Real Estate Glossary

Tax deduction:

Expenses such as mortgage interest that may be deducted from gross taxable income before taxes are computed.

Tenancy by the entirety:

A marital type of joint tenancy of property that provides right of survivorship and is available only to a husband and wife. Contrast with tenancy in common.

Tenancy in common:

A non-marital type of joint tenancy in a property without right of survivorship. Contrast with tenancy by the entirety and with joint tenancy.


The obligee for a cooperative share loan that is the equivalent of a mortgage loan, who is both a stockholder in a cooperative corporation and a tenant of the unit under a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement.


The length of time a loan will last if all scheduled payments are made when due. Also known as amortization period.


The key features of a mortgage loan, including the interest rate and whether it is fixed or adjustable, the length of time to repay the loan, and any fees or costs associated with obtaining the loan.

Third-party origination:

A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package the mortgages it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage securitization market. See mortgage broker.


A legal condition evidencing a person's right to own or claim ownership of a property.

Title company:

A company that engages in examining and insuring titles to real estate and serves as a closing agent for real estate transactions.

Title insurance:

Insurance that protects the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against loss arising from any title defects or other disputes over ownership of a property.

Title report:

A report of the condition of title for real property, which will also list exceptions to title insurance. See title search.

Title search:

A review of the title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no liens, encumbrances or other claims affecting the title.

Title theory:

A legal theory under which the lender continues to hold title to a particular parcel of property until such time as the underlying loan obligation is paid in full. The operative loan document is the trust deed, which effectively transfers ownership from the seller to the lender as part of the loan transaction that involves a purchase money mortgage. 

Total expense ratio:

Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income. The total expense ratio includes monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts.

Trade equity:

Equity that results from a property purchaser transferring his or her existing property (or an asset other than real estate) as trade or consideration as all – or part of – the down payment for the property that is being purchased.

Transfer of ownership:

Any means by which the ownership title to real property changes hands. Lenders consider all of the following situations to be a transfer of ownership: the purchase of a property "subject to" the mortgage, the assumption of the mortgage debt by the property purchaser, and any exchange of possession of the property under a land sales contract or any other land trust device, including sometimes the beneficial ownership of corporate interests.

Transfer tax:

State or local realty transfer tax payable when title passes from one owner to another. Sometimes referred to as "tax stamps."

Treasury index:

An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) instruments. The index is based on the results of auctions that the U.S. Treasury holds for its Treasury bills and securities. Or it can be derived from the U.S. Treasury's daily yield curve, which is based on the closing market bid yields on actively traded Treasury securities in the over-the-counter market. See adjustable-rate mortgage ("ARM").

Trust indenture:

An alternate name for a mortgage document used in Montana and other states.

Trust mortgage:

In a title theory state, the document that transfers legal title to the property to the lender pending full repayment of the loan obligation. The document gives a lender the right to foreclose on the property if the borrower defaults on the loan. Alternate reference to deed of trust as used in Michigan.  

Trust property:

In a title theory state, the property secured by a deed of trust or similar instrument.


The agent for the lender who holds the secured property in trust. In the event of a default, the trustee is usually responsible for the sale of the property through foreclosure.

Trustee’s deed:

A deed provided to the successful bidder at the trustee’s sale that transfers title to the foreclosed property free and clear of any liens or encumbrances, which may be subject to any statutory right to redemption applicable to the jurisdiction in which it is issued.

Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA):

A federal law that requires lenders to fully disclose – in writing – the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the annual percentage rate (APR) and other closing charges.

Two-step mortgage:

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that has one interest rate for one period during part of the term and a different interest rate for the remainder of the amortization term.

Two-to-four-family property:

A property that comprises a structure that provides multiple dwelling units for two to four families, although ownership of the structure is evidenced by a single deed.

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