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DICTIONARY​ S - Z

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Sales comparison approach - The method of evaluating a property's value by comparing it to actual sales prices and values of comparable properties

Sale-leaseback - A transaction in which a seller deeds property to a buyer for a consideration, and the buyer simultaneously leases the property back to the seller

SBA - Abbreviation for the Small Business Administration

Second mortgage, or junior mortgage - A mortgage whose claim to repayment is of lesser priority than another, previously recorded mortgage, usually or shorter term and often at higher interest

Secondary market - Agents or agencies that buy mortgages from primary lenders, usually at discounted prices, to sell to investors

Section, or Section of land - A parcel of land measuring one square mile or 640 acres

Set Back Lines - The distance designated by zoning regulations that is required between the perimeter of a property and where structures can be positioned

Secured loan - A loan guaranteed by collateral

Security - The property pledged as collateral for a loan or mortgage

Seller take-back - A contract whereby the seller of a property provides financing, sometimes as part of an assumable mortgage

Severalty, or Sole ownership - Ownership of real property by only one individual

Special assessment - An additional tax imposed by the government against specific parcels of real estate that will benefit from a public improvement, such as a street

Special warranty deed - An agreement whereby the current owner

Specific performance - A legal action that requires a party to honor the terms of a contract

Statute of limitations - The time period allowed for the filing of a legal suit to enforce a claim, after which any such claims are barred

Step-rate mortgage - A loan that allows for the interest rate to increase in increments according to a designated schedule for a specified period of time, at the end of which, the interest rate returns to a consta

Subagent - An individual or party who is employed by someone already acting as an agent

Subdivision - A tract of property that is divided into streets and individual lots

Subject to - Taking ownership of a property with a lien (legal claim or charge) against it, but not assuming responsibility for the said lien, while the holder who forecloses the lien can take the property

Subsidized second mortgage - An alternative financing option for low- and moderate-income households, issued by a state or county housing foundation, agency or nonprofit corporation, whereby the buyer can purchase a first

Survey - The process of determining property areas, by measuring its dimensions, lot lines and other physical features; Also, the map that results from such measurements taken

Tax sale - A sale of real property ordered by the court in order to raise money to cover delinquent taxes

Tenancy in common - A version of joint tenancy of a property, but without any right of succession by survivorship among the owners

Testate - To die having prepared and left a valid will

Testator - The individual who makes out a last will and testament

Time is of the essence - A condition in a contract requiring the completion of a certain act within a designated period of time

Time-share - A form of ownership interest which allows use of the property only for a fixed or variable period of time

Title - A legal document that evidences a person's ownership of and right to possess a property

Title insurance - Insurance that protects the owner or mortgagee against loss arising from disputes over or defects in the title to a parcel of real estate that arise after ownership has been transferred

Title search - Research into public title records to determine the current status of ownership of a piece of property; a licensed attorney must provide any legal interpretation of the records found

Torrens Title - Now a dated system (only used in a few US states) whereby the court issues a certificate establishing the extent of an individual's estate, including any exceptions noted

Township - A division of land that is six miles square, containing 36 square-mile sections

Tract - A specific parcel of land

Transfer of ownership - Any circumstance in which the ownership of a property changes hands, e.g., via outright, titled purchase, or the assumption of an existing on a property, or possession of the property via a land sales trust, even any transfer of a beneficial interest in the trust

Transfer tax - State or local taxes imposed on a transfer of ownership of real property

Trust - A right to a piece of property that is held for the benefit of another

Trust deed, or a Deed of trust - A written document that grants the trustee the title to a piece of property for the benefit of another, and which gives the trustee the power to sell, mortgage or subdivide the property

Trustee - A party who holds property for the benefit of another

Trustee's deed - A deed conveying land ownership executed by the trustee who holds the land in trust

Trustor - The borrower in a trust loan transaction

Truth-in-Lending - A federal law that requires disclosure by a credit institution or lender of the terms and conditions of a loan or mortgage, including the annual percentage rate and any other charges, to the borrower when they apply for the loan. Also see Regulation Z

Two-step mortgage - An adjustable-rate mortgage that charges a below-market interest rate for a designated number of years (usually 5 or 7) after which the interest rate is adjusted to the current market conditions

Underwriting - The process of analyzing a borrower's capability to honor repayment of a loan (evaluating his or her credit, assets, employment) along with the value of the property being purchased, to help minimize the risk involved for the party lending the purchase money

Unilateral contract - A one-sided contract in which only one party is legally under obligation by the terms of the contract; one party promises an action to the second party, who is not legally required to respond, but if the second part does comply, then the first party is obligated to honor the promise made

Unsecured loan - A loan that is not guaranteed by collateral

Usury - The act of charging more than the maximum rate of interest permitted by law

VA guarantee - An insurance contract for which the Veterans Administration (VA) guarantees the lender's recovery of a designated percentage of the loan amount from the insurer in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan

VA loan, or Government mortgage - A mortgage loan available to qualified military veterans which is guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs, usually offering either no down payment or a low down payment

Valuation - The estimated of value of a property

Variable rate mortgage, or Adjusted rate mortgage - A mortgage with interest rates that may fluctuate based on market conditions

Verification of Deposit - A statement signed by the borrower's financial institution that verifies the current balances in the borrower's accounts

Verification of Employment - A statement signed by the borrower's employer that verifies the borrower's current position and salary

Vest - To pass an immediate right on to a person

Vested - Having the right to withdraw a percentage of a fund before its agreed-upon maturity date; e.g., the percentage vested to individuals with retirement funds differs; if someone is 80% vested, that means they can only withdraw 80% of the funds set aside for them until its maturity

VA Department of Veterans Affairs - A federal agency that insures residential mortgages made to eligible military veterans, which thereby encourages loans being made to veterans

Waiver - The relinquishing of a right

Warranty - A guarantee provided to the purchases regarding the quality of appliances or fixtures sold. Also a promise by the grantor of a piece of property that he or she is responsible to the buyer if the title of ownership is defect in any way

Warranty deed - A document conveying ownership of a property that guarantees a clear, clean title

Will - A written document stating how an individual chooses to have his or her property distributed after his or her death

Wraparound loan or Wraparound mortgage - A method of refinancing which covers the remaining balance on an existing first mortgage as well as the additional amount of loan being requested by the mortgagor; full payments covering both mortgages are made to the Wraparound mortgagee, who then forwards on the portion of payment due to the first mortgagee

Zoning - A regulation by local government of the use and development of private land