The voluntary relinquishment of rights of ownership
or another interest (such as an easement) by failure
to use the property, coupled with an intent to
abandon (give up the interest).
A summary of money judgment obtained in court.
(When this summary or abstract is recorded in
the county recorders office, in some states
the judgment becomes a lien on the debtors
property, both presently owned or after-acquired.)
A summary prepared by a licensed abstractor of
all documents recorded in the public records of
the political subdivision where the land is located.
An abstract in some states or areas is reviewed
by an attorney or other experienced title examiner
to determine the status of title. Virtually every
abstractor today provides actual copies of the
records rather than an abstract of each document.
A reduction or decrease. Usually applies to a
decrease of assessed valuation of ad valorem taxes
after the assessment, and levy.
Clause in a deed of trust or mortgage, which accelerates,
or hastens, the time when the indebtedness becomes
due. For example, some deeds of trust contain
a provision (an acceleration clause) stating that
the note shall become due immediately upon the
sale of the land or upon failure to pay interest
or an installment of principal and interest.
Recording of instruments with the county recorder
by a title company merely as a convenience to
a customer and without assumption of responsibility
for correctness or validity.
A formal declaration before a duly authorized
officer (such as a notary public) by a person
who has executed an instrument that such execution
is his own act and deed. An acknowledgment is
necessary to entitle an instrument (with certain
specific exceptions) to be recorded, to impart
constructive notice of its contents and to entitle
the instrument to be used as evidence without
further proof. The certificate of acknowledgment
is attached to the instrument or incorporated
Mortgage Loans (AMLs)
Mortgage loans under which the interest rate is
periodically adjusted to more closely coincide
with current rates. The amounts and times of adjustment
are agreed to at the inception of the loan. Also
called Adjustable Rate Loans, Adjustable Rate
Mortgages (ARMs), Flexible Rate Loans, Variable
Rate Loans. See also Indexing,
A person appointed by the probate court to carry
out the administration of a decedents estate
when the decedent has left no will. If a woman
is appointed, she is called an administratrix.
Literally, according to value.
this term is usually used in reference to real
property taxes which are assessed according to
value, i.e., ad valorem.
A process of acquiring title to real property
by possession for a certain (statutory) period
of time, in addition to fulfilling other conditions.
A written statement or declaration, sworn to before
an officer who has authority to administer an
oath. One who has authorization, either expressed
or implied, to act for or represent another party,
usually in business matters, such as issuing title
insurance policies on behalf of a title insurer
for a portion of the premium.
A written contract entered into between the seller
(vendor) and buyer (vendee) for sale of real property
(land) on an installment or deferred payment plan.
It is also known as an agreement to convey, a
long form Security Agreement or a real estate
Rate which includes charges for title insurance,
searching or abstract fees and examination fees.
Inclusive Trust Deed (AITD/Wrap-Around)
A junior Deed of Trust securing a promissory
note, the face amount of which is the sum of the
liability secured by prior Trust Deeds plus the
cash or equity advanced by the AITD lender.
(American Land Title Association)
Organization composed of title insurance firms
which sets standards for the industry, including
title insurance policy forms used on a national
A change either to alter, add to, or correct part
of an agreement without changing the principal
idea or essence.
A loan that is paid off over a period of time,
by regular equal or nearly equal payments, including
both interest and principal.
Percentage Rate (APR)
The yearly interest percentage of a loan, as expressed
by the actual rate of interest paid. For example,
6% add-on interest would be much more than 6%
simple interest, even though both would say 6%.
The APR is disclosed as a requirement of Federal
Truth in Lending statutes.
An estimate of value of property resulting from
analysis of facts about the property; an opinion
An attorney whose opinion is acceptable to a title
company as the basis for issuance of a title insurance
policy by the insurer. The insurer, rather than
the attorney, executes the policy.
The value placed on land and improvements
as a basis for taxation. In California this is
usually accomplished by the tax assessors
Special and local levies on local property
in the immediate vicinity of an improvement. Assessments
can be imposed by such entities as flood control
districts, street lighting districts and air pollution
control districts which serve an area.
One to whom a transfer of interest is made.
For example, the assignee of a Deed of Trust or Contract.
