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  • Estate For Years

    A leasehold estate for a fixed time period, such as one week, one month, or one year.

    Fee Simple Absolute

    The greatest estate (ownership) one can have in real property; it is freely transferable and inheritable, and of indefinite duration, with no conditions on the title. Also called Fee Simple or Fee Title.

    Fee Simple Determinable

    A fee simple defeasible estate that is terminated automatically if certain conditions occur.

    Fee Simple Estate

    The property owner possesses the full bundle of rights, subject only to limitations imposed by governmental powers.

    Fee Simple Subject to Condition Subsequent

    A fee simple defeasible estate in which the former owner has the power to terminate possession through due process if stated conditions are not complied with.

    Freehold Estate

    A possessory interest in real property of uncertain (and often unlimited) duration; an ownership estate in real property, either a fee simple or life estate. The holder of a freehold estate has title.

    Holdover Tenant

    Someone who came into possession of property under a valid lease, but stays on after the lease expires, without the landlord's permission.

    Leased Fee Interest

    The lessor's (landlord's) interest in leased property.

    Leashold Estate

    An estate that gives the holder (tenant) a temporary right to possession, without title.

    Life Estate

    A freehold estate that lasts only as long as a specified person lives. That person is referred to as the life tenant or measuring life.

    Life Tenant

    Someone who owns a life estate; the person entitled to possession of the property during the measuring life.

    Periodic Tenancy

    A leasehold estate for a duration of time not a specific date.


    The party in a life estate who is entitled to the remainder of the property interest after the life estate is terminated.


    Ending a lease by mutual consent.

    Tenancy at Sufferage

    Possession of property by a holdover tenant.

    Tenancy at Will

    A leasehold estate with no specified termination date or specified period of time.


    When a life tenant uses a property in any way that permanently damages it or reduces its market value.

    Community Property Rights

    Categorizes property that was either acquired during or outside of a marriage and sets forth ownership and disposition of that property.


    A property developed for co-ownership, where each co-owner has a separate interest in an individual unit and an undivided interest in the common areas of the property.


    A building owned by a corporation, where the residents are shareholders in the corporation. Each shareholder receives a proprietary lease on an individual unit and the right to use the common areas.


    Any form of ownership with two or more people sharing title to real property.


    Could refer to use rights of any surviving spouse or more specifically to a surviving husband's right in marital property owned by his deceased wife.


    Could refer to use rights of any surviving spouse or more specifically to a surviving wife's right in marital property owned by her deceased husband.

    General Partnership

    An association of two or more individuals as co-owners of a business run for profit. It is not required to be formally organized like a corporation.

    Joint Tendancy

    A form of co-ownership in which the co-owners have equal undivided interests and the right of survivorship. Joint tenancy must have the four unities present.

    Limited Liability Corporation

    A form of association structured similarly to a corporation, thus the limited liability, but has tax benefits of a partnership.

    Limited Partnership

    An association of two or more persons as co-owners of a business with one or more general partners, plus one or more limited partners. The limited partners, however, have limited liability for partnership debts and a limited role in management of the business.

    Ownership in Severalty

    Ownership by a single individual or entity (such as a corporation), as opposed to co-ownership; interests are severed (cut) from the interests of all others.

    Planned Unit Development

    A land regulation or development concept where houses, or other types of buildings, are grouped in high density clusters surrounded by larger open spaces which are shared by other owners in the PUD. The concept is anchored in the spirit of land conservation and land use efficiency.

    Real Estate Investment Trust

    A real estate investment business with at least 100 investors organized as a trust. This form of real estate ownership was created by the Federal Real Estate Investment Trust Act of 1960 to give tax benefits to real estate investors who organize their business as a trust.


    Allows the fractional interest of one co-owner, when they die, to automatically pass their interest on to the other co-owner or co-owner(s) without going through the probate process for that interest. Survivorship, however, does not eliminate estate taxes on the interest.


    An association of people or entities formed to operate an investment business. A syndicate is not a recognized legal entity; it can be organized as a corporation, partnership, or trust.¬

    Tenancy by the Entireties

    A form of co-ownership between married spouses in which each spouse owns an undivided one-half interest in the property with right of survivorship. Neither spouse may convey or encumber his or her interest without the consent of the other spouse.

