trade association dedicated to fostering better understanding between its membership, others involved in the title profession, and the public. It provides information and education to its membership and others, and assists members in providing quality service to their clients.

NAME SEARCHES Searches made by an abstractor or technical searcher, for general liens filed against a persons name such as State and Federal Tax Liens, Bankruptcies, Judgments, Probate liens, etc.

NEGLIGENCE the omission of or failure to use reasonable precaution, care or action

NEGOTIABLE Capable of being assigned or transferred by endorsement’ checks, drafts, and notes are all negotiable.

NKA Abbreviation for “Now Known As”.

NOTARY OR NOTARY PUBLIC A person legally authorized to administer oaths and take acknowledgements, which legally attest to the authenticity of signatures.

NOTICE OF ADVERSE CLAIM A law suit filed on real estate claiming an interest.

NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT In some jurisdictions, a legal document recorded to give constructive notice that a building or construction job has been started.

NOTICE OF COMPLETION In some jurisdictions, a legal document recorded to give constructive notice that a building or construction job has been completed

NOTICE OF DEFAULT In some jurisdictions, a formal recorded declaration that a default has occurred; starts foreclosure proceedings.

NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS A document filed to show that there is pending litigation against the real estate.

NOTICE OF NONRESPONSIBILITY In some jurisdictions, a notice recorded by an Owner of real property that he will not be responsible for payment of mechanics’ liens for work contracted by another.

NOVATION Substitution of a new obligation for an old one. When assuming an existing mortgage, this means qualifying a buyer for the existing mortgage, having the buyer sign a new Mortgage Note, and thereby removing the personal obligation of the original mortgagor under the original mortgage note.

OPEN END MORTGAGE Mortgage in which the mortgagor is allowed to re-borrow against principal that has been paid so far. Also called Line of Credit, open line of credit, or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

OFFICIAL RECORDS (OR) In some jurisdictions the name for the master set of books kept by the county recorder in which copies of all recorded documents in that county are stored. Also designates that a document has been recorded in the public record.

OPERATION OF LAW A legal term that indicates that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles.

OPINION OF TITLE an attorney’s written evaluation of the condition of title to real property, based upon a careful examination of the abstract of title.

OVERLAP Any parcel of land that partially covers or lies on top of another.

OWNER AND ENCUMBRANCE REPORT (O&E) A property report prepared by Abstractors or Searchers which provides summarized and incomplete information on a given parcel of land, generally including the last owner of record and recent liens.

OWNER’S POLICY a policy of title insurance usually insuring an owner of real estate against loss occasioned by defects in, liens against, or unmarketablility of the owner’s title.

OWNERSHIP The right to possess and use property to the exclusion of others.

PARCEL A piece of land fitting in a single description

PARISH A Louisiana state district. Analogous to the word “county”. Jurisdiction

PARTIAL RECONVEYANCE The release of part of someone’s interest in real property secured by a deed of trust

PARTITION Division by the court system separating land into specific parcels among parties who are in dispute as to ownership and or use.

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

PARCEL MAP A map of a given area, designed, drawn, and labeled for the purposes of identifying parcels and distinguishing them from one another in a given area. Sometimes known as a Subdivision map or Plat map.

PARTITION 1) The dividing of land. 2) The court-ordered division of a concurrent estate into separate portions representing the proportionate interests of the tenants.

PARTY WALLS A wall built between two adjoining properties and used by both property owners.

PERIMETER The boundary lines enclosing a tract or land. Also the length of the boundary lines enclosing a tract of land.

PRESCRIPTIVE EASEMENT An easement on another’s property acquired by continued use, without the permission of the owner for a period of time set by state law.

PERSONAL PROPERTY or chattels. All property that is not real estate, including monies, contracts, mortgages, automobiles, jewelry, etc.

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE A person appointed by court to carry out the terms of a will or administer the estate of a decedent who died without a will.

PERSONALTY Another word for personal property

PIQ Title acronym for property in question.

PITI Abbreviation for principal, interest, taxes and insurance comprising a monthly payment for most mortgages.

