Shelly Scott, Assessor - Recorder - County Clerk

The terms listed and defined here are used commonly in the assessment of property for property tax purposes and the recording of documents. You may also visit our office, email, or telephone us with any questions.



Abstract of Judgment

A brief transcript of the essentials of a court judgment.


A formal declaration made before an authorized person, e.g., a notary public, by a person who has executed an instrument stating that the execution was his/her act. Authenticates the identity of the signor.

Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment

Document recorded to evidence that a recorded judgment has been satisfied.

Ad Valorem

Latin phrase meaning “in proportion to the value.” In California, the property tax is considered to be an ad valorem tax.

Adjusted Base Year Value

The property's base year value adjusted by an inflation factor, not to exceed two percent per year. Also known as 'factored base year value'.


A person appointed by a probate court to settle the affairs of an individual dying without a will.


A woman administrator.


A person who has made an affidavit.


A written statement or declaration sworn to or affirmed before some officer who has authority to administer an oath or affirmation. May alternately be signed under penalty of perjury stating that the contents are true and correct.


One who acts on behalf of another.


Also referred to as general aircraft. Any contrivance used or designed for the navigation of or for flight in the air which has been flown at least once. It is not a parachute or similar emergency safety device, rockets or missiles, or certificated aircraft or scheduled air taxis.


Also known as.

Annual Inflation Factor

A multiplier of the base year value of real property, compounded annually, which is based on a percentage change in the California Consumer Price Index for all items, as determined by the California Department of Industrial Relations. The annual inflation factor shall not exceed 1.02 and is set by the California State Board of Equalization and applies to real property statewide.


An authentication of a notary used by countries who are parties to the Hague Convention.


The formal request to have an assessment reviewed by the Assessment Appeals Board. The property owner submits a completed Application for Changed Assessment to the Clerk of the Board and the Clerk will notify the property owner when the hearing has been scheduled.


Anything incidental to or belonging to land considered a party of the real property.


Belonging to.

Assessed Value

The value of a property on the assessment roll used to calculate property tax at the basic rate of 1%.


The person who owns, claims, possesses, or controls a property on the lien date (January 1).

Assessment Appeals Board

An Assessment Appeals Board (AAB) is an independent agency separate from the County Assessor’s Office whose primary function is to conduct impartial hearings on property assessment disputes between taxpayers and the County Assessor. In Marin County there are 2 Boards each made up of 3 members appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

Assessment Diagrams/Maps

Maps designating the boundaries of an assessment district.

Assessment Roll

The official list of all assessable property in the county. It identifies, at a minimum:

  1. The property (usually by assessor’s parcel number);
  2. The tax-rate area where the property is located;
  3. The name (if known) and mailing address of the assessee;
  4. The assessed value of the property, including separate assessed values for land, improvements, and personal property;
  5. Penalties (if any); and
  6. The amount (if any) of specified exemptions (e.g., Homeowners’, Church, Welfare, etc.).

Distinct assessment rolls include the locally-assessed secured and unsecured regular assessment rolls, the locally-assessed supplemental assessment roll, and the state-assessed roll (which is added to the locally-assessed secured roll).

Assessment Year

Assessment year means the period beginning with a lien date and ending immediately prior to the succeeding lien date: January 1 through December 31.

Assessor's Parcel Map

Maps produced by the Assessor. These maps, also called Assessor's Plat Maps or AP Maps, depict and identify land units within the Assessor's jurisdiction by Assessor's Parcel Number.

Assessor's Parcel Number

A book, page / block and parcel numbering system used by the Assessor's Office to identify property.


To transfer any or all of an interest.


One to whom a transfer of interest is made as the assignee of a mortgage or contract.

Assignment of Deed of Trust

Recorded when a lender transfers his/her interest in a deed of trust (loan) to another party.


One who makes an assignment as the assignor of a mortgage or contract.

Assumption of Deed of Trust/Mortgage

A formal agreement by buyer to assume terms of existing deed of trust or mortgage.

Attorney in Fact

One who holds a power of attorney from another allowing him to execute legal documents on behalf of another.


