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Abstract of Title

A summary of the public records affecting the title to a particular piece of land. An attorney or title insurance company officer creates the abstract of title by examining all recorded instruments (documents) relating to a specific piece of property, such as easements, liens, mortgages, etc.


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


a natural increase of land along the shores of a body of water.


a formal declaration before a notary public or qualified officer that the person signing a document is doing so voluntarily and using his or her legal name and signature; popularly called notarizing.

Actual notice

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


to pay the debts and finalize up the business of a deceased person’s estate.

Adverse Possession

acquisition of title to real property through continued occupation over a period of time (usually five years); title acquired in this way is not considered marketable until established by court proceedings against the owner of record.


a written statement or declaration that is sworn to or affirmed before somebody who has the authority to administer an oath or affirmation.


a legally binding contract made between two or more persons.

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.


the increasing of land, especially along river banks, caused by the natural deposits and build-up of sediment. Such sediment is called alluvian.


anything incidental or belonging to land that might be considered part of the property, such as an improvement or an easement for ingress and egress.


belonging to.


“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.

Assessed valuation

value placed on property by the count assessor; used as a basis for computing property taxes.

Assessment bond

an obligation to pay for costs of local improvements such as sidewalks, sewers, or street lighting.


the person who receives ownership of a contract by transfer by another


a transfer in writing of one’s interest in something, as to assign an interest in a promissory note and deed of trust.


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 or her to execute a legal document, such as a deed, mortgage, on behalf of the grantor.

Attorney’s Opinion

the written statement of an attorney setting forth what he believe to be the condition of a real estate title.


American Land Title Association

ALTA Title Insurance Policy

American Land Title Association combination of various policies and endorsements that lenders usually require when making a loan; expands normal coverage to include unrecorded mechanic’s liens, unrecorded physical easements, facts not revealed by a physical survey, water and mineral rights, and the right of parties in possession such as buyers who have recorded claims and tenants.


a change or shift in a water boundary resulting in loss of land by an owner and the acquiring of such land by another.

Aztec Recognition Agreement

An agreement a bank draws up to give its lien first priority over the co-op’s lien in case the shareholder defaults. Also, the co-op corporation promises to notify the lender if the owner fails to pay maintenance or other fees to the co-op.


Back Title Letter

Also called “Back Title Certificate” in some areas, and “Starter” in others. When title have been previously examined up to a certain date by reliable examiners, title companies sometimes give subsequent examiners of such titles a letter which sets forth the condition of the title at the time of the previous examination and authorizes them to begin their subsequent examination with the terminal date of the previous examination.

Bargain and Sale Deed

also called “Fee Simple Deed.” A deed of conveyance which presumes that the grantor holds title, but which makes no warranty with respect to the title.


a person who is eligible to receive funds or property under the terms and provisions of a will or trust or insurance policy.

Bill of Sale

the instrument by which title to personal property (not real property) is transferred.


written confirmation of insurance coverage provided by an insurer prior to issuance of the actual policy.


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. Also a written commitment assuring the payment of a stipulated sum of money. Acertificate 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 referenced by separate book number and page number, and within that book, documents are listed chronologically and alphanumerically. Frequently replaced by document number or official records.

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 interrelated.


Certificate of Title

Written opinion by an attorney that ownership of a particular property is as stated in his or her certificate.

Chain of Title

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


personal property.


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

title that is free of liens or legal questions as to ownership of the property


an attorney or other person responsible for orchestrating a closing, often including drafting legal documents, receipting and explaining documents, handling funds, and meting terms of the purchase agreement, lender requirements, and Title Company.


In some areas called “settlement” or “escrow.” Process of completing a real estate transaction during which deeds, mortgages, leases and other required instruments are signed and/or delivered, an accounting between the parties is made, the money is disbursed, the papers are recorded, and all other details such as payment of outstanding liens and transfer of hazard insurance policies are attended to.