A type of real estate development wherein the property owners own individual lots and the lots are subject to consistent restrictions and covenants, often requiring payment of association dues for upkeep and improvement.

PLAT 1. A recorded map representing a piece of land subdivided into lots and blocks. Upon recording, and if complete, it may transfer title to roads, streets, alleys, etc, and may create easements, etc. 2. A sketch of a parcel of property showing locations of easements and improvements.

PLAT BOOK Identifies the location of all land in county by section / township / range or by Subdivision lot and block numbers. Plat books sometimes show name of owner, the road on which parcel is located, number of acres or dimensions of tract or lot, etc. as of a certain point in time.

PLAT MAP 1) A map of a land subdivision or housing development 2) A map showing the location of improvements on the land that is NOT a survey, but is done by a physical inspection of the property.

PLSS Acronym for Public Land Survey System.

POC A designation under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA, showing that certain funds are not handled at settlement, but have been “paid outside of closing.”

POINT One percentage point. Equal to one percent of the loan amount.

POINT OF BEGINNING or POB The origination and destination of a Metes & Bounds legal description.

POLICE POWERS The right of the Government to enforce laws for public welfare, including such things as health issues, building codes, zoning, etc.

POWER OF ATTORNEY An instrument authorizing another to act on one’s behalf as his agent or attorney.
POWER OF SALE A clause in a mortgage that permits the mortgagee to sell the property securing the mortgage loan in the event that mortgage payments are not made in a timely manner. The right allows the sale of the property without judicial proceedings should default occur.
PRELIMINARY CERTIFICATE Same as a Title binder or title commitment or preliminary report.

PRELIMINARY REPORT A report showing the current status of a property and the condition under which a title company is willing to insure title as of a specified date

PRESCRIPTIVE EASEMENT A right to use another’s property that is not inconsistent with the owner’s rights and that is acquired by an open, notorious, adverse and continuous use for the statutory period, as set by state statute.

PRESUMPTIVE NOTICE A party is presumed to have notice when he has information that would allow a “prudent person” to investigate such information.

PRIMA FACIE Latin meaning first sight, a fact presumed to be true until disproved.

PRIMARY EVIDENCE Original or first-hand evidence
PRIMARY MORTGAGE MARKET Originators of Mortgages, who deal directly with the public, and then generally sell the mortgages to the Secondary Market.

PRINCIPLE MERIDIANS The North / South lines and major designation lines of the Public Land survey.

PRIORITY Taking place in rank or order; taking precedence over. In a real estate transaction, priority is generally established by the order in which documents affecting title to a property are recorded.

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 has not yet begun when the lender’s deed of trust is recorded.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI) Mortgage Insurance provided by non-government insurers that protects a lender against loss if the borrower defaults
and the foreclosure sale price is less than the amount owed the lender (the mortgage plus the costs of the sale). A home buyer who makes less than a 20% down payment may have to purchase PMI..

PUBLIC LANDS LAW OF 1786 Laws under which the Public Land survey, or rectangular survey was established.

PUBLIC RECORDS the documentation in a public recorder’s office of instruments which have been recorded, including the indexes pertaining to them.

PUBLIC TRUSTEE a public official to whom title to real estate may be conveyed by trust deed to be held by him as security for repayment of a loan.

PURCHASE MONEY MORTGAGE (PMM) A mortgage given by the seller simultaneously with the purchase of real estate to secure the unpaid balance of the purchase price.

PROBATE 1. Legal Proceeding to distribute the assets of an estate. 2. Any action over which a Probate Court has jurisdiction. 3. In some states, a type of signature authentication or notarization requiring one or more witnesses.

PROBATE COURT A court having jurisdiction over real and personal property, whether of a deceased, minor, or an incompetent person.

PRO-RATE 1) To allocate between seller and buyer their proportionate share of an obligation paid or due. 2) To divide or distribute proportionately; to divide monies

POWER OF ATTORNEY (P.O.A.) A document authorizing another person to act on his behalf as his agent or attorney. Often used to sign deeds or mortgages in the buyers’ or sellers’ absence with their legally executed

PREMIUM Fee paid to purchase insurance.