Means of collecting data relevant to the determination of taxability, situs, and value of property.

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Base Year Value

For real property assessed under Prop 13, the full cash value as of either the 1975 lien date, the change in ownership or the completion of new construction. Properties may have more than one base year value.


One for whose benefit a trust is created. Also a lender secured by a deed of trust.


A written undertaking to pay a certain sum of money.

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Covenants, conditions and restrictions. The basic rules establishing the rights and obligations of owners of real property.

Certificate of Acceptance

An attachment to a conveyance certifying that the interest in real property, conveyed by the deed or grant, is accepted by the legislative body.

Certificate of Correction

A document that amends and corrects a map that has already been recorded.

Chain of Title

A term applied to the past series of transactions and documents affecting the title to a particular parcel of land.

Change in Ownership

A transfer of a present interest in real property, including the beneficial use, the value of which is substantially equal to the value of the fee interest.


An estate in real property consisting of an undivided interest in common in a portion of a parcel of real property together with a separate interest in space in a residential, industrial, or commercial building on such real property, such as an apartment, office, or store. Such estate may be either (1) an estate of inheritance or perpetual estate, (2) an estate for life, (3) an estate for years, such as a leasehold or a sub-leasehold, or (4) any combination of the foregoing. A condominium may include a separate interest in other portions of such real property.


A person unable to manage self, property, or self and property and for whom the probate court has appointed a conservator.


A person appointed by the court to protect and preserve the lands and property of an individual physically incapacitated or otherwise not able to handle his own affairs.


The value inducing another person to enter into a contract.

Construction Deed of Trust

A loan secured by real property during the construction of a structure on the property, the collateral of which will include the completed structure.

Constructive Notice

Notice given by public records.


An agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation.


The act of deeding or transferring title to another.


An instrument by which title to property is transferred; a deed.


The expenditure required to develop and construct an improvement or acquire personal property.


An agreement written into deeds and other instruments promising performance or non performance of certain acts or stipulating certain uses or non-uses of the property.

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Doing business as.


Deceased person.


A judgment by court.

Decree of Distribution

A judgment of probate court as to person entitled to the property of a decedent.


Donation of land by owner to a public use and acceptance for such use by authorized official.


A written document by which the ownership of land is transferred from a grantor to a grantee.

Deed of Trust

Similar to a mortgage, the instrument that secures a loan using real property as collateral. A deed of trust involves three parties: the borrower, the lender, and a trustee. The trustee is often a title company or another independent third party who holds legal title to the property while the borrower makes payments to the lender.

Default Judgment

A judgment against a defendant who made no appearance in court.


A person against whom legal action is initiated.


A loss in value from any cause.


The disposition of land by will. A term used only for land.


A person to whom real property is given by will.

Documentary Transfer Tax

Tax on recorded transfers of title to real property.

Documented Vessel

A vessel is eligible for a Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation if it is at least five net tons, and with the exception of certain oil spill response vessels, it must be wholly owned by a citizen or citizens of the United States, although certain exceptions may apply.

A Certificate of Documentation is required for any vessel of at least five net tons that engages in the fisheries of the navigable waters of the United States or in the EEZ, Great Lakes trade, or coastwise trade, unless exempt.

Dominant Tenement

The land benefitted by an appurtenant easement.


Person who receives a gift.


Person who makes a gift.

Durable Power of Attorney

Authorization for an attorney-in-fact to continue acting for and in the name of the principal after the principal's inability to contract.

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An interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use, such as laying a sewer, putting up electric lines or crossing the property.

Effective Age

The age indicated by the condition and utility of the property, as opposed to the actual age.


A place or means of exit.

Eminent Domain

The power of the state to take private property for public use.


The extension of an improvement onto land of another.


A general term for any claim or lien on a parcel of real property. These include: mortgages, deeds of trust, recorded abstracts of judgment, unpaid real property taxes, tax liens, mechanic's liens, easements, etc.

Escape Assessment

An assessment made after the completion of the regular assessment roll.


