Real Estate Terms

Amortization: The process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly scheduled installments.
Amortization: tables Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower’s monthly payment.
Amperage: The strength of an electrical current.
Anchor bolt: A large steel bolt anchored in concrete and attached to a building to prevent the structure from moving.
Annual: Any kind of plant that must be planted every year.
Annual mortgagor statement- A yearly statement to borrowers that details the remaining principal and amounts paid for taxes and interest.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)- The cost of the loan expressed as a yearly rate on the balance of the loan.
Annuity- The payment of a fixed sum to an investor at regular intervals.
Anticipatory breach- A communication that informs a party that the obligations of the original contract will not be fulfilled.
Application- A document that details a potential borrower’s income, debt and other obligations to determine credit worthiness.
Application fee – The fee that a lender charges to process a loan application.
Appraisal – An opinion of the value of a property at a given point in time.
Appraisal fee- The fee that an appraiser charges to estimate the market value of the property.
Appraisal report – A detailed written report on the value of a property based on recent sales of comparable sites in the area.
Appraised value- An opinion of the current market value of a property.
Appreciation- An increase in the value of a home or other property..
Arbitration- A method of resolving a dispute in which a third party renders a decision.
Arbor- An area shaded by trees, shrubs or vines on a latticework structure.
Arch – A curved structure that supports weight over an area, such as a doorway.
Architect – A licensed professional who designs homes, buildings and other structures.
Architectural fees- The fee an architect charges for services. In general, architects charge for their services by the hour, by the square foot, or by a percentage of the project budget.
Arpent – A French measurement of land equal to .84625 acres.
Asbestos – A fire-resistant mineral used for insulation and home products that has been found to pose a health hazard.
As-is condition- The purchase or sale of a property in its existing condition.
Asking price- A seller’s initial price for a property.
Assessed value – A tax assessor’s determination of the value of a home in order to calculate a tax base.
Assessment – The estimated value of a piece of real estate or a levy placed on property in addition to taxes.
Assessment rolls – A list of taxable property compiled by the assessor.
Assets – Items of value which include cash, real estate, securities and investments.
Assignor – A person who transfers rights and interests of a property.
Assumable mortgage – A mortgage that can be transferred to another borrower.
Assumption clause- A provision that allows a buyer to take responsibility for the mortgage from a seller.
Assumption fee- A fee the lender charges to process new records for a buyer who assumes an existing loan.
Average price – The price of a home determined by totaling the sales prices of all houses sold in an area and dividing that number by the number of homes.
Avigation easement – An easement over private property near an airport that limits the height of structures and trees.
Awning windows- Single-sash windows that tilt outward and up.
Abstract of judgment,law- The summary of a court judgment that creates a lien against a property when filed with the county recorder.
Accelerated cost recovery system- A tax calculation that provides greater depreciation in the early years of ownership of real estate or personal property.
Acceleration clause- A provision that gives a lender the right to collect the balance of a loan if a borrower misses a payment.
Accelerated depreciation – A bookkeeping method that depreciates property faster in the early years of ownership.
Acceptance- The seller’s written approval of a buyer’s offer.
Access – Any means by which a person can enter property.
Accessibility – The degree to which a building or site allows access to people with disabilities.
Accretion – The gradual addition to the shore or bank of a waterway by deposits of sand or silt.
Acknowledgment – A written declaration affirming that a person acted voluntarily.
Acre – A measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet.
Acre foot – The volume of material needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep.
Active solar system – A system that utilizes electric pumps or fans to transfer solar energy for storage or direct use.
Actual age – The number of years a structure has been standing.
Addendum – An addition or change to a contract.
Additional principal payment – Extra money included in the monthly payment to help reduce the principal and shorten the term of the loan.
Add-on interest – The interest a borrower pays on the principal for the duration of the loan.
Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) – A loan with an interest rate that is periodically adjusted to reflect changes in a specified financial index.
Adjusted cost basis – The cost of any improvements the seller makes to the property. Deducting the cost from the original sales price provides the profit or loss of a home when it is sold.
Adjustment period – The amount of time between interest rate adjustments in an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Administrator – A person given authority to manage and distribute the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.
Administrator’s deed- A legal document that an administrator of an estate uses to transfer property.
Adverse possession – The acquisition of title to property through possession without the owner’s consent for a certain period of time.
Adverse use – The access and use of property without the owner’s consent.
Aeolian soil – Soil that is composed of materials deposited by the wind.
Affiant – A person who makes a sworn statement.
Affirmation – A substitution for an oath granted to people based on religious reasons.
A-frame design – An interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters.
Agency – The relationship of trust that exists between sellers and buyers and their agents. The agency is formed through a written contract.
Agency closing – The process by which a lender uses a title company or other firm as an agent to complete a loan.
Agent – A person licensed by the state to conduct real estate transactions.
Agreed boundary- A compromise boundary to which property owners agree in order to resolve a dispute.
Agreement of sale – A document the buyer initiates and the seller approves that details the price and terms of the transaction.
Alcove – A recessed section of a room, such as a breakfast nook.
Alienation clause – A provision that requires the borrower to pay the balance of the loan in a lump sum after the property is sold or transferred.
Alkali- Mineral salt found in soil.
Alkaline soil – Soil that contains a higher concentration of mineral salt than natural acid.
Alley – A lane behind a row of buildings or between two rows of buildings.
Allowances – Budgets offered by builders of new homes for the purchase of carpeting and fixtures.
Alternative mortgage- Any home loan that does not conform to a standard fixed-rate mortgage.
Aluminum-clad windows -Wooden windows with aluminum covering the exterior.
Aluminum siding- A metal covering that provides an alternative to paint for owners of wood homes.
Amenities – Parks, swimming pools, health-club facilities, party rooms, bike paths, community centers and other enticements offered by builders of planned developments.
American Society of Home Inspectors – The American Society of Home Inspectors is a professional association of independent home inspectors. Phone: (800) 743-2744.
Americans with Disabilities Act – A law passed in 1990 that outlaws discrimination against a person with a disability in housing, public accommodations, employment, government services, transportation and telecommunications.