PUBLIC DOMAIN 1)Land owned by a government 2) documents available for publication without payment to the originator

PUBLIC LAND SURVEY SYSTEM (PLSS) A U.S. Government Mapping plan, using a system of one mile Sections within Townships and Ranges, and covering about 72 per cent of U.S. lands.

PURCHASE MONEY MORTGAGE (PMM) A mortgage which is given to secure money to be applied on the purchase price of the land. Generally, purchase money mortgages take priority over any prior or subsequent claims or liens attaching to the property through the mortgagor.

QUARTER Division of a section of land under the Public Land survey, created by connecting the North and South quarter corners and the East and West quarter corners.

QUARTER CORNER The North, South, East and West monuments set in each section, as defined in the Public Lands Law of 1786

QUARTER-QUARTER The dividing of Quarters of land into smaller quarters in the Public Land survey.

QUIET ENJOYMENT One of the common law warranties. Assurance that one’s title, possession, or use of real estate will not be disturbed or disrupted by a legitimate cause or adverse right.

QUIETUS Final disposition, settlement, or elimination of a claim of debt.

QUIET TITLE, QUIET TITLE ACTION / QUIET TITLE SUIT An action in Court that produces a final determination of the rights of parties who are in dispute over Real Estate.
QUIT CLAIM DEED A deed 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.

RACE NOTICE The “race to the courthouse,” where the first document recorded generally has rights over those recorded later.

RANGE, RGE OR R The North/South row of Townships under the Public Land Survey System.

REAL ESTATE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES ACT (RESPA) A federal statute effective June, 1975, requiring disclosure of certain costs in the sale of residential property which is to be financed by a federally insured lender.

REAL PROPERTY Land, including surface, subsurface and air rights, along with improvements to the land, and the rights, title and interests that go with the land.

REALTOR® A member of the National Association of Realtors.

RECITAL A reference within a document, providing legal notice (constructive notice) of certain rights or reservations.

RECONVEYANCE 1) When property sold to another person is transferred back to the original owner. 2) Transfer of title from the trustee back to the real owner of property when a loan has been paid in full; it releases the trustor (borrower) from any further liabilities for that debt

RECORD or OFFICIAL RECORD The International Organization for Standardization defines a record as “information created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organization, or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.”

RECORDATION Process of placing a document on file with the county recorder for everyone to see; said to give constructive notice of the document’s existence; claims against property usually are given a priority on the basis of the time and date when they are recorded.

RECORDER A public official who is charged with maintaining the official land record system, along with various liens, encumbrances, etc.

RECORDING The filing of documents affecting real property to make them public record and give public notice to all future purchasers, creditors, or other interested parties.

RECTANGULAR SURVEY SYSTEM Another name for the Public Land Survey System. A method using Sections, Townships and Ranges, Quarter Sections, etc. to describe location of a parcel of land.

REDEMPTION Reclaiming real property from someone who has taken legal title to it.

REDEMPTION CERTIFICATE In some states, legal evidence of buying back a property by the owner after losing it through a foreclosure. The time limit for redemption is set by state statute.

REDEMPTION PERIOD A period of time, set by state law, in which borrower may redeem his or her property.

REEA The Real Estate Educators Association. An international trade organization dedicated to providing resources and opportunities for professional development to individuals and organizations involved in Real Estate education.

REGULATION X Common term for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA. A federal statute requiring disclosure of certain costs in the sale of residential property which is to be financed by a federally insured lender.

REGULATION Z Common term for the federal Truth in Lending Law or TIL. Federal statutes and regulations concerning credit terms and their disclosure .

RE-INSURANCE Ceding off a portion of insurance risk to one or more companies, known as reinsurers, in order to limit risk.

REISSUE RATE A reduced rate of title insurance premium applicable in cases where the owner of the land has been previously insured in an owner’s policy by the insurer within a certain time.

RELEASE An instrument relinquishing the hold on a previously established claim against property. Most commonly used as a Release of Lien or Release of Mortgage where the debt has been satisfied or forgiven.

