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Real Estate Glossary of Terms
Top Real Estate Terms Defined


If you're a real estate agent, here's a handy reference to refer your clients to for any information they need.

Real Estate Glossary of Terms

This Real Estate Glossary of Terms includes useful and important terms that both buyers and sellers need to know.

Abatement Notice - A legal notice served on the owner or tenant of a property to inform him of the violation of local laws pertaining to maintenance of the property.
Abutting - The joining, reaching, or touching of adjoining land.
Addendum – An addition or change in a legal contract.
Affidavit – A written statement signed and sworn to before some person authorized to take an oath.
Alienation Clause – A provision that requires the borrower to pay the balance of the loan amount in a single large instalment after the property is sold or transferred. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
Amortization – Gradually reducing mortgage loan debt over time by establishing scheduled monthly payments.
Appraisal – Official valuation of a property carried out by a certified Real Estate appraiser.
Assessed Valuation – The value that a taxing authority places on real property for the purpose of calculating the amount of tax on that property.
Asset – Anything with commercial or exchange value that is owned by a business, institution or individual. Examples include cash, real estate and investments.
Assumable Mortgage – A mortgage that can be transferred from a seller to a buyer. Once the loan is assumed by the buyer the seller is no longer responsible for repaying it.
Balloon Payment – A loan payment that is at least the double the amount of previous payments, done to clear a debt.
Bayana – A Hindi term used to denote the token money given by a buyer for a particular property after negotiations are done.
Blanket Mortgage – One mortgage on a number of parcels of real property.
Broker – A real estate broker is qualified to represent a seller or buyer. Brokers receive extensive education and licensing, allowing them to manage individual agents through a firm or operate independently.
Buy Down – A cash payment to a lender in order to reduce the interest rate a borrower must pay.
Call Option – A contract giving one party the right to buy and another party the right to sell a piece of property at a future time and specific price.
Capitalization Rate – A metric used in real estate to evaluate the potential return on an investment property.
Cleaning Fee – A nonrefundable fee charged by a landlord when a tenant moves in.
Conveyance – A written instrument, such as a deed or lease, that evidences transfer of some ownership interest in real property from one person to another.
Current Assets – Assets that can be converted to cash within a year.
Default – The inability to pay monthly mortgage payments in a timely manner or to otherwise meet the mortgage terms.
Depreciation – A decrease in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or by any other issues.
Devise – A transfer of real estate by will or last testament.
Down Payment – The portion of a home’s purchase price that is paid in cash and is not part of the mortgage loan.
Dual Agency – When the real estate agent/broker represents both the buyer and seller.
Duplex – A house with two units while sharing a common wall.
Duration – An estimate of bond price sensitivity to changes in interest rates. The higher the duration, the greater the change (higher risk) in relation to interest-rate movements.
Real Estate Glossary of Terms - DuplexDuplex – A house with two units while sharing a common wall
EEM (Energy Efficient Mortgage) – A Federal Housing Administration program that helps home-buyers save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to a new or existing home as part of the home purchase.
EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) – Money put down by a potential buyer to show that he or she is serious about purchasing the home.
Encumbrance Certificate – A report issued by Registrar after due verification of the relevant documents certifying that the property in question is free from mortgages or any other kinds of restrictions. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
Escrow – An arrangement in which a neutral third party provider holds the funds associated with a real estate transaction until a specific condition is met.
Escrow Account – A separate account into which the lender puts a portion of each monthly mortgage payment.
Eviction – Expulsion of an occupant or tenant from a property.
Exception – The exclusion of some part of the property conveyed, with title of that excepted part remaining with the grantor.
Fair Housing Act – A law that prohibits discrimination in all facets of the home-buying process on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.
Fair Market Value – The price that a willing buyer and seller will agree upon when they are acting freely and with complete knowledge of the situation. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
Fee Simple – The owner’s rights to the property are indefinite and can be freely transferred or inherited when the owner chooses.
Fixed-rate Mortgage – A mortgage with payments that remain the same throughout the life of the loan.
Fixture – Personal property which has been attached to real estate so as to become part of the real property.
Foreclosure – A legal process in which mortgaged property is sold to pay the loan of the defaulting borrower.
General Lien – A lien that includes all the property owned by a debtor, rather than a specific property.
