"A Real Estate Document typing & recording company"
Monday, September 16, 2019

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A
abstract of title A summary that outlines the history of a property's ownership.
access The right to enter or leave a piece of property from a public right of way, sometimes by passing through property that belongs to someone else.
accomodation recording Filing documents with the county recorder without verifying them, for the convenience of your customer.
accrue To increase or accumulate, such as interest on a loan.
acre    A parcel of land that measures 43,560 square feet.
actual cash value The value of an item less the amount of value that has been lost for ordinary wear and tear over time (depreciation).
addendum  An attached supplement to a purchase agreement or to escrow instructions that lists any additional changes to the original document. 
adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) A mortgage that begins at a rate that's lower than the current fixed rate and rises or falls each year over the life of the loan after a set period of time. (The changing rates are linked to economic indexes.)
adjustment date The date the interest rate increases or decreases on an adjustable-rate mortgage. 
ad valorem A Latin phrase that means "according to the value." For example, an "ad valorem" tax is assessed according to the value of a property.
adverse possession Acquiring title to a property by taking possession of it for a period of time, without the owner's consent. 
adverse use    Using property without the owner's consent. 
affidavit A written sworn statement.
agency closing    Takes place when a lender uses a title company (or other firm) as an agent to complete a loan. 
agent A person or company that has the authority to conduct business for another.
all-inclusive rate    When used with title insurance, a rate that may include a portion of the cost of the title examination and/or other closing services.
ALTA The American Land Title Association, a national association of title insurance companies and attorneys specializing in real estate law. ALTA headquarters is in Washington D.C.. For more information visit http://www.alta.org/
American Land Title Association (ALTA) Policy  A comprehensive title insurance policy that includes an inspection of the property and guarantees boundaries. An ALTA policy protects a mortgage lender's interest in a property. 
amendment  A change made to an agreement.
amenity A feature, attribute or addition to a property that increases its appeal (or value) in a particular neighborhood, such as an ocean view, solar heating, a swimming pool, wine celler, home theater, etc.
amortization (loan) The process of paying off a mortgage loan over a period of years. Part of each monthly payment pays interest on the loan and the other is applied to the principal, until the loan is paid off. 
amortization schedule A table or schedule indicating how much of each monthly loan payment will be applied toward the principal and how much toward interest over the life of a loan. 
amortized loan A loan paid off in installments, usually over a period of years.
annual percentage rate (APR) The real, annual rate of interest on a loan. (It is slightly higher than the rate on your mortgage because of the way it is calculated, based on a government formula, but it gives you a truer sense of what you are actually paying.)
application The form used to apply for a mortgage loan, which asks for information about a borrower’s income, savings, assets, debts, etc.
application fee    The fee that a lender charges to process a loan application. 
appraisal An estimate of the fair market value of a particular property written by an independent, state-licensed real estate appraiser and based on several factors, including comparable sales of similar homes in a neighborhood.
appraised value A qualified estimate of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's training, experience and analysis of the property. 
appraiser An individual who is trained and qualified to estimate the value of real and personal property. 
appreciation The increase in the value of a property brought about by changes in market conditions, inflation, improvements or other causes. 
appurtenance A land improvement that is considered part of the property.
ARM See "adjustable rate mortgage."
assessed value The value placed on property by a county tax assessor and used to compute property taxes. 
assessment Placing a value on a property for tax purposes. Also, an additional charge for a municipal improvement, or improvements on a condominium. 
assessor A public official who determines the value of a property for tax purposes.
asset Items of value that you own. Assets that can be quickly converted into cash are considered "liquid assets." These include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so on. Other assets include real estate, personal property, and debts owed by others. 
assignment An assignment takes place when the ownership of a mortgage, promissory note or deed of trust is transferred from one company or individual to another. 
assignee The person or entity that receives a title, claim, property, interest, or right from another person. 
assignor The person or entity that transfers a title, claim, property, interest, or right to another person or entity. 
assumption The term applied when a buyer "assumes" or takes over the seller’s mortgage payments in exchange for owning the home.
attachment Taking of a property (legally) to force payment of a debt.
attorney's opinion A lawyer's written statement that sets forth what he or she believes to be the condition of a property's title.