RELEASE CLAUSE A stipulation allowing for the release of a specific piece of property from a blanket encumbrance that covers it and other property in exchange for a specific compensation

RELEASE OF LIEN The instrument by which a lien is released from the real estate which it encumbers.

RELEASE OF LIABILITY The release given a seller when a property is sold by assumption of any further obligation to pay a note secured by a lien against the property. Unless specifically given, properties sold by assumption do not release original mortgagors of the liability to pay.

RELICTION The exposing of land due to natural forces of waters receding.

REMAINDERMAN The person receiving title upon the death of a life tenant.

REO The abbreviation for Real Estate Owned, used to indicate any property owned by a lender, although usually obtained through foreclosure.

RE-RECORDING The recording of a deed for the second time to correct an error contained in the deed when it was originally recorded. Also called Corrective Deed, or Reformation Deed.

REPLAT or RE-PLAT A change wherein a recorded subdivision plat has been vacated and a new plat is recorded in the public record showing possible changes in lot sizes and shapes, street layout, easements, areas reserved for public use, etc.

RESERVATION A particular right withheld by a grantor when conveying property.

RESTRICTIONS Provisions in a deed or other instrument whereby an owner of land prohibits or restricts certain use, occupation, and improvement of the land.


REVERSION 1) The return of an estate or interest to a grantor or lessor after the grant or lease has expired. 2) The interest retained by a fee simple owner of real estate after granting a terminable estate or interest in such property to another 3) a provision accompanying restrictive covenants in a deed, which provision stipulates that in the event the restrictions are violated, title to the property shall revert to the grantor.

RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP A right created by joint tenancy that states that, upon the death of one owner, the other immediately becomes the owner of the property.

RIGHT OF WAY The right to cross or pass over a parcel of land; may be a right to use a road or driveway, a right to construct power lines through the property, or a right to put pipes underground.

RIGHT, TITLE AND INTEREST A term used in deeds to denote that the grantor is conveying all claims to a property.

RIPARIAN RIGHTS Rights of a land owner whose property is bounded by non-navigable waters, to the reasonable use of the water or waterbed for such things as boating, fishing, recreation, swimming, drawing water, bathing, etc.

ROD A distance of 16.5 feet, also the length of a surveyor’s pole.

SALE AND LEASEBACK A situation where the grantor in a deed to a parcel of property sells it and retains possession by simultaneously leasing it from the grantee.

SATISFACTION The payment of a debt or fulfillment of an obligation. May be an instrument executed by the holder of a lien, debt or obligation which acknowledges payment or fulfillment

SATISFACTION OF MORTGAGE The document issued by the mortgagee when the mortgage loan is paid in full. Also called a “release of mortgage.”

SEARCH A careful exploration and review of the public records in an effort to find all recorded instruments relation to a particular chain of title.

SECOND 1/60th of one minute. 1/3600TH of a degree in a circle.

SECOND MORTGAGE A mortgage recorded subsequent to another mortgage and subordinate to the first one.

SECONDARY EVIDENCE Supporting evidence, as opposed to primary evidence or the source document.

SECONDARY MORTGAGE MARKET The market in which primary mortgage lenders sell mortgages to others in order to obtain more funds. The sale of mortgages by the primary market provides liquidity for them.

SECTION. SEC. OR S Specific parce1s of land approximately 1 Mile X 1 Mile, and approximately 640 acres, as laid out by surveyors under the Public Land survey.

SECURITY Collateral

SECURITY INTEREST An interest that one takes in the borrower’s property to assure repayment of a debt, including: a mortgage; a Vendor’s interest in a Contract for Deed or Land Contract; a Deed given as Security for a debt; a Lessor’s interest in a Lease; a holder of a Sheriff’s Certificate during the redemption period; an Assignees interest in an Assignment of Leases or Rents, …etc

SEISEN An old English term meaning legal possession or the right to legal possession of real estate under a freehold title.

SERVICING The act of collecting monthly payment from borrowers, passing on principal and interest payments to the noteholder, and collecting and paying any taxes and insurance on individual loans.

