Real Estate Glossary - Commonly used real estate terms

Below are commonly used real estate terminologies.

Buyer Agent:
An agent who represents the buyer in a real estate transaction. A buyer agent may be paid by the buyer, seller, or listing agent at closing, provided all parties consent

Dual Agent:
An agent representing both parties in a transaction - usually requires written consent of both the buyer and the seller

Listing Agent:
The agent who represents the seller

Selling Agent:
The agent who obtains a buyer

Subagent:
A salesperson who works for an agent

Amenities:
Features that enhance the value or desirability of a property

Amortize:
To pay a debt in periodic amounts until the total amount, including any interest, is paid

Appraisal:
A qualified party's opinion of the value of a property

Appreciation:
An increase in value

Assessment / Assesed Value:
An official valuation of property for tax purposes. Payments made by condominium or cooperative owners for their share of building maintenance expenses

Bankruptcy:
Legally declared unable to pay your debts

Broker:
An independent business person who sets real estate office policies, hires employees, determines their compensation, and supervises their activities

Closing:
The final procedure in which documents are signed and recorded, and the property is transferred. Closing costs are expenses incidental to the sale of real estate, including loan, title and appraisal fees

CMA (Competitive Market Analysis):
An estimate of the value of a property based on an analysis of sales of properties with similar characteristics

Commission:
The negotiable percentage of the sales price of a home that is paid to the agents of the buyer and seller

Condominium (Condo):
Individual units in a building or development in which owners hold title to the interior space while common areas such as parking lots, community rooms and recreational areas are owned by all the residents

Counter Offer:
A new offer as to price, terms, and conditions, made in response to a prior, unacceptable offer. A counter offer terminates an original offer

Deed:
A legal document that transfers ownership of a property

Disclosure:
A statement to a potential buyer listing information relevant to a piece of property. Revealing what previously was private knowledge

Down Payment:
The amount of money a buyer agrees to give the seller when a sales agreement is signed

Earnest Money:
Money a buyer gives with an offer to purchase a property. Also called a deposit

Equity:
The value of a property after existing liens are deducted

Escrow:
The closing of a real estate transaction through a neutral third party who holds funds and/or documents for delivery after specific conditions have been met

Exclusive Listing:
A written agreement in which the seller appoints only one agent to market the property for a specific period of time. If the owner sells the property himself, he is not required to pay a commission

Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association):
A congressionally chartered, shareholder-owned company that buys mortgages from lenders and resells them as securities on the secondary mortgage market

FHA (Federal Housing Administration):
A federal agency established to improve housing standards and conditions. The FHA provides mortgage insurance to approved lending institutions

Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation):
A federally chartered corporation established to purchase mortgages in the secondary, or resale, market

HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development):
A federal department active in a variety of national housing programs including urban renewal and public housing

Improvements:
Additions intended to increase the value of a property

Inspection:
An examination of a property by the buyer, agent, title insurance company, or other interested party

Lien:
A charge or claim by one party on the property of another as security for the payment of a debt

Listing:
A piece of property placed on the market by a listing agent

Market Value:
The price a property will command on the open market

MLS (Multiple Listing Service):
A means by which agents are informed of the properties offered for sale by other agents

Offer:
A proposal to purchase property at a specified price and terms

Open House:
A marketing tool in which a listing agent opens a house for view

Owner of Record:
The person named in the public record as the owner of a property or mortgage

REALTORŪ:
A designation for an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors

Title:
Lawful ownership of property

Title Insurance:
A policy issued to lenders and buyers to protect any losses because of a dispute over the ownership of a piece of property

Title Search:
A check of public title records to ascertain that the seller is the legal owner and that there are no claims or liens against the property

Walk-Through:
A final inspection of a property before it changes ownership