Glossary of Terms


  • Acquisition of Fee:
    Obtaining all of the rights of ownership in a parcel of real estate.
  • Adjustment to Basis:
    An adjustment to the original cost of property due to expenses for permanent physical improvements and reductions for any depreciation allowable or taken for tax purposes. (A conservation easement depreciates property.)
  • Appraisal:
    A professionally-determined estimate of the value of property.
  • Assessment:
    The value placed on a piece of property by a taxing authority for the purpose of calculating the municipal property tax.
  • Bargain Sale:
    The sale of property for less than the Fair Market Value.
  • Basis:
    A term used by the IRS to mean the cost of property at the time of acquisition, or value when inherited.
  • Bequest:
    A gift of money or property left by will.
  • Bundle of Rights:
    A term often used to describe all of the rights of ownership one may hold in property. Each possible right (the right to build, mine, cut timber, use for a residence, transfer, lease, etc.) is compared to sticks in a bundle. each of which may be transferred or given up separately.
  • Capital Gains Tax:
    A tax imposed by the IRS on profit made from the sale of property which is permanent in nature (such as land, buildings, machinery, etc.) and which is owned by the seller for a specific minimum period before the sale.
  • Charitable Contribution:
    The tax deductible transfer of money or property to a qualified charitable organization of government entity.
  • Conditional Transfers:
    Transfers of property where the document by which ownership is transferred specifies that the transfer is either to take place only on the occurrence of a specific event or condition, or is to be effective only as long as a specific event or condition does not occur.
  • Conservation Easement:
    A legal agreement between a property owner and a conservation (or government) organization that protects the conservation value of the parcel by limiting the uses and changes an owner may make. The conservation organization agency agrees to monitor the property and enforce the restrictions.
  • Convey:
    To give, transfer, sell, deed or otherwise change the ownership of one's property.
  • Covenant (or Restriction):
    A written promise contained in a contract, lease, deed or other form of agreement. A conservation covenant or restriction is generally written to continue in effect despite changes in ownership, thus it is said to "run with the land".
  • Deed:
    A written legal document by which ownership of property is transferred from one owner to another.
  • Deed Restriction:
    A written statement in a deed which prohibits a certain act of use of the property conveyed thereby. A deed restriction can include the same sort of restrictions contained in conservation easement, but only the prior owner or owner of abutting property (if a party to the transaction) may enforce the restriction and the parties can cancel the restriction at any time by mutual Written agreement.
  • Donation by Devise:
    A gift occurring at the time of death, stipulated in one's will.
  • Donee:
    One who receives a contribution or donation.
  • Donor:
    One who makes a contribution or donation.
  • Easement:
    A right which one person has to the land of another. It can be created by a reservation or rights in the deed conveying the property, by agreement, by grant, by adverse possession, or by necessary implication. Easements can be "positive" or "negative" and "appurtenant" or "in gross."
    • positive easement:
      gives the easement grantee certain specified rights to the grantor's property (i.e., the right to take water, to build a road, to enter and use for a particular purpose, etc.).
    • negative easement:
      limits or restricts the grantor's use of the property in order to benefit or protect the Grantee or his/her property (i.e., building restrictions, set-backs, height restrictions, etc.).
    • easement appurtenant:
      the rights conveyed by the easement benefit a nearby (appurtenant) parcel of land.
    • easement in gross:
      The rights conveyed by the easement benefit a person or persons who do not necessarily own or occupy nearby land (i.e. permitting Scouts to camp on the land, an easement restricting development granted to an agency or government body).
  • Estate:
    The interest or sort of interest which one has in property, such as life estate, estate of a deceased, real estate.
  • Estate Tax (also Death Tax or Inheritance Tax):
    A tax which the Federal and State government imposes on assets of a decedent based on their net value to the estate at the time of death.
  • Fair Market Value:
    The dollar value that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having full knowledge of relevant facts surrounding the transaction. Fee (or Fee Interest or Fee Simple Interest):
    Full ownership interest of a piece of property with none of the rights of ownership outstanding or in the name of another.
  • Future Interest:
    Entitlement to property which will not include the right of full possession until a specified point in the future. In such a case there is an intermediate interest which must first terminate.
  • Grantee:
    One who receives gifts, rights, or property.
  • Grantor:
    One who gives gifts, rights, or property.
  • Heir:
    One who inherits the estate or property of another.
  • Inheritance Tax:
    (See Estate Tax)
  • In Gross:
    (See definition under Easement)
  • In Perpetuity:
    Forever
  • Installment Sale:
    A sale in which the property is transferred by portions or percents of the whole, over a period of time until the entire interest in the property is transferred. May also refer to a sale in which the price is paid in specific amounts over a period of time until the entire sale price is paid.
  • Interest in Property:
    A right in or share of property. Fee interest is the full interest in property. An easement, life estate or lease are examples of partial interest.
  • Intermediary Agency:
    When a property owner donates land or an easement to one organization with the intent that it gives or sells it to another agency or organization, the first organization is the intermediary agency
  • Land Trust:
    A non-profit organization formed for the express purpose of holding land for its conservation, historic •. _Lion, historic preservation, wildlife protection, and/or recreation among other things.
  • Less Than Fee:
    Fewer than the total possible rights one may have in land. For example: if a landowner grants an easement or sells the rights to minerals below the surface of his property, he retains a "less than fee" interest, and grants a "less than fee" interest.
  • Lessee:
    The renter in a lease situation.
  • Lessor:
    The landlord in a lease situation.
  • Life Estate:
    (See Reserved Life Estate.)
  • Mutual Covenants:
    When landowners of neighboring or abutting property enter into an agreement which gives one another specified rights in each others' property and/or prohibits specified uses of the properties involved, they are said to have exchanged mutual covenants, which are enforceable by all parties to the agreement. Such covenants are cancelable or modifiable by the agreement of all the parties.
  • Party:
    A person or organization that is a part of a transaction, agreement, contract, or the performance of an act.
  • Possibility of Reverter:
    A grantor may retain the Possibility of Reverter, by making a transfer of ownership that will continue to be effective unless a specified act occurs in the future, upon which occurrence the ownership will revert automatically back to the original grantor (or his estate). This differs from a Right Reversion which requires the grantor to assert his ownership upon the occurrence of the specified act. Conditional transfers of this sort are not favored by courts and must generally be limited in time in order to be enforceable.
  • Property Tax:
    A tax assessed and collected by the municipality in which the property is located, based on its assessed value.
  • Remainder:
    An interest in property which does not ripen into possession until the completion of a prior interest; for example, where a Grantor deeds property to an organization subject to a "life estate," the organization has a remainder interest which will become possessory when the life tenant (usually Grantor) dies.
  • Reserved Life Estate:
    The donation or sale of property where the Grantor retains the right to live on or use the property for his life or the life/lives of named individuals.
  • Restriction:
    (See Conservation Easement)
  • Title:
    The evidence one has of legal ownership of property.
  • Undivided Interest:
    An undivided fractional interest in ownership. An undivided interest can be bought or sold