    Tenancy in Common

    A form of co-ownership in which two or more persons each have an undivided interest in the entire property (unity of possession) but no right of survivorship.


    Property ownership where several people own the property or the right to possess it and agree to use it at different intervals.

    Undivided Interest

    A fractional ownership where no co-owner has a specific right to any specific portion of the property.

    Unity of Interest

    A fractional ownership where no co-owner has a specific right to any specific portion of the property.

    Unity of Possession

    When each co-owner is equally entitled to possession of the entire property because the ownership interests are undivided.

    Conditional Use

    A land use that does not comply with the general zoning rules for the zone in which it is located, but is permitted because it benefits the public (e.g., a hospital in a residential neighborhood). Also called Special Exception.

    Nonconforming Use

    A legal property use that does not conform to current zoning laws, but is allowed because the property was being used that way before the new zoning law was passed.

    Police Power

    The constitutional power of state and local governments to enact and enforce laws that protect the public's health, safety, morals, and general welfare.


    A revision in zoning law, usually changing an entire zone or area from permitted use to another permitted use.

    Setback Requirements

    Provisions in a zoning ordinance that do not allow structures to be built within a certain distance of property lines.

    Spot Zoning

    Similar to rezoning but typically has small or individual land parcels as its subject rather than an entire zone or area. In some jurisdictions spot zoning is not permitted.


    A permit obtained from the local zoning authority allowing the holder to use property or build a structure in a way that violates the zoning ordinance.

    Zoning Laws

    Local ordinances dividing a city, county, etc., into zones, specifying different types of land use in different areas. This is a type of government restriction via police power.

    Ad Valorem

    A tax based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property.


    The seizure of a property by a public authority for a public purpose.

    Eminent Domain

    The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.


    Ensures that property always has a recognized owner, which would be the state or government if no other claimants to ownership exist.


    The amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property.


    The failure to occupy and use property, which may result in a loss of rights.

    Attachment Lien

    A lien intended to prevent transfer of property, pending the outcome of litigation.

    CC & R's

    A declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions; usually recorded by a developer to create a general plan of private restrictions for a subdivision.


    1. A contract.
    2. A promise.
    3. A guarantee (express or implied) in a document such as a deed or lease.

    Dominant Tenant

    A person who has easement rights on another's property; either the owner of a dominant tenement or someone who has an easement in gross.

    Dominant Tenament

    A property that benefits from an easement.

    Easement by Express Grant

    An easement granted to another in a deed or other document.

    Easement by Express Reservation

    An easement created in a deed when a landowner is dividing property, transferring the servient tenement but retaining the dominant tenement.

    Easement by Implication

    An easement created by operation of law instead of express grant or reservation when land is divided, if there is a long-standing, apparent use that is reasonably necessary for enjoyment of the dominant tenement. Also called Implied Easement.

    Easement by Necessity

    A special kind of easement by implication that occurs when the dominant tenement would be completely useless without an easement, even if it is not a long-standing, apparent use.

    Easement by Prescription

    An easement acquired by prescription. Also called Prescriptive Easement.

    Easement in Gross

    An easement that benefits a person instead of a piece of land; there is a dominant tenant but no dominant tenement.


    A physical object intruding onto neighboring property, often due to a mistake regarding the boundary.


    A non-possessory interest in property; a lien, easement, or restrictive covenant, burdening the property owner's title.

    Failure of Purpose

    When an easement terminates because the purpose for which it was created no longer exists.

    General Lien

    A lien against all property of a debtor, instead of a particular piece of property.


    An individual who dies and has not written a will, or one who has prepared a will that is defective and considered invalid.

    Involuntary Lien

    A lien that arises by operation of law, without the consent of the property owner. Also called Statutory Lien.

    Judgement Lien

    An involuntary, general lien that attaches to a person's property as a result of court action.


    1. Official permission to do a particular thing that the law does not allow everyone to do.
    2. Revocable, non-assignable permission to enter another person's land for a particular purpose.


    1. A non-possessory interest in property, giving a lienholder the right to foreclose if the owner does not pay a debt owed to lienholder.
    2. A financial encumbrance on the owner's title.

    Lis Pendens

    A recorded notice stating there is a lawsuit pending that may affect title to the defendant's real estate.

    Mechanics Lien

    A lien provided for by some states' laws that may be placed against a property when work has been performed on the property but the work or materials have not been paid for.


