Abstract – An abstract of title is the condensed history of the title to a particular parcel of real estate, consisting of a summary of the original grant and all subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate.
Certificate of Title – a document provided by a qualified source (such as a title company) that shows the property legally belongs to the current owner
Chain of Title – A chain of title is the sequence of historical transfers of title to a property. The “chain” runs from the present owner back to the original owner of the property. In situations where documentation of ownership is important, it is often necessary to reconstruct the chain of title.
Clear Title – a title without any kind of lien or levy from creditors or other parties and poses no question as to legal ownership. For example, an owner of a car with a clear title is the sole undisputed owner, and no other party can make any kind of legal claim to its ownership.
Closing – a meeting at which a sale of a property is finalized by the buyer and ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer
Cloud on Title – any document, claim, unreleased lien or encumbrance that might invalidate or impair the title to real property or make the title doubtful. Clouds on title are usually discovered during a title search.
Contingency – a condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding
Deed – the document that transfers ownership of a property
Defect – a fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale.
Easement – the right to use the land of another for a specific limited purpose. Examples include (but are not limited to) utility lines, driveways, ingress and egress. Easements can be temporary or permanent.
Encumbrance – a claim or liability against real estate, held by someone other than the fee owner of the property that affects the title to the property, and therefore its value.
Encroachment – a situation in real estate where a property owner violates the property rights of his neighbor by building something on the neighbor’s land or by allowing something to hang over onto the neighbor’s property.
Escrow – an item of value deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the deposit by a borrower with the lender of funds to pay taxes and insurance premiums when they become due, or the deposit of funds or documents with an attorney or escrow agent to be disbursed upon the closing of a sale of real estate.
Escrow Account – a separate account into which the lender puts a portion of each monthly mortgage payment; an escrow account provides the funds needed for such expenses as property taxes, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance…etc.
Fair Housing Act – a law that prohibits discrimination in all facets of the home buying process on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
Good Faith Estimate – an estimate of all closing fees, including pre-paid and escrow items, as well as lender charges; must be given to the borrower within three days after submission of a loan application.
Homeowner’s Association – a form of property insurance designed to protect an individual’s home against damages to the house itself, or to possessions in the home. Homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.
Lien – a legal claim on a tract of real estate granting the holder a specified amount of money upon the sale of the property. Such liens are often used to ensure the payment of a debt, with the property acting as collateral against the amount owed.
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) – This act was designed to protect potential homeowners and enable them to become more intelligent consumers. RESPA requires that lenders provide greater amounts of information to prospective borrowers at certain points in the loan settlement process.
Settlement Statement (HUD-1) – a standard form in use in the United States of America which is used to itemize services and fees charged to the borrower by the lender or broker when applying for a loan for the purpose of purchasing or refinancing real estate.
Title Insurance – insurance that protects the lender against any claims that arise from arguments about ownership of the property; also available for home buyers.
Title Search – a check of the title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no liens or other claims outstanding.