Real Estate Glossary
provided by LAWCHEK®/LAWSONLINE™

The following list of definitions will assist you with the legal language and give you a better idea about real estate law in general.

This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.

"This work is protected under the copyright laws of the United States.  No reproduction, use, or disclosure of this work shall be permitted without the prior express written authorization of the copyright owner.  Copyright © 2002 by LAWCHEK, LTD."

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ |

A

Acknowledgment - An acknowledgment is a formal declaration by a person, or other legally recognized entity such as a corporation, that execution of a written instrument is the result of a free act and deed.  It is made before an authorized person, such as a notary public, who signs the written acknowledgment that the attached written instrument was acknowledged in his or her presence.

Adverse Possession - Adverse possession is the taking of title to real estate by possessing it for a certain period of time.  The person claiming title to real estate by adverse possession must have actual possession of the real estate which is open, notorious, exclusive and adverse to the claims of others to title of the real estate.

B

None

C

Community Property - Community property is property which is owned by a husband and wife.  Each spouse has an undivided one-half interest in the property.  Some states have the community property system; others do not, but instead follow the common law system.  The difference is that in a community property system, each spouse has an undivided one-half interest in what the other owns or earns during the marriage, while in a common law system, each spouse owns what he or she earns.

Conveyance - A conveyance is the transfer of land from one person to another.  Examples of conveyances include deeds, real estate contracts, or contracts for deeds, assignments, leases, or mortgages or deeds of trust.  A conveyance usually is accomplished by execution by one person of a written instrument transferring his or her interest in the real estate to another person.

Covenant - A covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise.  It may be in the affirmative such as the representation as to certain facts or the future performance of an act, or it may be in the negative such as the obligation not to do something.  Affirmative covenants may be found in a deed such as the warranties of seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances and defense of title as to adverse claims.  Negative covenants sometimes are referred to as restrictive covenants.

Covenant Against Encumbrances - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that there are no encumbrances against the land described in the deed or other conveyance.  An encumbrance is a claim by another person against the land.  Examples of encumbrances include mortgages, liens, leases, easements or unpaid taxes.

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantee to a deed or other conveyance will have the land in peace and without disturbance from other persons who may have hostile claims to the land. 

Covenant of Right to Convey - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantor has a right to transfer title to the real estate. 

Covenant of Seisin - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantor possesses equality and quantity of the land described in the deed or other conveyance.

D

Deed - A deed is the transfer of title to real estate from one person to another.  It is in writing.  The person transferring the title is known as the grantor and the person receiving the title is known as the grantee.  There are several types of deeds including warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, quit claim deeds, contracts for deed, and deeds of trust.

Deed of Trust - See Mortgage.

E

Easement - An easement is a right of one person to use the real estate of another, or a portion of it, for certain purposes.  An example of an easement is one for ingress and egress; that is, the right to travel across a portion of another’s real estate to reach one's own real estate.  Another example of an easement commonly seen is one for utilities.  Easements may arise from an agreement between the parties or from operation of law.

F

Foreclosure - Foreclosure is the legal enforcement of a mortgage, deed of trust, or other lien through legal proceedings.  A common example is a foreclosure of a mortgage because of some type of default by the debtor.  Foreclosure usually terminates the rights of the debtor, or mortgagor, in the real estate, except for such rights of redemption, mandatory mediation, or other rights afforded to the debtor by law.

G

Grantee - A grantee is a person who receives title or some other interest in real estate from a conveyance.  For example, a person who receives title to real estate by way of warranty deed is known as a grantee.

Grantor - A grantor is a person who conveys title or some other interest to property to another. 

H

Homestead - Homestead is real estate occupied by a person as his or her home.  Homesteads often are protected by state law from execution or levy so long as they are occupied as the person's home residence.  The size and value of the real estate to be protected as homestead are often determined by statute.

I

None

J

Joint Tenancy - A joint tenancy is a joint interest in property by two or more persons.  Each joint tenant has one and the same interest in the property and further holds the right of survivorship, which means that if one joint tenant dies the other joint tenant automatically retains the deceased joint tenant’s interest in the real estate.

Judgment - A judgment is a  final decree, decision, order, or ruling by a court determining the rights and claims raised by parties to a lawsuit. 

