Abstract of Title – A compilation of the recorded documents relating to a parcel of land.
Acceptance – Action of offeree in agreeing to terms of an offer, thereby creating a contract.
Acceleration Clause – A provision in a mortgage or other contact that gives a party (such as a lender) a right to demand immediate payment of an entire principal balance.
Acknowledgement – A declaration made by a person signing a document before a notary public or other officer.
ARM – Adjustable-Rate Mortgage – A mortgage under which the lender may change the interest rate periodically on the basis of changes in a specified index.
Adjustment Period – The length of time between the adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Administrator – Male party responsible for probate of an intestate estate.
Administratrix – Female party responsible for probate of an intestate estate.
Adverse Possession – Control or occupancy of real property under circumstances that indicate that such use is by right on the part of the possessor. Adverse possession may establish title if continued a certain period of time, at common law, twenty years.
Amortization – The process of reducing a debt by regular payments of both principal and interest.
APR – Annual Percentage Rate – The cost of credit expressed as an annual rate. It is defined and calculated by using a formula set by federal law and disclosed to the borrower to aid in comparing different credit plans. All finance charges imposed by a lender are included in this calculation, and an APR is always higher than the simple interest rate when such finance charges such as points, origination fees or mortgage insurance are charges by a lender.
Appraised Value – The value of a property at a given time, based on facts regarding location, improvements, etc., of the property and surroundings.
Assessed Value – The value of real property established for the purpose of computing real property taxes.
Assignment – A process by which a person sells, transfers and/or assigns their rights under an agreement.
Assumable Loan – A loan secured by a mortgage or deed of trust containing no “due on sale” provision. Most pre-1989 FHA loans and pre-1988 VA loans are assumable without qualification. Some newer loans may be assumed with the express permission of the note holder.
Assumption of Mortgage – Agreement by a buyer to assume the liability under an existing note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust.
Attachment – Process of creating a lien, security interest, or other creditor’s interest in property; results when the creditor has complied with all requirements.
Attorney-in-fact – A person authorized to act on behalf of another, usually by grant of a written power of attorney.
Balloon Mortgage – A note calling for periodic payments that are insufficient to fully amortize the face amount of the note prior to maturity, so that a principal sum known as a “balloon” is due at maturity.
Bequest – A gift of personal property by will.
Beneficiary – A person designated to receive the income or other proceeds, as from a trust or estate.
Bridge Loan – A form of second mortgage that is collateralized by the borrower’s present home (which is usually for sale) in a manner that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on another property before the present home is sold.
Broker – An agent who negotiates contracts for purchase and sale or real property. In Massachusetts, real estate brokers and salespersons are licensed by the state Real Estate Board.
Capital Gain – Profit from sale of a capital asset, such as real property.
Citation – Reference to legal authority, such a case, statue, regulation or ordinance.
Chain of Title – The chronological order of conveyance of a parcel of land from the original owner to the present owner.
Closing – In a real estate transaction, a meeting in which the deed is delivered to the buyer, payment is made to the seller, title is transferred, and agreed-on costs are paid. Also called “settlement”.
Cloud on title – An uncertainty, doubt or claim against the rights of the owner of a property.
Commitment – A written promise to make or insure a loan for a specified amount.
Condemnation – The determination that a building is not fit for use or is dangerous and must be destroyed; or, the taking of private property eminent domain.
Condominium – A form of real estate ownership in which a property is divided into individually-owned units and common areas, the common areas being owned by the unit owners in undivided shares.
Consideration – The price or thing (tangible or otherwise) given in exchange as part of an agreement or contract. For example, in a purchase and sale or real estate, the considerations are the buyer’s money and the seller’s property.
Contingency – The dependence upon a stated event which must occur before a contract is binding.
Conventional Mortgage – A mortgage that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government.
Convertible ARM – An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that can be converted to a fixed-rate mortgage under specified conditions.
Cooperative – A form of ownership in which the residents of a multiunit housing complex own shares in a cooperative corporation which owns the property and each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit.
Co-ownership – Label given to ownership of property by more than one person.
Corporation – A form of business organization in which the business is a legal entity separate from its owners and employees. Corporations can act, own property, or have claims brought against them in their own name, as compared, for example, to a sole proprietorship, in which all legal benefits and liabilities (even where a business name is used) are personal to the owner.
Counterclaim – Claim made by the Defendant against the Plaintiff in a lawsuit.
Covenant – Promise that affects or limits the use of the conveyed property.
Declaration of Condominium – Master Deed creating a condominium.
