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Term Definition
Depreciation

Loss in value occasioned by ordinary wear and tear, destructive action of the elements, or functional or economic obsolescence.

Devise

A gift of real estate made by a will.

Dominant Estate

The property for the benefit of which a right-of-way easement exists across another's adjoining piece of land is said to be the dominant estate. The land across which the easement runs is said to be the servient estate.

Dower

A right that a wife has in her husband's property at the time of his death. Does not exist in all states.

Earnest Money

A deposit of funds by the purchaser of a piece of real estate as evidence of good faith.

Easement

A right to use all or part of the land owned by another for a specific purpose. An easement may, for example, entitle its holder to install and maintain sewer or utility lines.

Eminent Domain

The right of a government to take privately owned property for public purposes under condemnation proceedings subject to payment of its fair market value.

Encroachment

Any building, improvement or structure located on one property (such as a wall, fence or driveway) that intrudes upon the property of another.

Encumbrance

Any interest, right, lien or liability attached to a parcel of land (such as unpaid taxes or an unsatisfied mortgage) that constitutes or represents a burden or charge upon the property.

Equity

The market value of real property, less the amount of existing liens.

Escheat

The reversion of property to the state when an owner dies leaving no legal heirs, devisees or claimants.

Escrow

A method of closing a real estate transaction in which all required documents and funds are placed with a third party for processing and disbursement.

Estoppel

A legal restraint that stops or prevents a person from contradicting or reneging on his previous position or previous assertions or commitments.

Examination

The study of the instruments and muniments incident to a chain of title to determine their effect and condition in order to reach a conclusion as to the status of the title.

Exception

A provision in a title insurance binder or policy that excludes liability for a specific title defect or an outstanding lien or encumbrance.

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