GLOSSARY

A

Abstract
A brief history of the title to a particular parcel of real estate.  

ALTA
American Land Title Association is an organization that represents over 5,500 title insurance companies and sets standards for the industry.

Appraisal
An expert estimate of the property’s value.

B

Beneficiary
A person who is eligible to receive funds or property under the terms of a will, trust, or insurance policy.

Broker
A person who acts on behalf of another person in negotiating a sale or purchase in return for a fee or commission.

C

Chain of Title
The ownership history of a real estate property that shows how title was passed from one owner to the next back to the original owner. 

Closer
An attorney or other person responsible for providing information and facilitating the transfer of property between a Buyer and Seller. They oversee the entire closing process, and work with a team of professionals each step of the way to ensure your transaction goes smoothly..  

Closing Day
The final step in a real estate transaction. It’s the big day when the parties to a transaction meet with a signing agent to review and sign the settlement statement (HUD-1) and other relevant paperwork, funds are disbursed, and ownership is officially transferred.

Clear Title
When the title for a property has no title defects. A title must be cleared before title insurance can be issued.

County Records
These are records kept and filed at the county court house. They are provided by law, are self-maintained, and are open to public examination.

D

Deed
A legal document that records a transfer of ownership from one person to another, and is filed with county records.

Deed of Trust
A deed that explains that the property is held by a third party until the loan is paid.

Defect
Any claims that could cause the title for a property to be invalid including: competing claims of ownership, unknown heirs, misrecorded information in public records, or forged signatures on title transfers.

Devise
A property transferred by will, or a gift of real estate by will.

E

Easement
The right to cross or otherwise use the property owned by someone else for a specific purpose. Typical examples are property boundary line resolutions or items authorized to cross a property boundary (e.g., utility pole, water line, sewer line, fence, or driveway).

Encumbrance
Any charge or claim against a property such as a title defect, lien, easement, or encroachment.

Encroachment
When parts of a neighboring property cross a boundary line (e.g., utility pole, water line, sewer line, fence, or driveway).

Escrow
A financial arrangement whereby a neutral third party or attorney holds funds in safekeeping pending the completion of a contract.

Examiner
Someone who examines and determines the condition and status of real estate title.

F

First Mortgage
The mortgage that has the priority as a lien over any other mortgage or lien on the same property.

Foreclosure
The legal process that eliminates a homeowner’s right to a property because he or she failed to make mortgage payments.

Forfeiture of Title
A common penalty when the buyer violates any conditions or restrictions described in the deed that are set by the seller of the property.

H

Heir
Someone who will inherit the property under provisions of a will.

Homeowners Association (HOA)
The administrative body for a planned community or condominium community that is responsible for upholding a community’s rules, managing community financials, and providing maintenance for shared spaces.

HOA Dues
Dues collected by a homeowners association (HOA) to fund maintenance and repair of common spaces in a shared community.

L

Legal Owner
Ownership of a property as recognized by local or federal law.

Lien
A lien is a notice filed against a property indicating that payment is owed to another party such as a creditor, lender, or construction contractor. Liens are filed with county records and can be one of several types: judgment liens, property tax liens, IRS liens, child support liens, or mechanic’s liens.  Any lien on your property would indicate that you do not have a clear title.

Lien Waver
A document provided by a contractor or subcontractor proving that they have been paid for their work and are waiving any future lien rights to the property for the amount paid.

P

Property Management Company
A homeowners association (HOA) might employ this type of company to assist with the administrative duties for a condo, co-op, or cul de sac development such as preparing financial reports and carrying out regular building maintenance and repairs.

Q

Quote
An estimate of the cost of title insurance and settlement fees based on the type of policy you would like, loan amount, and sale price. 

R

Recording
When the signed closing documents are put on record with county records to document a transfer in ownership for a property.

RESPA
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) is legislation passed by the Federal government to uniformly regulate the manner in which real estate transactions take place.

S

Settlement Statement
A document that summarizes all of the fees and charges that a borrower and lender face during the settlement process of a loan transaction.

Signing Agent
A highly trained, licensed professional who can conduct real estate closings, explain closing documents, and notarize signatures.

Survey
The map of the property's complete boundary lines.

T

Title
Title is the right to, or ownership of, a specific real estate property. A transfer in ownership is recorded in a deed and filed with county records.

Title Commitment
A report summarizing the findings of a title search and examination. It includes the ownership history for a property and any title issues that are discovered.

Title Insurance
Title insurance protects a homeowner and/or lender against financial loss from real estate title defects or liens against a property.

U

Underwriter
An entity that authorizes and issues authority for its agents to write title insurance policies. They assume financial risk when insuring the property again title defects.