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B
balloon mortgage A mortgage loan that begins at a lower-than-fixed interest rate, but requires the remaining balance to be paid at a specific date in a lump sum.
balloon payment  A large amount that pays off a loan.
basic rate When used with title insurance, the rate charged when you don't qualify for a reduced rate, such as a reissue rate.
bilateral escrow instructions One set of escrow instructions signed by both buyer and seller, usually signed when escrow opens. This is common in Southern California.
bill of sale A signed document that transfers ownership of personal property from a seller to a buyer. 
binder A written confirmation of insurance coverage before the policy is actually issued. Also, a "good-faith" deposit.
binding contract An agreement between two or more parties that is legally binding.
biweekly mortgage A mortgage in which you make payments every two weeks instead of once a month. (Additional fees may apply in this situation.)
border survey A survey that identifies the borderlines around a property from corner to corner.
breach Failure to perform a specific duty or fulfill a specific obligation.
broker An individual who acts as an agent, bringing parties together (such as a borrower and a lender) and earns a fee for "brokering" a deal. A good broker has a broad knowledge of the industry and can suggest alternatives that may benefit the borrower.
broker's commission An amount paid to a real estate broker for handling a property transaction, usually based on the sale price of the property.
buyer's agent A real estate agent who represents the buyer (not the seller).
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C
cap The ceiling on interest rate increases on an adjustable rate mortgage.
capital gain The profit you make when you sell a property. A portion of the profit is not taxed. Up to $250,000 for single taxpayers is excluded and up to $500,000 is excluded for taxpayers who are married filing jointly. 
cash-out refinance When a borrower refinances his mortgage at a higher amount than the current loan balance with the intention of taking part of the money for personal use.
caveat emptor A Latin phrase for "let the buyer beware" meaning that the buyer alone is responsible for determining the quality of a purchase before paying. You should always know your rights and be vigilant to avoid scams.
CC&Rs   Covenants, conditions and restrictions determine how land or a property cannot be used.  
certificate of eligibility A document issued by the Veteran's Administration that certifies a veteran’s eligibility for a VA loan.
certificate of reasonable value (CRV) A document issued by the Veteran's Administration, when an appraisal has been made on a property being purchased with a VA loan.
certificate of title An attorney's written opinion that verifies ownership of a property as stated on the certificate.
chain of title The history of the ownership of a piece of property going back to the original owner. Each deed that transfers the title to another is called a "link" in the chain.
claim To assert or demand a right to something, such as money or property.  
clear title A title that is free of liens or legal questions about ownership of the property. 
close of escrow (COE) The date when the buyer becomes the legal owner of a property and title insurance goes into effect.
closing The final step in a real estate sales transaction when a deed is transferred from seller to buyer. Generally, a transaction is "closed" when all the appropriate documents have been signed and recorded, and money has been exchanged. Also called a "settlement." Each state has different requirements.
closing costs Amounts paid for various services during a real estate closing, such as document preparation, notary services and title insurance. Closing costs are separate from the purchase price of the property and they can range from 3% to 7% of a home's closing price. See a list of common closing costs
closing statement A document listing all cash received, all charges and credits made and all cash paid out to complete a real estate transaction. 
cloud on title The term used when a title search uncovers any problem, such as a lien, that adversely affects a property’s title. Usually clouds on title can only be removed by a release or court action.
CLTA  California Land Title Association, an association of title agencies in the state of California. For more information, visit http://www.clta.org/
CMA  See "competitive market analysis."
co-borrower An additional individual who signs (and is also responsible for repaying) a loan and whose name is on the property's title.
collateral Something that is pledged to secure a loan. In a home loan, the property is the collateral. The borrower risks losing the property if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the mortgage or deed of trust. 
commission An amount paid to a real estate agent for handling a property transaction, usually based on the sale price of the property.
commitment letter A formal promise of a loan from a lender to a buyer. The letter spells out the terms of the loan.
commitment of title A promise that a title company will issue title insurance.
common areas Areas in a planned unit development or condominium that are shared by the owners, such as lobbies, walkways, garages, mail and laundry rooms.
common area assessments Fees paid by the owners of individual units in a condominium or planned development to maintain the public areas they share in common, such as parking garage, lobby, etc. Also known as "Homeowner’s Association Fees." 
community property In some states, especially the southwest, when a married couple acquires property during their marriage, they are considered joint owners, except under special circumstances. 
community rating system (CRS) A CRS is a way of  measuring how well a community prepares for the possibility of flooding. Residents of areas that have a high level of preparedness, may be eligible for discounts on their flood insurance premiums. Learn more
comparable sales A list of recent sales prices of homes in a neighborhood that are similar (comparable) in size. "Comps" are used to determine the current market value of a property. You can get a list of comparables from your real agent or appraiser. 
competitive market analysis Calculating a property's value based on sales of similar properties in the same neighborhood.
concurrent escrow Instances in which the closing of one escrow is dependent on the closing of another; for example, a buyer is dependent on the first closing to earn the money he needs for the second closing. 
