Real Estate Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ABSORPTION RATE Back to top

The ratio of the number of properties in an area that have been sold against the number available. Used to show the volatility of a market.

ABSTRACTION METHOD Back to top

This method of estimating the value of property uses similar properties available in the same market to extract the value of a parcel of land.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE Back to top

A provision in a mortgage that gives the lender the right to demand immediate payment of the outstanding loan balance under certain circumstances. Usually when the borrower defaults on the loan.

ACCESSORY BUILDING Back to top

A building separate from the main structure on a property. Often used for a specific purpose, such as a workshop, storage shed or garage.

ACCRETION Back to top

The natural growth of a piece of land resulting from forces of nature

ACRE Back to top

43,560 square feet. A measurement of area.

ACTUAL AGE Back to top

The amount of time that has passed since a building or other structure was built. See also: EFFECTIVE AGE

ADJUSTMENT DATE Back to top

The date the interest rate changes on an adjustable rate mortgage.

AD VAL OREM TAX Back to top

Taxes assessed based on the value of the land and improvements

ADDENDUM Back to top

A supplement to any document that contains additional information pertinent to the subject. Appraisers use an addendum to further explain items for which there was inadequate space on the standard appraisal form.

ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE (ARM) Back to top

A type of mortgage where the interest rate varies based on a particular index, normally the prime lending rate.

ADJUSTED BASIS Back to top

The value of an asset (property or otherwise) that includes the original price plus the value of any improvement, and less any applicable depreciation.

ADJUSTED SALES PRICE Back to top

An opinion of a property’s sales price, after adjustments have been made to account for differences between it and another comparable property.

AESTHETIC VALUE Back to top

The additional value a property enjoys based on subjective criteria such as look or appeal.

AFFIRMATION Back to top

A declaration that a certain set of facts are truthful.

AFFORDABILITY ANALYSIS Back to top

A calculation used to determine an individual’s likelihood of being able to meet the obligations of a mortgage for a particular property. Takes into account the down payment, closing costs and on-going mortgage payments.

AGENT Back to top

A person who has been appointed to act on behalf of another for a particular transaction.

AMENITY Back to top

Any feature of a property that increases its value or desirability. These might include natural amenities such as location or proximity to mountains, or man-made amenities like swimming pools, parks or other recreation.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF APPRAISERS Back to top

An organization of appraisal professionals and others interested in the appraisal profession.

AMORTIZATION Back to top

The repayment of a loan through regular periodic payment.

AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE Back to top

The breakdown of individual payments throughout the life of an amortized loan, showing both principal contribution and debt service (interest) fees.

AMORTIZATION TERM Back to top

The length of time over which an amortized loan is repaid. Mortgages are commonly amortized over 15 or 30 years.

AMPERAGE Back to top

A measure of electric current describing the magnitude.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR) Back to top

The rate of annual interest charged on a loan.

ANNUITY Back to top

A sum of money paid at regular intervals, often annually.

APPLICATION Back to top

A form used to apply for a mortgage loan that details a potential borrower’s income, debt, savings and other information used to determine credit worthiness.

APPRAISAL Back to top

A ”defensible” and carefully documented opinion of value. Most commonly derived using recent sales of comparable properties by a licensed, professional appraiser.

APPRAISAL FOUNDATION Back to top

A not-for-profit educational organization established by the appraisal profession in the United States in 1987. It is dedicated to the advancement of professional valuation and responsible for establishing, improving, and promoting the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

APPRAISAL INSTITUTE Back to top

A world-wide organization dedicated to real estate appraisal education, publication and advocacy.

APPRAISAL PRINCIPLES Back to top

The basic building blocks of the property valuation process, including property inspection, market analysis and basic economics.

APPRAISAL REPORT Back to top

The end result of the appraisal process usually consists of one major standardized form such as, the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report form 1004, as well as all supporting documentation and additional detail information. The purpose of the report is to convey the opinion of value of the subject property and support that opinion with corroborating information.

APPRAISAL STANDARDS BOARD (ASB) Back to top

An independent board of the APPRAISAL FOUNDATION, which writes, amends, and interprets USPAP. The ASB is composed of up to seven appraisers appointed by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The ASB holds public meetings throughout the year to interpret and amend USPAP.

APPRAISED VALUE Back to top

An opinion of the fair market value of a property as developed by a licensed, certified appraiser following accepted appraisal principals.

APPRAISER Back to top

An educated, certified professional with extensive knowledge of real estate markets, values and practices. The appraiser is often the only independent voice in any real estate transaction with no vested interest in the ultimate value or sales price of the property.

APPRECIATION Back to top

The natural rise in property value due to market forces.

ARMS LENGTH TRANSACTION Back to top

Any transaction in which the two parties are unconnected and have no overt common interests. Such a transaction most often reflects the true market value of a property.

ASSESSED VALUE Back to top

The value of a property according to jurisdictional tax assessment.

ASSESSMENT Back to top

The function of assigning a value to a property for the purpose of levying taxes.

ASSESSMENT RATIO Back to top

The comparative relationship of a property’s assessed value to its market value.

ASSESSOR Back to top

The jurisdictional official who performs the assessment and assigns the value of a property.

ASSET Back to top

Any item of value which a person owns.

ASSIGNMENT Back to top

Transfer of ownership of a mortgage usually when the loan is sold to another company.

ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE Back to top

A mortgage that can be taken over by the buyer when a home is sold.

ASSUMPTION Back to top

When a buyer takes over, or “assumes” the sellers mortgage.

ATTACHED HOUSING Back to top

Any number of houses or other dwellings which are physically attached to one another, but are occupied by a number of different people. The individual houses may or may not be owned by separate people as well.

B

BACKFILL Back to top

The slope of the ground around a house.

BALL COCK VALVE Back to top

The valve inside a toilet tank that controls the filling of the tank.

BALLOON MORTGAGE Back to top

A mortgage loan in which the monthly payments are not large enough to repay the loan by the end of the term. So at the end of the term, the remaining balance comes due in a single large payment.

BALLOON PAYMENT Back to top

The final large payment at the end of a balloon mortgage term.

BANKRUPTCY Back to top

When a person or business is unable to pay their debts and seeks protection of the state against creditors. Bankruptcies remain on credit records for up to ten years and can prevent a person from being able to get a loan.

BEAM Back to top

A structural supporting member.