GNMA – Acronym for Government National Mortgage Association, also known as "Ginnie Mae".
Habendum Clause (To Have and Hold) – Defines or limits the quantity of the estate granted in the premises of the deed.
Home Appraisal – The process during which a licensed appraiser evaluates different elements of a property to determine its fair market value.
Home Inspection – An examination of the structure and mechanical systems to determine a home’s safety. It is ordered by a real estate buyer.
Incidents of Ownership – Any control over property.
Index – A number, usually a percentage, used by lenders to determine changes to the interest rate charged on an adjustable rate mortgage.
Inspection – Home inspections are required once a potential buyer makes an offer.
Joint Tenancy – When two or more people share ownership of a real estate or other property.
Jumbo Loan (Jumbo Mortgage) – Financing that exceeds the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Landlord – The owner of any real estate, which is rented or leased to an individual or a business organisation.
Lien – A monetary claim against a property.
Life Estate – An interest in property only for the duration of someone’s life.
Lis Pendens – A notice indicating that legal action is pending on a property.
Marginal Land – Property which is barely profitable to use.
Mineral Rights – An ownership interest in the minerals contained in a particular parcel of land, with or without ownership of the surface of the land. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
Mortgage – Agreement between a borrower and a lender giving the lender the right to the borrower’s property if the borrower is unable to make loan payments within an agreed upon timeline.
Mortgage Banker – Provides mortgage loans.
Real Estate Glossary of Terms - Marginal LandMarginal land is land that has little or no agricultural or industrial value
Negative Amortization – Occurs when a repayment that is made is less than the interest charged on a loan, causing the outstanding balance of the loan to increase.
NOI (Net Operating Income) – A value that determines how much profit a commercial real estate property generates.
Open Listing – When a property owner chooses to sell their home on their own.
Origination Fee – A fee charged by lenders (in addition to interest) for services in connection with granting of a loan.
Panic Peddling – The illegal practice of inducing panic selling in a neighborhood by making representations of the entry of minority group members. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
Personal Property – Property which is tangible, movable, and not fixed to the land.
PITI – Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, the four elements of a monthly mortgage payment.
Pocket Listing – A property that is up for sale but hasn’t been made publicly available to buyers.
Puffing – Non-factual statements and opinions made to enhance the perceived desirability of a property.
Real Estate – The right to own land and improvements and the right to own or use them.
Real Estate Agent – A person who is licensed to negotiate and arrange real estate sales.
Real Property – The right to own land and improvements. Commonly used interchangeably with Real Estate and Realty.
Realty – Land, buildings and other improvements from a physical standpoint.
Redlining – The illegal practice of refusing to originate mortgage loans in certain neighborhoods on the basis of racial or ethnic composition.
RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) – A law protecting consumers from abuses during the real estate purchase and loan process by requiring lenders to disclose all settlement costs and relationships.
Riparian Owner – Who owns land bounding upon a river or water course.
Real Estate Glossary of Terms - Matt and Josh AltmanMatt and Josh Altman - The Altman Brothers are among the top producing real estate agents
Security Deposit – A payment required by a landlord to ensure that a tenant pays rent on time and keeps the rental unit in good condition.
Servient Tenement – Property that is subject to use by another for a specific purpose.
Short Sale – A property that is sold for less than the amount that is owed on the mortgage.
Spite Fence – A fence erected for no other purpose than to irritate a neighbor.
Steering – The illegal practice of directing members of minority groups away from certain areas or neighborhoods.
Tenancy by the Entirety – A special kind of property ownership that’s only for married couples.
Title Insurance – Insurance that protects the lender against any claims that arise from arguments about ownership of the property.
Title Search – A check of public records to be sure that the seller is the recognized owner of the real estate and that there are no unsettled liens against the property.
Transfer Tax – A transaction fee charged upon the transfer of a property’s title.
USDA Loan – A government-backed mortgage loan available to US residents that live in rural areas.
Usufruct – The right to use property, or income from property, that is owned by another. Added recently to our Real Estate Glossary of Terms.
View Ordinance – Laws designed to protect a property's view from obstructions. A view ordinance allows the property to sue the tree owner.
Virtual Home Tour – Provides internet users with a graphical presentation of a home.
Real Estate Glossary of Terms - Virtual Home TourVirtual house tours allow potential buyers to check out every room and corner with a few mouse clicks

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