The transfer, in writing, of a persons
interest to another person or entity in an asset,
such as an assignment of stock, a Deed
of Trust and a note or a lease.
One who makes an assignment. For example,
the assignor of a Deed of Trust
The act of conveying real property; taking title
to a property with the Buyer assuming liability
for paying an existing note secured by a deed
of trust against the property.
One who holds a power of attorney from another
allowing him to act on behalf of the grantor of
Title Letter or Certificate
A special proceeding under federal, or in some
instances state, laws by which the property of
a debtor is protected by the court and may be
divided among the debtors creditors and
See Deed of Trust.
A mortgage or trust deed that covers more than
one lot or parcel of real property, and often
an entire subdivision. As individual lots are
sold, a partial reconveyance from the blanket
mortgage is ordinarily obtained.
One who buys property in good faith, for fair
value, and without notice of any adverse claim
or right of third parties.
A subordinate or division office, as opposed to
an affiliate, agent, subsidiary or underwritten
firm associated with the headquarters.
Failure to perform a contract, in whole or part,
without legal excuse.
An agreement between an owner or lessee and a
building contractor, setting forth terms relative
to the construction of a proposed structure.
A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer,
third party, or some combination of these, causing
the lender to reduce the interest rate during
the early years of a loan. The buydown is usually
for the first one to five years of the loan. See
also Certificate Backed Mortgage.
The percentage (acceptable to an average buyer)
used to determine the value of income property
In areas where attorneys examine abstracts or
chains of title, a written opinion, executed by
the examining attorney, stating that title is
vested as stated in the abstract.
The date the documents are recorded and title
passes from Seller to Buyer. On this date, the
Buyer becomes the legal owner, and title insurance
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The final procedure in the real estate sales process,
where the sale and pertinent loan are completed
by the execution of documents for recording. In
some areas, this procedure is known as the closing
An irregularity, possible claim, or encumbrance
which, if valid, would adversely affect or impair
Ordinary coinsurance is defined as a transaction
under which each of two or more insurers assumes
a designated portion of the liability for the
total risk and is liable for only such portion
of any loss beginning at the first dollar of loss.
By or at the side, additional or auxiliary. Mistakenly
used to mean collateral security.
Most commonly used to mean some security in addition
to the personal obligation of the borrower.
A service performed by a neutral third party in
receiving and disbursing loan payments as instructed
by the parties concerned.
A binding contract with a title company to issue
a specific title policy, showing only those exceptions
contained in the commitment and any intervening
matters after the date of the commitment and prior
to the effective date of the policy. The commitment
contains all information included in the preliminary
title report, plus a list of the title companys
requirements to insure the transaction. It also
includes the standard exceptions from coverage
that will appear in the policy.
A driveway which is jointly owned, used and maintained
by two or more persons. Usually, a portion of
each owners property is burdened by the
Property acquired by husband, wife or both during
marriage which gives each spouse an interest in
the property whether each appears in title or
Sales that have similar characteristics as the
subject property, used for analysis in the appraisal.
Commonly called comps.
The taking of private property by the government
for public use as for a street or a storm
drain upon making just compensation to
the owner. This right or power of government to
take property for a necessary public use is called
A multi-family or other structure in which
units are individually owned and in which owners
of individual units also own an undivided interest
in common areas.
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.
Notice imparted by the public records of the county
when documents entitled to recording are recorded.
Dependent upon conditions or events specified
but not yet accomplished. Property may be sold
contingent upon the seller or buyer meeting a
An instrument in writing, such as a deed or trust
deed, used to transfer (convey) title to property
from one person to another.
An entity authorized by law and established by
a group of people, the stockholders, which is
endowed with certain rights, privileges and duties
similar to an individual.
One who sets value of property for taxation
(1) A formal agreement or contract between two
parties in which one party gives the other certain
promises and assurances, such as the covenant
of warranty in a warranty deed.
(2) Agreements or promises contained in deeds
and other instruments for performance or nonperformance
of certain acts, or use or nonuse of property
in a certain manner.