BILL OF SALE Back to top

A physical receipt indicating the sale of property.

BIWEEKLY MORTGAGE Back to top

A mortgage where you make “half payments” every two weeks, rather than one payment per month. This results in making the equivalent of 13 monthly payments per year, rather than 12, significantly reducing the time it takes to pay off a thirty year mortgage.

BLIGHTED AREA Back to top

Any region of a city or town that has fallen into disrepair or otherwise has become undesirable.

BONA FIDE Back to top

Any genuine offer, made without intent to defraud or deceive.

BRIDGE FINANCING Back to top

An interim loan made to facilitate the purchase of a new home before the buyer’s current residence sells and its equity is available to fund the new purchase.

BRIDGING Back to top

Structural members used between beams to strengthen the structure.

BROKER Back to top

An individual who facilitates the purchase of property by bringing together a buyer and a seller.

BTU Back to top

British Thermal Unit. A unit of measurement used to describe heating or cooling capacity.

BUFFER ZONE Back to top

A segment of land between two disparate municipal zones which acts as a shield to keep one zone from encroaching upon the other. Often used to separate residential districts from commercial areas.

BUILDING CODE Back to top

Regulations that ensure the safety and material compliance of new construction within a municipality. Building codes are localized to ensure they are adequate to meet the risk of common hazards.

BUILDING LINE OR SETBACK Back to top

The statutory distance between buildings and the property line, imposed by municipalities, home associations, or other agreements.

BUILT-INS Back to top

Specific items of personal property which are installed in a real estate improvement such that they become part of the building. Built-in microwave ovens and dishwashers are common examples.

BUNGALOW Back to top

A one-story, home-style dating from the early twentieth century. Often characterized by a low-pitched roof.

BUY DOWN Back to top

Extra money paid in a lump sum to reduce the interest rate of a fixed rate mortgage for a period of time. The extra money may be paid by the borrower, in order to have a lower payment at the beginning of the mortgage. Or paid by the seller, or lender, as incentive to buy the property or take on the mortgage.

BX CABLE Back to top

Electrical cable shrouded in a galvanized steel outer cover.

C

CALL OPTION Back to top

A clause in a mortgage which allows the lender to demand payment of the outstanding balance at a specific time.

CAP Back to top

Associated with Adjustable Rate Mortgages. A limit on how high monthly payments or how much interest rates may change within a certain time period or the life of the mortgage.

CAPE COD COLONIAL Back to top

A single-story house style made popular in New England. Often characterized by a steep roof with gables.

CAPITAL Back to top

Accumulated goods and money which is most often used to generate additional income.

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE Back to top

An outlay of funds designed to improve the income-producing capabilities of an asset or to extend its economic life.

CASH-OUT REFINANCE Back to top

Refinancing a mortgage at a higher amount than the current balance in order to transform a portion of the equity into cash.

CAULKING Back to top

A pliable material used to seal cracks or openings such as around windows.

CAVEAT EMPTOR Back to top

Literally translated: ”Let the buyer beware.” A common business tenet whereby the buyer is responsible for verifying any and all claims by the seller of property.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT Back to top

A document showing that the bearer has a certain amount of money, at a particular amount interest, on deposit with a financial institution.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT INDEX Back to top

An index based on the interest rate of six month CD’s. Used to set interest rates on some Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY Back to top

A document issued by the Veterans Administration that certifies eligibility for a VA loan.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY Back to top

Issued by an appropriate jurisdictional entity, this document certifies that a building complies with all building codes and is safe for use or habitation.

CERTIFICATE OF REASONABLE VALUE (CRV) Back to top

Usually based on an independent appraisal, a CRV for a particular property establishes the maximum amount which can be secured by a VA mortgage.

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE Back to top

A document designating the legal owner of a parcel of real estate. Usually provided by a title or abstract company.

CERTIFIED GENERAL APPRAISER Back to top

Generally, any professional who has met the local or state requirements, and passed the appropriate certification exam, and is capable of appraising any type of property.

CERTIFIED RESIDENTIAL APPRAISER Back to top

A sub-classification of appraiser who is only licensed to appraise residential property, usually up to four units.

CHAIN OF TITLE Back to top

The complete history of ownership of a piece of property.

CHATTEL Back to top

Any personal property which is not attached to or an integral part of a property. Chattel is not commonly taken into consideration when appraising the value of real property.

CIRCUIT BREAKERS Back to top

Electrical devices which automatically open electrical circuits if they are overloaded.

CLEAR TITLE Back to top

Ownership of property that is not encumbered by any counter-claim or lien.

CLOSING Back to top

A torturous process designed to induce cramping in a home buyer’s hands by requiring signature on countless pieces of documentation that nobody has ever read. Or, the process whereby the sale of a property is consummated with the buyer completing all applicable documentation, including signing the mortgage obligation and paying all appropriate costs associated with the sale (CLOSING COSTS).

CLOSING COSTS Back to top

All appropriate costs generated by the sale of property which the parties must pay to complete the transaction. Costs may include appraisal fees, origination fees, title insurance, taxes and any points negotiated in the deal.

CLOSING STATEMENT Back to top

The document detailing the final financial arrangement between a buyer and seller and the costs paid by each.

CO-BORROWER Back to top

A second person sharing obligation on the loan and title on the property.

COLLATERAL Back to top

An asset which is placed at risk to secure the repayment of a loan.

COLLECTION Back to top

The process a lender takes to pursue a borrower who is delinquent on his payments in order to bring the mortgage current again. Includes documentation that may be used in foreclosure.

CO-MAKER Back to top

A second party who signs a loan, along with the borrower, and becomes liable for the debt should the borrower default.

COMMON LAW Back to top

As opposed to statute law. Laws that have been established by custom, usage and courts over many years.

COMMISSION Back to top

A percentage of the sales price or a fixed fee negotiated by an agent to compensate for the effort expended to sell or purchase property.

COMMON AREA ASSESSMENTS Back to top

Fees which are charged to the tenets or owners of properties to cover the costs of maintaining areas shared with other tenets or owners. Commonly found in condominium, PUD or office spaces.

COMMON AREAS Back to top

Any areas, such as entryways, foyers, pools, recreational facilities or the like, which are shared by the tenets or owners of property near by. Commonly found in condominium, PUD or office spaces.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY Back to top

In many jurisdictions, any property which has been acquired by a married couple. The ownership of the property is considered equal unless stipulated otherwise by both parties.