A person's possessions. The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in real property.


Used after a name to mean "and other people whose names are not mentioned.

Ex Parte

On one side only.


To sign a deed or other document, or to perform a contract.


The act of completing; performance. In the real estate field it particularly relates to signing of a document by the grantor.


A person appointed by the probate court to carry out the terms of a will.

Executor's Deed

To transfer title of property of another's estate by the executor/ executrix, etc.


A woman executor.


Immunity from a burden or obligation.

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An exact and precise copy.

Factored Base Year Value

The property’s base year value adjusted by an inflation factor, not to exceed two percent per year. Also known as ‘Adjusted Base Year Value.’

Fair Market Value

Amount of money that would be paid for a property offered on the open market for a reasonable period of time with buyer and seller knowing all the uses to which the property could be put and with neither party being under pressure to buy or sell.

Fee Simple Interest

The greatest interest in a parcel of land that it is possible to own; without limitation.

Final Map

See Subdivision Map.

Financing Statement/Fixture Filing

A document prepared for filing with the appropriate local Recorder or the Secretary of State indicating that personal property or fixtures are encumbered with a debt.


An item of tangible property, the nature of which was originally personal property, but which is classified as real property for property tax purposes because it is physically or constructively annexed to real property with the intent that it remains annexed indefinitely.


Formerly known as.


Enforcement of a lien by sale of property given as security.

Foreclosure Sale

Process whereby property pledged as security for a debt is sold to pay the debt in event of default in payment of terms.


The loss of a right, title or interest in property as consequence of a default under an obligation.

Full Cash Value

The amount of cash or its equivalent that property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market under conditions in which neither buyer nor seller could take advantage of the exigencies of the other and both the buyer and the seller have knowledge of all of the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions upon those uses and purposes.

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To bestow or confer, with or without compensation, a gift or bestowal by one having control or authority over it as of land or money.

Grant Deed

A written instrument transferring title to real property.


A person who acquires an interest in land by deed, grant or other written instrument.


A person who, by a written instrument, transfers to another an interest in land.


One appointed by the court to administer the affairs of an individual not capable of administering his/her own affairs.

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Homeowner's Exemption

Any of the following can qualify if it is the principal place of residence of the homeowner and is subject to property tax:

  1. a single family residence
  2. a condominium
  3. A unit in a cooperative housing project
  4. A houseboat
  5. A manufactured home/mobile home
  6. A floating home/house boat

However, Manufactured and mobile homes that are subject to the California vehicle license fee instead of local property tax do not qualify for the homeowners’ exemption.


A personal residence.

Homestead Declaration

A document providing limited statutory protection of real property, used as a home, from the claims of certain creditors.

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All buildings, structures, fixtures, and fences erected on or affixed to the land, all fruit, nut bearing, ornamental trees and vines, not of natural growth, and not exempt from taxation, except date palms under eight years of age.


Those additions to raw lands tending to increase value such as buildings, streets, sewers, etc.

In Propria Persona

In his own person, himself. Abbreviated to "pro per".


The act, or right of entering. (Access)


A written paper signed and delivered by one person to another, transferring the title to or giving a lien on property, or giving a right to a debt or duty.


Designates the estate or condition of failing to leave a will at death. "To die intestate".

Involuntary Lien

When affecting real property, a lien created without the consent of or execution by the property owner.

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A final determination in a court of competent jurisdiction of the rights of the parties to an action or proceeding.

Judgment Lien

A statutory lien created by recording a judgment, or an abstract, ordering the payment of a sum of money.

Junior Lien

A lien of inferior priority.


The portion of a certificate of affidavit stating when, where and before whom it was sworn.

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Local Agency Formation Commission


Real estate, or real property, except improvements. It includes: the possession of, claim to, ownership of, or right to possession of land; all mines, minerals, and quarries in the land; all standing timber whether or not belonging to the owner of the land; and all rights and privileges relating to it.


A written document in which the rights to use and occupy land or structures are transferred by the owner to another for a specified period of time in return for a specified rent.


The estate for years created by a lease.

