Home Buyers and Sellers Real Estate Glossary


Every business has it's jargon and residential real estate is no exception. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home shares commonly used terms with home buyers and sellers.

1031 exchange or Starker exchange: The delayed exchange of properties that qualifies for tax purposes as a tax-deferred exchange.

1099: The statement of income reported to the IRS for an independent contractor.

A/I: A contract that is pending with attorney and inspection contingencies.

Accompanied showings: Those showings where the listing agent must accompany an agent and his or her clients when viewing a listing.

Addendum: An addition to; a document.

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM): A type of mortgage loan whose interest rate is tied to an economic index, which fluctuates with the market. Typical ARM periods are one, three, five, and seven years.

Agent: The licensed real estate salesperson or broker who represents buyers or sellers.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The total costs (interest rate, closing costs, fees, and so on) that are part of a borrower's loan, expressed as a percentage rate of interest. The total costs are amortized over the term of the loan.

Application fees: Fees that mortgage companies charge buyers at the time of written application for a loan; for example, fees for running credit reports of borrowers, property appraisal fees, and lender-specific fees.

Appointments: Those times or time periods an agent shows properties to clients.

Appraisal: A document of opinion of property value at a specific point in time.

Appraised price (AP): The price the third-party relocation company offers (under most contracts) the seller for his or her property. Generally, the average of two or more independent appraisals.

"As-is": A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Assumable mortgage: One in which the buyer agrees to fulfill the obligations of the existing loan agreement that the seller made with the lender. When assuming a mortgage, a buyer becomes personally liable for the payment of principal and interest. The original mortgagor should receive a written release from the liability when the buyer assumes the original mortgage.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently.

Back-up agent: A licensed agent who works with clients when their agent is unavailable.

Balloon mortgage: A type of mortgage that is generally paid over a short period of time, but is amortized over a longer period of time. The borrower typically pays a combination of principal and interest. At the end of the loan term, the entire unpaid balance must be repaid.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Bill of sale: Transfers title to personal property in a transaction.

Board of REALTORS® (local): An association of REALTORS® in a specific geographic area.

Broker: A state licensed individual who acts as the agent for the seller or buyer.

Broker of record: The person registered with his or her state licensing authority as the managing broker of a specific real estate sales office.

Broker's market analysis (BMA): The real estate broker's opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined after acquisition of the property by the third-party company.

Broker's tour: A preset time and day when real estate sales agents can view listings by multiple brokerages in the market.

Buyer: The purchaser of a property.

Buyer agency: A real estate broker retained by the buyer who has a fiduciary duty to the buyer.

Buyer agent: The agent who shows the buyer's property, negotiates the contract or offer for the buyer, and works with the buyer to close the transaction.

Carrying costs: Cost incurred to maintain a property (taxes, interest, insurance, utilities, and so on).

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange): The insurance industry's national database that assigns individuals a risk score. CLUE also has an electronic file of a properties insurance history. These files are accessible by insurance companies nationally. These files could impact the ability to sell property as they might contain information that a prospective buyer might find objectionable, and in some cases not even insurable.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer may also be required to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compen-sation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive Market Analysis (CMA): The analysis used to provide market information to the seller and assist the real estate broker in securing the listing.

Condominium association: An association of all owners in a condominium.

Condominium budget: A financial forecast and report of a condominium association's expenses and savings.

Condominium by-laws: Rules passed by the condominium association used in administration of the condominium property.

Condominium declarations: A document that legally establishes a condominium.

Condominium right of first refusal: A person or an association that has the first opportunity to purchase condominium real estate when it becomes available or the right to meet any other offer.

Condominium rules and regulation: Rules of a condominium association by which owners agree to abide.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Contract for deed: A sales contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property but the seller holds title until the loan is paid. Also known as an installment sale contract.

Conventional mortgage: A type of mortgage that has certain limitations placed on it to meet secondary market guidelines. Mortgage companies, banks, and savings and loans underwrite conventional mortgages.

Cooperating commission: A commission offered to the buyer's agent brokerage for bringing a buyer to the selling brokerage's listing.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower's credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower's credit report based on information contained therein.

Curb appeal: The visual impact a property projects from the street.

Days on market: The number of days a property has been on the market.

Decree: A judgment of the court that sets out the agreements and rights of the parties.

Disclosures: Federal, state, county, and local requirements of disclosure that the seller provides and the buyer acknowledges.

Divorce: The legal separation of a husband and wife effected by a court decree that totally dissolves the marriage relationship.

DOM: Days on market.

Down payment: The amount of cash put toward a purchase by the borrower.

Drive-by: When a buyer or seller agent or broker drives by a property listing or potential listing.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit: The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer's good faith.

Escrow account for real estate taxes and insurance: An account into which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Exclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are excluded from the contract or offer to purchase.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fax rider: A document that treats facsimile transmission as the same legal effect as the original document.

Feedback: The real estate sales agent and/or his or her client's reaction to a listing or property. Requested by the listing agent.

Fee simple: A form of property ownership where the owner has the right to use and dispose of property at will.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee by the FHA that a percentage of a loan will be underwritten by a mortgage company or banker.

Fixture: Personal property that has become part of the property through permanent attachment.

Flat fee: A predetermined amount of compensation received or paid for a specific service in a real estate transaction.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Gross sale price: The sale price before any concessions.

Hazard insurance: Insurance that covers losses to real estate from damages that might affect its value.

Homeowner's insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD/RESPA (Housing and Urban Development/Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act): A document and statement that details all of the monies paid out and received at a real estate property closing.

Hybrid adjustable rate: Offers a fixed rate the first 5 years and then adjusts annually for the next 25 years.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange): Allows real estate brokers to advertise each other's listings posted to listing databases such as the multiple listing service.

Inclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are included in a contract or offer to purchase.

Independent contractor: A real estate sales agent who conducts real estate business through a broker. This agent does not receive salary or benefits from the broker.

Inspection rider: Rider to purchase agreement between third party relocation company and buyer of transferee's property stating that property is being sold "as is." All inspection reports conducted by the third party company are disclosed to the buyer and it is the buyer's duty to do his/her own inspections and tests.

Installment land contract: A contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property while the seller retains the title to the property until the loan is paid.

Interest rate float: The borrower decides to delay locking their interest rate on their loan. They can float their rate in expectation of the rate moving down. At the end of the float period they must lock a rate.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

List date: Actual date the property was listed with the current broker.

List price: The price of a property through a listing agreement.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agent: The real estate sales agent that is representing the sellers and their property, through a listing agreement.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent's agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Listing appointment: The time when a real estate sales agent meets with potential clients selling a property to secure a listing agreement.

Listing exclusion: A clause included in the listing agreement when the seller (transferee) lists his or her property with a broker.

Loan: An amount of money that is lent to a borrower who agrees to repay the amount plus interest.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower's loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower's lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer's funds and the borrower's loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer's loan.

Lockbox: A tool that allows secure storage of property keys on the premises for agent use. A combo uses a rotating dial to gain access with a combination; a Supra® (electronic lockbox or ELB) features a keypad.

Managing broker: A person licensed by the state as a broker who is also the broker of record for a real estate sales office. This person manages the daily operations of a real estate sales office.

Marketing period: The period of time in which the transferee may market his or her property (typically 45, 60, or 90 days), as directed by the third-party company's contract with the employer.

Mortgage banker: One who lends the bank's funds to borrowers and brings lenders and borrowers together.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.