Conditions and Restrictions
Commonly called CC&Rs the term
usually refers to a written recorded declaration
which sets forth certain covenants, conditions,
restrictions, rules or regulations established
by a subdivider or other landowner to create uniformity
of buildings and use within tracts of land or
groups of lots. The restrictions also can be established
by deed. CC&Rs are sometimes referred to as
Money owing from one person to another.
One who owes a debt.
A probate court decree which determines how the
estate of a decedent shall be distributed.
Written document by which an estate or interest
in real property is transferred from one person
to another. The person who transfers the interest
is called the grantor. The one who
acquires the interest is called the grantee.
Examples of deeds are grant deeds, administrators
deeds, executors deeds, quitclaim deeds,
etc. The deed to use depends on the language of
the deed, the legal capacity of the grantor and
of Trust or Trust Deed
A written document by which the title to land
is conveyed as security for the repayment of a
loan or other obligation. It is a form of mortgage.
The landowner or debtor is called the trustor.
The party to whom the legal title is conveyed
(and who may be called on to conduct a sale thereof
if the loan is not paid) is the trustee.
The lender is the beneficiary. When
the loan is paid off, the trustee is asked by
the beneficiary to issue a recon or
reconveyance. This reconveyance corresponds to
the release that the holder of a mortgage executes
when the mortgage is paid off.
Limitations in the deed to a property that dictate
certain uses that may or not be made of the property.
A blemish, imperfection or deficiency. A defective
title is one that is irregular and faulty.
Failure to perform a duty or pay an obligation.
(1) Title to a negotiable instrument obtained
(2) Title to real property which lacks some of
the elements necessary to transfer good title.
A personal judgment in a judicial foreclosure
action for the remaining amount due after the
sale of the security.
A note having no date for repayment, but due on
demand of the lender.
(1) Money given by the buyer with an offer to
purchase. Shows good faith. Also called Earnest Money.
(2) A natural accumulation of resources (oil,
gold, etc.) which may be commercially recovered
The exact location of a piece of real property
stated in terms of lot, block, tract, part lot,
metes and bounds, recorded instruments, or U.S.
Government survey (sectionalized). This is also
referred to as legal description of property.
Down payment made by a purchaser of real estate
as evidence of good faith; a deposit or partial
A right or interest in the use of the land of
another which entitles the holder to some use,
privilege or benefit, such as to place pole lines,
pipe lines or roads thereon.
A qualifying term meaning the ability to pay as
well as desire to buy.
The right of a government to take privately owned
property for public purposes under condemnation
proceedings upon payment of its reasonable value.
The presence of an improvement such as a building,
a wall, a fence or other fixture which overlaps
onto the property of an adjoining owner.
A right or claim upon real property (land) held
by one other than the property owner. Encumbrances
are divided into two classes, as follows
b) Encumbrances other than liens which are limitations
on the ownership of the land (such as conditions,
restrictions, reservations, easements, etc.).
Addition to or modification of a title insurance
policy which expands or changes coverage of the
policy, fulfilling specific requirements of the
(1) A legal doctrine based on fairness, rather
than strict interpretation of the letter of the
(2) The market value of real property, less the
amount of existing liens.
(3) Any ownership investment (stocks, real estate,
etc.) as opposed to investing as a lender (bonds,
The reversion of property to the state when an
owner dies leaving no legal heirs, devisees or
An independent third party, such as Alpine
Escrow Corporation, who acts as the agent
for buyer and seller, or for borrower and lender,
carrying out instructions of both and disbursing
documents and funds. Escrow closes and the transfer
of property or document is completed upon fulfillment
of certain conditions specified in the written
instructions, whereupon the necessary deeds and
other instruments are recorded.
(1) The interest or nature of the interest which
one has in property, such as a life estate, the
estate of a deceased, real estate, etc.
(2) A large house with substantial grounds surrounding
it, giving the connotation of belonging to a wealthy
An exclusion from conveyance (such as an
interest in real property) and retained by
the grantor, or that which had been excluded in
a prior conveyance.
An order directing a sheriff, constable, marshal
or court-appointed commissioner to enforce a money
judgment against the property of a debtor. This
officer, if necessary, may sell the property to
satisfy the judgment.
A person appointed in a will and affirmed by the
probate court to cause a distribution of the decedents
estate in accordance with the will. (The one who
makes the will is called a testator.) If a woman
is appointed, she is referred to as the executrix.
