Real Estate Glossary


Abstract of Title
A summary of the public records relating to the ownership of a particular piece of land. It represents a short legal history of an individual piece of property and traces the ownership of that property from the time of the first recorded transfer to present.

Consent to an offer to enter into contract.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage
A mortgage that allows the interest rate to be changed periodically; referred to as ARM.

A legal relationship in which an owner-principal engages a broker-agent in the sale of property or a buyer-principal engages a broker-agent in the purchase of property.

American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
A professional trade association providing training and education in home inspections. Members meet qualification requirements to join.

The gradual repayment of a mortgage by periodic installments.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The total finance charge (interest, loan fees, and points) expressed as a percentage of the mortgage amount.

An evaluation of a piece of property used to determine its value.  Increase in value due to any cause.

Appraisal Fee
Cost for professional evaluation of the property’s market value based on comparable sales, improvements on the property, and location

A mineral fiber used in some building materials, such as flooring, siding, insulation, and roofing. It is presently banned for most uses in real property.

Assessed Value
The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor as the basis of property taxes.

Assumption of Mortgage
An agreement whereby the buyer assumes responsibility for a mortgage owed by the seller; the seller remains liable to the lender unless lender agrees to release the seller from the liability.



Properties similar in size and character to the one being bought or sold.

Ownership of a unit only, rather than of the entire building with the land.

Anything of value to induce another to enter into a contract (i.e. money, services, a promise, etc.).

A condition that must be satisfied before a contract is binding.

An agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.

Conventional Mortgage
A fixed rate, fixed-term mortgage not insured by the federal government.

Credit Report
A report of your credit history.


A legal document conveying title to a property.

Deed (quit claim)
A deed that transfers only that title or right to a property that the holder of that title has at the time of the transfer. It does not warrant or guarantee a clear title.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
A U.S. government agency established to implement certain federal housing and community development programs.

Disclosure Laws
State and federal regulations which require sellers to disclose such conditions as whether a house is located in a flood plain or whether there are known defects in or affecting the property.

Discount Points
Points your lender may charge to increase the investor’s yield. May be paid by the buyer or seller. The number of discount points depends on the rate quoted and the current market rates.


Earnest Money
A portion of a down payment given to the seller by a potential buyer indicating the buyer’s intent to complete the purchase of the property.

A right to use the land of another.

A condition that limits the interest in a title to property, such as a mortgage, deed restrictions, easements, unpaid taxes, etc.

Equity Mortgage
A mortgage based on the borrower’s equity in their home rather than on their credit worthiness.

Escrow Fee
Title Company’s service fee for acting as an escrow agent to carry out contract instructions, obtaining execution and recording of necessary documents; disbursing sale proceeds; usually split between buyer and seller.


Fannie Mae
Nickname for Federal National Mortgage Corp. (FNMA), a tax paying corporation created by Congress to support the secondary mortgages insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA, as well as conventional home mortgages.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
An agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that administers loan guarantee programs and loan insurance programs to make more housing available.

Filling Fees/ Recording Fees
Feeds for recording documents in public records; fee is determined by the number of pages filed per document.

Fixed Rate Mortgage
A loan that fixes the interest rate at a prescribed rate for the duration of the loan.

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

Freddie Mac
Nickname for Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (FHLMC), a federally controlled and operated corporation to support the secondary mortgage market. It purchases and sells residential conventional home mortgages.


Graduated-Payment Mortgage
A mortgage that starts with low monthly payments and increases at a predetermined rate.

Growing-Equity Mortgage
A mortgage loan in which the monthly payments increase by a specific amount each year, with the “overpayments” applied to the principal.


Hazard Insurance
Fire and extended coverage casualty insurance protects property and contents in case of loss; required by lender for at least the loan amount.


Installment Debts
Long-term debts that usually extend for more than one month

An examination of the property for various reasons such as termite inspection, mechanical inspections, or roof inspections. Parties may also require follow up inspections after required repairs are complete.

Installment Debts
Long-term debts that usually extend for more than one month.

The holder of a mortgage or the permanent lender for whom the mortgage maker services the loan. Any person or institution that invests in mortgages.




