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Term Definition
Assignment

The act of transferring an interest, such as a loan secured by a mortgage, from one person to another. The instrument or paper by which one person transfers such ownership to another.

Assumable Mortgage

A loan that can be taken over by the buyer is known as an assumable mortgage. This is an alternative to the traditional method of a buyer obtaining a mortgage directly from a lender.

Attorney's Opinion

A statement by an attorney as to the validity of a title, arrived at after investigation of the history of the title as recorded in the public records.

Back Title Letter

Also called 'back title certificate' in some areas, and 'starter' in others. When titles previously have been examined up to a certain date by reliable examiners, title companies sometimes give subsequent examiners of such titles a letter that sets forth the condition of the title at the time of the previous examination and authorizes them to begin their subsequent examination with the terminal date of the previous examination.

Balloon Note

A form of promissory note that calls for the minimum payment of principal and the payment of interest at regular intervals. This type of note requires a substantial final payment, which represents all the principal.

Bankruptcy

A proceeding in U.S. District Court wherein assets of an insolvent debtor are protected and distributed in an equitable manner.

Binder

Sometimes called 'preliminary certificate' or 'commitment.' (1) A preliminary report as to the condition of a title and a commitment to issue a title insurance policy in a certain manner when certain conditions are met. (2) A deposit in escrow of a small part of the purchase price of real estate as evidence of good faith and to bind an agreement to purchase.

Bridge Loan

Also known as a swing loan or interim financing, a bridge loan is a short-term loan used until permanent financing is secured. Bridge loans can be used for up to one year and carry relatively high interest rates. A bridge loan might be used, for instance, to purchase a new property when the homebuyer hasn’t yet sold his or her current dwelling.

Buydown

A seller can assist a buyer in qualifying for a mortgage and securing a lower interest rate by making payments to the lender for the first several years of the loan. The buyer benefits by having lower monthly payments initially; the seller will increase the price of the home to offset the buydown costs.

Certificate of Title

A certificate issued by a title examiner stating the condition of a title.

Chain

In real estate measurements (surveying), a chain is 66 feet long or 100 links, each link being 7.92 inches. The measurement may change when used in fields other than surveying.

Chain of Title

The successive ownerships or transfers in the history of title to a tract of land.

Claim

An adverse right or interest asserted by one party against another or against an insurer or indemnitor. Claims may arise from unpaid debts or taxes, as well as from hidden title defects such as fraud, forgery, missing heirs, etc.

Clear Title

Real property ownership free of liens, defects, encumbrances or claims.

Closing

Also called 'settlement.' A meeting of all parties involved in a property transaction during which the transaction is consummated.

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