An estate under which the owner is entitled to
unrestricted powers to dispose of the property,
and which can be left by will or inherited. Commonly,
a synonym for ownership.
In most states, title insurers file rate schedules,
title insurance policies and endorsement forms
with the State Insurance Department or other state
agency and then may use such items or rates starting
within a specified period of time after filing.
Rates so filed usually are mandatory.
A mortgage having a rate of interest which remains
the same for the life of the mortgage.
The sale of property used as security for a debt
after default in payment.
A common penalty for the violation of conditions
or restrictions imposed by the seller upon the
buyer in a deed or other proper document. For
example, a deed may be granted upon the condition
that if liquor is sold on the land, the title
to the land will be forfeited (that is, lost)
by the buyer (or some later owner) and will revert
to the seller.
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.
Faith or Mortgage Savings Clause
A clause in CC&Rs which provides
that a violation thereof shall not defeat
or render invalid the lien of any mortgage or
deed of trust made in good faith and for value.
Faith Purchaser or Mortgagee
A person who buys or lends in good faith, that
is, without notice of any existing problem, where
value is paid or lent.
A transfer of real estate, between individuals,
by deed. A transfer of real estate from a sovereign
is accomplished by patent or royal decree.
One of the many types of deeds used to transfer
real property. Contains warranties against prior
conveyances or encumbrances. When title insurance
is purchased, warranties in a deed are of little
A person appointed by a court to manage the person
and/or property of one who is legally incompetent
to handle his/her own affairs.
Real estate insurance protecting against fire,
some natural causes, vandalism, etc., depending
upon the policy. Buyer often adds liability insurance
and extended coverage for personal property.
A statutory protection from execution or the establishment
of title by occupation of real property in accordance
with the laws of various States or the Federal
A trust type of account established by lenders
for the accumulation of borrowers funds
to meet periodic payments of taxes, mortgage insurance
premiums, and/or future insurance policy premiums,
required to protect their security.
Insurance against possible loss or damage. A title
insurance policy is a contract of indemnity.
(1) Deceased without leaving a legally valid will.
(2) Property not disposed of by will or bequest.
A lien against the property of a judgment debtor.
An involuntary lien.
Contract (Land Sale)
An installment contract for the sale of land whereby
the seller (vendor) holds legal title and the
buyer (vendee) has equitable title until the sales
price is paid in full.
An agreement by which an owner of real property
(lessor) gives the right of possession to another
(lessee), for a specified period of time (term)
and for a specified consideration (rent).
Option (Lease With Option To Purchase)
A lease containing an option giving the lessee
the right to purchase the property. The price
and terms of the purchase must be set forth for
the option to be valid. The option may run for
the length of the lease or only for a portion
of the lease period.
A description of land recognized by law, based
on government surveys, spelling out the exact
boundaries of the entire piece of land. It should
so thoroughly identify a parcel of land that it
cannot be confused with any other.
Any person or entity advancing funds which are
to be repaid. A general term encompassing all
mortgagees, and beneficiaries under deeds of trust.
The tenant under a lease.
The landlord under a lease.
An encumbrance against property for money, either
voluntary or involuntary. All liens are encumbrances
but all encumbrances are not liens.
A notice recorded in the official records
of a county to indicate that a lawsuit is pending
affecting the lands described in the notice.
The price that real property would reasonably
be expected to bring were it to be offered for
sale with a reasonable sales effort over a reasonable
period of time.
A lien created by statute for the purpose of securing
priority of payment for the price or value of
work performed and materials furnished in construction
or repair of improvements to land, and which attaches
to the land as well as the improvements.
A term used in describing the boundary lines
of land setting forth all the boundary lines together
with their terminal points and angles.
(1) To hypothecate as security, real property
for the payment of a debt. The borrower (mortgagor)
retains possession and use of the property.
(2) The instrument by which real estate is hypothecated
as security for the repayment of a loan.
The party lending the money and receiving the
The party who borrows the money and gives the
A unilateral agreement containing an express and
absolute promise of the signer to pay to a named
person, or order, or bearer, a definite sum of
money at a specified date or on demand. Usually
provides for interest and, concerning real property,
is secured by a mortgage or trust deed.