conditions Specific terms in a contract that must be met before a transaction can close. Also called "contingencies." 
condominium A form of property ownership in which you own your individual unit and share the rest of the space in the development (e.g, common areas, such as the lobby, mail room,  parking garage, etc.) 
condominium conversion Changing the ownership of an existing building (usually a rental project) to the condominium form of ownership. 
conforming loan Any loan that follows Fannie Mae guidelines and stays within the limits it sets each year.
contingency A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. A buyer, for example, may add a contingency clause to a purchase agreement stating that the sale will not go through if the seller does not provide proof that the property has been inspected for termites. All contingencies must be met or waived before the deal can close. 
contract An oral or written agreement to perform a certain act, such as providing a loan at a specific rate of interest.
contract broker An agent who brings a buyer and seller to the point of an executed contract, but who does not represent either party. 
conventional loan A loan that requires no insurance or guarantee. 
conventional mortgage Home loans from commercial lenders that are not government loans (VA and FHA). 
convertible ARM An adjustable-rate mortgage that allows the borrower to change to a fixed-rate mortgage within a period of time. 
convey To transfer a property title from one person to another; known as a "conveyance."
co-operative (co-op) A type of ownership in which the residents of a multi-unit housing complex own shares in the corporation that owns the property. Each resident has the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit in the complex. 
co-ownership Title ownership held by two or more individuals or entities.
coping (roof) The point where the slant of a roof meets the exterior side of a structure. When inspecting a home it's important to be sure that the coping is not broken or missing.
counteroffer  A new offer that introduces new terms or conditions made in response to an offer that has been received. It rejects the original offer, which can only be revived by the party that made the prior offer. 
courier fee  An amount charged for delivering closing documents. 
credit bureau An organization that collects credit information and issues individual reports.
credit history A record of an individual’s debt payments over the years. Lenders review credit histories as part of the process for deciding to grant a mortgage.
creditor A person to whom money is owed. 
credit report A report of an individual’s debt and payment history, prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender to determine a loan applicant's creditworthiness. 
D
debt An amount you owe.
deed The legal document of ownership that verifies title to a property. It is passed from seller to buyer in a closing transaction.
deed of trust Another term for a mortgage. Some states, like California, do not record mortgages. Instead, they record a "deed of trust" which transfers a property to a third party (trustee) to hold until a loan is paid.
default Failure to make a mortgage payment within a specified period of time, usually within 30 days of the due date.  
defect A deficiency, irregularity, blemish on a title, which usually needs to be resolved before a transaction can close.
delinquency Failure to make mortgage payments when they are due, usually on the first day of the month, although there is usually a grace period of a few days before a late payment fee is charged.  
delivery The final, irrevocable transfer of a deed from a seller to a buyer.
deposit A down payment in advance of a larger sum due. Also called an "earnest money" deposit.
depreciation A reduction in the value of a property due to ordinary wear and tear over time.
disbursement Released money that has been held in an escrow account.
disclosure A list of a property's features and defects that the seller gives to the buyer. A disclosure is required in many states.
down payment The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays upfront in cash. (This amount is separate from the loan amount and the closing costs.) 
dual agent A real estate agent who represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. 
due on sale clause A clause written into a mortgage that allows the lender to demand full payment of the loan balance when you sell your property.
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E
earnest money  A deposit made by a potential buyer to show that he or she is "earnest" or serious about buying the property. At a closing, this "good faith" deposit becomes part of the down payment.
easement A right given to allow someone else access to your property for a specific purpose. A common example would be: allowing a utility company onto your property to install and maintain power lines.
effective age An appraiser’s estimate of the physical condition of a building. The actual age of a building may be different from its effective age.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)  The federal law that prohibits discrimination when giving credit because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or marital status. 
egress The right to exit or leave a property without trespassing on someone else's property. See "access." 
eminent domain The right of a government to take private property for public use by paying its fair market value. 
encroach To intrude illegally on someone else's land. To trespass.
encroachment An improvement that intrudes illegally on someone else's property, such as a garage or deck that is built across a property boundary line onto a neighbor's land.
encumbrance Anything that restricts or impedes the title to a property, such as a mortgage, debt, lien or court judgment.
equity Current cash value of a property, less any debts - including a mortgage – that’s still owed.
escrow An account set up by an independent third party to hold funds, documents and instructions for completing a sales transaction. In some states, escrow is the process of having a neutral party, the escrow officer or agent, oversee the closing of the transaction between seller and buyer. Learn more
escrow account An account created by a lender to hold funds to pay expenses, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance when they are due. 
escrow agent or officer A trained professional who is qualified to manage the closing of your real estate transaction. Learn more
escrow disbursements The use of escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, and other property expenses as they become due. 
