ABSORPTION RATE – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – The natural growth of a piece of land resulting from forces of nature ACRE – 43,560 square feet. A measurement of area.
ACTUAL AGE – The amount of time that has passed since a building or other structure was built. See also: EFFECTIVE AGE
ADJUSTMENT DATE – The date the interest rate changes on an adjustable rate mortgage.
AD VAL OREM TAX – Taxes assessed based on the value of the land and improvements.
ADDENDUM – 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) – A type of mortgage where the interest rate varies based on a particular index, normally the prime lending rate.
ADJUSTED BASIS – 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 – 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 – The additional value a property enjoys based on subjective criteria such as look or appeal.
AFFIRMATION – A declaration that a certain set of facts are truthful.
AFFORDABILITY ANALYSIS – 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 – A person who has been appointed to act on behalf of another for a particular transaction.
AMENITY – 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 – An organization of appraisal professionals and others interested in the appraisal profession.
AMORTIZATION – The repayment of a loan through regular periodic payment.
AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE – The breakdown of individual payments throughout the life of an amortized loan, showing both principal contribution and debt service (interest) fees.
AMORTIZATION TERM – The length of time over which an amortized loan is repaid. Mortgages are commonly amortized over 15 or 30 years.
AMPERAGE – A measure of electric current describing the magnitude.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR) – The rate of annual interest charged on a loan.
ANNUITY – A sum of money paid at regular intervals, often annually.
APPLICATION – 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 – A ”defensible” and carefully documented opinion of value. Most commonly derived using recent sales of comparable properties by a licensed, professional appraiser.
APPRAISAL FOUNDATION – 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 – A world-wide organization dedicated to real estate appraisal education, publication and advocacy.
APPRAISAL PRINCIPLES – The basic building blocks of the property valuation process, including property inspection, market analysis and basic economics.
APPRAISAL REPORT – 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) – 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 – An opinion of the fair market value of a property as developed by a licensed, certified appraiser following accepted appraisal principals.
APPRAISER – 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 – The natural rise in property value due to market forces.
ARMS LENGTH TRANSACTION – 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 – The value of a property according to jurisdictional tax assessment.
ASSESSMENT – The function of assigning a value to a property for the purpose of levying taxes.
ASSESSMENT RATIO – The comparative relationship of a property’s assessed value to its market value.
ASSESSOR – The jurisdictional official who performs the assessment and assigns the value of a property.
ASSIGNMENT – Transfer of ownership of a mortgage usually when the loan is sold to another company.
ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE – A mortgage that can be taken over by the buyer when a home is sold.
ASSUMPTION – When a buyer takes over, or “assumes” the sellers mortgage.
ATTACHED HOUSING – 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.
BANKRUPTCY – 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 – A structural supporting member.
BILL OF SALE – A physical receipt indicating the sale of property.
BIWEEKLY MORTGAGE – 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 – Any region of a city or town that has fallen into disrepair or otherwise has become undesirable.
BONA FIDE – Any genuine offer, made without intent to defraud or deceive.
BRIDGE FINANCING – 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 – Structural members used between beams to strengthen the structure.
BROKER – An individual who facilitates the purchase of property by bringing together a buyer and a seller.
BTU – British Thermal Unit. A unit of measurement used to describe heating or cooling capacity.
BUFFER ZONE – 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 – 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 – The statutory distance between buildings and the property line, imposed by municipalities, home associations, or other agreements.
BUILT-INS – 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 – A one-story, home-style dating from the early twentieth century. Often characterized by a low-pitched roof.
BUY DOWN – 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 – Electrical cable shrouded in a galvanized steel outer cover.
CALL OPTION – A clause in a mortgage which allows the lender to demand payment of the outstanding balance at a specific time.
CAP – 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 – A single-story house style made popular in New England. Often characterized by a steep roof with gables.
CAPITAL – Accumulated goods and money which is most often used to generate additional income.
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE – An outlay of funds designed to improve the income-producing capabilities of an asset or to extend its economic life.
CASH-OUT REFINANCE – Refinancing a mortgage at a higher amount than the current balance in order to transform a portion of the equity into cash.
CAULKING – A pliable material used to seal cracks or openings such as around windows.
CAVEAT EMPTOR – 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 – 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 – 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 – A document issued by the Veterans Administration that certifies eligibility for a VA loan.
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY – 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) – 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 – A document designating the legal owner of a parcel of real estate. Usually provided by a title or abstract company.
CERTIFIED GENERAL APPRAISER – 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 – A sub-classification of appraiser who is only licensed to appraise residential property, usually up to four units.
CHAIN OF TITLE – The complete history of ownership of a piece of property.
CHATTEL – 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 – Electrical devices which automatically open electrical circuits if they are overloaded.
CLEAR TITLE – Ownership of property that is not encumbered by any counter-claim or lien.
CLOSING – 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 – 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 – The document detailing the final financial arrangement between a buyer and seller and the costs paid by each.
CO-BORROWER – A second person sharing obligation on the loan and title on the property.
COLLATERAL – An asset which is placed at risk to secure the repayment of a loan.
COLLECTION – 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 – A second party who signs a loan, along with the borrower, and becomes liable for the debt should the borrower default.