Deed – Instrument used to convey title to real property.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – Deed used by a borrower surrendering title to his/her property to prevent lender foreclosure.
Deed of Trust – Security interest in real property in which title is held by a trustee until the borrower and occupant of the land repays the beneficiary (lender) in the amount of the loan.
Default – Failure to comply with a contractual obligation.
Devise – Gift of real property by will.
Discharge of Mortgage – Document from a lien holder releasing a mortgage once it has been paid in full.
DOR – Massachusetts Department of Revenue – Governmental Agency responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth’s tax, child support and municipal finance laws.
Dower – At common law, rights of a widow in real estate owned by her deceased husband during their marriage. Under Massachusetts statute, dower rights are gender neutral.
Due on Sale Clause – A provision in a mortgage or deed of trust that gives the lender the option to require payment in full of the indebtedness upon transfer of title to the property (or any interest therein).
Injunction – An equitable remedy in the form of a court order requiring a party to perform an act or cease certain conduct.
Installment Land Contract – An agreement wherein the buyer makes payments to seller. Buyer has equitable title and seller has legal title until paid in full. Also known as ‘contract for deed’ or ‘contract for sale’.
Inter Vivos – Term used in law to describe agreement gifts made while living.
Intestate – Designates the estate or condition of failing to leave a will at death.
Intestate Succession – A statutory method for distributing the property of those who die without a will (intestate).
Involuntary Lien – A lien that does not result from a contractual arrangement or consent; e.g., a tax lien or a judicial lien.
Lease – Agreement between the owner of land and another party for the use and occupation of the land.
Lease-purchase – Financing method that permits potential buyers to lease property for a period with an option to buy.
License – Revocable right to enter another’s property.
Lien – An encumbrance against property for money, either voluntary (mortgage), involuntary (judgment), or by operation of law (property tax lien).
Life Estate – An estate in real property for the life of a living person.
Limited Partnership – A partnership with at least one general partner in which limited partners can purchase interest and be held liable only to the extent of their interest and not risk personal liability.
Lis Pendens – A legal notice recorded to show that a court suite or action affecting a particular property is pending.
Marketable Title – Form of title generally required to be delivered at the sale of property; property is free from liens and no defects in title other than those noted or agreed to.
Mass Tax Lien – Tax Lien put on by the Commonwealth of Mass for non-payment of taxes.
Mass Tax Lien Release – Document evidencing that payment of taxes to the Commonwealth of Mass has been made.
Master Deed – The document recorded in a condominium development to reflect the location of the project and the individual’s unit.
Mechanic’s Lien – A lien created by statute for the purpose of securing priority of payment for the price or value of work performed and materials furnished in construction of repairs or improvements to land.
Metes and Bounds – Method of land description that begins with a permanent object and then through distances and directions describes the parcel of land.
Mortgage – Lien on real property used to secure a debt.
Mortgagee – One who lends money and holds the mortgage lien on a property.
Mortgagor – One who borrows money to purchase property.
Municipal Lien – A Lien put on by each City and or Town shows that taxes are paid up to date.
Negative Easement – An easement that prohibits a property owner from doing something that affects the property of another.
Nonconforming use – A use that does not comply with the area’s zoning but that existed prior to the time the zoning was effective.
Note – A written promise to repay a certain sum of money on specified terms.
Notice Betterment Agreement – Usually refers to property being assumed for sewage.
Notice Statute – Form of recording statute that gives later bona fide purchasers priority in the case of multiple purchases for the previous purchaser’s failure to give notice by recording their transactions.
Waiver – An intentional or voluntary relinquishment of a known right.
Warranty – A promise that a proposition or fact is true.
Warranty Deed – Deed that conveys title and carries warranties that the title is good, that the transfer is proper, and there are no liens and encumbrances other than as disclosed in the deed.
Way – A passage, path, road, or street, or a right of passage over land.
Wetlands – Lands on which water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or much of the year, such as swamps and marshes. Wetlands are subject to extensive government regulation, and there are variations among legal definitions in use.
Will – Document used to specify the transfer of property after the testator’s death.
Wrap-Around Mortgage – A form of loan transaction, sometimes used in seller-financing, in which the lender assumes (or continues to have) responsibility for a pre-existing mortgage (i.e. the new mortgage “wraps-around” the first).
Zoning – Local government land use regulations, including provisions permitting or prohibiting particular uses (such as business or residential) in defined areas.
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Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds 65 Park Street Adams MA 01220 Main Number: (413) 743-0035 Main Fax: (413) 743-1003