SERVIENT ESTATE The property upon or across which an easement exists. It serves the benefit of another land

SERVITUDE A right or interest in a piece of real estate, which right or interest serves or benefits another unrelated property. For example, an easement across one piece of property which serves another piece of property is said to constitute a servitude regarding the property upon which it is located.

SETBACK the minimum distance a building or other improvement must stand from property lines, in accordance with local zoning ordinances and deed restrictions.

SETTLEMENT Also known as closing the act of signing all documents and payment of all fees necessary to effect the sale of real estate from one party to another and/or the establishment of a mortgage loan and the disbursement or proceeds of that loan.

SETTLEMENT COSTS See closing costs.

SEVERALTY Ownership by a single person or entity, i.e. where ownership rights have been severed from the rights of any other.

SIC Latin, Indicates a possible mistake in the original

SOUNDEX A phonetic indexing system, commonly used to identify idem sonans or names that sound alike (Jonson, Johnson, Jonsen, etc..)

SOURCE DOCUMENT The original paper or text, used as proof of fact.

SOURCE OF TITLE Under marketable title acts, no legal action affecting title to real estate can be commenced on a document recorded before the source of title. The length of time used for the source of title document varies by state.

SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED A Warranty deed with specific listed limitations noted on the document.

SPECIFIC LIEN A lien filed against a specific piece of real estate, which does nor impact other real estate or personal property of the lienee. Examples: a mortgage/deed of trust, mechanics liens.

SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE A legal doctrine that enables a court to compel someone to perform according to his or her agreement. Statement of Identity- form often required by title company from buyer and seller to ensure that items found in the title search apply to the individuals in question

STANDARD EXCEPTIONS Exceptions to title that appear on all title commitments and policies, unless they are disposed of to the satisfaction of the title company.

STANDARD PARALLELS A line running East and west, used each 24 miles (each four townships) from a Principle Meridian, to compensate for the curvature of the earth.

STARTER FILE A previous title exam, from which the current title search is commenced.

STATE DEED TAX A tax required by some States to record a deed, based on sale price.


STATUTE OF FRAUDS Law that requires certain instruments, such as deeds, real estate sales contracts, mortgages and certain leases, to be in writing to be legally enforceable.

STATUTE OF LIMITATION State law specifying time limits for initiating enforceable legal action.

SUBJACENT A term applied to land or property lying contiguous to, but at a lower level than, another piece of property

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

SUBORDINATION The act of acknowledging through a recorded document that one loan is inferior to another and that the inferior loan may only be collected in the event of foreclosure after the complete payment of the superior loan. Normally required by junior or second mortgages.

SUBROGATION The giving of legal rights from the owner/lender to the title company to defend title, “allowing another to stand in your shoes” This prevents the insured from collecting both from the title company and again from the party causing the loss, and allows the title company to attempt to recoup money on their own behalf.

SUBSIDY Funds paid by a party to lower the cost of a property or of a loan, primarily used in reference to funds paid on a buydown loan to lower the initial payments, or in reference to subsidized housing where assistance is given a purchaser to lower the amount paid for the property.

SURETY 1) Agreement to be responsible for a debt or obligation of another. 2) The pledge or agreement by which one undertakes responsibility for the debt or obligation of another.

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.

SURNAME srnm. (abbr) : Last name, family name

SURVEY The process of measuring land to determine its size, location and physical description and the resulting drawing or map done by a professional surveyor.

SWEAT EQUITY The value of ownership given a borrower for work performed on a property to increase the value through improvements.

SWORN CONSTRUCTION STATEMENT A document completed and signed by the contractor on a newly built or remodeled home that lists all of the costs, subcontractors, and materials and suppliers. Lien waivers provided by the material suppliers and laborers are attached as proof of payment.

TACKING 1) Title term for beginning a title examination, at a given point in time from the end of a previous title examination 2) The joining together of successive time periods such that someone can claim the entire period applies. For example, in adverse possession claims, the present adverse possessor of the real estate may be able to tack on, or add on, the time-period the prior possessor adversely held the property. If the court allows the tacking on of this additional time, the period of limitation is met.

