Escrow Terms & Phrases


Terms and Phrases is Commonwealth Land Title's Glossary of definitions, meanings, and descriptions of significance for some of our industry's most often used terms and phrases.

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Easement -- A right created by grant, reservation, agreement, prescription, or necessary implication, which one has in the land of another. It is either for the benefit of land (appurtenant), such as the right to cross parcel A to get to B, or "in gross", such as public utility easement.

Easement Appurtenant -- An easement for the benefit of another parcel of land, such as the right to cross parcel A to reach B. The easement will pass with the transfer of property to a new owner.

Easement in Gross -- An easement for the benefit of a person or company, rather than for the benefit of another parcel of land. Commonly, such easements as for public utilities.

Easement of Necessity -- An easement granted by a court when it is determined that said easement is absolutely necessary for the use and enjoyment of the land. Commonly given to landlocked parcels.

Egress -- A term concerning a right to come and go across the land (public or private) of another. Usually part of the term ingress and egress.

Encroachment -- Generally, construction onto the property of another, as of a wall, fence, building, etc.

Encumbrance, Incumbrance -- A claim, lien, charge or liability attached to and binding real property. Any right to, or interest in, land which may exist in one other than the owner, but which will not prevent the transfer of fee title.

Environmental Impact Report -- A report of the probable effect of a development on the surrounding area (environment). The report is prepared by an independent company to federal, state, or local guidelines.

Equitable Ownership -- Ownership by one whom does not have legal title, such as vendee under a land contract or, technically, a trustor under a deed of trust (legal title being in the trustee). Also called equitable title.

Equity -- (1) A legal doctrine based on fairness, rather than strict interpretation of the letter of the law. (2) The market value of real property, less the amount of existing liens. (3) Any ownership investment (stocks, real estate, etc.) as opposed to investing as a lender (bonds, mortgages, etc.)

Escheat -- A reversion of property to the state in the absence of an individual owner. Usually occurs when a property owner dies interstate, and without heirs.

Escrow -- Delivery of a deed by a grantor to a third party for delivery to the grantee upon the happening of a contingent event. Contemporarily, in some states, all instruments necessary to the sale (including funds) are delivered to a third (neutral) party, with instructions as to their use.

Escrow Instructions -- Instructions which are signed by both buyer and seller, and which enable an escrow agent to carry out the procedures, necessary to transfer real property, a business, or other assignable interest.

Escrow Officer -- An escrow agent. In some states, one who has, through experience and education, gained a certain degree of expertise in escrow matters.

Estoppel -- The prevention of one from asserting a legal right because of prior actions inconsistent with the assertion.

Evidence of Title -- A document establishing ownership to property. Most commonly, a deed.

Exclusive Agency Listing -- A listing or agreement protecting the listing broker's commission against the sale of property by another agent but not against the sale of the principal. The term is not universal, as some areas use this term, nonexclusive listing, to describe this agreement.

Exclusive Listing -- A written contract between a property owner and a real estate broker, whereby the owner promises to pay a fee or commission to the broker if certain real property of the owner is sold during a stated period, regardless of whether the broker is or is not the cause of the sale. The broker promises to put forth his or her best efforts to sell the property, and may make specific promises as to advertising or other promotion in certain instances.

Execute -- To complete; to fulfill a purposes, such as to execute an instrument, meaning to sign, seal (contemporarily, to notarize), and deliver.

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