COMPARABLES Back to top

An abbreviated term used by appraisers to describe properties which are similar in size, condition, location and amenities to a subject property whose value is being determined. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) establish clear guidelines for determining a comparable property.

COMPOUND INTEREST Back to top

Interest paid on the principal amount, as well as any accumulated interest.

CONCESSIONS Back to top

Additional value granted by a buyer or seller to entice another party to complete a deal.

CONDEMNATION Back to top

The official process by which a property is deemed to be uninhabitable or unusable due to internal damage or other external conditions.

CONDENSATION Back to top

The transition of water vapor to liquid. Typically forms in areas of high humidity.

CONDOMINIUM Back to top

A development where individual units are owned, but common areas and amenities are shared equally by all owners.

CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION Back to top

Commonly, the conversion of a rental property such as an apartment complex into a CONDOMINIUM-style complex where each unit is owned rather than leased.

CONDUIT Back to top

The pipe through which electric wiring is run.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN Back to top

A loan made to a builder or home owner that finances the initial construction of a property, but is replaced by a traditional mortgage one the property is completed.

CONTIGUOUS Back to top

Connected to or touching along an unbroken boundary.

CONTINGENCY Back to top

Something that must occur before something else happens. Often used in real estate sales when a buyer must sell a current home before purchasing a new one. Or, when a buyer makes an offer that requires a complete home inspection before it becomes official.

CONTRACT Back to top

A legally binding agreement, oral or written, between two parties.

CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE Back to top

A traditional, real estate financing mechanism that is not backed by any government or other agency (FHA, VA, etc.).

CONVERTIBLE ARM Back to top

A mortgage that begins as and adjustable, that allows the borrower to convert the loan to a fixed rate within a specific timeframe.

COOPERATIVE (CO-OP) Back to top

A form of ownership where each resident of a multiunit property owns a share in a cooperative corporation that owns the building. With each resident having rights to a specific unit within the building.

CORPORATE RELOCATION Back to top

A situation where a person’s employer pays all or some of the expenses associated with moving from one location to another, usually over a substantial distance. Relocation expenses often include the amounts, such as brokerage fees, incurred in the selling and buying of the employee’s primary residence.

COST OF FUNDS INDEX (COFI) Back to top

An index of financial institutions costs used to set interest rates for some Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

COVENANT Back to top

A stipulation in any mortgage that, if not met, can be cause for the lender to foreclose.

CREDIT Back to top

A loan of money for the purchase of property, real or personal. Credit is either secured by an asset, such as a home, or unsecured.

CREDIT HISTORY Back to top

A record of debt payments, past and present. Used by mortgage lenders in determining credit worthiness of individuals.

CREDITOR Back to top

A person to whom money is owed.

CREDIT REPORT Back to top

A detailed report of an individuals credit, employment and residence history prepared by a credit bureau. Used by lenders to determine credit worthiness of individuals.

CREDIT REPOSITORY Back to top

Large companies that gather and store financial and credit information about individuals who apply for credit.

CUL-DE-SAC Back to top

A dead-end street. One with only one entrance/exit.

D

DATE OF APPRAISAL Back to top

The specific point in time as of which an appraiser designates the value of a home. Often stipulated as the date of inspection.

DEBT Back to top

An obligation to repay some amount owed. This may or may not be monetary.

DEBT EQUITY RATIO Back to top

The ratio of the amount a mortgagor still owes on a property to the amount of equity they have in the home. Equity is calculated at the fair-market value of the home, less any outstanding mortgage debt.

DEED Back to top

A document indicating the ownership of a property.

DEED-IN-LIEU (OF FORECLOSURE) Back to top

A document given by a borrower to a lender, transferring title of the property. Often used to avoid credit-damaging foreclosure procedures.

DEED OF TRUST Back to top

A document which transfers title in a property to a trustee, whose obligations and powers are stipulated. Often used in mortgage transactions.

DEED OF RECONVEYANCE Back to top

A document which transfers ownership of a property from a Trustee back to a borrower who has fulfilled the obligations of a mortgage.

DEED OF RELEASE Back to top

A document which dismisses a lien or other claim on a property.

DEED OF SURRENDER Back to top

A document used to surrender any claim a person has to a property.

DEFAULT Back to top

The condition in which a borrower has failed to meet the obligations of a loan or mortgage.

DELINQUENCY Back to top

The state in which a borrow has failed to meet payment obligations on time.

DEPOSIT Back to top

Cash given along with an offer to purchase property, Also called EARNEST MONEY.

DEPRECIATION Back to top

The natural decline in property value due to market forces or depletion of resources.

DETACHED SINGLE-FAMILY HOME Back to top

A single building improvement intended to serve as a home for one family.

DISCOUNT POINTS Back to top

Points paid in addition to the loan origination fee to get a lower interest rate. One point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.

DISTRESSED PROPERTY Back to top

A mortgaged property which has been foreclosed on.

DOWNSPOUT Back to top

The pipe that water moves through to reach the ground from the rain gutter.

DUE-ON-SALE PROVISION Back to top

A clause in a mortgage giving the lender the right to demand payment of the full balance when the borrower sells the property.

DUPLEX Back to top

A single-building improvement which is divided and provides two units which serve as homes to two families.

DWELLING Back to top

A house or other building which serves as a home.

DOWN PAYMENT Back to top

An amount paid in cash for a property, with the intent to mortgage the remaining amount due.

E

EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT Back to top

A cash deposit made to a home seller to secure an offer to buy the property. This amount is often forfeited if the buyer decides to withdraw his offer.

EASEMENT Back to top

The right of a non-owner of property to exert control over a portion or all of the property. For example, power companies often own an easement over residential properties for access to their power lines.

EAVE Back to top

The part of the roof that extends beyond the exterior wall.

ECONOMIC DEPRECIATION Back to top

The decline in property value caused by external forces, such as neighborhood blight or adverse development.

ECONOMIC LIFE Back to top

The amount of time which any income-producing property is able to provide benefits to its owner.

EFFECTIVE AGE Back to top

The subjective, estimated age of a property based on its condition, rather than the actual time since it was built. Excessive wear and tear can cause a property’s effective age to be greater than its actual age.

