Real Estate Terms and Definitions

The following is a list of some of the major types of things that happen in real estate law — or property law as it is sometimes called.

Under Contract.  When a seller lists their home for sale, and a buyer has made an offer, which the seller has accepted, the home — or property — is said to be “under contract”

Lease. Lease is another word for rent or rental agreement.  Both residential and commercial property can be leased.  If you are considering a commercial lease, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about the terms before you sign it.

Option. An option is a fancy way of saying “the right of first refusal.”  Essentially, people purchase an option as a right to buy the property if the seller sells.  The person does not have to buy the property (“exercise the option,”) but must be given the first chance to do so.

Easement.  In short, an easement is a right to go on to the property of another.  Easements can be much more complicated, but this is the basic definition.

Deed. The piece of paper, filed with the county, that says who owns the property.

Foreclosure.  Generally we hear this word in association with residential mortgage companies, but it could apply to anyone that has a lien (or monetary interest) in the property. Foreclosure happens when a person does not meet the terms of their loan, which is secured by the property, and the lender chooses to repossess the property and sell it to make up the balance of the amount owed.

Quiet Title. This is an action that is filed when multiple people or entities claim a right to the same piece of property.  It allows a court to determine the owner.

Eviction. This is an action that is filed when a tenant does not pay their rent and the land lord asks them to leave through the court system.

Right of Way.  Right of way is property owned by the public for the public good — such as the land under streets and sidewalks, schools, public hospitals and other public buildings.  The government has the right to acquire property for public use (the authority of eminent domain), but it must provide just compensation (payment) to people the property is purchased from. 

 


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