Legal Description

A description of real property sufficient to locate it on the ground by reference to government surveys or approved recorded maps.

Legal Title

The title held by the record owner of an interest in real property. The owner of legal title is presumed to be, but is not necessarily, the owner of the beneficial interest in the property. (When property is held in trust, the trustee holds the legal title and the beneficiary holds equitable title.)


One who takes lands upon a lease.


One who grants lands under a lease.

Letters Of Administration

Formal written evidence of court appointment of a conservator of the person, or of the estate of an intestate decedent.

Letters Of Conservatorship

Formal written evidence of court appointment of a conservator of the person, or of the estate, or of the person and estate of a conservatee.

Letters Of Guardianship

Formal written evidence of court appointment of a guardian for the person, estate, or person and estate of a minor or of an incompetent.

Letters Testamentary

Formal written evidence of court appointment of a personal representative of the estate of a testate decedent.


Seizure of property by judicial process.


An encumbrance which makes property security for the payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation.

Lien date

The time when taxes for any fiscal year become a lien on property.

Life Estate

A possessory estate in land held by a person only for the duration of a specific person's life.

Limited Partnership

A partnership consisting of a general partner or partners and limited partners. The limited partners do not act as managers and their liability is limited to their invested capital.

Lis Pendens

A recorded notice that a lawsuit is pending concerning real property.

Living Trust

A trust becoming operative in the lifetime of the person creating it.

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Market Value

The amount of cash or its equivalent that property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market under conditions in which neither buyer nor seller could take advantage of the exigencies of the other and both the buyer and the seller have knowledge of all of the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions upon those uses and purposes.

Mechanic's Lien

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

Metes And Bounds

The lengths and directions of lines as in the boundaries of a tract of land.


An instrument used to encumber land as security for a debt.


A designation for the mortgage lender on lands.


A designation for the mortgage borrower on lands.

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New Construction

(1) Any substantial addition to land or improvements, including fixtures, such as adding land fill, retaining walls, curbs, gutters or sewers to land or constructing a new building or swimming pool or changing an existing improvement so as to add horizontally or vertically to its square footage or to incorporate an additional fixture.

(2) Any substantial physical alteration of land which constitutes a major rehabilitation of the land or results in a change in the way the property is used.

(3) Any physical alteration of any improvement which converts the improvement or any portion thereof to the substantial equivalent of a new structure or portion thereof or changes the way in which the portion of the structure that had been altered is used, e.g., physical alterations to an old structure to make it the substantial equivalent of a new building without any change in the way it is used or alterations to a warehouse that makes it usable as a retail store or a restaurant. Only, the value, not necessarily the cost, of the alteration shall be added to the appropriately indexed base year value of the pre-existing structure.

(4) Excluded from alterations that qualify as "newly constructed" is construction or reconstruction performed for the purpose of normal maintenance and repair, e.g., routine annual preparation of agricultural land or interior or exterior painting, replacement of roof coverings or the addition of aluminum siding to improvements or the replacement of worn machine parts.

(5) Any substantial physical rehabilitation, renovation or modernization of any fixture which converts it to the substantial equivalent of a new fixture or any substitution of a new fixture. Substantial equivalency shall be ascertained by comparing the productive capacity, normally expressed in units per hour, of the rehabilitated fixture to its original productive capacity.

Non Judicial Foreclosure Sale

Sale of property pursuant to the power of sale provisions contained in a security instrument.


To prove execution of a document by means of a notary public's certificate of acknowledgment.

Notary Public

A person authorized by law to take acknowledgments and to administer paths.


A common reference to a promissory note.


Actual notice: express or implied knowledge of a fact. See also Constructive notice.

Notice Of Action

A lis pendens.

Notice Of Advance

To evidence an advance of additional monies under a previously recorded deed of trust.

Notice Of Cessation

A recorded notice shortening the time for filing mechanic's lien where work ceased prior to completion.

Notice Of Completion

A notice recorded within ten days of completion of a work of improvement signaling commencement of the time period within which claims of mechanics' liens must be recorded.

