Real Estate Terms You Should Know

Buying or selling real estate can be a tricky process. There are hundreds of commonly used terms that could make up a language of their own. Here are some home buying terms that you will most likely encounter when you purchase your home.

Amenities
Features that enhance and add to the value or desirability of real estate. Common amenities include swimming pools, professional landscaping, gourmet kitchen and so on.

Amortization
This is a schedule that outlines your loan payments for the duration of the home buying loan. It details how much of each monthly payment goes toward the principal and how much goes toward the loan interest. Initially, the bulk of your payments will be applied toward the interest.

Appraisal
An estimate of the value of property, made by a qualified professional called an “appraiser”.

Bungalow
A one-storey house, cottage, or cabin.

Breach
Violation of an obligation in a contract.

Broker
A real estate professional who has acquired a higher level of training and experience than a sales agent. A minimum number of classes must be taken along with passing an exam to acquire a broker’s license.

Building Code
A set of stringent laws that control the construction of buildings, design, materials and other similar factors.

Condominium
A large property complex that is divided into individual units and sold. Ownership usually includes a non-exclusive interest in certain "common properties" controlled by the condominium management.

Close
The final procedure in a home sale in which documents are signed and recorded. This is the time when the ownership of the property is transferred.

Closing Costs
Expenses in addition to the purchase price for buying and selling a property.

CMA
Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of properties that are comparable to a subject property and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market, but not sold within the listing period.

Conventional Mortgage
A first mortgage issued for up to 75% of the property’s appraised value or purchase price, whichever is lower.

Counter Offer
An offer made by the seller back to the buyer altering one or several terms and/or conditions of the offer as originally written.

Deed
A legal document that conveys (transfers) ownership of a property to a buyer.

Deposit Money
Along with an offer, buyers can make a deposit on the home to demonstrate the seriousness of the offer. When a deposit is made, it is held in trust until closing. It is then added to the down payment.

Escrow
Funds held before closing by a third party.  Future taxes and homeowners insurance, held by the mortgage company after closing, are also considered escrow.

FSBO, For Sale By Owner
This term refers to property that is being sold without a real estate agent. FSBO is also used to refer to the home owner who is selling the property.

Foreclosure
The process after home buying is complete by which a lender repossesses and resells a property after the owner has defaulted.

Investment Real Estate
Real estate that generates income or is otherwise intended for investment purposes rather than as a primary residence. It is common for investors to own multiple pieces of real estate, one of which serves as a primary residence, while the others are used to generate rental income and profits through price appreciation. The tax implications for investment real estate are often different than those for residential real estate.

Land
Property or real estate, not including buildings or equipment that does not occur naturally. Depending on the title, land ownership may also give the holder the rights to all natural resources on the land. These may include water, plants, human and animal life, fossils, soil, minerals, electromagnetic features, geographical location, and geophysical occurrences.

Land Value
The total value of the land, including any upgrades or improvements to the land.

Land Transfer Tax
Payment to the provincial government for transferring property from the seller to the buyer.

Lien
This is a legal claim that keeps the property from being sold until the lien is paid off.

MLS - Multiple Listing Service
An organization that collects, compiles, and distributes information about properties listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. Membership isn’t open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listing websites. MLS’s can be local or regional.

Real Estate Agent
A person with a state/provincial license to represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for commission. Most agents work for a real estate broker or realtor.

Title Insurance
An insurance policy that protects a lender’s or owner’s interest in real estate property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. It’s customary for the buyer to pay for the lender’s title insurance policy.

Zoning
Government (usually municipal) laws that control the use of land within a jurisdiction.

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