Real Estate Glossary

A
Abstract of Title
A history of the ownership of a parcel of land which lists transfers of title, rights, and liabilities.
Acceleration Clause
States that upon default, all of the principal installments come due immediately.
Accrued
An accumulation.
Acknowledgment
A formal declaration made by the grantor conveying the property to the grantee – a necessary element for validity of a deed.
Acre
A measure of land equal to 43,560 square feet.
Actual Notice
The actual knowledge that a person has about the existence of a particular fact.
Acquisition – Adquisicion
The process of taking title to or ownership of something.
Adjustable-rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage in which the interest changes periodically, according to corresponding fluctuations in an index. All ARMs are tied to indexes.
Ad Valorem
A prefix meaning “based on value”. Most local governments levy an ad valorem tax on property. .
Adverse Possession
A method of acquiring original title to property by open, notorious and hostile possession for a statutory period of time; also referred to as prescription.
Agency
A relationship in which one party (the principal) authorizes another party (the agent) to act as the principal’s representative in dealing with third parties.
Agent – Apoderado
One who acts for and in place of a principal for the purpose of affecting the principal’s legal relations with third persons.
Agreement – Convenio
A manifestation of mutual assent on the part of two or more persons as to the substance of a contract.
Air Rights
The right to use, control and occupy the space above a particular parcel of land.
Alienation Clause
A provision in a mortgage requiring full payment of the debt upon the transfer of title to the property, due on sale. Prevents loan assumptions.
Amortization
The repayment of a financial obligation over a period of time in a series of periodic installments. In a level-payment mortgage, this is the portion of the debt service that reduces the principal.
Amortized Loan
A financial debt that is paid off over a period of time by a series of periodic payments. A loan can be fully amortized or partially amortized or partially amortized requiring a balloon payment to satisfy the debt at the end of the term.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The yearly cost of credit. Interest Rate plus finance charge.
Apostille
The authentication of a document to be used in a foreign country, which certifies the signature and the position of the official who has executed, issued or certified the document. It insures that public documents issuedin one country will be recognized as valid in another country.
Appraisal – Valoracion, Avaluo
An opinion or estimate of value to determine what a property would sell for in the current market place.
Appraiser – Perito Valuador
A person selected or appointed by competent authority or interested party to make an appraisement.
Appreciation
An increase in value.
Appurtenance
Any right or privilege which belongs to and passes with land.
Arms-length Transaction
Occurs between willing buyer and willing seller with each party completely knowledgeable about the market. A purchaser of property between relatives (father & son) would not be an “arms length transaction”.
Arrears
Not on time; late in making payments or completing work. Interest is paid in arrears. Taxes are paid at the end of the year, i.e., in arrears.
As is
A phrase which disclaims any promises or warranties. A person purchasing real estate “as is” takes it in exactly the condition in which it is found. Seller cannot hide latent defects.
Assemblage
Bringing two or more lots together under one ownership.
Assessed Value – Valor Catastral
The value placed on property, by the tax assessor, for the purpose of determining the property tax.
Assessment
The placing of a value on property for the purpose of taxation.
Assignment
(1) the means by which a person transfers contract rights;(2) occurs when the lessee parts with the entire estate, retaining no interest.
Assignment of Beneficial Interest – Cesion de Derechos
The assumption of the beneficial rights under a trust from one party to the other, wherein the buyer assumes the remaining balance of years left in the Fideicomiso.
Assumable Mortgage
A mortgage that can be assumed by the buyer when a home is sold. Usually, the borrower must “qualify” in order to assume the loan.
Assumption
The term applied when a buyer assumes the seller’s mortgage.
Attachment
The process of taking a person’s property into legal custody by a court order called a writ of attachment. Property is frozen.
Attestation
The act of witnessing a person’s signing of an instrument by a notary public.
Attorney in Fact
A person given the authority to act on behalf of another under a power of attorney.
Attorney at Law – Abogado O Licenciado en Derecho
Person admitted to practice law in his respective state and authorized to perform both civil and criminal legal functions for clients, including drafting of legal documents, giving of legal advice, and representing such before courts, administrative agencies, boards, etc.
Attorney’s Opinion of Title
A statement issued by an attorney after analyzing an abstract as to quality of title.