EMINENT DOMAIN Back to top

The legal process whereby a government can take ownership of a piece of property in order to convert it to public use. Often, the property owner is paid fair-market value for the property.

ENCROACHMENT Back to top

A building or other improvement on one property which invades another property or restricts its usage.

ENCUMBRANCE Back to top

A claim against a property. Examples are mortgages, liens and easements.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY RATIO Back to top

An efficiency rating system for air conditioning units that corresponds to the number of BTU’s output per watt of electricity used.

EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT (ECOA) Back to top

U.S. federal law requiring that lenders afford people equal chance of getting credit without discrimination based on race, religion, age, sex etc

EQUITY Back to top

The difference between the fair market value of a property and that amount an owner owes on any mortgages or loans secured by the property.

EQUITY BUILDUP Back to top

The natural increase in the amount of equity an owner has in a property, accumulated through market appreciation and debt repayment.

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS INSURANCE Back to top

An insurance policy taken out by appraisers to cover their liability for any mistakes made during the appraisal process.

ESCROW Back to top

An amount retained by a third party in a trust to meet a future obligation. Often used in the payment of annual taxes or insurance for real property.

ESCROW ACCOUNT Back to top

An account setup by a mortgage servicing company to hold funds with which to pay expenses such as homeowners insurance and property taxes. An extra amount is paid with regular principal and interest payments that go into the escrow account each month.

ESCROW ANALYSIS Back to top

An analysis performed by the lender usually once each year to see that the amount of money going into the escrow account each month is correct for the forecasted expenses.

ESCROW DISBURSEMENTS Back to top

The payout of funds from an escrow account to pay property expenses such as taxes and insurance.

ESTATE Back to top

The total of all property and assets owned by an individual.

EXAMINATION OF TITLE Back to top

The report on the title of a property from the public records or an abstract of the title.

EXCLUSIVE LISTING Back to top

An agreement between the owner of a property and a real estate agent giving the agent exclusive right to sell the property.

EXECUTOR Back to top

The person named in a will to administer the estate.

F

FACADE Back to top

The front exposure of any building. Often used to describe an artificial or false front which is not consistent with the construction of the rest of the building.

FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT Back to top

A federal law regulating the way credit agencies disclose consumer credit reports and the remedies available to consumers for disputing and correcting mistakes on their credit history.

FAIR MARKET VALUE Back to top

The price at which two unrelated parties, under no duress, are willing to transact business.

FANNIE MAE Back to top

A private, shareholder-owned company that works to make sure mortgage money is available for people to purchase homes. Created by Congress in 1938, Fannie Mae is the nation’s largest source of financing for home mortgages.

FASCIA Back to top

The boards that enclose the eaves.

FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (FDIC) Back to top

The U.S. Government agency created in 1933 which maintains the stability of and public confidence in the nation’s financial system by insuring deposits and promoting safe and sound banking practices.

FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION (FHA) Back to top

A sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created in the 1930’s to facilitate the purchase of homes by low-income, first-time home buyers. It currently provides federally-subsidized mortgage insurance for private lenders.

FEE APPRAISER Back to top

A certified, professional appraiser who forms an opinion of the fair market value of property and receives a set fee in exchange.

FEE SIMPLE Back to top

A complete, unencumbered ownership right in a piece of property.

FEE SIMPLE ESTATE Back to top

A form or ownership, or holding title to real estate. It is the most complete form of title, having an unconditional and unlimited interest of perpetual duration.

FHA MORTGAGE Back to top

A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

FINAL VALUE ESTIMATE Back to top

The opinion of value of a piece of property resulting from an appraisal following the USPAP guidelines.

FIRST MORTGAGE Back to top

The primary loan or mortgage secured by a piece of property.

FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE (FRM) Back to top

A mortgage which has a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan.

FIXTURE Back to top

Any piece of personal property which becomes permanently affixed to a piece of real property.

FLASHING Back to top

The metal used around the base of roof mounted equipment, or at the junction of angles used to prevent leaking.

FLOOD INSURANCE Back to top

Supplemental insurance which covers a home owner for any loss due to water damage from a flood. Often required by lenders for homes located in FEMA-designated flood zones.

FLOOR PLAN Back to top

The representation of a building which shows the basic outline of the structure, as well as detailed information about the positioning of rooms, hallways, doors, stairs and other features. Often includes detailed information about other fixtures and amenities.

FLUE Back to top

The furnace exhaust pipe, usually going through the roof.

FLUSH VALVE Back to top

The valve between the toilet bowl and the tank.

FOOTING Back to top

The partially buried support for a vertical structural member such as a post.

FORECLOSURE Back to top

The process whereby a lender can claim the property used by a borrower to secure a mortgage and sell the property to meet the obligations of the loan.

FORFEITURE Back to top

The loss of property or money due to the failure to meet the obligations of a mortgage or loan secured by that property.

FOUNDATION Back to top

The solid structural element upon which a structure is built.

FRONTAGE Back to top

The segment of a property that runs along a point of access, such as a street or water front.

FUNCTIONAL OBSOLESCENCE Back to top

A decrease in the value of property due to a feature or lack thereof which renders the property undesirable. Functional obsolescence can also occur when the surrounding area changes, rendering the property unusable for its originally intended purpose.

G

GABLE ROOF Back to top

A steeply angled, triangular roof.

GALVANIZED PIPE Back to top

Iron pipe with a galvanized (zinc) coating.

GAMBREL ROOF Back to top

A ”barn-like” roof, where the upper portion of the roof is less-steeply angled than the lower part.

GENERAL LIEN Back to top

A broad-based claim against several properties owned by a defaulting party.

GEORGIAN Back to top

A classic, English-style hose characterized by simple rectangular shape and multiple stories.

GFI Back to top

Ground Fault Interrupter. A type of circuit breaker required in areas where water is present.

GINNIE MAE Back to top

A wholly owned corporation created in 1968 within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to serve low-to moderate-income homebuyers.

GIRDER Back to top

A main supporting beam.

GOVERNMENT MORTGAGE Back to top

Any mortgage insured by a government agency, such as the FHA or VA.

GRADE Back to top

The slope of land around a building. Also ground level.

GRANTEE Back to top

Any person who is given ownership of a piece of property.

GRANTOR Back to top

Any person who gives away ownership of a piece of property.

