Terms Defined

The Real Estate Industry has its own unique language and, without some knowledge of this language, you may find yourself a bit confused if you become involved in a real estate transaction. Wayne County Title Agency, Inc. has compiled the following Definition of Terms commonly used in the real estate industry. Whether you are entering the real estate market for the first time or have invested in it before, this handy reference will provide an understanding of basic real estate words and phrases.

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Earnest Money

The  deposit  money  given  to  the  seller  or  seller's  agent  by  the potential buyer upon the signing of the agreement of sale to show serious intent to buy the house. If the sale goes through, the earnest money is applied as part of the down payment. If the sale does not go through,  the earnest  money  will be forfeited  or lost unless  the contract or offer to purchase expressly provides that it is refundable.


A privilege or right of use or enjoyment which one person may have in the lands of another; for example, a right of way to install, operate, and maintain utility lines..

Eminent Domain

The right of a government  to appropriate  private  property  for a public use by making reasonable payment to the owner of such property.


The intrusion  of any improvement  partly or entirely  on the land of another.


Any right or interest in land held by persons other than the fee owner which right or interest lessens the value of the fee title. Examples are judgment liens, easements, mortgages, restrictions.


A form issued by the insurer at the request of the insured which changes term(s) or item(s) in an issued policy or commitment.


(1) The interest or value which an owner has in real estate over and above the debts against it. (2) A type of court of record.

Equity Participation

A type of mortgage transaction in which the lender, in addition to receiving, a fixed rate of interest on the loan, acquires an interest in the borrower’s land and shares in the profits derived from the land.


The transfer of title of property to the state if the owner dies intestate and without heirs.


Money, securities, documents, or other property deposited with a third party to be held by the third party (called the escrow agent) until the happening of a future event and then to be delivered to the designated party.

Escrow Account

A separate  account  into which the lender puts a portion  of each monthly  mortgage  payment;  an  escrow  account  provides the  funds  needed  for  such expenses  as  property  taxes,  homeowners  insurance,  mortgage  insurance,  etc. (Also referred to as an impound account)


The degree, quantity, nature, and extent of interest which a person has in land.


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

Et al

And others.

Et ux

And wife.

Examination of Title

The review of the chain of title as revealed by an abstract of the title or public records.


Those  matters  affecting  title  to  the  particular  parcel  of  realty  which matters are excluded from coverage of the particular title insurance policy.


Those general matters affecting title to real property excluded from coverage of a title insurance policy.


To sign a legal instrument. A deed is said to be executed when it is signed, notarized and delivered.

Execution Sale

Sale of real property under a writ of execution by a court. A judicial mortgage foreclosure sale is in this category.


A person named in a will to administer the estate.  Executrix is the feminine form.