Real Estate Terminology

The following is a list of some document types that may be recorded if they meet all requirements, and a basic description or definition of each document.  

The descriptions are general and are not intended to be complete legal definitions.  If you wish to use any particular document, we suggest that you consult a real estate professional or an attorney.

  •  Abstract of Judgment

A court issued money judgment to secure payment to the judgment creditor and when recorded, it creates a general lien on real property of the judgment debtor in the County in which the abstract is recorded.

  • Affidavit of Death

A document recorded to verify the death and identify the decedent as a former interest holder in specifically described or referred to real property.

  • Assignment of Deed of Trust / Mortgage 

The transfer / sale of a Deed of Trust (loan or debt) from the current lender (beneficiary) to a new beneficiary, which gives them the right to collect the payment of the debt.

  • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions

Document recorded to specify the limitations or qualifications on land use imposed in a conveyance or other instrument.

  • Declaration of Homestead

A document recorded by either a homeowner or head of household on his primary residence to protect his home from forced sale in satisfaction of certain types of creditor's claims.

  • Deed of Trust / Mortgage

An instrument that secures a debt, the repayment of the loan/mortgage encumbered by real property.  This is the three-party document; the borrower (trustor), the beneficiary (lender), and the trustee who holds title to real property under the terms of a deed of trust.

  • Grant Deed

It is the form of deed, common in California, which contains implied warranties to the effect that the grantor has not previously conveyed or encumbered the real property.

  • Lease

To evidence the conveyance of real property for a term of years and a contract of its possession during that term. 

  • Mechanic’s Lien 

A document recorded to create a lien in favor of persons contributing labor, material, supplies, etc., to a work of improvement upon real property. 

  • Notice of Completion 

A document recorded to evidence that a work of improvement on real property other than public works is completed. 

  • Notice of Default 

A notice to show that the borrower under a mortgage or deed of trust is in default (behind in payments) 

  1. Notice of Levy / Writ / Attachments & Executions 

A document recorded to notify a party served with writ of execution that specific property is taken in satisfaction of a debt. 

  • Notice of Lis Pendens / Notice of Pendency of Action 

A recorded notice that litigation (a lawsuit) is pending in court which may affect the title of the real estate involved. 

  • Notice of Non-Responsibility 

A document to evidence that the owner of real property interest will not be responsible for payment of cost of improvements contracted for thereon by some other person. 

  • Notice of Trustee’s Sale 

A document recorded to notify the public of the foreclosure (sale) proceedings by the Trustee for non-payment or non-performance of the conditions of the deed of trust. 

  • Power of Attorney 

A document recorded to delegate the authority of the principal to his attorney-in-fact (agent) authorizing another person, to act for him/her in his/her name in a designated capacity. 

  • Quitclaim Deed 

It is the form of deed that conveys or releases any interest that the grantor may have acquired in real property. 

  • Rescission of Notice of Default 

A document that nullifies removes or abrogates the notice of default. 

  • Reconveyance  

The instrument that releases the loan that was a lien against real property.  (Satisfaction of the loan) 

  • Release of Mechanic’s Lien 

A document recorded to remove the lien (mechanic's lien) against real property. 

  • Request for Notice of Default 

A document whereby the junior lenders require the senior lender to notify them when the borrower defaults on their loan.  

  • Satisfaction of Mortgage  

Release of the loan that was a lien against real property. 

  • Subordination Agreement 

A document where the current lender agrees to makes their encumbrance deed of trust, subject-to (junior) to another loan. 

  • Substitution of Trustee 

A document through with the lender (beneficiary), owner, or holder of the note (loan) replaces a new Trustee in the Deed of Trust. 

  • Substitution of Trustee and Full Reconveyance  

A combined document where the lender substitutes a new Trustee and the new trustee executes the Reconveyance or releases the loan that was a lien against real property. 

  • Trustee’s Deed 

Deed given by the trustee when the real property is sold under the power of sale in a deed of trust in a foreclosure proceeding. 

  • Trustee Deed in Liew of Foreclosure / Upon Sale 

Document recorded to evidence the transfer of real property from the defaulting trustor (borrower) to the beneficiary (lender) in lieu of foreclosure. 

  • Voluntary Petition  

A document recorded to evidence the filing of bankruptcy by a petitioner.

Legal Advice
The office of the Clerk-Recorder is prohibited from giving legal advice; nor can staff assist the public in the preparation of legal documents. If you have questions concerning which document form is appropriate for your transaction, or if you are in need of assistance in the preparation of that document, you should consult an attorney or obtain other professional advice.