A notice which should be recorded to indicate
completion of a work of improvement to real property.
A valid notice of completion limits the time for
filing valid mechanics liens.
of Default Recorded notice that a default
has occurred under a Deed of Trust and/or Note.
One to whom an obligation (promise) is owned.
One who legally binds (obligates) oneself, such
as the maker of a promissory note.
A statement furnished to an escrow from an owner
of land subject to an encumbrance (note) as to
the balance due. Not to be confused with a beneficiarys
statement. This can also be provided by a tenant
regarding his rights of possession.
End Deed of Trust
A Deed of Trust which secures additional notes
for funds that a lender may advance to a trustor,
subsequent to the execution of the original loan.
The purchase price of property, paid by the present
owner. The present owner may or may not be the
A policy of title insurance usually insuring an
owner of real estate against loss occasioned by
defects in, liens against or unmarketability of
the owners title.
Any area of land contained within a single description.
An association of two or more persons who have
contracted to join in business and share the profits.
A wall generally erected on a property boundary
or between two lots for the common benefit and
use of the property owners on either side.
A conveyance of title to land by the Federal or
One who receives payments.
One who makes payments.
Any property that is not designated by law as
real property (i.e., money, goods, evidences of
debt, rights of action, furniture, automobiles).
A title term referring to Property In Question.
A payment that combines Principal, Interest, Taxes,
A plan, map or chart of a tract or town site dividing
a parcel of land into lots.
A charge made by a lender. One point equals
one percent of the loan.
A document by which one person (called the principal)
authorizes another person (called the attorney-in-fact)
to act for him/her in a specific manner in designated
Prelim or Preliminary Report
A written report issued by a title company, preliminary
to issuing title insurance, which shows the recorded
condition of title of the property in question.
The order of preference, rank or position of the
various liens and encumbrances affecting the title
to a particular parcel of land. Usually, the date
and time of recording determine the relative priority
A title term referring to the type of inspection
made in connection with insuring a new construction
loan. In making the inspection of the property,
the title company must be assured that the work
of improvement had not yet begun when the lenders
deed of trust was recorded.
The allocation of property taxes, interest,
insurance premiums, rental income, etc., between
buyer and seller proportionate to time of use.
Land owned by the government and belonging to
the community at large.
The transcriptions in a recorders office
of instruments which have been recorded, including
the indexes pertaining to them.
To free the title to a piece of land from the
claims of other persons by means of a court action
called a quiet title action. The court
decree obtained is a quiet title decree.
A deed operating as a release; intended to pass
any title, interest, or claim which the grantor
may have in the property, but not containing any
warranty of a valid interest or title in the grantor.
Estate Owned by Lending Institutions)
Properties acquired by lenders through foreclosures
or deeds in lieu of foreclosures.
Land, from the center of the earth and extending
above the surface indefinitely, including all
inherent natural attributes and any man-made improvements
of a permanent nature place thereon. For example
minerals, trees, buildings, appurtenant rights.
An instrument used to transfer title from a trustee
to the equitable owner of real estate, when title
is held as collateral security for a debt. Most
commonly used upon payment in full of a trust
deed. Also called a deed of reconveyance or release.
Filing documents affecting real property as a
matter of public record, giving notice to future
purchasers, creditors, or other interested parties.
Recording is controlled by statute and usually
requires the witnessing and notarizing of an instrument
to be recorded.
A contract which one insurer makes with another
to protect the first insurer, wholly or partially,
against loss or liability by reason of a risk
under a separate and distinct contract as insurer
of a third party. Reinsurance differs from coinsurance
in that, in the case of reinsurance, only one
insurer has a direct contractual relationship
with the insured, and that insurer (commonly referred
to as the lead insurer) purchases
reinsurance in order to lessen or spread the risk.
The lead insurer will assume a risk
up to a limit (the amount of which is referred
to as the retention) and any loss
which exceeds this limit would be borne by the
reinsurers. In the case of coinsurance, each coinsurer
has a direct contractual relationship with the
insured, and the risk is shared in agreed-upon
proportions from the first dollar of loss.
for Notice of Default
A recorded request for notification of a recorded
notice of default on a Deed of Trust.