    The uniting of two or more separate properties by transferring ownership of all to one person.


    An instrument that pledges and creates a voluntary lien on real property to secure repayment of a debt. The parties to a mortgage are the mortgagor (borrower) and mortgagee (lender).


    A lender who accepts a mortgage as security for repayment of the loan.


    The borrower in a loan who gives a mortgage to the lender as security.


    A detailed survey map of a subdivision or other grouped lots of land, recorded in the county where the land is located. Subdivided property is often called Platted Property. Also called Plat Map.


    To give up a legal right.

    Restrictive Covenant

    1. A limitation on real property use, imposed by a former owner.
    2. A promise to do or not do an act relating to real property, usually the owner's promise to not use property in a particular way. Cannot cause forfeiture of title.

    Servient Tenant

    The owner of a servient tenement is someone whose property is burdened by an easement.

    Special Assessment

    A tax levied only against properties that benefit from a public improvement (e.g., a sewer or street light), to cover the cost of the improvement; this creates a special assessment lien, an involuntary lien.

    Specific Lien

    A lien that attaches only to a specific property (as opposed to a general lien, which attaches to all of the debtor's property.

    Tax Lien

    A lien on real property to secure the payment of real estate taxes.

    Vendors Lien

    An involuntary, specific lien that secures payment of the balance of the purchase price of a piece of real estate, if a real estate buyer does not pay the seller in full at closing.

    Voluntary Lien

    A lien placed against property with consent of the owner (e.g., mortgages and derivatives, such as home equity credit lines). In some states, called a deed of trust.


    The acquisition of title to land by its addition to real estate already owned, through human actions or natural processes.


    A gradual addition to dry land by the forces of nature, mostly used for property abutting a body of water where such addition is made by the deposits of waterborne sediment carried by rivers, winds, tides, etc. to the shoreline property.

    Adverse Possession

    When someone acquires title to real property by open and notorious, hostile and adverse, exclusive, and continuous use of another's land for a specified period of time. The period of time varies among states.


    A legal term that encompasses all methods of transfer (voluntary and involuntary) of ownership or interest in property.


    The solid material deposited along a shore by accretion.


    An instrument that conveys the grantor's interest in real property.


    When title to property, in circumstances where the owner is deceased, descends by intestate succession to the natural heirs of the deceased.


    1. (noun) Real property transferred in a will.
    2. (verb) To transfer real property by will.

    Equitable Title

    An interest created in property with the execution of a valid sales contract, with actual title being transferred by deed at a future date. Also, the vendee's (buyer's) interest in property under a land contract. Also called Equitable Interest.

    Habendum Clause

    That part of a deed beginning with the words, "To have and to hold", followed by the granting clause and reaffirming the extent of ownership that the grantor is transferring. The habendum clause defines or limits the extent of ownership in the estate granted as, for example, a fee simple, life estata or easement: "To have and to hold unto said Sally Smith, grantee, a life estate in the following property".


    An increase in land size by the withdrawal of a body of water.

    Installment Sales Conract

    Also referred to as a land contract or contract for deed, are agreements for which the buyer (vendee) makes payments to the seller (vendor) in exchange for the right to occupy and use the property, but no deed or title is transferred until all, or a specified portion of, payments have been made.

    Purchase Money Mortgage

    a note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust given by a buyer, as borrower, to a seller, as lender, as part of the purchase price of the real estate. It is a method of financing a home in which buyer borrows from the seller instead of, or in addition to, a bank.


    1. When a person transfers his interests under a contract to another.
    2. When a tenant transfers his right of possession, or other interest, in leased property to another person for the remainder of the lease term.

    Breach of Contract

    An unexcused failure to perform according to the terms of a contract; it can be a material breach or substantial performance (breach).


    Anything of value (e.g., money, services, goods, promises) given to induce another person to enter into a contract.

    Earnest Money

    An inducement to have the buyer's offer accepted and a means of showing the seller the buyer is serious and able to follow through with the financing necessary to buy the property.

    Installment Sales Contract

    Also referred to as a land contract or contract for deed, are agreements for which the buyer (vendee) makes payments to the seller (vendor) in exchange for the right to occupy and use the property, but no deed or title is transferred until all, or a specified portion of, payments have been made.