COMMON LAW – As opposed to statute law. Laws that have been established by custom, usage and courts over many years.
COMMISSION – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – Interest paid on the principal amount, as well as any accumulated interest.
CONCESSIONS – Additional value granted by a buyer or seller to entice another party to complete a deal.
CONDEMNATION – The official process by which a property is deemed to be uninhabitable or unusable due to internal damage or other external conditions.
CONDENSATION – The transition of water vapor to liquid. Typically forms in areas of high humidity.
CONDOMINIUM – A development where individual units are owned, but common areas and amenities are shared equally by all owners.
CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION – 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 – The pipe through which electric wiring is run.
CONSTRUCTION LOAN – 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 – Connected to or touching along an unbroken boundary.
CONTINGENCY – 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 – A legally binding agreement, oral or written, between two parties.
CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE – A traditional, real estate financing mechanism that is not backed by any government or other agency (FHA, VA, etc.).
CONVERTIBLE ARM – 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) – 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 – 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) – An index of financial institutions costs used to set interest rates for some Adjustable Rate Mortgages.
COVENANT – A stipulation in any mortgage that, if not met, can be cause for the lender to foreclose.
CREDIT – 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 – A record of debt payments, past and present. Used by mortgage lenders in determining credit worthiness of individuals.
CREDITOR – A person to whom money is owed.
CREDIT REPORT – 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 – Large companies that gather and store financial and credit information about individuals who apply for credit.
CUL-DE-SAC – A dead-end street. One with only one entrance/exit.
DATE OF APPRAISAL – The specific point in time as of which an appraiser designates the value of a home. Often stipulated as the date of inspection.
DEBT – An obligation to repay some amount owed. This may or may not be monetary.
DEBT EQUITY RATIO – 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 – A document indicating the ownership of a property.
DEED-IN-LIEU (OF FORECLOSURE) – 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 – 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 – 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 – A document which dismisses a lien or other claim on a property.
DEED OF SURRENDER – A document used to surrender any claim a person has to a property.
DEFAULT – The condition in which a borrower has failed to meet the obligations of a loan or mortgage.
DELINQUENCY – The state in which a borrow has failed to meet payment obligations on time.
DEPOSIT – Cash given along with an offer to purchase property, Also called EARNEST MONEY.
DEPRECIATION – The natural decline in property value due to market forces or depletion of resources.
DETACHED SINGLE-FAMILY HOME – A single building improvement intended to serve as a home for one family.
DISCOUNT POINTS – 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 – A mortgaged property which has been foreclosed on.
DOWNSPOUT – The pipe that water moves through to reach the ground from the rain gutter.
DUE-ON-SALE PROVISION – A clause in a mortgage giving the lender the right to demand payment of the full balance when the borrower sells the property.
DUPLEX – A single-building improvement which is divided and provides two units which serve as homes to two families.
DWELLING – A house or other building which serves as a home.
DOWN PAYMENT – An amount paid in cash for a property, with the intent to mortgage the remaining amount due.
EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT – 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 – 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 – The part of the roof that extends beyond the exterior wall.
ECONOMIC DEPRECIATION – The decline in property value caused by external forces, such as neighborhood blight or adverse development.
ECONOMIC LIFE – The amount of time which any income-producing property is able to provide benefits to its owner.
EFFECTIVE AGE – 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 – 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 – A building or other improvement on one property which invades another property or restricts its usage.
ENCUMBRANCE – A claim against a property. Examples are mortgages, liens and easements.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY RATIO – 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) – U.S. federal law requiring that lenders afford people equal chance of getting credit without discrimination based on race, religion, age, sex etc
EQUITY – 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 – 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 – An insurance policy taken out by appraisers to cover their liability for any mistakes made during the appraisal process.
ESCROW – 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 – 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 – 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 – The payout of funds from an escrow account to pay property expenses such as taxes and insurance.
ESTATE – The total of all property and assets owned by an individual.
EXAMINATION OF TITLE – The report on the title of a property from the public records or an abstract of the title.
EXCLUSIVE LISTING – An agreement between the owner of a property and a real estate agent giving the agent exclusive right to sell the property.
EXECUTOR – The person named in a will to administer the estate.
FACADE – 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 – 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 – The price at which two unrelated parties, under no duress, are willing to transact business.
FANNIE MAE – 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 – The boards that enclose the eaves.
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (FDIC) – 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) – 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 – A certified, professional appraiser who forms an opinion of the fair market value of property and receives a set fee in exchange.
FEE SIMPLE – A complete, unencumbered ownership right in a piece of property.
FEE SIMPLE ESTATE – 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 – A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
FINAL VALUE ESTIMATE – The opinion of value of a piece of property resulting from an appraisal following the USPAP guidelines.
FIRST MORTGAGE – The primary loan or mortgage secured by a piece of property.
FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE (FRM) – A mortgage which has a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan.
FIXTURE – Any piece of personal property which becomes permanently affixed to a piece of real property.
FLASHING – The metal used around the base of roof mounted equipment, or at the junction of angles used to prevent leaking.
FLOOD INSURANCE – 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 – 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 fe