Understanding the 10 Most Common Real Estate Title Terms

When it comes to real estate title terms, do you know all you need to know to get ready for the home buying process?

Let’s face it: the process of buying a home gets filled to the brim with real estate terms that might be unfamiliar to the everyday person (especially for those that are making their very first home purchase). When it comes to your new piece of property, real estate title insurance is one of those areas with a wealth of new language that can make your head spin.

No need to fear – we at LemonBrew are here to help out the aspiring new property owner! We’ve put together this list of the 10 terms you need to know when it comes to the real estate title process. Read on to discover the basics of real estate title terms!


With the real estate title insurance process, you’ll often have to get a title company involved. The good news about the title company? They get to do a lot of the legwork! In the title insurance process, a title company will do the nuts-and-bolts digging into the history of the title. They’ll examine all of the legal documents in the history of the house, look for any title defects, and confirm that the current owner of the property actually has the legal rights to sell you the property. It sounds simple – but often, it’s anything but.


There’s a chance the term “quitclaim deed” might come up during the real estate title process. This is an interesting term that can apply to certain transfer situations. A quitclaim deed is a transfer of property that’s a little different than a traditional sale; in it, one party quickly transfers their rights to the property (or a part of the property) to a different party. On most occasions, a quitclaim deed will come about between transfers in family, divorces, or other non-sale situations. Generally, no title insurance research is needed.


special warranty deed is another term you might see pop up within the title insurance process – generally, in commercial situations. In it, the seller offers a very specific set of assurances to the buyer. In a special warranty deed, the seller is only guaranteeing their specific ownership history – not the entire history of the building. So, the buyer will get the same protections as a general warranty deed (that the owner could actually sell the property, that it’s free of debts, etc.), but just for a specific time frame. It’s something to keep in mind with any commercial transaction.


Put simply, title defects are anything in the chain of ownership for a property that can torpedo the potential sale from one party to another. These are the type of errors and defects that a title company or attorney searches for when they kick off the process. There’s a vast range of errors that can pop up in the process – everything from unexpected heirs making a claim on the property to problems with the public record and property deeds or even unknown debts, outstanding liens, and forgeries. You never know what kinds of title issue problems could arise from an owner’s title to disrupt the transfer ownership process.


Just about everything in the title insurance process has to (somewhere) get into a physical document form. Most of these need to get saved with local government sources – and that’s where the public record comes in. The public record is the accessible local registry of all of the documentation relating to the sale of one property to another. It’s also one of the places where the title company will pore through when they do their research on legal documents, making sure that the home purchase is legal.


Everyone would like things summarized in easy-to-read bits, right? That’s exactly what a legal mind will do with an abstract of title. This handy document gets prepared by the title company or another legal element for the property owner and the buyer, showing the ownership of the property and its long (and sometimes complicated) history. In it, you’ll be able to determine if you can actually purchase the piece of property you’re looking to buy!


Going along with the public record, the index is the detailed governmental listing that records exactly who owns what and where that property is. A governmental real estate index is the place where parties can go to look up what’s in the public record for the owner’s title and other legal documents; it’s also one of the first places where various title defects could pop up.


The most common time you’ll see the term “satisfaction” used in the real estate title insurance process involves outstanding debts and liens on a piece of property. In the home purchase process, you don’t want to buy any piece of property with debts and liens that are not satisfied; those financial obligations can quickly transfer over to you. Make sure that all of those monies are “satisfied” before you finalize the process.


A title issue that pops up all the time during the title insurance process? Unexpected easements that a new owner might not want. An easement is a right for another person or party to use part of the property for their own reasons; this could range from a government institution or service maintaining a path or road to a different business utilizing a portion of the property for parking or power. Make sure there are no unexpected easements on the property before the legal ownership process finishes.


When it comes to a home purchase, more often than not, you’re going to be purchasing much more than the home you’re living in! The term “real property” is a catch-all for everything on the piece of property you’re looking to buy. In the title insurance process it will include everything from the surface rights to the land to the air rights above and the sub-surface rights below. It’s an essential part of the legal ownership process that should not get overlooked when going through the exploration of legal documents.

How LemonBrew Can Help

Need some more help with it comes to the title insurance part of the home purchase process? If you need a guiding hand, check out LemonBrew Abstract. LemonBrew Abstract provides innovative property title and escrow services to help guide you to your successful legal ownership!

Another way LemonBrew can help? Match with a LemonBrew Partner Agent to get a helpful guide through everything related to the transaction (including title insurance and homeowners insurance). With LemonBrew’s personal help, you can navigate through all of the real estate title insurance terms, and everything else involved in your future ownership of the property.

Also, be sure to check out our vast library of real estate articles on the LemonBrew blog – including “What are Title Fees? Things Home Buyers Should Know” and “The 10 Most Common Problems Found in a Property Title Search.”