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This glossary is an alphabetical list of uncommon or specialized terms and their definitions used in the field of foreclosure.  Most definitions in this glossary were developed by the Ohio State Bar Association with funding from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.  The information contained in this dictionary is general and should not be applied to specific legal problems without first consulting your own attorney.  For additional glossary terms go to OhioLegalServices.org.

  1. Acceleration Clause
  2. Balloon Note
  3. Bankruptcy
  4. Cash for Keys
  5. Condominium
  6. Deed
  7. Deed in Lieu
  8. Due-on-Sale Clause
  9. Easement
  10. Escrow
  11. Forbearance
  12. Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
  13. Joint Tenancy
  14. Judgment
  15. Lien
  16. Life Estate
  17. Mortgage
  18. Note
  19. Notice of Default
  20. Power of Attorney
  21. Quitclaim Deed
  22. Right of Redemption
  23. Short Sale
  24. Special Forbearance
  25. Summons
  26. Tax Lien
  27. Tenancy at Will
  28. Tenancy by the Entirety
  29. Tenancy in Common
  30. Warranty Deed


An acceleration clause is the provision in an installment contract under which all unpaid installments are immediately due and payable upon the debtor's default (failure to make a payment) or other breach of contract.  Consumer transactions are governed by a variety of laws, including the Ohio Retail Installment Sales Act and the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which may affect retailers' rights and obligations in collecting consumer debt.


A balloon note is a promissory note requiring repayment in a series of small installments and a final, large installment (balloon payment) for the remaining balance.  Ohio permits balloon notes in consumer transactions only if the note specifically allows the buyer to refinance the balance due on the final installment at the same, or better, terms as the small installments.

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Bankruptcy is a federal legal process designed to help consumers and businesses eliminate ("discharge") their debts or pay their debts in an orderly way under the protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  There are four types of bankruptcy, each named for the chapter in the Bankruptcy Code that describes it:  Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, and Chapter 13.  The type best suited for a business or individual depends on the nature of the debts and the nature and value of the assets.

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Cash for keys is a way that you can actually get paid for turning over your keys to your lender and agreeing not to vandalize or strip the property of any of its fixtures prior to leaving the property. Banks do this because once they become the owners of the property, they are concerned that it will be vandalized. Making an agreement can be a good way for the homeowner to get some money, which will help reduce the costs of moving.

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  1. A condominium hybrid form of individual and group ownership of real property in which the owner has title to space in a multi-unit building or group of buildings, and also (in common with the owners of the other condominium units) the common areas of the project, such as driveways and recreation and landscaped areas, which are managed by a homeowners' or tenants' association.

  2. Real property so owned.  See, tenancy in common.

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A deed is a document that transfers ownership of real property.  See, mortgage.

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A deed in lieu is an agreement to turn real estate over to a lender as an alternative to foreclosure.  This is only possible when there are no junior liens on the property, because the deed in lieu will not clear the title of other liens.  However, this may be a good option if you want to move on with your life as smoothly as possible.  Deeds in lieu (like short sales) have two potential types of tax consequences:  capital gains and discharge of indebtedness.  Roughly speaking, capital gains reflect the increased value of the home over its purchase price; discharge of indebtedness reflects the amount of debt forgiven.

A deed in lieu of foreclosure is not a big improvement over foreclosure.  One myth about credit reporting is that a deed in lieu of foreclosure is going to help keep a borrower in good standing on their credit record.  This is not true.  A deed in lieu is a major black mark on a credit report; it is viewed only slightly less negatively than a foreclosure.  A deed in lieu should be considered when appropriate, but it is not the perfect solution.

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The term “due-on-sale clause” means a contract provision which authorizes a lender, at its option, to declare due and payable sums secured by the lender’s security instrument (mortgage) if all or any part of the property, or an interest therein, securing the real property loan is sold or transferred without the lender’s prior written consent.  See, mortgage.

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An easement is a right of access across, or a limited right to use, real property.  A common type of easement gives a utility company access to property for the purpose of installing and maintaining its lines and equipment.  An easement is usually granted in writing by deed or similar document and "runs with the land," meaning it remains valid even though the property involved is rented, mortgaged, sold or transferred through a succession of owners.  See, deed.

