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Term Definition
Abstract of Judgment
A summary of a court judgement filed with the County Recorder.

Abstract of Title
A summary of all recorded proceedings and investments that affect a property’s title.

Accelerated Cost Recovery System
A tax calculation that provides greater depreciation in the early years of ownership of real estate or personal property.

Acceleration Clause
A loan provision which allows the lender to declare the loan due immediately in full and payable if another specific loan provision is violated. This is also referred to as the Due on Sale Clause.

Acceptance
An agreement between a buyer and seller to enter into a contract and be legally bound by its terms.

Accrued Interest
Earned but unpaid interest.

Accumulated Depreciation
In accounting, the amount of depreciation expense that has accumulated to date.

Acknowledgment
A declaration by a document’s signer that he or she voluntarily signed the document, made before a duly authorized person.

Acquisition Cost
The price and all fees required to purchase a property.

Acquisition Loan
Money which is borrowed for the specific purpose of buying a property.

Acre
A two-dimensional measure of land that is equal to 43,560 square feet or 4,840 square yards.

Addendum
An additional article or provision which has been attached to an existing contract.

Additional Principal Payment
Additional money paid as part of the monthly payment in order to reduce the principal and shorten the length of the loan.

Adjoining
Land which is attached, contiguous, or shares one or more borders.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage loan whose rate may be changed at specific intervals over the life of the loan.

Adjusted (Depreciation) Basis
Required for calculating the Gain on Sale. Original Basis (Purchase Price) plus Capital Improvements plus Cost of Sale less Cumulative Depreciation (on property and capital improments).

Adjusted Cost Basis
The cost of any improvements the seller makes to the property. This cost is deducted from the original sales price to find a home’s net profit or loss after it is sold.

Adjusted Tax Basis
The original cost of the property, reduced by depreciation deductions and increased by capital expenditures.

Adjustment Period
The time between interest rate adjustments in an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Administrator
A person appointed by a court to administer the estate of a deceased person who left no will.

Administrator's Deed
A legal document used to transfer property by the administrator of an estate.

Adverse Possession
A method of acquiring a property when an occupant has been in legal occupancy of the property for a set period of time (variable by state).

Affidavit
A written statement, sworn to or affirmed before a legally authorized officer or agent.

Agency
The relationship between a principal and his agent as defined by a contract in which the principal asks the agent to perform certain deeds on behalf of the principal.

Alienation
To transfer title and possession of property to another party.

All Inclusive Trust Deed
An all inclusive trust deed is identical to a wraparound mortgage. It is used in states that use trust deeds instead of mortgages.

Amortized Loan
A loan that is repaid in several installments, each containing a portion used to reduce the principal amount of the loan and a portion that is applied to pay interest. Each payment designates a larger portion to principal reduction and a smaller portion to interest payment, until the outstanding balance is eventually paid off in full.

Annual Cap
The maximum amount by which the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage can increase or decrease during a one-year period.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The yearly rate of interest for a loan, including points and fees. The Truth-in-Lending Law requires the disclosure of this rate.

Anticipatory Breach
A preliminary notification that informs one party that the other party will not fulfill the obligations of their original contract.

Appraised Value
The estimated value of a property. The Appraised Value is determined by comparable sales for residential properties, replacement cost for insurance properties, or income approach for commercial properties.

Appreciation
When a property’s value increases.

Arrears
Extra payments, such as prior months’ interest or overdue payments in default.

As-Is
A property offered with no guarantees related to its condition.

Assessed Value
A property’s value that is established for property tax purposes.

Assignee
The party to whom an Assignor sells or transfers an agreement or contract.

Assignment
The method by which a party transfers a right or contract.

Assignor
The party who assigns or transfers a contract or agreement to another party (the Assignee).

Assumable Mortgage
An existing mortgage in which the new purchaser of a property is made liable for the payments and any other obligations of the note and mortgage. Depending on the type of loan, the new purchaser’s assumption of these obligations may require a process of approval, and may or may not release the original borrower from future liability. A written release from the mortgagee (lender) is required for the original borrower to be relieved of responsibility for the payments.

Attornment
The formal agreement of a tenant to be a tenant to a landlord.

Backup Contract
A real estate contract that takes effect in the event that a previous agreement is not fulfilled.

Balance
See Principal Balance.

Balloon Loan
A loan with fixed monthly payments that will amortize it over a stated term (for example, 20 years), but requires an additional lump sum payment of the principal balance, in full, at an earlier date (for example, 10 years).

Balloon Payment
An installment payment that is (often substantially) larger than the loan’s other regular payments. The Balloon Payment is usually the loan’s last payment and may be higher than the regular payment by many thousands of dollars.

Bankruptcy
A legal procedure through which a debtor seeks relief from outstanding debts because he or she is financially unable to pay them.

Bankruptcy Discharge
After a bankruptcy proceeding is completed, the debtor is released from an obligation to repay his or her debts.

Basis Point
One hundredth of one percent.

Beneficiary
The person who will receive or is receiving the benefits from a particular act.

Bilateral Contract
A contract under which both parties are obligated to conduct certain deeds or tasks.

Bill of Sale
A written document used to transfer the title of a property to another owner.

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