Cloud on Title

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

Commitment of title

similar to preliminary title report; guarantees that a title company will issue title insurance.

Common Areas

all the areas in a condominium or planned unit development that are not specifically reserved for the individual owners; includes walkways, parking lots, and yards.


legally qualified.

Concurrent escrow

occurring simultaneously, at the same time; real estate exchanges often must be recorded concurrently.


the taking of private property for public use.


specifications detailed in a deed; they may cover such things as setbacks, types of dwellings, etc.

Confirmation of sale

court approval of the sale of property by an executor, administrator, guardian, or conservator Contiguous- being in actual contact; adjoining or touching.

Constructive notice

notice given to the general public by the county records.


A unit in a large building operating as a cooperative corporation.  Individual units are leased exclusively to purchasers. Buyers are issued shares in the corporation rather than receiving a deed to the property.  Special restrictions limit the terms of purchase and use of the unit.

Co tenancy

ownership shared by more than one person; tenancy in common and joint tenancy are both co tenancy arrangements.

Contract for Deed – (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.


the transfer of title to property from one person to another.

County Assessor

one who sets value of property for taxation purposes.

County Records

a system for recording documents in permanent books or records at the county court house; maintained by each county and provided by law. Open to public examination.


a formal agreement or contract between two parties in which one party gives the other certain promises and assurances, such as covenants of warranty in a warranty deed.

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

often associated with condominium documents. Limitations sometimes put on the use and enjoyment of real property. This is done by agreements contained in deeds and other documents.


a right which a husband has in his wife’s property at her death. It does not prevail in all states.

Cut Out

the term applied when a parcel or a portion of the property is taken or “cut-out” from a larger parcel on an arbitrary map.


Decree of Distribution

The final declaration of the rights of heirs to receive the property of an estate.


the setting aside of certain land by the owner and declaring it to be for some public use, accompanied by the acceptance of such use by the public. For example: streets, sidewalks, or parks.


a written document that transfers title to property; there are several different types; a grant deed, the most common, is simply used to convey property; a gift deed is used to make a gift of property; a quitclaim deed is used to transfer an interest owned in a property and contains no warranties; a tax deed is used to convey title held by the state, and a deed of reconveyance is used to convey legal title back to the borrower from the trustee.

Deed of Reconveyance

a legal instrument that conveys title from a trustee back to the borrower under a mortgage once the mortgage has been paid off.

Deed of Trust

security for a property loan; deed the property to a third party (trustee0 to hold until the loan is paid.

Deed Restriction

a restriction contained in a deed which limits the use or occupancy of the real estate or the type, size, purpose and location of improvements to be constructed on it.

Deemer period- refers to the way a state regulates rate filing by title companies, in other words, how approval is obtained for rate filings by the regulatory authorities.


failure to make good on a promise, such as failure to make payments on a note or to live up to the terms of a contract.


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

Deficiency Judgment

a personal judgment in a foreclosure action for whatever amount remains owing after the foreclosure sale of an encumbered property.


a reference to certain maps, plats, and other instruments that are recorded with the county and serve to make positive property identification.


to give property by will; a devisee is the beneficiary to whom the property is willed and the devisor (more commonly called thetestator) is the deceased person through whom the property is devised. A gift of real estate by a will.


to deprive one of the possession and use of real estate.


to deprive of a right or title.

Documentary Stamps

tax applicable to property transfers and affixed to the grant deed; varies from county to county, city to city; sometimes called a transfer tax

.Dominant Estatethe property for the benefit of which a right-of-way easement exists across another’s adjoining piece of land is said to be the dominant estate. The land across which the easement runs is said to be the servient estate.Dowera right which a wife has in her husband’s property effective at the time of his death.



a right of one person to make limited use of another’s property, for example, the right to cross a property and maintain a road or right-of-way to install and maintain public utility services.

Easement Appurtenant

created for the benefit of a parcel of land; belong with the land.

