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A small and convenient list of vocabulary, information and technical data used in references and discussions of Farm and Ranch, Land, Vineyards, Agricultural and other like kind Properties.

Definitions of Commonly Used Terms

Abstract of Title:
A summary or condensation of the essential parts of all recorded instruments which affect a particular piece of real estate, arranged in the order in which they were recorded.

An addition to land through natural cause (opposite to erosion).

Acre Foot:
A term used in measuring the volume of water, equal to the quantity of water required to cover 1 acre 1 ft. in depth, or 43,560 cu. ft.

A person appointed by the court to administer the estate of a deceased person who died without leaving a will; that is, intestate.

Adverse Possession:
The right of an occupant of land to acquire a superior title to the real estate against the record owner, where such possession has been actual, notorious, hostile, visible and continuous for the required statutory period. The purpose behind this concept is to promote the productive use of land and to give title to the one putting the land to use.

In real estate, amenities refer to such circumstances, in regard to location, outlook, or access to a park, lake, highway, view, or the like which enhance the desirability of real estate and which contribute to the pleasure and enjoyment of the occupants.

The act or acts involved in the taking and reducing to personal possession of water occurring in a stream or other body or water, and of applying such water to beneficial uses.

One who diverts and puts to beneficial use the water of a stream or other body of water, under a water right obtained through appropriation.

That which belongs to something else; something adapted to the use of the real property to which it is connected or belongs, and which was intended to be a permanent addition to the land, and which passes as an incident to said land, as a house, barn, garage, right of way.

The party to whom a legal right has been assigned or transferred.

A transfer of another of a legal right.

The party who assigns or transfers a legal right.

Animal Unit (A.U.):
The grazing capacity of land to properly sustain one animal and offspring, if any, for one year.

Balloon Payment:
When credit is advanced by note or contract and payment is required in regular equal installments and the note or contract will mature before it is paid in full, a payment which may be larger than the regular payment will fall due. This larger payment is called a “balloon payment”.

Bargain and Sale Deed:
Any deed that recites a consideration and purports to convey the real estate. A bargain and sale deed with a covenant against the grantor’s acts is one in which the grantor warrants that he or she has done nothing to harm or cloud the title.

Bill of Sale:
A written instrument by which one person transfers or conveys right, title or interest in personal property to another.

Blanket Mortgage:
A single mortgage which covers more than one piece of property.

Caveat Emptor:
Latin phrase meaning “Let the buyer beware.” The buyer is duty-bound to examine the property he or she is purchasing, and accepts conditions which are readily known upon view.

Certificate of Taxes Due:
A written statement or guaranty of the condition of taxes on a certain property, made by the County Treasurer of the county wherein the property is located. Any loss resulting to any person from an error in a tax certificate shall be paid by the county which such treasurer represents.

Any item of property other than real estate, usually referred to as personal property; an item of movable property.

Cloud on the Title:
An outstanding claim or encumbrance that, if valid, would affect or impair the title to the property.

Collateral Security:
Or “collateral.” In banking, some security additional to the personal obligation of the borrower, as a chattel mortgage or trust deed.

In real property law, the process by which property of a private owner is taken for public use, with compensation to the owner, under the right of eminent domain.

Construction Mortgage:
A short-term loan used to finance the building of a structure.

An agreement, enforceable at law, between two or more competent persons, having for its object a legal purpose, wherein the parties agree to act in a certain manner.

An instrument in writing by which some estate, interest, or title in real estate is transferred from one person to another, such as a deed or mortgage.

Coordinate System:
A method of land description using measurements from an intersection of a defined north-south axis and a defined east-west axis.

Courses and Distances:
A method of describing or locating real property. This description gives a starting point and the direction and length of lines to be run; practically indistinguishable from a metes and bounds description.

A promise or agreement, usually in writing, whereby a party pledges or guarantees to another that something is done or shall be done, or stipulates to the truth of certain facts.

Cubic Foot Per Second:
A unit of discharge for measurement of flowing liquid, equal to a flow of 1 cu. ft. per sec. past a given section. Also called a “second-foot”.

An appropriation of land to some public use, made by the owner, and accepted for such use by or on behalf of the public, as streets in a platted subdivision.

A legal instrument in writing, duly executed and delivered, whereby the owner of real property (grantor) conveys to another (grantee) some right, title or interest in or to real estate.

Deed Restriction:
A provision is a deed controlling or limiting the use of the land.

Defeasible Fee (base- or qualified fee):
A fee interest in land that is capable of being defeated or terminated upon the happening of a specified event.

The loss in value due to deterioration through ordinary wear and tear, action of the elements, functional or economic obsolescence.

A gift of real property by the last will and testament of a donor.

Forcing action or inaction against a person’s will.

Earnest Money:
Down payment made by a purchaser of real estate as evidence of good faith.

A right or interest in the real property of another. The right to use another’s land for a specific purpose, as a right of way.