escrow instructions A document that outlines the duties of the escrow agent/officer or attorney who will oversee the final steps in the transaction between buyer, seller and lender. Escrow instructions include all the terms and conditions that must be met by each party before a property can change hands. 
escrow number The number assigned to the file where all the documents related to a closing is kept. 
estate All the real and personal property that you own at the time of your death. 
eviction The legal process of removing an individual from real property.
examination of title A report that examines the title history of a property during the title search. (Conducted by an "examiner")
exceptions  Items listed on a preliminary title report that affect title. An exception, for example, could refer to a portion of land that would be excluded from coverage by a title insurance policy. 
exclusive listing A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time. 
execute To sign documents so that a transaction can be completed.
executor A person named in a will or appointed by a court to administer an estate. 
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F
Fair Credit Reporting Act A law that protects consumers by regulating the release of credit reports and sets guidelines for correcting errors in credit records.
fair market value The highest price that a buyer would pay, and the lowest a seller would accept, on the current market. 
Fannie Mae (FNMA) The Federal National Mortgage Association, the nation's largest supplier of home mortgages. This government body sets the standards for mortgage loans that lenders follow. For more information, visit http://www.fanniemae.com/index.jhtml
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) An agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that insures residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. For more information, visit http://www.fha.com/
fee simple The greatest possible interest a person can have in a real estate property. Also called "fee title."
FEMA The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Government agency in charge of protecting the nation from both man-made and natural disasters, including floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, hazaradous spills and acts of terrorism. For more information, visit http://www.fema.gov/
FHA mortgage A loan that is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration that allows buyers to make a smaller down payment than most conventional mortgage loans. The FHA insures institutional lenders against losses that result from defaults on loans made according to FHA requirements.
fiduciary  An individual or entity that is entrusted with financial responsibility on someone else’s behalf.
firm commitment A lender’s agreement to make a loan to a specific borrower for a specific property.
first mortgage The mortgage that is in first place among any loans on a property. 
fixed-rate mortgage A mortgage with an interest rate that does not change during the entire term of the loan.
fixture Personal property that becomes real property when it’s permanently attached to a property, such as a built-in refrigerator, wine cooler or dishwasher.
flashing Strips of sheet metal or other material that prevent leaks around roof valleys, chimneys, sky-lights, joints near windows and doors, etc.
flood insurance Insurance that covers property damage caused by flooding. It is required for properties located in federally designated flood areas. It does not cover burst pipes or water leaks in your basement. 
foreclosure The legal process in which a property is taken away because the owner has not made timely mortgage loan payments. In most cases, the property is sold at auction and the proceeds are used to pay off the loan.
freehold estate A legal term to describe any structure you own. Owners are eligible for tax benefits that are not available for people who lease or rent.
FSBO ("fiz-bo"). An acronym for: For Sale By Owner. The process of selling a property without a real estate agent.
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G
garbage fees Unnecessary charges tacked on to your closing or mortgage costs. Also called "junk" fees.
GFCI outlet Stands for Ground-Fault-Circuit-Interrupter. This is an electrical outlet that can stop power instantly as a safety precaution. Often installed in rooms where there is running water and the chance of electrical shock.
Ginnie Mae (GNMA) The Government National Mortgage Association, a government-owned corporation within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides funds for lenders to make government home loans (above). For more information, visit http://www.ginniemae.gov/
good-faith estimate An educated estimate of closing costs that a buyer is likely to owe. A lender is required to provide this estimate to the borrower within three days of receiving a home-loan application. The final amount due may vary, but should be close to the lender’s estimate.
government loan (mortgage) A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) or the Rural Housing Service (RHS). Mortgages that are not government loans are classified as "conventional" loans.
grant To convey title of property with a deed.
grantee The person who acquires title to property usually by deed or grant. In most transactions, this is the buyer.
grantor The person who transfers title of property usually by deed or grant. In most transactions, this is the seller.
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H
hazard insurance Insurance that covers your property if it is damaged by such hazards as fire, wind or vandalism. Learn more
home equity line of credit A mortgage loan that allows the borrower to use his home as collateral for cash up to a certain amount.
home inspection A complete inspection (foundation to roof) by a licensed professional who evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. The buyer often includes this inspection as a contingency in a purchase agreement. Learn more
home warranty insurance An insurance policy that covers repairs to mechanical systems, such as heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and built-in appliances (dishwashers, disposals) in a home. Some title companies offer package deals that include this insurance. Either buyer or seller can pay for a home warranty policy. Learn more
homeowners' association A nonprofit association that manages the common areas of a planned unit development or a condominium.
homeowner's insurance An insurance policy that combines personal liability insurance and coverage for certain hazards, such as fire and burglaries. Learn more.
homeowner's warranty An insurance policy that covers repairs to mechanical systems, such as heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and built-in appliances (dishwashers, disposals) in a home. Some title companies offer package deals that include this insurance. Either buyer or seller can pay for a home warranty policy. Learn more
homestead The home and land you own, secured by a deed that is underwritten by a title policy. 