Easement in Gross

an easement that is not appurtenant to any one parcel; for example, public utility easement.


A means for departing from one’s own property without trespassing on another person’s property, as applied to an easement.

Eminent Domain

the government’s right to acquire private property for public, or quasipublic use through condemnation; requires full compensation.


extension of an improvement onto the lane of another.


addition to or modification of a title insurance policy, which expands or changes the coverage of the policy, 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

title of the purchaser under a contract of sale or the right to acquire the legal title.


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


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


the degree, quantity, nature and extent of a person’s interest in a property.

Estate by Entireties

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.


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

Et Al

and others.


abbreviations of Latin “et uxor” meaning “and wife.”

Et Vir

a Latin term meaning “and husband.”


as used in the title industry means to study and interpret the instruments related to the chain of title of a property and to determine their effect and condition in order to reach a conclusion as to the status of the title.


the title examiner.


a conditional item listed on a preliminary title report and affecting the title; would be excluded from coverage by a title insurance policy.


also known as an exception. The deduction or subtraction from inclusion.


to give validity by signing documents so that an intention may be completed.


a person named in a will to carry out its provisions.


Fee Simple

the greatest interest one may hold in real property; usually means ordinary ownership of real estate and is sometimes called fee title.


someone entrusted with financial responsibility in someone else’s behalf.


relates to the delivery of real estate instruments to a recorder for recordings.

File and Use

title insurers in most states file rate schedules, policy forms, and endorsement forms with the state insurance department; they may then use those rates and forms after a specified waiting interval; rates so filed are mandatory.

First Mortgage

a mortgage having priority as a lien over any other mortgage or lien on the same property.


personal property which is permanently attached to real estate such as plumbing fixtures.


a legal process that deprives a mortgagor of his or her interest in a property because he or she has failed to comply with the terms of the mortgage.

Forfeiture of title

common penalty for the violation of conditions or restrictions imposed by the seller upon the buyer in a deed or other proper document.


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


a life estate or a fee simple estate.

Front Foot

a unit of measurement, one foot in length, along the front boundary line of a piece of property which measurement, when assigned a dollar value, is a factor in determining the total value or sale price of the tract.


General Plan Restrictions

restrictions on the use of property imposed for the benefit of more than one parcel of property, usually a tract containing many lots.

General Index

an index (kept in the plant) of all matters affecting persons or corporations and their rights to do business and all matters of a general nature which cannot be entered on the Lot Books because no specific property is mentioned.

General Lien

A lien filed against the name of an individual, corporation, that attaches to all properties owned by the individual, both real and personal.

General Warranty

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

Gift Deed

a deed granted out “of love and affection” rather than any material consideration.


to convey title of property by means of a deed; a grantor conveys a property to a grantee.


one to whom a grant is made.


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


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


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.


Habendum clause

the provision in a deed which begins with the words “to have and to hold” and which, in effect, defines the quality of the estate or interest which is being conveyed to the grantee.


a person who inherits or who is entitled to inherit real estate by provisions of law or under the provisions of a will.


any kind of estate, interest, or rights in real estate which can be inherited.


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.

Homeowner’s endorsement

an addition to a policy of title insurance that extends the normal policy to cover items other than those stated in the standard policy; may include such items as mineral rights and mechanic’s liens.


property designated by the head of a family as his home, which is protected by law from forced sale to pay debts. Land claimed by a settler under the National Homestead Act.


to give a thing as security without giving up possession.



presumed or inferred, rather than expressed.

Improvement Liens

liens imposed by municipalities on real estate which 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.


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.


To agree to make payments for a loss.


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


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


an alphabetical listing in the public records of names of parties to recorded real estate instruments together with the book and page number of the record. The listing in abstract and title plants of recorded real estate instruments in groups according to land descriptions, known as a geographic index. The alphabetical listing in abstract and title plants, by names of the parties, of all recorded instruments which affect but do not describe particular real estate, such as judgments, powers of attorney, will and probate proceedings. Such indexes are known by various names such as General Index, Judgment Index, and Name Index.