GROSS AREA Back to top

The sum total of all floor space, including areas such as stairways and closet space. Often measured based on external wall lengths.

GROUTING Back to top

Material used around ceramic tile.

GUTTER Back to top

The trough around the edge of the roof that catches and diverts rain.

H

HALF-SECTION Back to top

320 acres.

HAZARD INSURANCE Back to top

Insurance covering damage to a property caused by hazards such as fire, wind and accident.

HEADER Back to top

The framing elements above an opening such as a window or door.

HEARTH Back to top

The floor of a fireplace or the area immediately in front of it.

HEIGHT ZONING Back to top

A municipal restriction on the maximum height of any building or other structure.

HIDDEN AMENITIES Back to top

Assets of a property which contribute to its value, but are not readily apparent. Examples might include upgraded or premium building materials.

HIGHEST AND BEST USE Back to top

The most profitable and likely use of a property. Selected from reasonably probable and legal alternative uses, which are found to be physically possible, appropriately supported and financially feasible to result in the highest possible land value.

HOME EQUITY CONVERSION MORTGAGE (HECM) Back to top

Also known as a reverse annuity mortgage. It allows home owners (usually older) to convert equity in the home into cash. Normally paid by the lender in monthly payments. HECM’s typically do not have to be repaid until the borrower is no longer occupying the home.

HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT Back to top

A type of mortgage loan that allows the borrower to draw cash against the equity in his home.

HOME INSPECTION Back to top

A complete examination of a building to determine its structural integrity and uncover any defects in materials or workmanship which may adversely affect the property or decrease its value.

HOME INSPECTOR Back to top

A person who performs professional home inspections. Usually, with an extensive knowledge of house construction methods, common house problems, how to identify those problems and how to correct them.

HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION Back to top

An organization of home owners in a particular neighborhood or development formed to facilitate the maintenance of common areas and to enforce any building restrictions or covenants.

HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE Back to top

A policy which covers a home owner for any loss of property due to accident, intrusion or hazard.

HOMEOWNER’S WARRANTY Back to top

An insurance policy covering the repair of systems and appliances within the home for the coverage period.

HUD MEDIAN INCOME Back to top

Median family income for a particular county or metropolitan statistical area (MSA), as estimated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD-1 STATEMENT Back to top

A standardized, itemized list, published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), of all anticipated CLOSING COSTS connected with a particular property purchase.

I

IMPROVED LAND Back to top

Any parcel of land which has been changed from its natural state through the creation of roads, buildings or other structures.

IMPROVEMENTS Back to top

Any item added to vacant land with the intent of increasing its value or usability.

IMPROVEMENT RATIO Back to top

The comparative value of an improved piece of land to its natural, unaltered state.

INCOME APPROACH Back to top

The process of estimating the value of property by considering the present value of a stream of income generated by the property.

INCOME PROPERTY Back to top

A piece of property whose highest and best use is the generation of income through rents or other sources.

INDEPENDENT APPRAISAL Back to top

An estimation of value created by a professional, certified appraiser with no vested interest in the value of the property.

INSPECTION Back to top

The examination of a piece of property, its buildings or other amenities.

INSURABLE TITLE Back to top

The title to property which has been sufficiently reviewed by a title insurance company, such that they are willing to insure it as free and clear.

INTEREST RATE Back to top

A percentage of a loan or mortgage value that is paid to the lender as compensation for loaning funds.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY Back to top

Any piece of property that is expected to generate a financial return. This may come as the result of periodic rents or through appreciation of the property value over time.

J

JAMB Back to top

The side of a door frame.

JOINT TENANCY Back to top

A situation where two or more parties own a piece of property together. Each of the owners has an equal share, and may not dispose of or alter that share without the consent of the other owners.

JOISTS Back to top

Horizontal beams laid on edge to support flooring or a ceiling.

JUDGMENT Back to top

An official court decision. If the judgment requires payment from one party to another, the court may put a lien against the payee’s property as collateral.

JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE Back to top

A type of foreclosure conducted as a civil suit in a court of law.

JUMBO LOAN Back to top

A mortgage loan for an amount greater than the limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Often called non-conforming loans.

L

LALLY COLUMN Back to top

A concrete filled steel pipe used to support beams.

LATE CHARGE Back to top

An extra charge, or penalty added to a regular mortgage payment when the payment is made late by an amount of time specified in the original loan document.

LATENT DEFECTS Back to top

Any defect in a piece of property which is not readily apparent, but which has an impact of the value. Structural damage or termite infestation would be examples of latent defects.

LEASE Back to top

A contract between a property owner and a tenant specifying the payment amount, terms and conditions, as well as the length of time the contract will be in force.

LEASEHOLD ESTATE Back to top

A type of property ”ownership” where the buyer actually has a long-term lease on the property.

LEASE OPTION Back to top

A lease agreement that gives the tenant an option to buy the property. Usually, a portion of the regular monthly rent payment will be applied towards the down payment.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION Back to top

The description of a piece of property, identifying its specific location in terms established by the municipality or other jurisdiction in which the property resides. Often related in specific distances from a known landmark or intersection.

LENDER Back to top

The person or entity who loans funds to a buyer. In return, the lender will receive periodic payments, including principal and interest amounts.

LIABILITIES Back to top

A person’s outstanding debt obligations.

LIABILITY INSURANCE Back to top

Insurance that covers against potential lawsuit brought against a property owner for alleged negligence resulting in damage to another party.

LIEN Back to top

Any claim against a piece of property resulting from a debt or other obligation.

LIFE CAP Back to top

A limit on how far the interest rate can move for an Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

LIKE-KIND PROPERTY Back to top

Any property which is substantially similar to another property.

LINE OF CREDIT Back to top

An extension of credit for a certain amount for a specific amount of time. To be used by the borrower at his discretion.

LIQUID ASSET Back to top

Any asset which can be quickly converted into cash at little or no cost, or cash itself.

LOAN Back to top

Money borrowed, to be repaid with interest, according to the specific terms and conditions of the loan.

LOAN OFFICER Back to top

A person that “sells” loans, representing the lender to the borrower, and the borrower to the lender.

LOAN ORIGINATION Back to top

How a lender refers to the process of writing new loans.

LOAN SERVICING Back to top

The processing of payments, mailing of monthly statements, management and disbursement of escrow funds etc Typically carried out by the company you make payments to.