HUD-1 settlement statement An itemized list of funds printed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and paid at a closing by both buyer and seller, including loan fees and points, commissions, initial escrow deposits. Also called a "closing statement" or "settlement sheet." See a sample
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I
impound account An account set up by a lender for a borrower to cover various payments as they come due, for example, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance and taxes. The funds are collected in advance and held "in escrow" for the borrower.
improvements Additions that add to a property’s value, such as a garage, deck, patio, buildings, streets, sewer, etc.
indemnify To make payment for a loss.
index  A number used by lenders to measure interest rate changes. 
ingress  A way of entering your property without trespassing on your neighbor’s property. See "access."
inspection fee The amount paid for home inspection services, such as a termite inspection.
installment note A promise to pay principal and interest at specific times over a period.
instrument A written legal document, such as a contract or a deed.
insurable title A title to property that a title insurance company will insure.
insurance loan Borrowing the cash value of an insurance policy.
interim financing A short-term loan, often replaced with a long-term mortgage.
inter vivos trust A Latin phrase that means "among the living" – usually used to describe a living trust.
intestate To die "intestate" is to die without leaving a will.
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J
joint tenancy A form of ownership in which each party owns the entire property. If one party dies, ownership of the entire property passes to the survivor. 
judgment A decision made by a court of law. 
judgment lien A charge on a debtor’s property determined by a court.
jumbo loan A loan that exceeds Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s loan limits, currently at $417,000, for a single family first-mortgage loan. Also called a "nonconforming" loan. For the latest loan limit information visit, http://www.fanniemae.com/aboutfm/loanlimits.jhtml
junk fees Unnecessary charges tacked on to your closing or mortgage costs. Also called "garbage" fees.
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L
late charge A late payment penalty fee that a borrower is charged if he misses a due date, usually by 16 days.
lease A written agreement between the property owner and a tenant. 
lease option An alternative financing option that allows home buyers to lease a home with an option to buy. Each month's rent payment may consist of not only the rent, but an additional amount that is applied to an agreed-upon down payment.  
legal description The description of a piece of property that is recognized by law with enough detail to locate and identify the property without oral testimony.
lender A financial institution, such as a bank, that makes a loan. A representative of that institution is also referred to as a lender. 
lessee The person who receives a property in a lease agreement.
lessor The person who grants a property in a lease agreement.
liabilities Debts that you owe, such as a mortgage, car loan, credit card expenses, etc. 
liability insurance Insurance coverage that protects a property owner against claims that an injury or damage was caused by the owner’s negligence. It is usually part of a homeowner’s (hazard) insurance policy. 
lien A legal claim on a property that must be paid when the property is sold. A mortgage is considered a lien.
line of credit An agreement by a commercial bank or other financial institution to extend credit up to a certain amount for a specific amount of time. 
liquid asset Cash or possessions you can convert into cash quickly, such as stocks or bonds.
loan A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest. 
loan officer A loan officer can solicit loans, represent a lending institution, or represent a borrower to a lender. Also known as a lender, loan representative, loan rep or account executive.
loan origination How a lender refers to the process of getting a new loan. 
loan servicing After you receive a loan, the company you make the payments to is "servicing" your loan. It processes payments, sends statements, manages the escrow/impound account, collects delinquent loans, and makes sure that insurance and property taxes are paid, among other services.
loan-to-value (LTV) The percentage relationship between the amount of a loan and the appraised value or sales price (whichever is lower). For example, an LTV of 80% is a loan equal to 80% of the property’s value. 
lock-in An agreement in which the lender guarantees a specified interest rate for a certain amount of time (lock-in period) at a certain cost.
lot A measured piece of land that has fixed boundaries.
lot line The borders around a specific piece of land.