    Lawful Objective

    The purpose or objective of a contract must be lawful at the time the contract is made.


    1. When one party to a contract withdraws and a new party is substituted, with the consent of all parties, relieving the withdrawing party of liability.
    2. The substitution of a new obligation for an old one.


    A contract giving one party the right to do something within a designated time period, without obligation to do so.

    Power of Attorney

    An instrument authorizing one person (called an attorney-in-fact) to act as another's agent to the extent stated in the instrument.

    Right of First Refusal

    A right to have the first chance to buy or lease property if the owner decides to sell or lease it.


    A buyer or purchaser in a contract; particularly, one buying property under a installment sales contract (land contract/contract for deed).


    A seller in a contract; particularly, one selling property under an installment sales contract (land contract/contract for deed).

    Material Breach

    A breach serious enough to destroy the value of the contract and to give a basis for an action for breach of contract

    Breakpoint Rent

    A base or guaranteed minimum rent before percentage of sales is applied in a percentage lease.

    Gross Lease

    A property lease where the landlord pays all utilities and expenses.

    Net Lease

    A property lease where the tenant pays some or all utilities and expenses, in addition to rent payments.

    Overage Rent

    The rent payable over and above breakpoint rent which is a percentage of the sales a business has generated.

    Going Concern Value

    The value of a company as an ongoing entity. This value differs from the value of a liquidated company's assets, because an ongoing operation has the ability to continue to earn profit, while a liquidated company does not.

    Insurance Value

    The amount the property can be insured for.

    Investment Property

    The value of a property to a specific investor or type of investor based on their individual, or specified, investment goals or requirements.

    Liquidation Value

    The likely price of an asset when it is allowed insufficient time to sell on the open market, thereby reducing its exposure to potential buyers

    Salvage Value

    The estimated value that an asset will realize upon its sale at the end of its useful life.

    Value in Use


    Law of Diminishing Returns



    1. Condition that exists in the real estate market when there are slightly more homes available than buyers.
    2. The right mix of the 4 agents of production that results in the best return on investment from land.

    Buyer's Market

    A situation in the real estate market where buyers have a large selection of properties from which to choose. More properties than buyers in the market. Prices decrease.

    Internal Conformity

    State of four agents of production in relation to land use and improvements.

    Excess Land

    Land area that is not necessary to support the use of the existing improvements situated on the subject property.

    Four Agents of Production

    Capital, Entrepreneurship, Land, and Labor which together create value in real estate. CELL

    Interim Use

    Temporary use of a property while it awaits conversion to its highest and best use.

    Law of Increasing Returns

    An economic principle, which says that beyond a certain point, the added value of an additional feature, addition, repair, etc. is less than the actual cost of the item.

    Market Equilibrium

    The point of balance where supply and demand meets. Where price, cost, and value are equal.

    Multiple-use Property

    A property that has a limited number of unique uses that may or may not be simultaneous or require little modification to the property.


    The value of inferior properties is affected positively by other properties around it.


    When value of a particular property is affected negatively due to being affiliated with inferior properties.

    Seller's Market

    When there are more buyer's than there are properties available. Prices rise.

    Single-use Property

    A property specifically designed and/or built for the user, or one with a unique use that would likely not satisfy other users.

    Special Use Property

    A property that has only a limited and specific use.


    A principle that says an informed buyer will not pay more for a property or a feature in a property than a comparable substitute.

    Surplus Land

    The portion over and above what is necessary for the highest and best use of the subject property, and the portion does not have a stand-alone highest and best use.

    Surplus Productivity

    The net income that remains after the costs of various agents of production have been satisfied.

    Adjustable Rate Mortgage

    A mortgage that periodically allows the lender to adjust the interest rate to reflect fluctuations in the cost of money.


    When the principle and interest of a loan is repaid in installments.

    Amortized Loan

    Loans in which the payments are applied to principal and interest.

    Balloon Mortgage

    A mortgage which is not fully amortized and becomes due and payable in a lump sum.

    Command Economic System

    System where the government, or order central authority, makes all decisions about production and distribution.

    Conforming Loan

    A loan that meets the qualifying standards and can be sold on the secondary market.

    Conventional Loan

    A loan not insured or guaranteed by a government entity.

    Deficit Spending

    When the government spends more money than it takes in from tax revenue.

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