TAKE-OFF A title industry term, used to describe an abbreviated copy of the principal features of recorded instruments that are required for the purposes of indexing in an abstract plant or for purposes of making abstracts or examining titles. The take-off normally includes at least the names of the Grantors, Grantees, date of document, recording date, and document number.

TANGENT Touching at one point.

TANGENT LINE A line that touches a circle at exactly one point and which makes a right angle with the circle’s radius. For example, a circle that fills a square has four tangent points and the square’s sides are tangent lines. An arc (curve) in a survey is part of a larger circle. One can construct tangent lines at the end points of the arc.

TAX DEED The instrument of conveyance when a government body sells a property to pay for arrears of taxes

TAX DEFERRED EXCHANGE A method of postponing capital gains when disposing of real property by trading one property for another of like kind

TAX LIEN The lien which is imposed upon real estate by operation of law which secures the payment of real estate, state or federal taxes.

TAX SERVICE A reporting service that notified the lender in the event the borrower does not keep the property taxes current

TAXATION The government’s right to charge fees on property to gain revenue. They can take title to property if taxes are not paid.

TENANCY IN COMMON An estate or interest in land held by two or more persons, each having equal rights of possession and enjoyment, but no right of survivorship.

TENANT AT SUFFERANCE A lessee who continues to hold possession of real estate after his authorized term of occupancy has expired

TENANCY AT WILL A tenant who occupies real estate, but is subject to the will of the owner as to termination of the lease

TENANTS BY THE ENTIRETY Co-ownership of property very similar to joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. However, it is only available for property held between husband and wife.

TESTAMENT The document describing the wishes of a person upon death. Also referred to as “last will and testament”.

TESTATE Having made a legally valid will and leaving it at death

TESTATOR A male person making a will.

TESTATRIX A female person making a will.

THIRD PARTY (or Party of the Third Part) Usually applied to persons who are not principal parties to a contract or other instrument, but who have some right, interest or duty which such contract or instrument affects. For example, where a sale contract between buyer and seller provides for the money and comments involved to be deposited with a title company pending the closing of the transaction, the title company becomes a third party in the deal.

TIER In the U.S. public land surveying system, an east-west row of townships identified as being north or south of a latitudinal baseline.

TIME-SHARE A partial interest in a property allowing exclusive use for a specific time period.

TITLE 1) The evidence of rights which a person has to the ownership and possession of land. 2) Ownership itself.

TITLE AGENT A representative of a Title Underwriter, i.e. one who “writes” the policies of the actual insurer or Underwriter.

TITLE ASSURANCE Evidence pertaining to title. It can take on many forms: Abstracts of Title, Torrens Certificates of Title, Attorney’s Opinions about title, Surveys or Title Insurance.

TITLE COMMITMENT A document that reflects all of the title research done on property. Its purpose is to inform all parties of any encumbrances affecting the property, and to commit to insure property, subject to certain stated requirements.

TITLE COMPANY A generic name for either a Title Insurer or Title Insurance Agent.

TITLE DEFECT 1) Title which lacks some of the necessary elements to transfer “good and marketable title. 2.) Impaired ownership or marketability of real estate title, sometimes referred to as “Cloud on Title”

TITLE INSURANCE A policy of indemnity, issued by a title insurance underwriter or its Agent, which insures a buyer or lender against monetary loss or damage due to errors in the title as described in the policy and undeterminable factors which affect title such as fraud, forgery, unrecorded or mis-recorded documents, or unknown heirs.

TITLE INSURER A company which holds reserves for losses and actually insures the title to real estate, as opposed to a Title Agent, who writes policies of the insurer.

TITLE INSURANCE COMMITMENT (aka title binder) A report issued by a title insurance company binding or committing the title insurance company to issue a policy, as designated in the commitment or binder, upon compliance with and satisfaction of requirements set forth.

TITLE PLANT Records kept by County Recording Offices and Title Companies of recorded documents that affect title to real estate, such as deeds, mortgages, easements, judgments, bankruptcies, etc.