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M
margin The difference between the interest rate and the index on an adjustable rate mortgage. The margin remains stable over the life of the loan. It is the index that moves up and down.
marketable title A title that has no encumbrances. 
maturity The date when the principal balance of a loan is due. 
mechanic’s lien If a property owner hires a contractor, subcontractor, other workers or suppliers to help improve a property and fails to pay for the services, any one of those providers may place a mechanic’s lien on the property. The dispute must be resolved before the property can be sold. 
modification Any change in the terms of an agreement. 
mortgage banker A lender who specializes in originating and selling real estate loans.
mortgage broker A licensed broker, not a banker, who brings together a borrower in search of a mortgage loan and a willing lender – for a fee.
mortgage insurance (MI) Insurance that protects the lender from some of the losses incurred as a result of a default on a home loan. 
mortgage insurance premium (MIP) The amount paid by a borrower for mortgage insurance, either to a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or to a private mortgage insurance (MI) company. 
mortgage life and disability insurance A type of term life insurance often bought by a borrower to cover the cost of a mortgage in the event of his or her death. The amount of coverage decreases as the principal balance declines. Some policies also cover the borrower in the event of disability. 
mortgage loan A property loan. The borrower pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt. Instead of mortgages, some states use First Trust Deeds. 
mortgagee The lender in a mortgage agreement.
mortgagor The borrower in a mortgage agreement. 
multi-dwelling units Properties with separate housing units for more than one family, although they secure only a single mortgage.
multiple listing service (MLS) The computerized source for nearly 90% of all homes in the U.S. that are listed for sale with a realtor. 
mutual consent When both parties agree to the terms of a contract.
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N
negative amortization A mortgage arrangement in which the loan balance increases with each payment because the payments do not cover the principal or interest.
net income The amount of income that is left after you pay expenses.
NFIP National Flood Insurance Program that covers some 20,000 communities in the U.S.
no-cost loan Almost all lenders offer loans at "no points." You will find the interest rate on a "no points" loan is approximately a quarter percent higher than on a loan where you pay one point.
non-conforming loan See "Jumbo loan."
non-recurring closing costs Closing costs that you pay only once, such as title insurance and transfer taxes.
notary public A public official who has the legal right to certify an oath, such as a signing of a deed or other important document, to make it legally authentic. 
note A written promise to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.
note rate The interest rate stated on a mortgage note.
notice of default A written notice to a borrower that a default has occurred and that legal action may be taken. 
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O
official records Repository for copies of all publicly-recorded documents in a county kept up to date by the county recorder.
opinion of title A lawyer’s written certification that a title is accurate based on a careful examination of the title’s history (abstract of title).
original principal balance The total amount owed on a mortgage before any payments are made. 
origination fee The fee a lender charges a borrower for establishing a loan (usually a percentage of the total amount of the loan). On a conventional loan, the origination fee refers to the total number of points a borrower pays. For a government loan, the fee is one percent of the loan amount.
owner financing A property transaction in which the seller provides all or part of the financing. 
owner’s title insurance A policy that protects the owner from a loss due to defects, liens or encumbrances that affect title to a property.
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P
parcel A plot of land that fits a single description, often a division of a larger area.
partial reconveyance The release of part of someone’s interest in real property secured by a mortgage or deed of trust.
payee Person or institution that receives the sum due on a note.
payment change date The date when a new monthly payment amount takes effect on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a graduated-payment mortgage (GPM). Generally, the payment change date occurs in the month immediately after the interest rate adjustment date. 
payor Person or entity that pays the sum that's due on a note to the payee.
periodic payment cap A limit on the amount that adjustable-rate mortgage payments can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.  
periodic rate cap A limit on the amount that the interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.
personal property Any property that is not real property and not permanently attached to real property. 
pest inspection An inspection performed by a state-licensed professional who is hired to look for signs of pest infestation damage to a house or other structure before the property is sold. Learn more
PITI An acronym for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. If you have an "impounded" loan, your monthly payment to the lender includes all of these and probably includes mortgage insurance, too. If you do not have an impounded account, then the lender still calculates this amount and uses it to determine your debt-to-income ratio.  
PITI reserves A cash amount that a borrower must have on hand after making a down payment and paying all closing costs for the purchase of a home. The principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) reserves must equal the amount that the borrower would have to pay for a predefined number of months.
planned unit development (PUD) A situation in which individuals own the building or unit they live in, but share common areas with the other members of the development or association. 
plat map  A map showing subdivided land and adjacent streets.  
PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) Insurance that protects a lender if a borrower is not able to repay his loan. This is usually required if your loan amount is more than 80% of the property's purchase price.
point A point is one percent of the amount of a mortgage. Lenders charge points as a way of reducing the interest rate on your loan. Points may be tax deductible.  
possession date The day the buyer moves into the property he or she has purchased.
power of attorney A legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. 
pre-approval A formal review of your finances (income, debts, savings) that a lender makes to approve a home loan.
preliminary title report A document that describes the current status of title to a property. A title company issues a preliminary report (also called a "pre" or  "prelim") before it issues title insurance.
prepayment Any amount paid to lower your principal loan balance before it is due. 
prepayment penalty A fee that may be charged to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.  
prequalification An informal review of your finances that a lender makes to determine the amount you may borrow to buy a property. 
prime rate The interest rate that banks charge to their preferred customers. Changes in the prime rate are reported in the news and used as the indexes in some adjustable rate mortgages, especially home equity lines of credit. 
principal The amount borrowed or the amount that remains unpaid on a loan. 
principal balance The remaining balance on a mortgage. The principal balance does not include interest or any other charges. 
private mortgage insurance (PMI) An insurance policy that protects a lender if a borrower defaults on a loan. 
probate The legal process of handing over the estate of a deceased owner to the heirs and beneficiaries.
promissory note A written promise to repay a specified amount over a specified period of time. 
public records Records that, by law, make available details about a property to the public.
purchase agreement A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms of the sale.
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Q
quiet title A court action brought to remove defects or liens on title.
quit claim deed The equivalent of a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" deed. The seller gives up the property, without any assurances of his claim to it.
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R
rate cap The maximum increase allowed on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
rate lock A guaranteed interest rate offered by a lender at the time of a loan commitment. It is honored for a period of time whether interest rates rise or fall before the closing is settled. 
real estate agent A person licensed to conduct the sale of real estate. 
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) A law that protects consumers by requiring lenders to give borrowers advance notice of all the costs involved in closing their property transaction. For more information, visit http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/res/respa_hm.cfm
real property Another term for real estate.
Realtor® A real estate agent, broker or an associate who is an active member in a local or state affiliate of their industry’s professional trade association, the National Association of Realtors or NAR.
reconveyance Transferring title from a trustee back to an owner, which takes place when a loan has been fully paid.
recorder The public official who keeps records of transactions that affect real estate. Also known as a "Registrar of Deeds" or "County Clerk." 
recording Filing a document with the county recorder. It can then be viewed by the public.
recording date The date when an executed document is placed on file with the county recorder.
recording fees Cost of filing the documents related to the sale of a property.
recurring closing costs Costs and fees that will be paid each month or each year, such as mortgage insurance and property taxes.
refinance rate When used with title insurance, a reduced rate charged for a lender's policy in a refinance situation, when  the original loan was insured for a certain number of years.
refinance transaction The process of paying off one mortgage with the proceeds from a new loan (usually at a lower rate) using the same property as security. 
reissue rate When used with owner's title insurance, a discounted rate offered for a property that has been previously insured.
release clause An allowance for the release of a piece of property from a lien that covers it and other property in exchange for a payment for that piece of property.
remaining balance The amount of principal that is still owed. See "principal balance." 
rent loss insurance Insurance that protects a landlord against loss of rent if a rental unit is damaged and the tenant is excused from paying rent. 
repayment plan An arrangement made to repay delinquent payments or advances.  
replacement period The amount of time allowed for buying a primary residence to defer the gain earned on the sale of a previous residence.
replacement reserve fund Money set aside by a condominium or co-operative association to pay for repairs, improvements or replacements in the common areas of the property.
replacement value An amount used to calculate how much you will be paid for the loss of an asset or property based on the estimated cost to replace it. (This value does not factor in ordinary wear and tear.) 
restriction A limit placed on the use of a property, often by a previous owner.
rider  A clause added to an agreement that covers specific terms or conditions. Also, an addition to a document.
right of first refusal An owner’s promise to allow an individual or entity to make the first offer to buy or lease a property when it is for sale. 
right of ingress or egress The right to enter or leave a property. 
right of rescission The right of a borrower to cancel a credit contract within three business days.
right of survivorship If two people own a property as joint tenants and one dies, the survivor automatically owns the property.
right-of-way The right to pass over or through a property, as in the case of a road or driveway; also the right to place power lines or underground pipes through the property.
right, title and interest Terms used in a deed to declare that all claims to a property are being transferred from a seller to a buyer. 
risk rate When used with title insurance, a rate that does not include the cost of a title examination or other closing costs. See "all-inclusive rate."