Notice Of Default

A recorded notice of a trustor's failure to perform his obligation under a deed of trust. The initial step in non judicial foreclosure of a deed of trust.

Notice Of Federal Tax Lien

May be recorded by the Internal Revenue Service to create a lien against a taxpayer for non-payment of taxes.

Notice Of Non-Responsibility

A recorded notice by an owner of real property that he will not be responsible for payment of costs of improvements contracted for thereon by some other person.

Notice Of State Tax Lien

May be recorded by the State of California to create a lien against a taxpayer for non-payment of various taxes.

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Omnibus Clause

Provision in a decree of distribution by which any property of a decedent not specifically described is distributed.


A choice or right, for a consideration, to do an act or force performance of an act in the future under specific terms and conditions.


One who holds an option, i.e., right, for which he has paid a consideration.


One who grants an option to another.

Order Confirming Sale

A court order confirming sale of estate property by a personal representative, or other fiduciary.


A legislative enactment of a city or county.


The right to possess and use property to the exclusion of others.

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Any area of land contained within a single description.

Parcel Map

A division of land into four parcels or less.

Partial Reconveyance

Transfer of legal title from the trustee to the trustor (borrower or successor in interest) as to a portion of the property encumbered by a trust deed after specified conditions have been met.


An association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners of a business for profit.


A conveyance of title to public land executed by the federal or state government.

Personal Property

Personal property includes all property except real property.


The party initiating an action.

Plat Or Plot

A map representing a piece of land subdivided into lots with streets shown thereon.

Power Of Attorney

An instrument authorizing another to act on one's behalf as his agent or attorney.

Preliminary 20-Day Notice

Written notice required when a person furnishes labor, services, equipment or material to a job site for which any claim of lien is made (may be filed but not recorded with County Recorder).

Preliminary Change Of Ownership Report

A form required by the County Assessor to accompany transfers of interest in real property.

Principal Residence

A principal residence is that home where a person has his or her true, fixed and permanent home and to which that person has the intention of returning, whenever absent. Some factors to consider when determining a principal residence include: the address associated with (1) the filing of income tax returns, (2) voter registration, (3) vehicle registration, (4) banking records, and (5) as shown on a driver’s license.


The court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid. The legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered.

Probate Court

A division of superior court having jurisdiction over estates of decedents, minors, incompetents and conservatees.

Promissory Note

An unconditional written promise, signed by maker, to pay, absolutely a sum certain in money, either to the bearer or to person therein designated or his order.


Property includes all matters and things—real, personal, and mixed—that are capable of private ownership.

Public Records

Records which by law impart constructive notice of matters relating to real property.

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Quiet Title Action

The name of an action brought to establish a title to property or to remove a cloud on the title.

Quit Claim Deed

A deed to relinquish any interest in property which the grantor may have, without any warranty of title or interest.

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Real Property

Land and anything permanently attached to it, including buildings and improvements.


A document evidencing the relinquishing of a lien created by a Deed of Trust.


To incorporate into the public records of the County Recorder; ALSO, the system of public records imparting constructive notice of title to claims, or interests in real property.

Record Of Survey

A map of a parcel of land delineating its area and boundaries.


The act of filing documents for record in the office of the County Recorder.


The act of buying back property previously sold in judicial proceedings.

Redemption Right

The right of a debtor to reacquire title to property formerly owned by him but sold through judicial process to satisfy his debts.


A document extinguishing the lien of a mortgage, judgment, mechanic, government agency, etc. ALSO, a document absolving another of liability.

Request For Notice

Recorded request by anyone desiring written notice of the recording of a notice of default under a trust deed or of the scheduling of a trustee's sale thereunder. ALSO, recorded request of anyone desiring notice of the scheduling of an execution sale foreclosing the lien of a judgment.

Request For Reconveyance

Written instruction of a beneficiary under a deed of trust addressed to the trustee, acknowledging satisfaction of the secured obligation, and directing the trustee to reconvey the property to the borrower or successor in interest.


The act of canceling or annulling the effect of a document.


