Real Estate Terms

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Term Definition
Curb Appeal

The general attractiveness of a house or other piece of property from the sidewalk. This term is often used by Realtors trying to sell or evaluate a piece of property. There are many things that can increase the curb appeal of a piece of property. A new paint job, landscaping and siding can go a long way towards accomplishing this. Though not as easily measured as something like square footage, curb appeal plays an important role in property valuation.


The legal document conveying title to a property.

Distressed Property

Property that is under a foreclosure order or is advertised for sale by its' mortgagee is considered to be distressed. Distressed property usually fetches a price that is much below its' actual market value.

FHA Loan

A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Along with VA loans, an FHA loan will often be referred to as a government loan. An agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its main activity is the insuring of residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. The FHA sets standards for construction and underwriting but does not lend money or plan or construct housing. Down payment requirements are typically less with FHA loans than conventional.


The legal process by which a borrower in default under a mortgage is deprived of his or her interest in the mortgaged property. This usually involves a forced sale of the property at public auction with the proceeds of the sale being applied to the mortgage debt.

Home Inspection

A thorough inspection by a professional that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser. Sales contracts typically allow for an inspection period for the buyer and an opportunity for the buyer to request applicable (to the language defined in the contract) repairs, as well as allowing the seller time to respond to the repair request. Home inspections often include radon testing, lead-base-paint testing or mold testing.

Home Warranty

A type of insurance often purchased by home buyers that will cover repairs to certain items, such as heating or air conditioning, should they break down within the coverage period. The buyer often requests the seller to pay for this coverage as a condition of the sale, but either party can pay.


Also known as bonuses or "perks", are an additional payment (or other legal remuneration or reward) typically to buyers as a means of increasing their interest in a property or enabling them to be able to purchase the property. For example, a seller may offer to pay a buyer's allowable closing costs. This enables the buyer to use more of their available funds for down payment or keep more money in their pocket at closing to pay for home improvements. Another example of an incentive would be a home warranty paid for by the seller. A buyer would not only save the cost of buying one for themselves, but a warranty would save them money over time with some of the inevitable repairs, making the property more attractive when they are considering a purchase (or compared to another similar property that does not come with seller paid closing costs or a home warranty).


A term which can refer to the institution making the loan or to the individual representing the firm. For example, loan officers are often referred to as "lenders." In a Realtor's vernacular, a lender is the bank or mortgage company making the loan to a buyer.


A term for any kind of single family home, condominium, townhouse or piece of land for sale. The listing may come from the MLS, from a bank's site if the property is bank-owned. The presence of a listing dictates the accompaniment of a listing agreement, usually between a real estate agency and an owner or seller. Agency representation is the foundation of such an agreement.


Refers to home loans other than government backed loans (VA and FHA). Conventional loans typically require a buyer down payment of a minimum of 5% (95% max. loan-to-value or LTV).


The potential buyers and sellers of real property at the current time, and the current transaction activity for real property. It includes markets for various property types, such as housing market, office market, condominium market, land market. Example: The local real estate market is very active. There have been a record number of sales and there still are many properties on the market.


The MLS is a local or regional service that compiles available real estate for sale by member brokers along with detailed information brokers and agents can access online. Local MLS organizations have their own rules and systems for providing listing information. Over half of the MLSs in the United States are affiliated with the National Association of Realtors(NAR); in other cases, MLSs operate as private businesses but with oversight from major local brokers. Some MLSs publish their own websites for consumers to access listing data directly from the MLS, but mostly MLSs share data by offering a data feed for member brokerages to build their own websites. The most common feed for an MLS to share data with a brokerage website is an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feed, designed to publish a limited set of information that all consumers can see without registration.


A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt. Instead of mortgages, some states use First Trust Deeds. SC uses mortgages. Mortgages are typically accompanied by a deed and promissory note.

Multi Family

A type of home or building with multiple units owned by one or more parties. Condo buildings and duplexes can be considered multi-family residences, but with a duplex, both the property and the land are recorded on one deed. With a condo, the owners only own their individual units, not the common space or land, and each have their own deed.

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