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A summary of records affecting title to a subject
Action of offeree in agreeing to terms of an offer, thereby
creating a contract.
A provision in a mortgage or other contact that gives a
party (such as a lender) a right to demand immediate payment of an
entire principal balance.
certification, usually before a notary, that a document is the act and
deed of the declarant.
mortgage under which the lender may change the interest rate
periodically on the basis of changes in a specified index.
The length of time between the adjustment dates for an
adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).
Male party responsible for probate of an intestate estate (estate
where there is no will).
Female party responsible for probate of an intestate estate.
Control or occupancy of real property under circumstances that
indicate that such use is by right on the part of the possessor.
Adverse possession may establish title if continued a certain period of
time, at common law, twenty years.
The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan or other obligation by
A timetable for payment of a mortgage loan. An
amortization schedule shows the amount of each payment applied to
interest and principal and shows the remaining balance after each
payment is made.
Percentage Rate (APR)
cost of credit expressed as an annual rate. It is defined and calculated
by using a formula set by federal law and disclosed to the borrower to
aid in comparing different credit plans. All finance charges imposed by
a lender are included in this calculation, and an APR is always higher
than the simple interest rate when such finance charges such as points,
origination fees or mortgage insurance are charged by a lender.
of valuing property, or a real estate professionals estimate of a
The process of placing a value on property for the purpose of
taxation. This term may also refer to a levy against property for
a special purpose, such as a sewer assessment.
A transfer contract rights to another; for example,
assignment of a mortgage or lease.
Taking on a responsibility, such as where a buyer of real property
agrees to assume responsibility for payments on an existing mortgage.
A lien or seizure of property created by legal process.
A person authorized to act on behalf of another, usually by grant
of a written power of attorney.
A gift of personal property
A person designated to
receive the income or other proceeds, as from a trust or estate.
A preliminary agreement, secured by
the payment of an earnest money deposit, under which a buyer offers to
purchase real estate.
A form of second mortgage that is
collateralized by the borrower's present home (which is usually for
sale) in a manner that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on
another property before the present home is sold.
An agent who negotiates contracts for
purchase and sale. In Massachusetts, real estate brokers and
salespersons are licensed by the state Real Estate Board.
Profit made from sale of an asset.
Reference to legal authority, such a case, statute,
regulation or ordinance.
The history of all of the documents affecting title to a
parcel of real property, starting with the earliest existing document
and ending with the most recent.
In a real estate transaction, a meeting in which the deed is
delivered to the buyer, payment is made to the seller, title is
transferred, and agreed-on costs are paid. Also called
Any condition which adversely affects a title to real
In real property, a lenders agreement to provide mortgage
funding to a borrower.
The determination that a building is not fit for use or is
dangerous and must be destroyed; or, the taking of private property
A form of real estate ownership in which a property is
divided into individually-owned units and common areas, the common areas
being owned by the unit owners in undivided shares.
The price or thing (tangible or otherwise) given in
exchange as part of an agreement or contract. For example, in a purchase
and sale of real estate, the considerations are the buyers money and
the sellers property.
A condition that may affect whether a contract is
binding. For example, residential purchase and sale agreements often
include mortgage commitment or home inspection contingency provisions.
A mortgage that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that can be converted to a
fixed-rate mortgage under specified conditions.
A form of ownership in which the residents of a multiunit housing
complex own shares in a cooperative corporation which owns the
property and each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or
Ownership of property by more than one person.
A form of business organization in which the business is a legal
entity separate from its owners and employees. Corporations can act,
own property, or have claims brought against them in their own name, as
compared, for example, to a sole proprietorship, in which all legal
benefits and liabilities (even where a business name is used) are
personal to the owner.
Claim made by the Defendant against the Plaintiff in a lawsuit.
Promise in a deed that affects or limits the use of the
Common law rights of a widower in real estate owned by his
deceased wife during their marriage. In Massachusetts, common law
curtesy has been abolished and replaced with gender-neutral dower
Doing Business As.
Declaration of Condominium
Master Deed creating a condominium.
Instrument used to convey title to real property.
in Lieu of Foreclosure
Deed used by a borrower surrendering title to his/her property to
prevent lender foreclosure.
Document creating security interest in real property in which
title is held by a trustee until the borrower repays the
beneficiary (lender) in the amount of the loan. Used in some states for
the essentially the same purposes as a mortgage.
Failure to comply with a contractual obligation or
Gift of real property by will.
Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
At common law, rights of a widow in real estate owned by her
deceased husband during their marriage. Under Massachusetts statute,
dower rights are gender neutral.
The right to use the land of another for a specific
purpose. Easements may be temporary or permanent. Example: A utility
company easement across a property to run electric lines.
Easement that benefits a particular tract of land;
generally an access easement or right of way.
An easement that does not benefit a particular tract of
land; e.g. utility easements that run through all parcels of land in an
Process of governmental entity taking title to private property
for public purposes.