LOAN-TO-VALUE RATIO (LTV) Back to top

The comparison of the amount owed on a mortgaged property to its fair market value.

LOCK-IN Back to top

An agreement between a lender and a borrower, guaranteeing an interest rate for a loan if the loan is closed within a certain amount of time.

LOCK-IN PERIOD Back to top

The amount of time the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower.

M

MAJOR DEFICIENCY Back to top

A deficiency that strongly impacts the usability and habitability of a house. Or a deficiency that may be very expensive to repair.

MANUFACTURED HOUSING Back to top

Once known as ”mobile homes,” manufactured housing is any building which has been constructed off site, then moved onto a piece of real property.

MARGIN Back to top

The difference between the interest rate and the index on an adjustable rate mortgage.

MARGINAL LAND Back to top

Land whose value has been diminished due to some internal defect or external condition. In most cases, the cost to correct the flaw or condition is as much or more than the expected return from the property.

MASTER ASSOCIATION Back to top

An umbrella organization that is made up of multiple, smaller home owner’s associations. Often found in very large developments or condominium projects.

MATURITY Back to top

The date on which the principal balance of a financial instrument becomes due and payable.

MERGED CREDIT REPORT Back to top

A credit report derived from data obtained from multiple credit agencies.

METES AND BOUNDS Back to top

A traditional way of describing property, generally expressed in terms of distance from a known landmark or intersection, and then following the boundaries of the property back to its origin.

METROPOLITAN AREA Back to top

The accumulated land in and around a city or other municipality which falls under the political and economic influence of that entity.

MINERAL RIGHTS Back to top

The legal right to exploit and enjoy the benefits of any minerals located below the surface of a parcel of land.

MISREPRESENTATION Back to top

A statement by one party in a transaction that is incorrect or misleading. Most misrepresentations are deemed to be intentional and thus may constitute fraud. Others, however, some are rendered through simple mistakes, oversights or negligence.

MORTGAGE Back to top

A financial arrangement wherein an individual borrows money to purchase real property and secures the loan with the property as collateral.

MORTGAGE BANKER Back to top

A financial institution that provides primary and secondary mortgages to home buyers.

MORTGAGE BROKER Back to top

A person or organization that serves as a middleman to facilitate the mortgage process. Brokers often represent multiple mortgage bankers and offer the most appropriate deal to each buyer.

MORTGAGEE Back to top

The entity that lends money in a real estate transaction.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE Back to top

A policy that fulfills those obligations of a mortgage when the policy holder defaults or is no longer able to make payments.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM (MIP) Back to top

A fee that is often included in mortgage payments that pays for mortgage insurance coverage.

MORTGAGE LIFE INSURANCE Back to top

A policy that fulfills the obligations of a mortgage when the policy holder dies.

MORTGAGOR Back to top

The entity that borrows money in a real estate transaction.

MULTI-FAMILY PROPERTIES Back to top

Any collection of buildings that are designed and built to support the habitation of more than four families.

N

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MASTER APPRAISERS (NAMA) Back to top

A non profit professional association organized in 1982, dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate appraisal.

NATIONAL SOCIETY OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS Back to top

An organization founded in 1956 which promotes standards of professionalism in its members.

NATURAL VACANCY RATE Back to top

The percentage of vacant properties in a given area that is the result of natural turnover and market forces.

NEGATIVE AMORTIZATION Back to top

When the balance of a loan increases instead of decreases. Usually due to a borrower making a minimum payment on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage during a period when the rate fluctuates to a high enough point that the minimum payment does not cover all of the interest.

NEIGHBORHOOD LIFE-CYCLE Back to top

The evolution of neighborhood use and demographics over time. Economic fluctuations, municipal zoning changes and population shifts can effect the life cycle.

NEIGHBORHOOD Back to top

A subsection of a municipality that has been designated by a developer, economic forces or physical formations.

NET LEASABLE AREA Back to top

The space in a development, outside of the common areas, that can be rented to tenants.

NEW ENGLAND COLONIAL Back to top

An architectural style dating from early American history typified by a two-story building with clapboard siding.

NO-COST LOAN Back to top

Many lenders offer loans that you can obtain at “no cost.” You should inquire whether this means there are no “lender” costs associated with the loan, or if it also covers the other costs you would normally have in a purchase or refinance transactions, such as title insurance, escrow fees, settlement fees, appraisal, recording fees, notary fees, and others. These are fees and costs which may be associated with buying a home or obtaining a loan, but not charged directly by the lender. Keep in mind that, like a “no-point” loan, the interest rate will be higher than if you obtain a loan that has costs associated with it.

NO-POINT LOAN Back to top

A loan with no “points”. The interest rate on such a loan will be higher than a loan with points paid. Also sometimes refers to a refinance loan where closing costs are included in the loan.

NON-CONFORMING USE Back to top

The use of land for purposes contrary to the applicable municipal zoning specifications. Often occurs when zoning changes after a property is in use.

NONLIQUID ASSET Back to top

Any asset which can not be quickly converted into cash at little or no cost.

NOTE Back to top

A legal document that obligates a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.

NOTE RATE Back to top

The interest rate stated on a mortgage note.

NOTICE OF DEFAULT Back to top

Formal written notice from a lender to a borrower that default has occurred.

O

OBSOLESCENCE Back to top

The process of an assets value diminishing due to the development of more desirable alternatives or because of the degradation of its capabilities.

OCCUPANCY Back to top

A physical presence within and control of a property.

OCCUPANCY RATE Back to top

The percentage of properties in a given area that are occupied.

OCTOPUS RECEPTACLE Back to top

An outlet with too many devices plugged into it, using a power strip or other device to multiply the outlets.

OFF-SITE IMPROVEMENTS Back to top

Buildings, structures or other amenities which are not located on a piece of property, but are necessary to maximize the use of the property or in some way contribute to the value of the property.

OFF-STREET PARKING Back to top

Designated parking spaces associated with a particular building or other structure which are not located on public streets.

OLD TERMITE ACTIVITY Back to top

Where no termites are currently active, but indications of past activity can be seen.

ON-SITE IMPROVEMENTS Back to top

Buildings, structures or other amenities that are erected on a piece of property and contribute to its value.

OPEN SPACE Back to top

Any land which has not had any significant buildings or structures erected on it. Most often used to describe desirable neighborhood features like parks.

