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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Sale Agreement

A contract entered into between a buyer and seller, setting forth the terms, provisions and conditions of a sale of real estate.

Sale and Leaseback

A financial device which an owner of land may employ to raise money and still have the use of the land by selling the land to the financier and immediately leasing it back for the period the owner wishes to use it.

Satisfaction of Mortgage

A document signed by a lender acknowledging  that a mortgage  has been fully paid and releasing the mortgage  lien on a property. It must be recorded with the County Recorder to clear the title to the real property.


In title industry parlance, a careful exploration and examination of the public records in an effort to find all recorded instruments relating to a particular chain of title. Also referred to as title search or title examination.

Second Mortgage

A mortgage ranking in priority immediately below a first mortgage.

Section or Section of Land

A parcel of land comprising one square mile or 640 acres.

Servient Estate

A term used in property law to refer to real property which is subject to a use that benefits another property, such as an easement, right of way or use for access to an adjoining property or utility lines. The property giving usage is the servient estate, and the property which imposes the use on the servient estate is called the dominant estate


Those lines which delineate the required distances for the location of structures in relation to the perimeter of the property.


See Closing.

Shared Appreciation Mortgage

A loan having a fixed interest rate set below the market rate for the term of the loan which provides for contingent interest based upon a percentage  of the appreciation  in the value of the security at the sale or transfer of the property, or the payment of the loan.

Simultaneous Issue

Simultaneous  issuance of an owner’s policy and a mortgagee policy, or an owner’s policy and a leasehold policy, or owner’s policy to different insureds.  A reduced premium rate is applicable in such cases.

Special Assessments

A special tax imposed on property, individual lots or all property in the immediate area, for road construction, sidewalks, sewers, street lights, etc.

Special Warranty Deed

A deed containing a covenant whereby the seller agrees to protect the buyer against being dispossessed because of any adverse claims to the land by the seller, or anyone claiming through the seller.


An area of land laid out and divided into lots, blocks, and building sites, and in which public facilities are laid out, such as streets, alleys, parks, and easements for public utilities.


The act of a creditor acknowledging in writing that the lien of the debt due from a debtor shall be inferior to the lien of the debt due another creditor from the same debtor.

Subordination Agreement

An agreement by which one encumbrance (for example, a mortgage) is made subject (junior) to another encumbrance. To “subordinate” is to “make subject to,” or to make of lower priority.


The substitution of one person in the place of another with reference to a claim, demand, or right, so that the individual who is substituted succeeds to the rights of the other in relation to the debt or claim and its rights, remedies, or securities.

Subsurface Rights

The rights of ownership to things lying beneath the physical surface of the property.


(1) A person who agrees to be responsible for a debt or obligation of another. (2) The pledge or agreement by which one undertakes responsibility for the debt or obligation of another.

  • ALTA  Land  Title  Surveys: ALTA  Land  Title  Surveys  show  all  principle improvements  to  the  property,  such  as  the  home  itself  or  a  garage,  and  their relationship  to the exact boundary lines.   Please note that the boundaries  are not staked as in a Stake/Boundary Survey – see below.  Usually done on commercial transactions.

  • Land Surveys: Land surveys are made to establish boundaries of land areas by setting  corner  markers  or  monuments   and/or  to  obtain  boundary  information required for both record/deed descriptions and for plotting parcels of real property.

  • Mortgage   Location   Surveys: Mortgage   location   surveys   verify   that  the improvements  (home,  garage,  etc.)  on  which  they  are  placing  a  mortgage  are located on the correct property.  This is the most common type of survey ordered on a property transfer.   It allows the Title Company to provided additional coverage to the  lender  and  owner,  for  such  things  as  driveway  easements  and  potential mechanic's liens for new structures.

  • Stake/Boundary  Surveys: The purpose of this survey is to allow the intended user of the property to learn the exact location of all property corners and boundary lines.    This  type  of  survey  is  highly  recommended  if  the  homeowner  wants  to construct additional improvements on the property such as a garage, pools, fences, sheds, etc.  A Boundary survey is typically performed for Buyers only and does not show improvements to the property and their relationship to property lines.


Persons who are co-owners of interests in the same land. At common law and in some states  today,  upon the death  of a joint tenant,  interest  passes  to the surviving joint tenant(s) without a probate proceedings. This survivorship feature, when it exists, is the principal distinction between a joint tenancy and a tenancy in common.