Protection Agency (EPA)
Governmental agency responsible for the enforcement of
Process whereby property of a decedent is given to the
state because of no available heirs.
Process whereby details of property transfer, payments, and deed
conveyance are handled by a third party.
Male party responsible for the probate of a decedents estate
pursuant to the decedents will.
Future interest that is not a remainder and not an interest in the
Female party responsible for the probate of a decedents estate
pursuant to the decedents will.
Term to refer to an inheritable interest in land.
Highest land interest; full title; right to convey or transfer by
will or mortgage without restriction.
Another term for fee simple.
A fee simple estate that can be lost by violation of a condition
or use restriction placed in the transfer by the grantor.
Full title to land so long as certain conduct is avoided; e.g.,
"To A so long as the premises are never used for a bar."
simple subject to a condition subsequent
Full title provided that there is compliance with a
condition; e.g., "To A upon the condition that the property is used
for school purposes."
Full title restricted in its passage to direct descendants of the
Party in position of trust and confidence with another; an agent
Document filed to protect a security interest; must contain
information about the parties and description of the collateral.
Personal property that becomes attached to and is so closely
associated with real property that it becomes a part of the real
Process of selling mortgaged property to satisfy the debt owed by
the defaulting mortgagor.
Loss of rights; in a contact for deed, the loss of all interest in
the property for nonpayment.
Estates uncertain or unlimited in their duration.
At law, a transfer of property without consideration with donative
intent by actual or constructive delivery.
Person to whom an interest in land is conveyed.
Person who conveys an interest in land.
Hazardous Substance Response Trust
Fund created under federal environmental laws; known as
the Superfund for use in clean-up of toxic waste.
Persons entitled to a portion of a decedents estate.
Debtor protection that entitles the debtor to a certain
amount in real property that is exempt from attachment by creditors.
Equitable remedy; court order requiring a party to
perform an act or cease certain conduct; e.g. to stop trespassing.
A contract for deed; method of selling property in which
the seller serves as the financier for the buyer and the purchase;
seller holds onto the title until there has been payment in full under
an installment payment plan.
Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (ILSFDA)
Federal law regulating the sale of property across state
lines; requires advance filing of sales of minerals, mandatory
disclosure of certain information, and prohibitions on promises about
the lands future development.
During the life; while alive; e.g., an inter vivos gift.
Death without a will.
Statutory method for distributing the property of those who die
without a will (intestate).
Lien that does not result from a contractual arrangement; e.g., a
tax lien or a judicial lien.
Ownership of property by two or
more people in which the survivors automatically gain ownership of a
Agreement between the owner of land and another for the use and
occupation of the land.
Financing method that permits potential buyers to lease property
for a period with an option to buy.
Gift of money by will.
Revocable right to enter anothers property.
Interest in real property that serves as security for repayment of
Interest in land that lasts for the life of the grantee.
Those who hold a life estate in property.
A partnership with at least one general partner in which limited
partners can purchase interest and be held liable only to the extent of
their interest and not risk personal liability.
"Suit or action pending"; document recorded with the
land records to indicate a suit involving the land is pending.
Form of title generally required to be delivered at the
sale of property; property is free from liens and no defects in title
other than those noted or agreed to.
In a condominium development, the document recorded to reflect the
location of the project and the individual units.
General plan for zoning.
Liens placed on real property to secure the amount due to those
who performed the work or supplied materials for improvements or other
projects on the land.
Method of land description that begins with a permanent object and
then through distances and directions describes the parcel of land.
Lien on real property used to secure a debt.
Lender, or party who holds the mortgage lien.
Borrower, or party occupying land that is mortgaged.
Wills of parties that are reciprocal in their distribution;
usually based on a contract to make a will; generally enforceable.
National Pollution Discharge
Permit system that requires EPA approval for water
An easement that prohibits a property owner from doing
something that affects the property of another.
In zoned areas, a use that does not comply with the
areas zoning but that existed prior to the time the zoning was
Method of zoning in which use in a particular area is
limited to the zoned use; e.g., industrial zones cannot include
residential buildings and apartment areas cannot include single-family
Land interests that are limited and certain in their
Form of recording statute that gives later bona fide
purchasers priority in the case of multiple purchases for the previous
purchasers failure to give notice by recording their transactions.
Initial communication in contract formation that, if
accepted, results in the formation of a contract.
Listing that pays commission to whichever broker or salesperson
sells the property; permits the owner to list with more that one broker
and be liable for only one commission.
Right to purchase property during a certain period of time. This
right is paid for with consideration.
Laws passed on a local level of county, state or city governments.
Method of distributing property to heirs whereby those
closer in relation to the decedent receive greater shares.
Method of land description that relies on a recorded map of a
subdivision, with each deed making reference to the map and the
particular lot being conveyed.
Heirs born after the death of the decedent.
words of conveyance in a deed; e.g., "do hereby grant and
in mortgage or promissory note that requires the mortgagor to pay an
additional charge for paying off the loan early.
