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Escrow Terms & Phrases

Terms and Phrases is Lawyers 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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DBA (Doing Business As) -- An identification of the owner or owners of a business and the business name. Not a partnership or corporation.

Declaration of Restrictions - A set of restrictions filed by a subscriber to cover an entire tract or subdivision.

Declaratory Judgment -- A determination by a court as to the legal rights of the plaintiff, with no order for relief. The judgment is binding on future litigation.

Deed -- Actually, any one of many conveyance or financing instruments, but generally a conveyance instrument, given to pass fee title to property upon sale.

Deed in Lieu -- A deed from the owner (debtor) to a lender to prevent foreclosure. There are usually statutory provisions as to fairness of value and absence of coercion, which must be recited on the deed.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure -- A deed given by an owner/borrower to a lender to prevent the lender from beginning foreclosure proceedings. The validity of the deed depends to some degree on "fairness" under the circumstances, and adequacy of consideration, which will be considered.

Deed of Trust -- An instrument used in many states in place of a mortgage. Property is transferred to a trustee by a borrower (trustor), in favor of the lender (beneficiary), and reconveyed upon payment in full.

Deed Restrictions -- Limitations on the use of property placed in conveyance deed by the grantor, which bind all future owners.

Defective Title -- (1) Title to a negotiable instrument obtained by fraud. (2) Title to real property, which lacks some of the elements necessary to transfer good title.

Defendant -- The person against whom a civil or criminal action is brought.

Delayed Reconveyance -- A reconveyance of a deed of trust which is issued and recorded after transfer of title and issuance of title insurance (not showing the deed of trust). Usually occurs when the lender is in another state and will not issue the reconveyance paid in full.

Demand -- (1) The quantity of goods that can be sold at a specified price, in a given market, at a particular time. (2) A letter from a lender showing the amount due in order to pay off a mortgage or trust deed.

Department of Real Estate -- That department of the state government responsible for the licensing and regulation of persons engaged in the real estate business. The person heading the department is usually called The Real Estate Commissioner. Other names for the department are The Division of Real Estate and the Real Estate Commission.

Deposit -- (1) Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase. Shows good faith. Also called earnest money. (2) A natural accumulation of resources (oil, gold, etc.) which may be commercially recovered and marketed.

Developer -- (1) A builder. (2) One who prepares the raw land for construction and then sells to a builder.

Development -- A planned construction project, rather than simply the building of unrelated buildings.

Development Loan -- A loan for the purchase of land or off-site improvements, rather than building costs. The land involved is used to secure the loan.

Disclaimer -- (1) Statement on a publication attempting to limit liability in event the information is inaccurate. (2) Renunciation of a claim or right of another. (3) Refusal to accept an estate, either as trustee or as owner.

Distress Sale -- A sale of property when the seller is under extreme pressure to sell. Generally the property is sold for less than market value.

Documentary Tax Stamps -- Stamps, similar to postage stamps, affixed to a deed, showing the amount of transfer tax paid. Most states now "stamp" the deed rather than affixing a stamp.

Documentary Transfer Tax -- A state tax on the sale of real property, based on the sale price or equity transferred.

Dominant Tenement -- A parcel of land which benefits from an easement. For example: An easement exists over parcel A for access to parcel B. Parcel B is the dominant tenement; parcel A is the servient tenement.

Down Payment -- Cash portion paid by a buyer from his own funds, as opposed to that portion of the purchase price that is financed.

Downzoning -- A change in the allowable use of land by the appropriate zoning authority to a lesser (usually less available) use. Example: Eight units per acre to four units per acre.

Dresser Drawer Title -- The failure to record evidence of title; instead, placing it in a "dresser drawer". Also called "Trunk Title".

Duplex -- (1) Any building containing exactly two dwelling units. Most commonly refers to the units that are side by side, with a common wall and roof. (2) An apartment on two floors or levels.

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