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Escrow is an arrangement by which the parties to a contract agree that a neutral third person will hold money, property, or documents, and distribute these items at certain times or upon the happening of a certain event.  Escrow is often used in real estate transactions.  All or part of the purchase money is deposited with an escrow agent pending the time when the seller is prepared to convey good title to the buyer.  Financial institutions are often used as escrow agents.

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A forbearance is a plan to cure a default that may involve temporary suspension of payments or a repayment plan based on a modified payment amount (with a portion paid towards a past due amount), extending typically for 3 to 12 months.

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The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) is a loan modification program designed to reduce delinquent and at-risk borrowers’ monthly mortgage payment.  It is available for mortgages that originated on or prior to January 1, 2009, and will expire on December 31, 2013.

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Joint tenancy is a type of ownership in which two or more persons own an undivided fractional interest in property; that is, instead of owning some designated part of the property, each owns a designated percentage of all the property.  Both tenancy in common and survivorship tenancy are forms of joint tenancy.  Unlike that of some other states, Ohio's law does not provide that property owned jointly automatically passes to the survivor or survivors upon the death of one of the owners, so a right of survivorship must be specifically described in the document that creates it.  For example, a deed granting real property to the new owners jointly, with right of survivorship.  A survivorship feature is also common in joint bank accounts.  See, tenancy in common.

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A final order of a trial court that puts into effect the court's decision in the case.  Judgment should be distinguished from verdict.  A verdict is a finding of fact by a jury.  The court must implement the verdict by issuing an appropriate order, or judgment.  In a criminal case, the sentence is part of the judgment.

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A lien is any of a variety of charges or encumbrances on property imposed to secure the payment of a debt or the performance of some act.  Liens are enforced by foreclosure proceedings.  Liens can be imposed on real property or personal property.  Some of the more common real property liens result from judgments, mortgages, property bonds, and unpaid taxes.  Some of the more common personal property liens result from security interests, attachment, and the furnishing of labor or materials in work on another's property.  See, judgment, mortgage.

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A life estate is a type of ownership in which property is granted to a person (called the life tenant) only for his or her lifetime.  When the life tenant dies, the property passes to a named person, called a remainderman, or reverts to the original owner or that owner's heirs.  Since a life estate always carries a remainder interest with it, a life tenant must not destroy or waste the property to the disadvantage of the remainderman.  A life tenant can sell or mortgage his or her life interest, but the interest sold or mortgaged is limited to the lifetime of the seller or mortgagee.  See, mortgage.

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  1. A mortgage is a transaction in which a debtor grants a creditor a lien (called a mortgage or mortgage lien) on the debtor's property in order to secure payment of the debt.

  2. A mortgage is a conveyance of title to property (called a mortgage or mortgage deed) given to ensure payment of debt.  See, lien.

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A note or promissory note is a written promise to pay a specified sum of money to a named person.  If the note meets the four requirements for negotiability, it is a negotiable instrument.

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A notice of default is a statement sent by the lender that the borrower has defaulted on payments.  Often the lender will include a deadline by which payments must be caught up.  If the borrower is unable to meet this deadline, then the lender will file a foreclosure complaint.  It is important to remember that you are not “in foreclosure” if you receive a Notice of Default.  The notice only means that you have defaulted on your payments.

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A power of attorney is a document by which a person (called the principal) authorizes another person to act on the principal's behalf, either for limited or broad purposes.  The person receiving the power of attorney is called an attorney-in-fact.  With a general power of attorney the attorney-in-fact can conduct all business or sign any document for the principal; with a special power of attorney the attorney-in-fact can sign documents or act in relation only to matters specified in the written power of attorney itself.

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A quitclaim deed is a deed in which the person making the deed (the grantor) transfers whatever interest he or she may have in the real property described in the deed, without giving a guarantee that the grantor has any interest in the property.  That is, the grantor quits whatever claim he or she has, if any.  This type of deed is often used to correct errors in deeds of record, or to clear up questionable title to real property.  See, warranty deed.