Judgment Lien - A judgment lien is a lien arising from a judgment which gives a holder of a judgment the right to levy on property to satisfy the judgment.

K

None

L

Lease - A lease is an agreement or contract for possession of property for a certain period of time and for certain uses.  A lease may run for a determinate or indeterminate period of time.  Upon conclusion or termination of the lease, possession of the property reverts back to the landlord or lessor.  The person leasing the property is known as the lessee or tenant.

Lien - A lien is a claim or interest of right to property or a portion of it, arising by law or by agreement for payment of a debt.  Examples of liens include mortgages, mechanic’s liens, judgment liens, and security agreements.

M

Mechanic’s Lien - This lien is a lien on real estate held by any person for labor, services, or materials furnished in connection with the construction or improvement upon real estate.  This lien is often created by the statutes of a particular state.

Mesne - Intermediate; intervening; the middle between two extremes, especially of rank or time.

Mortgage - A mortgage is a written instrument giving an interest in real estate from one person, the mortgagor, to another person, the mortgagee, as security for a debt or performance of a duty.  Depending on the laws of a particular state, a mortgage may create an actual transfer of title, or it may create a lien with the mortgagor retaining title to the property.

N

None

O

None

P

Power of Attorney - A power of attorney is a written instrument which authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney.  The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature.  The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire.  If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies.

Purchase Agreement-Offer and Acceptance - A purchase agreement or offer and acceptance is an agreement or contract between a buyer and a seller defining the terms of a real estate sale.  It usually includes the price, the description of the property to be purchased, the identity of the buyer and seller, when the transfer of title is to take place, and other terms necessary for completion for the transfer of title.

Q

Quit Claim Deed - A quit claim deed is a written instrument whereby the person signing it transfers all right, claim or interest in title to the real estate to another.  It does not covenant or warrant that the grantor's interest is valid and it does not contain any of the covenants or warranties typically found in a warranty deed.

R

Real Estate-Real Property - Real estate or real property is land and anything permanently attached to it such as buildings.  Personal property is all other types of property.

Real Estate Contract-Sales Contract - A real estate or sales contract is an agreement to transfer title to real estate at some time in the future contingent upon the occurrence of certain events such as payment of the purchase price.  The seller is known as the vendor and the buyer is known as the vendee.  The vendor transfers title upon the vendee’s performance of his or her obligations under the real estate or sales contract.

Restrictive Covenant - A restrictive covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise by one person who agrees not to do something.  If found in a deed, it is the restriction or prohibition of certain uses of the land transferred.

S

Special Warranty Deed - A special warranty deed is a deed transferring title from one person known as the grantor to another person known as the grantee.  It does not contain the blanket covenants and warranties found in a warranty deed.  It is a special warranty that the grantor covenants to warrant and defend the title against all claims and demands arising through and under the grantor, but no others.  It is sometimes referred to as a quit claim deed.

T

Tenancy by the Entirety - A tenancy by the entirety is created by a conveyance to husband and wife, whereupon each becomes seized and possessed of the entire estate and after the death of one the survivor takes the whole.

Tenancy in Common - A tenancy in common is a form of ownership of title to real estate by two or more persons in which, although they have a unity of possession, they each have separate and distinct titles.  In the event that one of the tenants in common dies, his or her title passes not to the other tenant in common but to his or her estate or heirs.

Title - Title means ownership of real estate.  Good or clear title means such ownership of real estate is free and clear of the claims of others.  Clouded title means such ownership is marred by some claim or demand of another person which hinders or impedes the ability of the owner of the real estate to transfer title.  Ownership of real estate is a right to use, enjoy and transfer the real estate as allowed by the laws of the particular state.

U

None

V

None

W

Warranty Deed - A warranty deed is a deed which warrants good and clear title to the real estate transferred.  It often includes some or all of the following: warranties including seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances, and defense of title against all claims.

XYZ

None


This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.

"This work is protected under the copyright laws of the United States.  No reproduction, use, or disclosure of this work shall be permitted without the prior express written authorization of the copyright owner.  Copyright © 2002 by LAWCHEK, LTD."

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