OPEN SPLICE Back to top

An uncovered electrical connection.

ORIGINAL EQUITY Back to top

The amount of cash a home buyer initially invests in the home.

ORIGINAL PRINCIPAL BALANCE Back to top

The total amount of principal owed on a mortgage loan at the time of closing.

ORIGINATION FEE Back to top

Refers to the total number of points paid by a borrower at closing.

OWNER FINANCING Back to top

A transaction where the property owner provides all or part of the financing.

OWNER OCCUPIED Back to top

The state of property wherein the owner occupies at least some portion of the property.

P

PARGING Back to top

The cement coat applied to block foundations.

PARTIAL INTEREST Back to top

A shared ownership in a piece of property. May be divided among two or more parties.

PARTIAL PAYMENT Back to top

A payment of less than the regular monthly amount. Usually, a lender will not accept partial payments.

PERIODIC PAYMENT CAP Back to top

The limit on how much regular monthly payments on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can change during one adjustment period.

PERIODIC RATE CAP Back to top

The limit on how much the interest rate on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can change during any one adjustment period.

PERSONAL PROPERTY Back to top

Owned items which are not permanently affixed to the land.

PERSONAL RESIDENCE Back to top

The primary domicile of a person or family.

PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT (PUD) Back to top

A coordinated, real estate development where common areas are shared and maintained by an owner’s association or other entity.

PLAT Back to top

A plan or chart of a piece of land which lays out existing or planned streets, lots or other improvements.

POINT Back to top

A percentage of a mortgage amount (one point = 1 percent).

PRE-APPROVAL Back to top

The process of applying for a mortgage loan and becoming approved for a certain amount at a certain interest rate before a property has been chosen. Pre-approval allows the borrower greater freedom in negotiations with sellers.

PREFABRICATED Back to top

Any building or portion thereof which is manufactured and assembled off site, then erected on a property.

PREPAYMENT Back to top

Payment made that reduces the principal balance of a loan before the due date and before the loan has become fully amortized.

PREPAYMENT PENALTY Back to top

A fee that may be charged to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.

PRE-QUALIFICATION Back to top

Less formal that pre-approval, pre-qualification usually means a written statement from a loan officer indicating his or her opinion that the borrower will be able to become approved for a mortgage loan.

PRIME RATE Back to top

The interest rate that banks and other lending institutions charge other banks or preferred customers.

PRINCIPAL Back to top

The amount owed on a mortgage which does not include interest or other fees.

PRINCIPAL BALANCE Back to top

The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage. Does not included interest due.

PRINCIPAL, INTEREST, TAXES, AND INSURANCE (PITI) Back to top

The most common constituents of a monthly mortgage payment.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI) Back to top

A form of mortgage insurance provided by private, non-government entities. Normally required when the LOAN TO VALUE RATIO is less that 20%.

PROPERTY Back to top

Any item which is owned or possessed.

PURCHASE AGREEMENT Back to top

A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

Q

QUADRAPLEX Back to top

Any building designed to accommodate four families.

QUALIFYING RATIOS Back to top

Two ratios used in determining credit worthiness for a mortgage loan. One is the ratio of a borrower’s monthly housing costs to monthly income. The other is a ratio of all monthly debt to monthly income.

QUITCLAIM DEED Back to top

A legal document which transfers any ownership an individual has in a piece of property. Often used when the amount of ownership is not known or is unclear.

R

RAFTER Back to top

A structural element of the roof, sloping from the peak to the outer walls.

RANCH HOUSE Back to top

An architectural style typified by a single-story, low-roof construction. Popular in the western U.S.

RATE LOCK Back to top

A guarantee from a lender of a specific interest rate for a period of time.

RAW LAND Back to top

Any land which has not been developed.

REAL ESTATE Back to top

A piece of land and any improvements or fixtures located on that land.

REAL ESTATE AGENT Back to top

A licensed professional who facilitates the buying and selling of real estate.

REAL ESTATE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES ACT (RESPA) Back to top

A federal law requiring lenders to give full disclosure of closing costs to borrowers.

REAL PROPERTY Back to top

Land, improvements and appurtenances, and the interest and benefits thereof.

REALTOR Back to top

A real estate agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

RECEPTACLE Back to top

An electrical outlet to plug into.

RECORDER Back to top

A local government employee whose role it is to keep records of all real estate transactions within the jurisdiction.

RECORDING Back to top

The filing of a real estate transaction with the appropriate government agent (normally the RECORDER). A real estate transaction is considered final when it is recorded.

REFINANCE TRANSACTION Back to top

A new loan to pay off an existing loan. Typically to gain a lower interest rate or convert equity into cash.

REGISTER Back to top

Where air from a furnace or air conditioning system enters the room.

RELOCATION SERVICE Back to top

Any company or agency that assists corporate employees in relocating from one place to another. Services may include hiring and coordinating real estate agents, moving companies, utilizes and the like.

REMAINING BALANCE Back to top

The amount of principal, interest and other costs that has not yet been repaid.

REMAINING TERM Back to top

The amount of time remaining on the original amortization schedule.

REMODEL Back to top

An activity designed to improve the value or desirability of a property through rebuilding, refurbishing, redecorating or adding on to it.

REPAYMENT PLAN Back to top

A plan to repay delinquent payments, agreed upon between a lender and borrower, in an effort to avoid foreclosure.

REPLACEMENT RESERVE FUND Back to top

An account, or fund, setup for the replacement of short life items, such as carpeting, in the common areas of a cooperative property.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY Back to top

A piece of property whose highest and best use is the maintenance of a residence.

REVOLVING DEBT Back to top

A type of credit that allows the borrower/customer to make charges against a predetermined line of credit. The customer then pays monthly installments on the amount borrowed, plus interest.

RIDGE BOARD Back to top

The structural member of a roof where the rafters join at the top.

RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL Back to top

An agreement giving a person the first opportunity to buy or lease a property before the owner offers it for sale to others.

ROOF PITCH Back to top

The degree of slope in a roof.

RURAL Back to top

An area outside of an established urban area or metropolitan district.

S

SALE PRICE Back to top

The actual price a property sells for, exclusive of any special financing concessions.

SALES COMPARISON APPROACH Back to top

An appraisal practice which estimates the value of a property by comparing it to comparable properties which have sold recently.