Eminent Domain:
The right of a government to take private property for public use upon the payment of just compensation. The legal proceeding by which the government exercises this right is call “condemnation”.

Illegal intrusion of a structure, part of a building, or obstruction over or upon a highway, sidewalk or the property of another.

A claim, lien, charge, or liability attached to and binding upon real property, such as a judgment, mortgage, mechanic’s lien, lien for unpaid taxes, right of way.

The reversion of property to the state in the event the owner thereof dies without leaving a will and has no blood heirs or relatives to whom the property may pass by lawful descent.

In real estate, the state or condition of a money or deed held conditionally by a third party, called the escrow agent, pending the performance or fulfillment of some act or condition.

Escrow Agreement:
A written agreement between two or more parties whereby the grantor, promisor or obligor delivers certain instruments or property into the hands of a third party, the escrow agent, to be held by said third party until the happening of a contingency or performance of a condition, and then to be delivered to the grantee, promisee or obligee.

In real estate, it refers to the degree, quantity, nature, and extent of interest which a person has in real property; such as a fee simple absolute estate, an estate for years.

The person named in a will to carry out its provisions.

Land ordinarily used for crops which is allowed to lie idle during the growing season.

Fee Simple Absolute:
(fee or fee simple); the most comprehensive ownership of real property under law; the largest bundle of ownership rights possible.

A person to whom real estate is conveyed; the buyer.

A person who conveys real estate; the seller.

Grazing District:
An administrative subdivision of the range lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, established pursuant to Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act to facilitate management of their forage resources. Grazing on the publics lands within such districts was formerly regulated by the Grazing Services.

Grazing Lease Section 15:
A lease authorizing the use of public lands outside of grazing districts (Taylor Grazing Act) for the grazing of livestock for a specified period of time.

Grazing Licenses:
An authorization which permits the grazing of a specified number and class of livestock on a designated area of grazing district lands for a specified period of time, usually not in excess of one year.

Grazing Permit:
An authorization which permits the grazing of a specified number and class of livestock on a designated area of grazing district lands during specified seasons each year for a period of usually 10 years.

Grazing Preference:
An established preference to graze certain numbers and classes of livestock upon a national forest for a specified time and subject to rules and regulations adopted by the Forest Service.

Ground Water:
A pervious formation with sides and bottom of relatively impervious material, in which ground water is held or retained. Also called Subsurface Water Basin.

Homestead Exemption:
Often called “homestead” or “homestead right”; a right given by statute to a householder or head of a family to designate real estate as their homestead and said homestead is exempt, up to a stated amount, from execution by creditors.

When a person dies without leaving a will.

Joint Tenancy:
A type of co-ownership of real property; held by two or more persons with all co-owners being equally entitled to the use, enjoyment, control and possession of the land and with the right of survivorship.

Real property; the surface of the earth and that which is affixed to it permanently; that which is below it, and the space above it; synonymous with “real property”, “realty”, and “real estate”. Sometimes used to mean only the unimproved surface of the earth.

An owner of an estate in land, who has leased it to a person called the tenant.

An agreement under which a tenant receives possession and use of real property for a certain period of time and the landlord receives the payment of rent and/or the performance or other conditions.

An estate or right in real property held under a lease.

Legal Description:
A description recognized by law that is sufficient to locate and identify the property without oral testimony.

Party who possesses a right or estate in realty under a lease; also commonly referred to as the tenant.

Party who conveys a right or estate in realty to a lessee under a lease; commonly referred to as the landlord.

A right given by law to a creditor to have a debt or charge satisfied out of the real or personal property belonging to the debtor.

Life Estate:
An estate or interest in real property held for the duration of the life of some certain person.

Lis Pendens:
A public notice, filed against specific lands, that an action at law is pending that may affect the title to the land.

An agreement or contract of employment, either oral or written, whereby the owner authorizes the real estate broker to sell, exchange or lease real estate.

Marketable or Merchantable Title:
A title which is free from reasonable doubt of defect; which can be readily sold or mortgaged to a reasonably prudent purchaser or mortgagee; a title free from material defects or grave doubts and reasonably free from possible litigation.

Market Value:
The price which a ready and able buyer, not forced to buy, would pay and which a ready and willing seller, not forced to sell, would accept, assuming that both parties are fully informed, act reasonably, and have sufficient time to consider the transaction with due care.

Mechanic’s Lien:
A lien created by statute which exists against real property in favor of persons who have performed work or furnished materials for the improvement of the real estate.

Metes and Bounds:
A method of describing or locating real property; metes are measures of length and bounds are boundaries. This method starts from a well-marked point of beginning and follows the boundaries of the land until it returns once more to the point of beginning.

A conditional conveyance of property as security for the payment of a debt or the fulfillment of some obligation. Upon payment of the debt or performance of the obligation the mortgage becomes void.