Impediments, limitations or prohibitions respecting use of real property imposed in a deed, declaration or agreement.

Right Of Survivorship

The right to succeed to the interest of a deceased.

Right Of Way

A right to pass over or to cross a parcel of land.

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The performance of the terms of an obligation.

Secured Party

The party having the security interest.

Secured Property

Property on the secured assessment roll.

Secured Tax Assessment Roll

That part of the assessment roll containing state assessed property and property the taxes on which are a lien on real property sufficient, in the opinion of the assessor, to secure payment of taxes.

Security Agreement

An agreement between the secured party and the debtor which creates the security interest.

Separate Property

Property owned by a married person in his or her own right outside of the community interest.

Servient Tenement

The estate burdened by an easement.

Sheriff's Deed

Conveyance of title to a debtor's property as a consequence of an execution sale.


The place where property is legally situated; the more or less permanent location of the property.

Statute of Limitations

Time period during which an assessment can be made. See Revenue and Taxation Code section 532 & 5097(a).


An edifice or building, an improvement whose primary use or purpose is for housing or accommodation of personnel, personalty, or fixtures and has no direct application to the process or function of the industry, trade, or profession.


The division of a tract of land into separate parcels.

Subdivision Map

A division of land into five parcels or more.


An agreement in which the lessee in a prior lease conveys the right of use and occupancy of a property to another.


To make inferior in priority.

Subordination Agreement

An agreement changing the priority of interests.


The appointment of a person to act in the place and stead of another.

Substitution Of Trustee

Appoints a new trustee in place of the original trustee named on a recorded deed of trust. Often is recorded concurrently with a RECONVEYANCE.

Supplemental Assessment

An assessment of the full cash value of property as of the date a change in ownership occurs or new construction is completed which establishes a new base year value for the property or for the new construction.


One who guarantees the performance of an obligation by another.


A process of measuring a parcel of land and ascertaining its area and boundaries.

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Tax Deed

A deed issued to a purchaser following a sale necessitated by the nonpayment of real property taxes.

Tax Lien

May be recorded by the Internal Revenue Service, the State of California or a county tax collector to create a lien against a taxpayer for non-payment of various taxes. Also Notice of Federal Tax Lien, Notice of State Tax Lien.

Tax Sale

Sale conducted for the purpose of collecting delinquent taxes assessed to a parcel of real property.

Taxable Value

For real property subject to article XIII A of the California Constitution, the base year full value adjusted for any given lien date as required by law or the full cash value for the same date, whichever is less, as set forth in section 51(a). For personal property, the full cash value (market value) on the lien date each year.

Tenancy In Common

A form of co-ownership of property by two or more persons in undivided interests.


Any person in possession of real property with the owner's permission.


All rights in land passing with a conveyance thereof.


True declaration of a person's last will.

Testamentary Trust

A trust created by the last will and testament of a decedent.


The estate or condition of leaving a will at death. "To die testate".


The evidence or right which a person has to the ownership and possession of land.


A right of property held by one for the benefit of another.

Trust Deed

Same as deed of trust.


One who holds property in trust for another. Third party under a deed of trust.

Trustee's Deed

The deed given by the trustee under a deed of trust when the secured property is sold under power of sale.

Trustee's Sale

Foreclosure sale conducted by the trustee in the exercise of a power of sale.


The debtor on a trust deed or deed of trust.

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Unsecured Assessment Roll

That part of the assessment roll containing property whose values are not secured by the ownership of real property. Some typical items include boats, airplanes, improvements on the real estate of others, business property, most possessory interests and escape and supplemental assessments against a former owner of real property.

Unsecured Property

Property on the unsecured assessment roll.

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A sworn statement before a qualified officer (notary public), that the contents of a writing are true; or an unsworn statement by an individual under penalty of perjury.


Every description of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

Voluntary Lien

Any lien placed on property with consent of or as a result of the voluntary act of the owner.

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A mark executed by an individual who cannot write. One witness writes the person's name and signs as one of two witnesses required for California acknowledgements.

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