Right reserved by the grantor in conveying
property, or a right which had previously been
Often called restrictive covenants. Provisions
in a deed or other instrument whereby an owner
of land prohibits or restricts certain use, occupation
or improvement of the land.
(1) The right to pass over property owned by another,
usually based upon an easement.
(2) A path or thoroughfare over which passage
(3) A strip of land over which facilities such
as highways, railroads or power lines are built.
A situation in which the grantor in a deed to
a parcel of property sells it and retains possession
by simultaneously leasing it from the grantee.
In title industry parlance, a careful exploration
and examination of the public records in an effort
to find all recorded instruments relating to a
particular chain of title.
Real property owned by one spouse exclusive of
any interest of the other spouse.
One who settles upon unoccupied land without legal
claim or authority. See Adverse Possession.
A copy of the last policy or report issued by
a title insurer which described the title to land
upon which a new search is to be made. In some
states, this is called a back title letter or
back title certificate.
Interest-bearing bonds issued, usually by a city
or county, to secure the payment of assessments
levied against land to pay for street improvements.
The property owner may pay off the particular
assessment against the property, or may allow
the assessment to go to bond and pay
installments of principal and interest over a
period of years, usually at the city or county
treasurers office. The holder of a bond
received payments from these offices.
Usually referred to as the condition of title
that exists at the time of acquisition by the
buyer, such as subject to a Deed
of Trust of record.
An area of land laid out and divided into lots,
blocks, and building sites, and in which public
facilities are laid out, such as streets, alleys,
parks, and easements for public utilities.
An agreement by which one encumbrance (i.e. a
mortgage) is made subject to another encumbrance
(i.e. a mortgage) is made subject to another encumbrance
(perhaps a lease). To subordinate
is to make subject to, or to make
of lower priority.
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
The measurement by a surveyor of real property
which delineates the boundaries of a parcel of
land. An ALTA survey additionally
delineates the exact location of all improvements,
encroachments, easements and other matters affecting
the title to the property in question. A survey
may be required by a title insurance company whenever
the company is requested to issue an ALTA
Extended Coverage Policy.
A deed executed by the tax collector to the state,
county or city when no redemption is made from
a tax sale.
Property on which current county taxes have not
been paid is sold to the state. No
actual sale takes place the title is transferred
to the state and the owner may redeem it by paying
taxes, penalties and costs. If it has not been
redeemed within five years, the property (referred
to as tax sold property) is actually
deeded to the state. (Similar sales
to cities take place for unpaid city taxes.)
Leaving a legally valid will at death.
(1) A combination of all the elements that constitute
a legal right to own, possess, use, control, enjoy
and dispose of real estate or a right or interest
(2) The rights of ownership recognized and protected
by the law.
Insured statement of the condition of title or
ownership of real property. For a one-time-only
premium, the named insured and their heirs are
protected against title defects, liens and encumbrances
existing as of the date of the policy and not
specifically excluded from it. In the event of
a claim, the title company provides legal defense
from the policyholder and pays any covered losses
incurred as a result of such claim.
See Preliminary Report.
A review of all recorded documents affecting a
specific parcel of land to determine the present
condition of title. An experienced title officer
or attorney reviews and analyzes all material
relating to the search, then determines the sufficiency
and status of title for insurance of a title insurance
(in a Deed of Trust)
See Deed of Trust.
A title firm which conducts title searches but
is not qualified to insure, and therefore issues
policies of a qualified title insurer (underwriter)
in return for a portion of the premium.
An interest rate that fluctuates with the current
cost of money; subject to adjustment if the prevailing
rate moves up or down.
See Agreement of Sale.
An implied lien given by law to a vendor for the
remaining unpaid and unsecured part of a purchase
Neighborhood; often used to refer to the county
or place in which an acknowledgment is made before
a notary; also refers to the county in which a
lawsuit may be filed or tried.
The names, status and manner in which title of
ownership is held with a fixed or determinable
interest in a particular parcel of real property;
also that portion of a title report or policy
setting forth the above.
To voluntarily and intentionally relinquish a
known right, claim or privilege.
A deed used in many states to convey fee title
to real property.
Local government regulations relating to the
use of property.