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Glossary of Mortgage and Home Equity Terms

To navigate through our glossary, click on the first letter of the word you’re looking for.
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Tax Lien
A claim against property for unpaid taxes.
Tenancy
The use of real estate under any kind of right of title.
Term
The time limit within which a loan must be repaid.
Title
The legal evidence of ownership rights to real property.
Title (Insurance) Company
A company that confirms the legal owner of a property and insures a homeowner and lender against a loss that could result from a title dispute.
Title Insurance
An insurance policy that protects a lender and/or homebuyer (only if homebuyer purchases a separate policy, called owner's coverage) against any loss resulting from a title error or dispute. On a refinance, if the property has had a recent title insurance policy, a homeowner may sometimes be eligible for a reduced rate on the title insurance (also known as the reissue or refinance rate).
Title Insurance Policy
A contract in which an insurer, usually a title insurance company, agrees to pay the insured party a specific amount for any loss caused by defects of title on real estate in which the insured has an interest as purchaser, mortgagee, or otherwise.
Title Search
An examination of public records to disclose the past and current facts regarding the ownership of a given piece of real estate.
Top Ratio
See Housing Expense Ratio.
Torrens Certificate
A certificate issued by a public authority called a registrar of titles, establishing title of an indicated owner. Used when title to property is registered under the Torrens system of land registration.
Transfer Tax
State or local tax payable when the title passes from one owner to another.
Trust Deed
See Deed of Trust.
Truth-in-Lending Act
A Federal law requiring full disclosure of credit terms using a standard format. This is intended to facilitate comparisons between lending terms and financial institutions.
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