Escrow Thursday: Glossary of Real Estate Terms

Glossary of Real Estate Terms

Close of Escrow

The date the documents are recorded and the title passes from seller to buyer. On this date the buyer becomes the legal owner, the title insurance becomes effective, and funds are available to the seller.

Earnest Money

Down payment made by a purchaser of real estate as evidence of good faith; a deposit or partial payment.

Fee Simple

An estate under which the owner is entitled to unrestricted powers to dispose of the property and which can be left by will or inherited. Commonly, a synonym for ownership.

Legal Description

A description of land recognized by law, spelling out the exact boundaries of the entire piece of land. It should so thoroughly identify a parcel of land that it cannot be confused with any other.

Quit Claim Deed

A deed operating as a release or intended to pass and title, interest or claim which the grantor may have in the property, but not containing and warranty of title in the grantor.


Release of the lien of a deed of trust or trust deed.


A depiction on a map by a surveyor of real property which delineates the boundaries of a parcel of land. An ALTA survey additionally delineates location of all improvements, encroachments, easements and other matters affecting the title of the property in question. A survey may be required by a title insurance company, depending on the type of coverage chosen.


The names, status and manner in which title of ownership is held with a fixed or determinable interest in a particular parcel of real property; also that portion of a title report or policy setting forth the above.


To voluntarily and intentionally relinquish a known right, claim or privilege.

Warranty Deed

A deed used in many states to convey fee title to real property.

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