Lease Purchase Agreement
Buyer makes a deposit for the future purchase of a property with the right to lease the property in the interim.

A legal claim against a property that must be paid when the property is sold.

Loan-to-Value Ratio
The relationship between the amount of a home mortgage and the total value of the property. Lenders may limit their maximum mortgage to 80- 95 percent of value.

Lock-in Ratio
A commitment made by lenders on a mortgage loan to “lock-in” a civilian rate pending mortgage approval. Lock-in periods vary.


Market Value
The highest price a buyer will pay for property and the lowest price the seller will accept.

Miscellaneous Lender Fees
May Include fees for underwriting, processing, tax service fee, warehousing, etc.

One type of document used to make property the security for the payment of a loan.

Mortgage Broker
An individual or company that obtains mortgages for others by finding lending institutions, insurance companies, or private sources to lend the money; may also handle collections and disbursements.

The lender of money or the receiver of the mortgage.

Mortgagee Title Policy
The Policy insuring the lender of validity and priority of its lien.

The borrower of money or the giver of the mortgage document.


Negative Amortization
An increase in the outstanding balance of a mortgage resulting from the failure of periodic debt service payment to cover required interest charges on the loan.

A written promise to pay a certain amount of money.


Origination Fee
A fee or charge for work involved in the evaluation, preparation, and submission of a proposed mortgage loan.

Owner’s Title Policy
The policy that identifies the buyer against losses for covered defects in title.


Prepayment Penalty
A fee paid to the mortgagee for paying the mortgage before it becomes due. Also know as prepayment fee or reinvestment fee.

PMI Premium/ MIP Premium
PMI- Private Mortgage Insurance used on Conventional Loans, MIP- Mortgage Insurance Protection used on FHA Loans insures lender against loss in the event of default by the borrower.

Promissory Note
A written contract containing a promise to pay a definite amount of money at a definite future time.

Prorated Taxes
Taxes are prorated with the seller paying taxes from January 1st through the closing date, and buyer paying the remained. Figures are usually based on actual taxes charged the previous year. Any shortages or overages due at the end of the existing year are between the buyer and seller.



A colorless, odorless gas formed by the breakdown of uranium in subsoil. It can enter a house through cracks in the foundation or in water and is considered to be a health hazard.

Registered collective membership marks that identify real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS and who subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.

Rent with Option
A contract which gives one the right to lease property at a certain sum with the option to purchase at a future date.

Recorded documents that restrict and limit the use of a defined property.


Savings and Loan Association (S&Ls)
Depository institutions that specialize in originating, servicing, and holding mortgage loans, primarily on owner-occupied residential property.

Savings Bank
A financial institution organized to hold individual depositors’ funds in interest-bearing accounts and to make long-term investments, such as home mortgage loans.

Second Mortgage/Second Deed of Trust/Junior Mortgage or Lien
An additional loan imposed on a property with a first mortgage; generally a higher interest rate and shorter term than a “first” mortgage.

Severalty Ownership
Ownership by one person only; sole ownership.

Shared-Equity Mortgage
A home loan in which an investor is granted a share of the equity, thereby allowing the investor to participate in the proceeds from resale.

A statement or drawing showing the corners, distances, and directions of the boundaries of a tract of land along with easements, encroachments, etc. as may be required in the contract.


Tax Search Certificates
Certificate obtained to determine any unpaid property taxes or assessments that may constitute liens against the property.

Tenancy in Common
Ownership by two or more persons who hold an undivided interest without right of survivorship (in the event of the death of one owner, his/her share will pass to the heirs).

A document that is evidence of ownership.

Title Defect
An outstanding claim or encumbrance on property that affects marketability.

Title Insurance
Protection for lenders and homeowners against financial loss resulting from legal defects in the title.



Veterans Administration (VA)
A government agency that provides services for eligible veterans of the armed forces. It guarantees mortgage loans made by private lenders to veterans.

A special suspension of zoning laws to allow the use of property in a manner not in accord with existing laws.





Zoning Restrictions
Local municipal ordinances that classify property according to specific uses such as single family, residential, commercial, or industrial.