TITLE POLICY The actual document that shows the name of the insured/s, the coverage being provided, the dollar amount of coverage, and the terms and conditions under which any title claims will be paid.

TITLE SEARCH An examination of public records to determine the legal ownership of property. Usually performed by an attorney, abstractor, skilled title searcher, or title company.

TITLE SEARCHER a professional who searches real estate titles

TITLE STANDARDS® General “rules of thumb” as set out by various state Bar Associations as to the acceptability of what is considered “marketable title.”

TITLE UNDERWRITER Same as Title Insurer, the company who holds a Statutory Premium Reserve, and is responsible for paying claims on title under a Title insurance Policy, as opposed to the Title Agent that writes policies of the actual insurer or underwriter.

TOISE Traditional French unit of length equal to 6 old French ‘pieds’ or feet, or 6.4 English feet.

TORRENS SYSTEM A government title registration system used in many Counties in the US and often in Canada, that use Certificates of Title showing current ownership and encumbrances. The certificates are issued by a public official (the registrar of titles) as evidence of title.

TRACT CHECK To bring real estate title information current by searching the public record for recently recorded documents and information. Derived from checking the Tract Index. Also called update, downdate, and various other names.

TRACT INDEX A common land record index that shows the history of recorded documents for each particular tract by its legal description. The index is a reference to the original source documents.

TRUST DEED or DEED OF TRUST (DOT) In some jurisdictions, an instrument in the nature of a mortgage which secures the payment of a debt. Distinguished from a mortgage in that the title is transferred to, and held by, a trustee for the benefit of the holder of the debt.

TOWNSHIP, TWP or T Parcels of land, 6 miles X 6 miles, or 36 square miles lying East or West of a Principle Meridian and North or South of a Base Line.

TRACT 1) Generally, an area of land. 2) In the U.S.Public Land Survey System, an area of four Townships by four Townships, where correction lines are made along the Northerly and Westerly most lines thereof.

TRACT CHECK A request, usually just prior to closing, to determine if anything has been filed against a property between the effective date of the commitment and closing, (aka the gap period) which might prevent successful transfer of the title.

TRACT INDEX In many Counties, a geographic index, used to locate documents filed on a particular piece of property. (Generally not the official record , but a helpful auxiliary record)

TRADE FIXTURE A trade fixture is an improvement that can be removed by a tenant, when it was installed by the tenant for use in a business, so long as the structure is not damaged, or repaired. It is an exception to the law of fixtures, as it is considered personal property.

TRANSFER TAX Money paid to the county and or state when property is sold.

TRAVERSE 1) A line surveyed across a parcel, 2) a series of such lines connecting a number of points, often used as a base for triangulation or rough boundary lines around a body of water.

TREASURER The County Official charged with the collection of real estate taxes, and other monetary duties.

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

TRUSTEE A person who holds a property in trust.

TRUTH IN LENDING ACT aka TIL or TILA or Reg Z Name given to federal statutes and regulations concerning credit terms and their disclosure

UNDERWRITER 1.) The actual company which holds reserves to pay losses on title policies, as opposed to an Agent, who sells the policies of the Underwriter.
2.) Person Responsible for evaluating risk of title defects, and determining conditions as shown on the commitment to insure.

UNDERWRITING TITLE Deciding whether to make a commitment to insure a potential buyer based on certainty of title, age of any defects in title and other risk factors with the matching of risk to an appropriate rate risk, or subject to certain conditions.

UNDERWRITING LOAN The act of reviewing the credit documents and the appraisals and agreeing to bind or not to bind the lender to grant a loan. Direct Endorsement or delegated underwriting involves binding an agency (FHA or VA) through a lender.

UNDERWRITING MANUAL A text given to Title Agents and employees of a Title Underwriter to assist in resolving common title issues, give company policy, and provide standard language for use in title commitments and policies.

UNDIVIDED INTEREST All owners share equal rights to use, possess, and enjoy all of the property jointly, i.e. everyone has equal access to all.

UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE (UCC) A model statute covering things such as the sale of goods, credit, and bank transactions. All states have adopted and adapted the entire UCC, with the exception of Louisiana, which only adopted parts of it.

UPC In some jurisdictions, the identification number for a specific property; also called assessor’s tax parcel number, account number, or folio number, parcel ID, or various other names.

UPDATE To bring real estate title information current by searching the public record for recently recorded documents and information.

USURY The act of charging an interest rate higher than a rate allowed by legal limits.

UX or UXOR Latin – Wife

VACATE 1) To annul, to render an act void, as in to vacate a road. 2) To vacate an entry which has been made on a record.

VACATED STREET A roadway that has been formally vacated by legal approval of the appropriate governing entity.

VALID Legal or binding.

VARA Unit of length (the “Spanish yard”) used in the U.S. southwest. The vara is used throughout the Spanish speaking world and has values around 33 inches, depending on locale. The legal value in Texas was set to 33 1/3 inches early in the 1900’s.

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.

VAULT EXAM An examination of title to a piece of real estate without benefit of an Abstract, through reviewing the public records or title plant records directly. Often done in the Northeast.

VENDEE A purchaser of real property, generally under a purchase agreement or Contract for Deed (aka Land Contract)

VENDOR A seller of real property generally under a purchase agreement or Contract for Deed (aka Land Contract)

VEST To bestow or confer upon, as in the expression, “Title shall vest in …”

VESTED INTEREST An interest that is fixed or determined.

VESTING The manner in which title to real property is held.

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION (VA) The Veteran’s Administration was established by the government to grant benefits to Veterans returning to civilian life including entitlement for purchase of homes.

VITAL RECORDS Birth, marriage and death records

VOLUNTARY LIEN Any lien placed on property with consent of, or as a result of, the voluntary act of the owner.

WAIVER The release of a right to require something to take place, such as the waiver of a contingency found in the purchase agreement.

WARRANTY DEED A deed intended to pass any title, interest, or claim which the grantor may have in the property, and containing a warranty of a valid interest or title in the grantor.

WARRANTY OF TITLE An agreement and assurance by the grantor of real property for himself and his heirs, to the effect that he is the owner, and has the right to sell, or encumber.

WAREHOUSING Borrowing of funds by a mortgage banker using a mortgage note as collateral until the note is sold to a permanent investor in the secondary market.

WAY OF NECESSITY An easement for a roadway which the owner of a landlocked tract is entitled to acquire across adjoining land in order to provide a means of ingress and egress with respect to landlocked property.

WILL A written document, properly witnessed, providing for the distribution of property owned by a deceased person.

WITNESS An individual who was present at a given event

WITNESS CORNER A monument set by the original U.S. Government Surveyors which was placed on a section line, close to the position where a true Section Corner or quarter corner would have been set. These were used when actual locations were inaccessible.

WITNESS TREE Generally used in the U.S. public land states, this refers to the trees close to a section corner. The surveyor blazed them and noted their position relative to the corner in his notebook. Witness trees are used as evidence for the corner location.

WRAPAROUND MORTGAGE A means of financing where the existing loan of the seller remains intact and the borrower makes payments to a wraparound noteholder that in turn pays the existing mortgage, the wraparound note being inferior to the existing mortgage.

WRIT a formal legal document issued by a court ordering or prohibiting the performance of some action.

WRIT OF ATTACHMENT A court order authorizing the seizure of property to cover debts.

WRIT OF EXECUTION A command from the court to the sheriff to carry out the action required by the order.

WRIT OF SUMMONS A document ordering a person to appear in court

X or REGULATION X Common term for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA.

YIELD The effective amount of income derived from a note comprised of interest rate and financing charges.

Z or REGULATION Z Common term for the federal Truth in Lending Law.

ZERO LOT LINE A type of real estate in which the dwelling is built on the property line boundary, typically used for space conservation.

ZONING A city or county regulation governing the use of property.

ZONING ORDINANCE Regulations passed by local governments regulating the size, type, structure nature and/or use of buildings.

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