Process of acquiring an easement through adverse use of the
easement over a required period of time.
Process of collecting the assets of a decedent; paying the
decedents debts, determining the decedents heirs, and distributing
the property to the heirs.
Two-party debt instrument that, in real estate, is generally
secured by a mortgage or a deed of trust or some other interest in real
A mortgage used to secure a
debt for the funds used to buy the mortgaged property.
A right-of-way as it existed when there was unity of ownership in
a parcel of land.
Court action brought to determine the true owner of a piece of
Deed that serves to transfer title if the grantor has any such
title; there are no guarantees that the grantor has any title or good
Real estate investment trust - form of real estate
syndication in which investors hold trust estates and enjoy profits of
trusts real estate holdings.
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act - federal statute
regulating disclosure of closing costs in advance and prohibiting
kickbacks for referring customers to title companies.
Process of placing a deed or other document on the public
records to give notice of a transaction or interest in land.
Negotiating a new loan for real estate; generally done to
obtain a lower rate or in the case of a sale to allow the buyer to
purchase the property.
Truth in Lending - The Federal Reserve Boards regulations
on disclosures in all types of credit transactions.
A future interest in someone other that the grantor; a
remainder follows a life estate.
Right to treat a contract as if it never existed; rescind
contract rights; generally appropriate in cases of fraud and
Future interest in grantor that results after life estate
terminates and no remainder interest was given.
Right of entry
Future interest in grantor that results after the life estate
terminates and no remainder interest was given.
In mortgage foreclosures, the right of the mortgagor to redeem his
or her property for six months after the foreclosure sale by paying off
the debts and costs of the foreclosure.
Rule that prohibits the control of estates from the grave;
provides a cap on use restrictions on contingent remainders and
In a lease, the amount of
money prepaid by the tenant to secure performance of a lease and often
provides the amount of liquidated damages if the tenant does not
A will that is acknowledged or notarized and thereby enjoys the
presumption of validity.
Land through which an easement runs or which is subject to the
Form of title given to a buyer at a mortgage foreclosure sale;
carries no warranties.
Sailors Civil Relief Act
A Federal law that provided time limitations on foreclosures
involving those in active military service.
Deed that provides warranty of title only for the period
during which the grantor owned the property.
Equitable remedy that requires a party to a contract to
perform the contract promise or promises.
Statue dictating what types of contracts must be in writing to
be enforceable. Contracts concerning real estate must comply with the
statute of frauds.
Parcel of land developed with building lots, streets, homes,
Arrangement in which a tenant leases rental property to
another, and the tenant becomes the landlord to the subtenant.
Mortgage with a lesser priority than a preexisting mortgage.
One who stands as a guarantor for an obligation; as in payment
or performance bond.
Term used to describe
the government action of using private property for public purposes.
Form of title given in the event property is sold to satisfy
taxes; carries no warranties.
Lien placed on property for amount of unpaid taxes.
Foreclosure sale on property for nonpayment of taxes.
Tenancy by the
A type of joint
tenancy of property that provides right of survivorship and is available
only to a married couple.
A type of
joint tenancy of property without right of survivorship; each tenant's
portion of ownership is distributable under will.
Disposition by will.
Form of multiunit housing in which owners own the unit for a
limited period of time during each year.
Summary of the history of title to a parcel of land.
Insurance that pays the buyer of property in the event certain
title defects arise.
Theory of mortgage law that puts title in the mortgagee and
possession in the mortgagor.
System for recording land titles designed to prevent the
selling of the same parcel of land to more that one person.
Form of land record that keeps history of title through
identifications within the particular tract.
Third party responsible for handling the property of another;
as in deed of trust or real estate investment trust.
Uniform commercial code -
uniform statute adopted in most states that governs commercial
transactions; Article IX deals with security interests and fixtures.
Charging interest rates in excess of the statutory allowed
Approved uses of land outside the
scope of an areas zoning.
A remainder that will automatically take effect when the life
A lien created because of a contract as opposed to a tax lien,
which is involuntary.
An intentional or voluntary relinquishment of
a known right.
A promise that a proposition or fact is true.
Deed that conveys title and carries warranties that the title is
good, that the transfer is proper, and there are no liens and
encumbrances other than as disclosed in the deed.
A passage, path, road, or street, or a right of passage over land.
Lands on which water covers the soil or is present either at or
near the surface of the soil all year or much of the year, such as
swamps and marshes. Wetlands are subject to extensive government
regulation, and there are variations among legal definitions in use.
Document by which a person (testator) makes a disposition of
property to take effect after his/her death.
A form of loan transaction, sometimes used in seller-financing, in
which the lender assumes (or continues to have) responsibility for a
preexisting mortgage (i.e., the new mortgage wraps around the
Local government land use regulations, including provisions permitting
or prohibiting particular uses (such as business or residential) in
Registry of Deeds
90 Front St