SCARCITY Back to top

An economic principal that dictates the price of a good or service through the interaction of supply and demand. When an item is scarce, its price tends to rise, given a constant demand. Real Estate is a classic example of scarcity.

SECOND MORTGAGE Back to top

A loan secured by the equity in a home, when a primary mortgage already exists.

SECONDARY MORTGAGE MARKET Back to top

An economic marketplace where mortgage bankers buy and sell existing mortgages.

SECURED LOAN Back to top

A loan that is backed by collateral. In the case of a mortgage loan, the collateral is the house.

SECURITY Back to top

The property used as collateral for a loan.

SEMIDETACHED HOUSING Back to top

Two residences which share a common wall.

SERVICER Back to top

A financial institution which collects mortgage payments from borrowers and applies the appropriate portions to principal, interest and any escrow accounts.

SERVICING Back to top

The processing of payments, mailing of monthly statements, management and disbursement of escrow funds etc Typically carried out by the company you make payments to.

SHEATHING Back to top

The covering on outside walls beneath the siding or exterior finish such as stucco.

SHEETROCK Back to top

Also called drywall, the gypsum board commonly used on interior walls.

SILL PLATE Back to top

The lumber used around the foundation to support exterior wall framing.

SILL COCK Back to top

Garden hose pipe connection.

SINGLE-FAMILY PROPERTY Back to top

A property designed and built to support the habitation of one family.

SOFFIT Back to top

The underside of a cornice at the eaves.

STUCCO Back to top

A textured plaster exterior (and occasionally interior) wall finish.

STUD Back to top

A vertical framing piece in a wall, generally 2×4 lumber in interior walls.

SUBDIVISION Back to top

A residential development that is created from a piece of land which has been subdivided into individual lots.

SUBJECT PROPERTY Back to top

A term which indicates a property which is being appraised.

SUMP Back to top

A basin into which water drains and from which the water is pumped out.

SURVEY Back to top

A specific map of a piece of property which includes the legal boundaries and any improvements or features of the land. Surveys also depict any rights-of-way, encroachments or easements.

SWEAT EQUITY Back to top

The method whereby a home owner develops equity in a property, either during the purchase or throughout its life, by personally constructing improvements rather than paying to have them built.

T

TAX-EXEMPT PROPERTY Back to top

Any property which is not taxed.

TENANCY Back to top

The right to occupy a building or unit.

TENANCY IN COMMON Back to top

A form of holding title, whereby there are two or more people on title to a property, ownership does not pass on to the others upon the death of one individual.

THIRD PARTY ORIGINATION Back to top

When a lender uses a third party to originate and package loans for sale to the secondary market (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac).

TITLE Back to top

A specific document which serves as proof of ownership.

TITLE COMPANY Back to top

An organization which researches and certifies ownership of real estate before it is bought or sold. Title companies also act at the facilitator ensures all parties are paid during the real estate transaction.

TITLE INSURANCE Back to top

A policy which insures a property owner should a prior claim arise against the property after the purchase has been completed. This also covers a lender should a question of ownership arise.

TITLE SEARCH Back to top

The process whereby the TITLE COMPANY researches a properties title history and ensures that no outstanding claims exist.

TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP Back to top

Any means by which the ownership of a property changes hands.

TRANSFER OF TAX Back to top

Taxes payable when title passes from one owner to another.

TRAP Back to top

A bend in water pipe.

TRUSTEE Back to top

A fiduciary that holds or controls property for the benefit of another.

TRUTH IN LENDING Back to top

A federal law requiring full disclosure by lenders to borrowers of all terms, conditions and costs of a mortgage.

TUDOR Back to top

A style of architecture typified by exposed stone, wood and brick construction. Similar in style to English manor homes.

U

UNDER IMPROVED LAND Back to top

A piece of land which has been improved, but not to the full extent of its potential.

UNENCUMBERED PROPERTY Back to top

Any property which has no outstanding claims or liens against it.

UNIFORM STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL PRACTICE (USPAP) Back to top

Developed in 1986 by the Ad Hoc Committee on Uniform Standards and copyrighted in 1987 by The Appraisal Foundation, USPAP forms the guidelines followed by every licensed and certified real estate appraiser in the United States. The purpose of these Standards is to establish requirements for professional appraisal practice, which includes appraisal, appraisal review, and appraisal consulting. The intent of these Standards is to promote and maintain a high level of public trust in professional appraisal practice.

USEFUL LIFE Back to top

The span of time over which a property can be used or can provide benefits to its owner.

V

VACANCY RATE Back to top

The current percentage of vacant properties in a given area, regardless of why they are vacant.

VA MORTGAGE Back to top

A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VARIANCE Back to top

An exception to municipal zoning regulations granted for a specific time period to allow for non-conforming use of the land.

VENT PIPE Back to top

A pipe allowing gas to escape.

VESTED Back to top

Having the right to use a portion of a fund such as an IRA. Typically vesting occurs over time. If you are 100% vested, you have a right to 100% of the fund.

VETERANS AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF (VA) Back to top

The successor to the Veteran’s Administration, this government agency is responsible for ensuring the rights and welfare of our nation’s veterans and their dependents. Among other duties, the VA insures home loans made to veterans.

VOLTAGE Back to top

An expression of electric force, or pressure. One volt being the force needed to move one amp against one ohm resistance.

W

WALK-THROUGH INSPECTION Back to top

A process whereby an appraiser examines a property in preparation for estimating its value. Also, the process of inspecting a property for any damage prior to that property being bought or sold.

WARRANTY Back to top

An affidavit given to stipulate the condition of a property. The person giving the warranty assumes liability if the condition turns out to be untrue.

WATT Back to top

An expression of amount of electrical power. Volt times amps equals watts.

WEAR AND TEAR Back to top

A term used to indicate the normal damage inflicted on a property through every-day use.

WEATHER STRIPPING Back to top

Material used around windows and doors to prevent drafts.

WEEP HOLE Back to top

Drainage hole that allows water to escape.

Z

ZERO LOT LINE Back to top

A municipal zoning category wherein a building or other fixture may abut the property line.

ZONE Back to top

A specific area within a municipality or other jurisdiction which conforms to certain guidelines regarding the use of property in the zone. Typical zones include single-family, multi-family, industrial, commercial and mixed-use.

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