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Abandonment

The giving up of the possession and control of property with the intention of relinquishing all claim to it. Losing property is an involuntary act. The abandonment of property is a voluntary act.

Abatement

A termination of or the eliminiation of, the act of abating.

Abstract

A history of all transactions shown in the public records affecting a particular tract of land.

Abstract of Judgement

Summary of essential provisions of a money judgment. When recorded, it creates a general lien on the real property of the judgment debtor in the couty in which the abstract is recorded.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

Mortgage loans under which the interest rate is periodically adjusted, in accordance with some market indicator, to more closely coincide with the current rates. The extent and number of these adjustments are agreed to at the inception of the loan.

Adverse Possession

The possession, by one person, of land belonging to another in a manner deemed adverse to the interest of the owner. In most states, by operation of law, title to the land becomes vested in such person after a fixed number of years if the owner fails to assert his or her rights.

Affidavit

A written statement made under oath before a notary public or other judicial officer.

Agreement

A legally binding contract made between two or more persons.

ALTA (American Land Title Association)

The trade association of the title insurance industry, which has adopted certain insurance policy forms to standardize coverage on a national basis.

Amortization

Payment to reduce the principal of a debt in regular, periodic installments.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The total cost of credit, including one-time fees, is known as the annual percentage rate of a loan. It can be considered the effective interest rate for a borrower and is used to standardize how rates are expressed and to compare loan options. Lenders are required to disclose the APR before the loan is finalized.

Appraisal

A report from an independent third party detailing the estimated value of real estate.

Appreciation

The increase in value of a property caused by changes in the market, inflation or other factors.

Appurtenance

A right or privilege that is a part of the ownership of property, such as a right of way to a highway across the land of another. Water rights are also an example.

Assessment

The valuation of real estate for purpose of taxes or special improvement charges. The amount of taxes or special improvement charges. Special improvement charges are usually for the costs of streets, sidewalks, sewers, etc.

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.

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