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.


a means for entering one’s own property without trespassing on another person’s property, as applied to an easement.

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.


a written legal document such as a contract, a promissory note, a deed, or a grant.

Insurable Title

a property title that a title insurance company is willing to insure.

Insured closing letter

A letter issued by a title underwriter to a lender or buyer accepting responsibility for certain closing (nontitle) issues.

Intermediate theory state

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.


someone who has died with no will; the estate reverts to the next of kin.


Joint Protection Policy

a title insurance policy insuring the interest of both owner and lender.

Joint Tenancy

one way for several persons to hold title; joint tenants own an undivided equal interest and have equal rights to use the entire property; they are said to have the right of survivorship, that is, they inherit the property automatically upon the death of the other joint tenant; this right if the principal distinction between a joint tenancy and a tenancy in common.


a court’s final decree, generally resulting in a lien; may encumber the sale of a property and must be satisfied before it can be sold.


of or pertaining to courts of law or the administration of justice

Judicial foreclosure

type of foreclosure that requires court proceedings; mortgage foreclosure requires court proceedings while deed-of-trust foreclosures generally do not; state laws dictate.

Junior Lien

Any lien or mortgage that has less priority than another. May be a judgment or a second or third mortgage filed after another lien.


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.


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


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.

Legal description

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


A legal claim upon property for the payment of a debt; a money encumbrance; such as, a mortgage lien, a judgment lien, or a mechanic’s lien.

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.

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

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.

Lis Pendens

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.

Littoral rights

rights to shoreline property on a large body of water, such as an ocean or lake.


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 short title company report providing the property owner’s name, the vesting, the property’s legal desrip5ion, and a plat map.


Marketable title

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

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.

Mechanic’s Lien

a lien that s subcontractor, laborer, or supplier of materials may put on a property after furnishing labor or materials to improve the property without being paid.

Meeting of Minds

the state that exists when all parties to a contract agree to the exact terms thereof.

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 acceptable.

Mineral Rights

ownership of minerals found on a property.


a person under 18 years of age.

Mortgagee 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.

Muniments of Title

deeds and other original documents showing a chain of title.

Mutual Consent

approval of both parties to terms of a contract.



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


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

Non-recurring closing costs

fees and costs that are paid only once, usually at closing, such as title insurance or points.

Notary Public

person who acknowledges oaths, such as the signing of a grant deed or deed of trust; must be duly appointed by the property authorities.

Notice of completion

document recorded to give constructive notice that a building job has been completed

Notice of Default

a formal recorded declaration that a default has occurred; starts foreclosure proceedings.

Notice of Nonresponsibility

notice recorded by an Owner of real property that he will not be responsible for payment of mechanics’ liens for work contracted by another.


Official Records

a master set of books kept by the county recorder in which copies of all recorded documents in that county are stored; may be microfilmed.

Offset statement

a statement by an owner or a lien holder concerning the liens against a property

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.

Owner’s Policy

a policy of title insurance usually insuring an owner of real estate against loss occasioned by defects in, liens against, orunmarketablility of the owner’s title.

Owner’s Policy



land fitting in a single description

Parcel Map

A map of a given area, designed, drawn, and labeled for the purposed of identifying parcels and distinguishing them from one another in a given area. May be called a subdivision map or a plat map

Partial reconveyance

the release of part of someone’s interest in real property secured by a mortgage or deed of trust


a lawsuit between joint owners of real estate in which the court either divides the property between them or orders the property sold and divides the proceeds between them

Party wall

a wall built long the boundary line of adjoining properties and shared by the respective property owners or tenants


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

Personal property

which is not real property; curtains, furniture, appliances, and other items not attached permanently to the property.


personal property

Plat Book

one in a set of books in the public records in which maps, plats, and copies of surveys are recorded.