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S
sale-leaseback An arrangement in which a seller deeds property to a buyer for a certain amount, and the buyer simultaneously leases the property back to the seller.
second mortgage A second loan on a property that already has one mortgage. Usually it comes with a higher interest rate and is offered for a shorter period of time.
secured loan A loan that is backed by something of value (collateral asset), such as a piece of property.  
security The property that will be pledged as a guarantee to a lender until a loan is repaid (collateral). 
seller carryback An agreement in which the owner of a property provides financing, often combined with an assumable mortgage. 
seller disclosure A form required in many states in which the seller describes any known defects affecting a home.
selling broker The real-estate broker who actually finds the buyer.  
separate property Property that is held by a husband or a wife, separately.
septic system  A system that removes waste in homes that do not have access to a sewer line.
setback line The minimum distance a building or other improvement can stand from a property line, according to local zoning rules.
settlement Another term for a real-estate closing. In some states this is called "escrow" or "a closing."
settlement agent The individual who oversees the closing of a real estate transaction. Also called an "escrow agent" or a "closing agent."
settlement statement A document listing the information needed to prepare a closing, such as the property description, names of the buyer and seller, sales price, loan information, etc. See a sample
short-term rate A reduced rate for title insurance given to an owner or a lender that has been insured previously. 
single-entity coverage An insurance policy for a condo or co-op that protects all the fixed (attached) parts of the building, including the individual units and the common areas.
sole ownership Possession of a property by a single person or entity.
subdivision A housing development created by dividing a tract of land into individual lots for sale or lease.
subprime lender A lender who will make a mortgage loan to a borrower who does not qualify for a prime loan. A subprime lender's prices are usually higher than those quoted by a mainstream lender. It is best to avoid subprime lenders and either shop around or improve your credit rating so that you can qualify for a prime loan.
sump pump A pump that removes water, usually from a basement to keep it dry.
survey A drawing or map showing the legal boundaries of a property, plus the location of the structures on the lot along with  improvements, easements, rights of way, encroachments, and other physical features. Learn more
surveyor A trained professional who is qualified to measure and analyze the size, shape, boundaries, contours, etc. of a piece of land.
swing loan A short-term loan to bridge the gap between the purchase of a new home and the sale of an old home.
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T
tax lien A legal claim filed against a property to ensure payment of taxes due on the property.
tenancy by the entirety A form of joint ownership available only to married couples. If one spouse dies, ownership is automatically passed to the surviving spouse.
tenancy in common A form of joint ownership in which a deceased owner’s interest in a property is passed to his or her heirs (rather than to the other owners).
tenant A person who has the owner’s permission to possess a piece of property. 
term The length of a loan.
termite inspection An inspection performed by a state-licensed professional who is hired to look for signs of termite infestation damage to a house or other structure before the property is sold.
termite report A written summary provided by a state-licensed termite or pest inspector that details the results of a structural inspection.
third-party origination A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package the mortgages it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage market. 
title A legal document that declares a person's right to own a property. 
title agent An individual who is licensed to issue title insurance.
title company A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate. 
title defect Any claim on a property that interferes with the owner’s ability to sell a property.
title examination Making a thorough investigation of title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of a property and that there are no liens or other outstanding claims on the property, that could prevent a sale. 
title flaw Any claim on a property that interferes with the owner’s ability to sell a property.
title hazard Any claim on a property, such as a lien, that interferes with the owner’s ability to sell a property.
title insurance Insurance that protects the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against any loss arising from disputes over ownership of a property. Learn more
title report A document that describes any existing defects, such as liens, that currently affect the title to a property. Usually issued by a title company following a title examination.
title search Making a thorough investigation of title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of a property and that there are no liens or other outstanding claims on the property that could prevent a sale. 
transfer of ownership Passing ownership of a property from one to another. 
transfer tax A state or local tax that is due when title passes from one owner to another. It is usually calculated as a percentage of the purchase price.
trustee A fiduciary who holds or controls property for someone else’s benefit. 
truth-in-lending A federal law that requires lenders to document, in writing, the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the annual percentage rate (APR) and other charges.
truth-in-lending disclosure statement   The form that lenders are required to give borrowers, which details the terms of the mortgage.
two to four-family property A real estate property with one deed, but living spaces that can accommodate two to four families. 
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U
underwriter  An issuer of insurance policies. 
underwriting guidelines The rules that lenders use to determine whether a borrower is eligible to take out a loan.
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V
valid contract A legally binding agreement.
variable rate mortgage A loan in which the interest rate fluctuates.
variance Allowing a property to be used in a way that does not conform to zoning regulations.
VA mortgage A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and available only to veterans, their spouses and dependents.  
vendee The buyer.
vendor The seller.
vestee The owner of the property in a title policy or title report.
Veterans Administration (VA) The federal government agency that guarantees residential mortgages, patient care and benefits for eligible veterans of the military services. 
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W
warranty A guarantee that a property is in the condition described.
warranty deed A deed with written guarantees of title.
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Z
zoning City or county regulations that determine how property is allowed to be used.
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We do not provide legal services or legal advice. Contact an attorney or tax advisor for any related legal services or legal advice.
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