Real Estate Glossary


Acceptance:  the date when both parties, seller and buyer, have agreed to and completed signing and/or initialing the contract.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage:  a mortgage that permits the lender to adjust the mortgage’s interest rate periodically on the basis of changes in a specified index. Interest rates may move up or down, as market conditions change.

Amortized Loan:  a loan that is paid in equal installments during its term.

Appraisal:  an estimate of real estate value, usually issued to standards of FHA, VA and FHMA.  Recent comparable sales in the neighborhood is the most important factor in determining value

Appreciation:  an increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or other causes. The opposite of depreciation.

Assumable Mortgage:  purchaser takes ownership to real estate encumbered by an existing mortgage and assumes responsibility as the guarantor for the unpaid balance of the mortgage.

Bill of Sale:  document used to transfer title (ownership) of PERSONAL property.

Cloud on Title:  any condition that affects the clear title to real property.

Consideration:  anything of value to induce another to enter into a contract, i.e., money, services, a promise.

Deed:  a written instrument, which when properly executed and delivered, conveys title to real property.

Discount Points:  a loan fee charged by a lender of FHA, VA or conventional loans to increase the yield on the investment.  One point = 1% of the loan amount.

Easement:  the right to use the land of another.

Encumbrance:  anything that burdens (limits) the title to property, such as a lien, easement, or restriction of any kind.

Equity:  the value of real estate over and above the liens against it.  It is obtained by subtracting the total liens from the value.

Escrow Payment:  that portion of a mortgagor’s monthly payment held in trust by the lender to pay for taxes, hazard insurance and other items as they become due.

Fannie Mae:  nickname for Federal National Mortgage Corporation (FNMA), a tax-paying corporation created by congress to support the secondary mortgages insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA, as well as conventional loans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA):  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.

FHA Insured Mortgage:  a mortgage under which the Federal Housing Administration insures loans made, according to its regulations.

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

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

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

Graduated Payment Mortgage:  any loan where the borrower pays a portion of the interest due each month during the first few years of the loan.  The payment increases gradually during the first few years to the amount necessary to fully amortize the loan during its life.

Joint tenancy: Ownership of real estate between two or more parties who have been named in one conveyance as joint tenants. On the death of a joint tenant, the decedent’s interest passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants by the right of survivorship. All joint tenants must purchase at the same time and all must appear on the deed. Ownership interest is usually equal, but the law in NC has changed to allow an unequal interest between the parties. Survivorship of the Joint tenancy ownership is a distinguishing feature of this type of ownership. NC does not favor this and to be valid the deed must be worded in compliance with NC court decisions.

Lease Purchase Agreement:  buyer makes a deposit for future purchases of a property with the right to lease property in the interim.

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

Loan to Value Ratio (LTV):  the ratio of the mortgage loan principal (amount borrowed) to the property’s appraised value (selling price).  Example – on a $100,000 home, with a mortgage loan principal of $80,000 the loan to value ratio is 80%.

Mortgage:  a legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP):  the amount paid by a mortgagor for mortgage insurance.  This insurance protects the investor from possible loss in the event of a borrower’s default on a loan.

Note:  a written promise to pay a certain amount of money.

Origination Fee:  a fee paid to a lender for services provided when granting a loan, usually a percentage of the face amount of the loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI):  see Mortgage Insurance Premium.

Real Estate:  land at, above and below the Earth’s surface, plus all things permanently attached to it, whether natural or artificial.

Real Property: the interests, benefits, and rights that are automatically included in the ownership of land and real estate.

Second Mortgage / Second Deed of Trust / Junior Mortgage / Junior Lien:  an additional loan imposed on a property with a first mortgage.  Generally, a higher interest rate and shorter term than a “first” mortgage.

Settlement Statement (HUD-1):  a financial statement rendered to the buyer and seller at the time of transfer of ownership, giving an account of all funds received or expended.

Severalty Ownership:  ownership by one person only.  Sole ownership.

Tenancy In Common:  ownership by two or more persons who hold an undivided interest without right of survivorship. The interests do not have to be equal. Each owner holds interest in severalty and can sell, convey, mortgage or transfer that interest through the right of partition. In event of the death of one owner, his/her share will pass to his/her heirs. When two or more unmarried people acquire title to a parcel of real estate and the deed does not stipulate the type of tenancy created, by operation of law they acquire title as tenants in common.

Tenancy by the Entirety: This is a special form or type of ownership where the owners must be husband and wife. They must be married when title is received and generally there is no right to partition. To sell or convey the property, the title can be conveyed only by a deed signed by both parties. If one party owned property before marriage it does not automatically become a tenancy by the entirety simply by the fact of marriage.

Title Insurance:  an insurance policy that protects the insured (buyer or lender) against loss arising from defects in the title.