Plat map

map of a land subdivision or housing development

Possession date

day when the buyer actually moves into the property; may be different from the close of escrow or recording date.

Power of Attorney

the authority given one person by another to act on his or her behalf.

Preliminary Certificate

same as a Binder Certificate

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


doctrine by which easements are acquired through long, continuous, and exclusive use of possession of property


taking place in rank or order; taking precedence over; in real estate transaction, priority is established by the order in which documents affecting a property are recorded and also by the language contained in those documents.

Public Records

the transcriptions in a 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 setae may be conveyed by trust deed to be held by him as security for repayment of a loan.

Purchase Money Mortgage

a mortgage given by a purchaser to a seller on the subject property to secure payment of part of the purchase price.



to some degree, almost, partially, somewhat.

Quiet Enjoyment

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

Quiet Title Suit

a lawsuit brought by an owner of real estate for the purpose of canceling, wiping out, putting a quietus upon supposedly immaterial, inconsequential, and unenforceable claims and interest which cloud his title


final disposition, settlement, or elimination of a claim of debt.

Quit Claim Deed

a deed in which the grantor releases any claim he or she may have on a property; most commonly used between spouses and in partnerships; it contains no warranties.


Real Property

Term used to describe land and that which is permanently attached to the land; includes surface, subsurface and air rights.


transfer of title from the trustee back to the real owner of property; occurs when a loan has been paid in full; releases the trustor (borrower) from any further liabilities for that debt


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.

Recurring closing costs

costs and fees that will be paid monthly or annually, such as fire insurance, interest, property taxes and mortgage insurance.


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

Redemption period

period of time in which borrower may redeem his or her property.

Release Clause

a stipulation allowing for the release of a specific piece of property from a blanket lien that covers it and other property in exchange for a specific payment

Release of Dower

the deed or other instrument by which a wife releases her inchoate dower rights in land.

Release of Lien

the instrument by which a lien is released from the real estate which it encumbers.


person who holds a future interest that exists in favor of a party other than the grantor or his or her successors, as in a life estate relationship.


a particular right withheld by a grantor when conveying property.


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


the return of an estate or interest to a grantor or lessor after the grant or lease has expired. Or, the interest retained by a fee simple owner of real estate after granting a terminable estate or interest in such property to another. For example, when a fee simple owner gives a lease to a tenant, the interest which the owner has left is known as the reversion. May also be 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

term used in deeds to denote that the grantor is conveying all claims to a property.

Riparian Owner

one who owns the upland bordering on a stream or other body of water.

Riparian Rights

the many rights of a person in, to, and over the banks, bed, shallows, shore and water of a stream or body of water upon which his land border.



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


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


property pledged to ensure payment of a debt; collateral


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

Separate Property

property that is held singly by either a husband or wife, described on a deed as “sole and separate property.”

Servient Estate

incident to an easement, the property upon or across which an easement exists.


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.


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


time at which property purchase is finalized, closing costs paid, deed exchanged and money disbursed; also called closing andclose of escrow.


one who creates an inter vivos or living trust

Specific Lien

A lien filed against a specific piece of real estate that does not impact other real estate or personal property of the lienee. For example, a mortgage or deed of trust, or a mechanic’s lien.

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

Statue of limitations

law specifying time limits for initiating enforceable legal action.


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


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

Subject to

to take title without paying off the existing loan or deed of trust; original borrower remains ultimately responsible for repaying the loan; the buyer (new borrower) does not make a formal agreement with the lender.

Subordination agreement

a written agreement that changes the priority of documents, making for example, one deed of trust subordinate to another.


an area of land lay 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


the legal doctrine under which the law substitutes one creditor or claimant for another. When a title insurance company pays a claim under a title insurance policy, it is entitled to step into the shoes of the insured with respect to any rights the insured may have against parties who warranted the title to him.


a person who agrees to be responsible for a debt or obligation of another. Or, the pledge or agreement by which one undertakes responsibility for the debt or obligation of another.