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A right of redemption is the ability to pay off a judgment amount before a sheriff’s sale is confirmed.  Ohio law provides that if you become able to pay the amount of the judgment from the foreclosure before the sheriff’s sale is confirmed, you can get your home back.  After a sheriff's sale, the sheriff has up to 60 days to inform the court that the sale took place.  Then, the court must confirm the sale within 30 days.  The time between the sheriff's sale and the confirmation is called the "redemption period."  You have the right to buy back your home during the redemption period.  If you choose to do so, you will owe any fees and costs incurred as a result of the foreclosure.

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A short sale is a way to avoid the foreclosure process in which the lender agrees to let you sell property (usually real estate) for less than the full amount owed and to accept the proceeds of the sale as full satisfaction of the debt.  Short sales (like Deeds in Lieu) have two potential types of tax consequences: capital gains and discharge of indebtedness.  Roughly speaking, capital gains reflect the increased value of the home over its purchase price; discharge of indebtedness reflects the amount of debt forgiven.

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A special forbearance is a written repayment agreement between a lender and a borrower which contains a plan to reinstate an asset that is a minimum of three mortgage payments due and unpaid.

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  1. In civil practice, a summons is an order of the court issued to a defendant commanding the defendant to appear and answer the complaint, or risk having default judgment entered against him or her.

  2. In criminal practice, a summons is an order similar to that issued to a defendant in a civil action, except that the punishment for failure to appear and answer the charge is arrest and incarceration.

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A tax lien attaches to property at the beginning of each tax year, even though the actual amount of the property taxes has not been determined and the taxes are not yet due.  A tax lien is like a mortgage lien, but it exists automatically, because all property owners have a duty to pay real estate taxes to the community.  To ensure that those taxes are paid, the community automatically has the protection of this lien on the property.  If taxes are not paid for a long enough period of time, the community - that is, county authorities - can have the property sold in order to pay off the tax debt.  See, lien, mortgage.

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A tenancy (the right to possess and use a premises or real property) in which a landlord rents the tenant the premises or real property on a day-to-day, or week-to-week, basis.  A tenancy at will may be terminated by either the landlord or the tenant at any time.

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Tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint ownership of real property by a husband and wife.  Each owns the entire property, as contrasted with a tenancy in common or joint tenancy.  (Tenants in common and joint tenants each own an undivided fractional interest of the property.)  In Ohio, tenancy by the entireties was established by statute from 1972 to 1984.  Although estates of tenancy by the entireties can no longer be created in Ohio, those interests established when the statute was in effect are still valid.  In Ohio, tenancy by the entireties has been replaced by a statutory joint tenancy with right of survivorship.  See, joint tenancy, tenancy in common.

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Tenancy in common is a type of joint ownership of real property in which each owner has an undivided fractional interest in the entire property.  The interest may vary depending on how the property was granted; for example, one tenant in common may own an undivided one-half and two other tenants in common each may own an undivided one-fourth share.  Regardless of the size of an individual's share, each tenant in common enjoys full ownership of his or her share, and can sell, mortgage, use or dispose of it as a full owner.

If the amount of each share is not specified, each tenant in common owns an equal undivided fractional share.  When one tenant in common dies, his or her share passes to his or her heirs or to the person(s) named in the tenant's will.  By contrast, where there is a joint tenancy with right of survivorship under the Ohio statute (or under traditional tenancy by the entireties), the deceased's share passes to the surviving tenant or tenants. 

Property owned in common may be divided in a partition action.  A partition action is a lawsuit in which the property is sold and the proceeds divided, or, rarely, physically divided and parceled out.  See, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety.

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A warranty deed is a type of deed in which the maker warrants or guarantees that the title to the real property, or interest being conveyed, is good.  A warranty deed is the most common form of deed.  See, quitclaim deed.

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This website provides general legal information and not legal advice.  The law is complex and changes frequently. 
Before you apply any general legal information to a particular situation, consult an attorney. 
If you cannot afford an attorney call 1-866-Law-Ohio (1-866-529-6446) or visit OhioLegalHelp.org for your closest legal aid office.