Escrow Terms & Phrases
Terms and Phrases is Commonwealth Land Title's Glossary of definitions, meanings, and
descriptions of significance for some of our industry's most often used
terms and phrases.
Look for terms and phrases in Alphabetical Order:
ABA Number -- Originated by the American Bankers Association, it is the number (usually in the upper right-hand portion of the check) which identifies the bank upon which the check is drawn.
Abstract of Judgment -- A summary of the essential provisions of a court judgment, which when recorded in the county recorder's office, creates a lien upon the property of the defendant in that county, both presently owned or after acquired.
Abutting Owner -- One whose land is contiguous to (abuts) a public right of way.
Acceleration Clause -- Clause used in an installment note and mortgage (or deed of trust), which gives the lender the right to demand payment in full upon the happening of a certain event, such as failure to pay an installment by a certain date, change of ownership without the lender's consent, destruction of the property, or other event which endangers the security of the loan.
Access Right -- A right to ingress and egress to and from one's property. May be express or implied.
Accommodation Recording -- The recording of documents with the county recorder by a title insurance company, without liability (no insurance) on the part of the company, but merely as a convenience to a customer.
Acknowledgement -- A written declaration by a person executing an instrument, given before an officer authorized to give an oath (usually a notary public), stating that the execution is of his own volition.
Action to Quiet Title -- A court action to establish ownership to real property. Although technically not an action to remove a cloud on title, the two actions are usually referred to as "Quiet Title" actions.
Adjudication -- A judgment or decision by a court.
Adjustable Mortgage Loans (AML\'92S) -- Mortgage loans under which the interest rate is periodically adjusted to more closely coincide with current rates. The amounts and times of adjustment are agreed to at the inception of the loan. Also called: Adjustable Rate Loans, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM\'92s), Flexible Rate Loans, and Variable Rate Loans.
Administrator -- A person given authority by a proper court to manage and distribute the estate of a deceased person when there is no will.
Adverse Possession -- A method of acquiring title by possession under certain conditions. Generally, possession must be actual, under claim of right, open, continuous, notorious, exclusive and hostile (knowingly against the rights of the owner). Exact time (years) of possession and specific requirements (such as payment of property taxes) vary with the statutes of each state.
Affidavit -- A written statement or declaration, sworn to before an officer who has authority to administer an oath.
Affirmative Easement -- An easement described from the benefited estate (dominant tenement). Also called a parcel 2 easement. The same easement described from the burdened estate (servient tenement) would be a negative easement.
After Acquired Title -- Legal doctrine by which property automatically vests in a grantee when the grantor acquires title to the property after the deed has been executed and delivered.
Agency -- One who is authorized to act for or represent another (principal), usually in business matters. Authority may be expressed or implied.
Alias -- Latin for (otherwise) commonly meaning that a person is known by more than one name. In some states, indicated by the letters AKA (Also Known Aliases).
Alienation Clause -- A type of acceleration clause, calling for a debt under a mortgage or deed of trust to be due in its entirety upon transfer of ownership of the secured property. Also called a "due-on-transfer" clause.
A.L.T.A.(American Land Title Association) -- An organization, composed of title insurance companies, which has adopted certain insurance policy forms to standardize coverage on a national basis.
Amendment -- A change, either to correct an error or to alter a part of an agreement without changing the principal idea or essence.
American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers -- A trade organization designed to establish standards of competence in the appraisal industry. The designation MAI (competent by the institute's standards to appraise all types of real property) and RM (one to four family residences) are prestigious and heavily relied upon by the real estate industry, lenders, governments, and others who utilize appraisers.
Amortization -- Payment of debt in regular, periodic installments of principal and interest, as opposed to interest only payments.
Amortization Schedule -- A schedule showing each payment of a loan to be amortized and breaking down the payment applied to principal and the amount applied to interest.
Amortize -- To reduce debt by regular payments of both principal and interest, as opposed to interest only payments.
Anchor Tenant -- The most reliable, and usually the largest, tenant in a shopping center. The strength of the anchor tenant greatly affects the availability of financing for the shopping center. The term may also be used to describe a tenant in an office building, industrial park, etc.
Annexation -- Permanently affixing to real property, such as city adding additional land to increase its size.
Appel Loan (Accelerating Payoff Progressive Equity Loan) -- A residential property loan which calls for a payment increase over the first six years. Level payments are made for the remaining years and the loan paid off during the 15th year. There is no prepayment penalty and P.M.I. is required.
Appraisal -- An opinion of value based upon a factual analysis. Legally, an estimation of value by two disinterested persons of suitable qualifications.
Appraiser -- One who is trained and educated in the methods of determining the value of property through analysis of various factors which determine said value.
Appropriation -- The private taking and use of public property, such as water from a river or lake. Not to be confused with condemnation or expropriation.
Appurtenance -- Something belonging to something else, either attached or not, such as a barn to a house or an easement to land. The appurtenance is part of the property and passes with it upon sale or other transfer.
Arbitrary Map -- A map drawn by a title company to be used in locating property in areas where legal descriptions are difficult and complex. Areas are arbitrarily subdivided, usually by ownership at a given time, into lots which are numbered. Recorded documents are then posted to these arbitrary lots by the same "arb" number.
Arbitration Clause -- A clause in a lease calling for the decision of a third party (arbiter) regarding disputes over future rents based on negotiation. Also used in construction contracts, disputes between brokers, etc.
Articles of Incorporation -- Documentation filled with the state which sets forth-general information about a corporation. More specific rules of the corporation would be contained in the by-laws.
"As Is" Condition -- Premises accepted by a buyer or tenant in the condition existing at the time of the sale or lease, including all physical defects.
Assessed Value -- Value placed upon property for property tax purposes by the tax assessor.
Assessment -- (1) The estimating of value of property for tax purposes. (2) A levy against property in addition to general taxes. Usually for improvements such as streets, sewers, etc.
Assessment District -- An area, the boundaries of which are set for tax assessment purposes only; these boundaries may cross city boundaries.
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