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


Tacking On

beginning a subsequent title examination, in point of time, at the end of a previous title examination

Take Off

an abbreviated copy of the principal features of recorded instruments, required for the purposes of indexation in an abstract plant or for purposes of making abstracts or examining titles

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 taxes.

Tax Sale Number

a number assigned to a property when property taxes are not paid on time; identifies that property on the delinquent tax roll.

Tax Service

a reporting service that notified the lender in the event the borrower does not keep the property taxes current

Tenancy in Common

a form for taking title when two or more people buy property and own it together with either equal or unequal shares; if any one of the tenants in common dies, his or her interest passes to his or her heirs, not to the remaining tenants.

Tenant at Sufferance

one who continues to hold possession of real estate after his authorized term of occupancy has expired

Tenancy at will

a tenant who occupancy of real estate is subject to the will of the owner


having made a legally valid will and leaving it at death

Third Party

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 athird party in the deal.


partial interest in a property allowing exclusive use for a specific time period.


evidence of a person’s right to property

Title Agent

A representative of a title underwriter, one who “writes” the policies of the actual insurer or underwriter.

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 Covenants

covenants inserted in conveyances and in transfer of title to real estate for the purpose of giving protection to the purchaser against possible insufficiency of the title received.

Title Defect

any possible or patent claim or right outstanding in a chain of title which is adverse to the claim of ownership. Or, a material irregularity in the execution or effect of an instrument in the chain of title.

Title Insurance

A policy of indemnity issued by a title insurance underwriter or its agent that insures a buyer or lender against monetary loss or damage due to errors in the title as described in the policy and undeterminable facts that affect title such as fraud, forgery, unrecorded documents, unknown heirs, and many other factors.

Title Insurer

a company which insures the title to real estate

Title Plant

a geographically filed assemblage of title information which is to help in expediting title examinations, such as copies of previous attorneys’ opinions, abstracts, tax searches, and copies or take-offs of the public records.

Title search

a search and perusal of the public records for recorded instruments which affect the title to particular piece of land.

Title Searcher

one who searches titles

Title Underwriter

The title insurer who holds a statutory premium reserve and is responsible for claims on title under a title insurance policy.

Torrens System

a governmental title registration system that uses certificates of title issued by a public official (the registrar of title) as evidence of title

Trust Deed

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.



an insurance company which issues insurance policies either to the public or to another insurer. The actual company that holds reserves to pay losses on title policies, as opposed to an agent, who sells the policies of the underwriter. Also, can be the person responsible for evaluating risk of title defects and determining conditions to the commitment to insure.


the analysis completed by a lender to determine the worthiness of a requested loan.

Undivided interest

unsegregated interest of a co-owner in a whole property owned in common.


identification number for a specific property; also called assessor’s tax parcel number, account number, or folio number.


charging an interest rate above the maximum allowed by state law.



the purchaser under a sale contract of real estate.


the seller, one who disposes of something.


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


current recorded owner

Vested Interest

an interest that if fixed or determined.


the manner in which title to real property is held.

Voluntary Lien

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



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

deed with written guarantees of title.


the temporary funding and holding by a lending institution of mortgages originated by a mortgage broker until such time as the mortgage market improves or until the mortgage broker accumulates a sufficient amount of mortgages to interest a permanent mortgage purchaser.

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.


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

Writ of Execution

a direct command from the court to the sheriff to carry out the action required by the write.



city or county regulations governing the use of property.

Zoning Ordinances

laws passed by local governments regulating the size, type, structure nature and use of buildings. Often referred to as zoning laws and zoning regulations, and divided into those which regulate the height or bulk of buildings within certain designated zones or districts and those which prescribe the type of buildings which may be constructed, and the use to which buildings within certain designated zones or distracts may be put.