Abstract - A showing of matters of record that affect the status of title to a particular piece of real estate.  An attorney often then offers an opinion as to the marketability of the title upon reviewing the abstract.  The most common purpose for abstracts currently is for oil, gas, or other mineral exploration and production.

Affidavit - A legal document swearing under oath that something is true and accurate.

Contract - A contract for real estate is a legally binding document in which a seller agrees to sell and a buyer agrees to buy a specific piece of real estate, under specific terms and conditions. 

Closing - The closing is the consummation of a real estate transaction when all requirements are met and the deal is finalized.  This is often the event when final documents are signed and money is exchanged.  The closing often takes place at the office of the title company, lender, or real estate agent.

Closing Fees - The expenses incurred to complete a real estate transaction. These include, for example, loan origination fees, appraisal fees, title insurance and settlement fees, recording fees, etc.

Deed - A legal document that transfers ownership of real estate. 

Earnest Money - The deposit put down by a buyer with a signed contract. The earnest money is typically deposited with a title company, real estate broker, or the seller directly.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship - A type of real estate ownership in which a deceased owner’s interest passes to the surviving joint owner(s); common form of ownership for married couples.

Legal Description - The exact, unique description of a specific piece of real estate.

Lien - An encumbrance or claim against property, for example a mortgage, a lien for unpaid taxes, etc. 

Mortgage - A legal document that creates a lien against real estate, given by the buyer/borrower to the lender as security for the money borrowed. 

Real Estate - Land and any fixtures permanently attached; also called real property and realty.

Tenants in Common - A type of real estate ownership in which a deceased owner’s interest can pass to his/her heirs, as opposed to the other surviving owner(s).

Title Commitment - When referring to title insurance, a commitment is the initial report for a real estate transaction.  This report is made upon completion of a title search.  The title commitment spells out, among other things, who the current owner is, the legal description of the property, requirements to be met to issue title insurance, and any exceptions that will appear on the final title insurance policy.

Title Insurance - A policy of insurance for the new property owner and/or lender.  Title insurance provides protection for the insured owner and/or lender against any defects or “clouds” on title to a piece of real estate, such as delinquent taxes, prior mortgages, legal judgments, forgery or fraud.  Title insurance is a one-time premium.

Title Search - A search of real estate records, used to determine the marketability of title.  A title search is necessary to create abstracts as well as when writing title insurance.