The terminology in the title industry is extensive. We hope our glossary can help with a few of the more common terms.

CONTRACT: A legally binding agreement of two or more parties or entities, which creates or modifies a legal relationship. A contract generally based upon offer and acceptance.

DEED TO SECURE DEBT: A legal document that pledges property to a lender as security for the repayment of the loan. The term also is used to refer to the loan itself. This document is recorded at the county courthouse and transfers to the lender legal title to the subject property until the loan is satisfied.

EARNEST MONEY: A sum of money paid by a buyer at the time of entering a contract to indicate the intention and ability of the buyer to carry out the contract, usually applied against the purchase price.

FIERI FACIAS: A writ of execution that directs a marshal or sheriff to seize and sell a defendant’s property to satisfy a money judgment. Literally translated, a Latin phrase which means “that you cause to be done.”

GEORGIA TITLE STANDARDS: Click here to open a pdf file to read or to download.

GOOD FUNDS: A settlement agent shall not disburse settlement proceeds unless such proceeds are collected at the time of closing.  Good funds can consist of a certified check, cashier’s check, treasurer’s check or wire transfers.

HAZARD INSURANCE: Policy insuring individuals against any, some, or all of the risks of loss to personal dwellings or the contents thereof or the personal liability pertaining thereto.

HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION: An organization comprising neighbors concerned with managing the common areas of a subdivision or condominium complex. The homeowners association is responsible for enforcing covenants, conditions, and restrictions that apply to the property.

IMPOUND/ESCROW: A sum of money that the lender requires to be collected at closing for payment of taxes and insurance to be disbursed when bills become due and payable.

INTANGIBLE TAX: On each note with a term greater than three years, which is secured by real estate, a tax is imposed at the rate of $1.50 for each $500.00 or fraction of the face amount of the note secured by the recording of deed to secure debt.

LIS PENDENS: A notice, recorded in the public records in the county in which the property is located, that warns all persons that the property referenced in the instrument is the subject matter of litigation and that any interests acquired during the term of the lawsuit are subject to the outcome of the lawsuit. Literally translated, a Latin phrase which means, “a pending lawsuit.”

MATERIALMAN’S/MECHANICS LIENS: A lien arising solely by force of statute that secures payment for labor or materials provided in the improvement, maintenance or repair of real or personal property.

MORTGAGE: An instrument, which conveys title to property which is given as security for the re-payment of a debt or the performance of a duty which will become void upon payment or performance according to the terms of the instrument. This instrument is recorded in the public records in the county in which the property is located and creates a lien against the property.

OWNER'S AFFIDAVIT: This document states that the owner of said property knows of no circumstances such as encroachments, liens, judgments, or other problematic issues that would prevent the conveyance of clear title.

POWER OF ATTORNEY: A document that gives a person legal authority to act on behalf of another. A power of attorney may be "general," which gives your attorney-in-fact extensive powers over your affairs, or it may be "limited" or "special," giving your attorney-in-fact permission to handle a specifically defined task.

PREPAID INTEREST: The interest paid for the time period between the loan closing date and the end of the month.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE: Often referred to as PMI, insurance that reimburses a mortgage lender if the buyer defaults on the loan and the foreclosure sale price is less than the amount owed the lender (the mortgage plus the costs of the sale). A homebuyer who puts less than 20% down payment may be required by their lender to purchase PMI.

PRO RATE: The act of adjusting, dividing or prorating property taxes, interest, insurance premiums, rental income, etc., between buyer and seller proportionately to time of use or the date of closing.

PROMISSORY NOTE: Provides information about your loan (term of loan, payments, interest rate, prepayment penalties, etc.). This document creates the obligation for the loan debt.

QUITCLAIM DEED: A deed that transfers whatever ownership interest the transferor has in a particular property. The deed, however, does not guarantee anything about what is being transferred nor professes that the title is valid.

REAL ESTATE TAX: Tax levied by local taxing authority against the ownership of real estate.

SETTLEMENT STATEMENT: A statement prepared by an attorney or lender, giving a complete breakdown of costs involved in a real estate transaction.

SUBORDINATION AGREEMENT: An agreement by which one holding an otherwise senior lien or other real estate interest consents to a reduction in priority vis-à-vis another person holding an interest in the same real estate.

SURVEY: The process by which a parcel of land is accurately measured to establish the existing boundary lines, setback lines, power, utility or other easements and their specific location, especially any encroachments or issues such as an overlapping driveway, retaining wall, gutter or other potential problems, and the resulting map which depicts the property and all matters affecting the property.

TITLE CERTIFICATE: A document issued by a lawyer or title insurance company which notes the issuer’s opinion as to the state of title for a piece of property.

TITLE COMMITMENT: A legally binding contractual document issued by a title insurance company to a prospective buyer or lender that itemizes the requirements necessary to issue a title insurance policy and identifies the exceptions from coverage.

TITLE INSURANCE: Insurance issued by a title company that protects a property owner against loss if it is later discovered that title is imperfect. An agreement to indemnify against damage or loss arising from a defect in title to the property. There are generally two distinct policies: Lender’s and Owner’s. The Lender’s policy, which is usually required when a property is used as collateral for a security deed, protects the lender from loss for the amount of the loan funds tendered. The Owner’s policy, which is optional, protects the property owner for the value of the property (which could be greater than that of the mortgage loan).

TITLE SEARCH: An examination of the public records of the registry of deeds or other office which contains records of title documents to determine whether title to the property is good or whether there are defects in the title.

TRANSFER TAX: A tax upon the passing of the title to real property or a valuable interest therein out of seller to a purchaser. The tax is based on the purchase price of the interest conveyed.

TRUTH IN LENDING: A disclosure required by federal law which discloses all lender required costs for the loan, the annual percentage rate, whether there is a prepayment penalty, etc. It also requires lenders to disclose the terms of a loan, including the total amount of the loan, the annual interest rate and the number, amount and due dates of all payments necessary to repay the loan.

UCC FINANCING STATEMENT: A document filed in the public records to notify third parties, prospective buyers and lenders, of a secured party’s security interest in personal property which may or may not be affixed to the real property.

WAIVER OF BORROWERS RIGHTS: A document embedded within the Security Deed that notifies the borrower that in the event of default and foreclosure, the borrower will not have the benefit of a court hearing in the State of Georgia.

WARRANTY DEED: Typically used to transfer title from the seller to the purchaser and is recorded at the county courthouse. In addition, it expresses assurance about the legal validity of the title being transferred.

LIMITED WARRANTY DEED: A deed in which the grantor covenants to defend the title against only those claims and demands of the grantor and those claiming by and under the grantor.


We are happy to help you with your title search needs. Please reach out to us anytime.