Real Estate Document Definitions

The following is a list of some documents that may be recorded and a description or definition of each document. The descriptions are general and are not intended to be complete legal definitions.

Abandonment of Homestead

Document recorded to terminate a homestead.

Abstract of Judgment

A summary of the essential provisions of a money judgment. When recorded, it creates a general lien on real property of the judgment debtor in the county in which the abstract is recorded.

Assignment of Rents

A documents which gives the beneficiary the right to collect rents of the secured property in the event of a default.

Certificate of a Tax Lien

A lien for nonpayment of property taxes. Attaches only to the property upon which the taxes are unpaid.

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

A term used in some areas to describe the restrictive limitations, which may be placed, on property. In other areas, they are simply called restrictions.

Declaration of Homestead

Document recorded by a homeowner to protect his home from forced sale in satisfaction of certain types of creditors claims.


Written instrument which, when properly executed and delivered, transfers title to real estate

Deed of Reconveyance

An instrument used to transfer title from a trustee to the equitable owner of real estate, when title is held as collateral security for a debt. Most commonly used upon payment in full of a trust deed.

Deed of Trust

See Trust Deed)


The granting of a right which one has in the land of another. It is either for the benefit of land, such as right to cross, or "in gross," such as public utility easement.

Federal Tax Lien

A lien attaching to property for nonpayment of a federal tax (estate, income, etc...)

Fictitious Deed of Trust

A deed of trust recorded by a trustee which discloses all the terms of the trust deed but does not relate to a specific transaction and is used for reference only.

Grant Deed

Form of deed, common in California, that contains implied warranties to the effect that the grantor has not previously conveyed or encumbered the property.


The final determination of a court of a matter presented to it. Money judgments, when recorded, become a lien on real property of the defendant.