The party to whom property is conveyed under a mortgage as security for the repayment of a loan or fulfillment of some obligation.

The party who, gives a mortgage conveying their interest in the property to the lender as security for the obligation to repay a loan or fulfill some obligation.

National Forest:
A forest or watershed reservation administered by the Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture.

Percolation Test:
A test to determine if soil will take sufficient water seepage for use of a septic system.

Personal Property:
All that is not real property; things of a temporary or movable nature.

Power of Attorney:
A legal instrument which authorizes another person to act, either specifically or generally, in place of the person drawing the instrument.

The rights of ownership; the right to use, possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing in every legal way and to exclude everyone else from interfering with these rights. Generally classified into two groups; personal and real.

Public Trustee:
The official in each county, whose office is created by statute, to whom borrowers convey title to real property by trust deed for the benefit of the beneficiary (lender).

Quadrangle, (Check):
A square tract of land in the U.S. Governmental Survey System measuring 24 miles on each side.

Quitclaim Deed:
A deed in which the grantor warrants nothing. It conveys only the grantor’s present interest in the real estate, if any.

A six-mile wide strip of land that runs in a north-south direction. Ranges are determined by government survey and are numbered in numerical order east or west of a principal meridian.

Real Property:
Land; the surface of the earth and whatever is erected, growing upon, or affixed to the land; including that which is below it and the airspace above it. Synonymous with “land”, “realty”, and “real estate”.

Real property, land real estate. Se “Land” and “Real Property”.

Rectangular Survey System:
See U.S. Government Survey System.

The relinquishment or surrender of a right, claim, or interest.

Release of Lien:
The discharge or release of specific property from the charge or lien of a judgment, mortgage or other claim.

Restrictive Covenant:
A clause in a deed limiting the use of a property.

Riparian Rights:
The rights of an owner of land bordering a stream. Generally these rights are: access, consumption, use, natural flow, freedom from unreasonable pollution and accretion-all subject to legal requirements, restrictions, licenses, permits and prior agreements and uses.

Right of Survivorship:
A characteristic of a joint-tenancy; upon the death of one of the tenants, their rights in the property pass automatically to the surviving tenant(s).

An easement or right of passage over another’s land; also the strip of land used as roadbed by a railroad or used for a public purpose by other public utilities.

Special Warranty Deed:
A deed in which the grantor warrants or guarantees the title only against defects arising during the grantor’s ownership of the property and not against defects existing before the time the grantor accepted title.

Specific Performance:
A remedy at court compelling a party to perform or carry out the terms of a valid, existing contract.

State Lease:
An agreement between the state and other parties for the use of lands under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Land Commissioners for grazing, agriculture and other lawful purposes.

The process by which a parcel of land is measured and its area ascertained.

When a person dies leaving a will.

Time Share:
An interval interest in real estate whereby ownership or occupancy rights circulate among the various interval owners. Ownership may be either fee simple (deeded) or “right-to-use” (contractual or membership).

In real property, it is the right, or evidence of the right, to property.

Title Insurance:
A policy of insurance which indemnifies the holder for loss sustained by reason of a defect in the title, provided the loss does not result from a defect excluded by the policy provisions.

Torrens System:
A system by which the Registrar of Torrens keeps and maintains title records pertaining to real property located in the county.

Treasurer’s Deed:
A deed for property sold at public sale by the county for non-payment of taxes by the owner.

Trust Deed:
A form of mortgage by which a borrower or debtor conveys title to a trustee, usually a public trustee, who holds the title for the protection of a lender or creditor as a pledge or as security for the repayment of the loan or debt described in the instrument.

United States Government Survey System, (Rectangular Survey System):
A method of describing or locating real property by reference to governmental surveys.

Charging more than the legal rate of interest for the use of money.

A buyer.

A seller.

Vicarious Liability:
A principal’s liability for the acts of an agent when the agent is acting within the scope of the agents employment.

Abandonment of some claim or right.

Warranty Deed, (General warranty deed):
A deed in which the grantor warrants or guarantees the title to real property against defects existing before the grantor acquired title or arising during the grantor’s ownership.

Traditional Units of Water Measurement:
Gallons per minute (g.p.m.)
Cubic feet per second (c.f.s.)
Miner’s inches (m.i.)¹
Acre feet (a.f.)

The following figures are sufficiently accurate for most purposes and are easy to remember:

1 c.f.s. = 450 g.p.m.
1 a.f. = ½ c.f.s. for 24 hours
      = 20 m.i. (40) for 24 hours
      = 25 m.i. (50) for 24 hours
      = 225 g.p.m. for 24 hours

Miners inches very by state; Colorado, 1 c.f.s. = 38.4 m.i. ; Arizona, Northern California, Montana & Oregon, 1 c.f.s. = 40 m.i. ; Southern California, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota & Nebraska, 1 c.f.s. = 50 m.i.

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