A Glossary of Real Estate Terms
Abstract of title: The condensed history of a title to a particular parcel of Real Estate, consisting of a summary of the original grant and all subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate.
Agent: One who acts or has the power to act for another. A fiduciary relationship is created under the laws of agency when a property owner, as the principal, executes a listing agreement or management contract authorizing a licensed Real Estate broker to be his or her agent. Also, an agency relationship is created when a buyer executes a buyer agency contract with a licensed Real Estate broker for the purposes of finding a home.
Amortized loan: A loan in which the principal as well as the interest is payable in monthly or other periodic installments over the term of the loan.
Appraisal: An estimate of the quantity, quality, or value of something. The process through which conclusions of property value are obtained; also refers to the report that sets forth the process of estimation and conclusion of value.
Appreciation: An increase in the worth or value of a property due to economic or related causes, which may prove to be either temporary or permanent; opposite of depreciation.
Balloon Payment: A final payment of a mortgage loan that is considerably larger than the required periodic payments because the loan amount was not fully amortized.
Building code: An ordinance that specifies minimum standards of construction for buildings in order to protect public safety and health.
Certificate of Title: A statement of opinion on the status of the title to a parcel of real property based on an examination of specified public records.
Commission: Payment to a broker for services rendered, such as in the sale or purchase of real property; usually a percentage of the selling price of the property.
Comparables: Properties listed in an appraisal report that are substantially equivalent to the subject property.
Competitive market analysis: A comparison of the prices of recently sold homes that are similar to a listing seller's home in terms of location, style, size, condition, age, and amenities. Based on this analysis, a broker or salesperson can help the seller determine a listing price or a buyer determine an offer.
Contract: A legally enforceable promise or set of promises that must be performed and for which, if a breach of the promise occurs, the law provides a remedy. A contract may be either unilateral, where only one party is bound to act, or bilateral, where all parties to the instrument are legally bound to act as prescribed.
Conventional Loan: A loan that is not insured or guaranteed by a government or private source.
Counteroffer: A new offer made as a reply to an offer received. It has the effect of rejecting the original offer, which cannot be accepted thereafter unless revived by the offeror.
Deed: A written instrument that, when executed and delivered, conveys title to or an interest in Real Estate.
Deed Restrictions: Clauses in a deed limiting the future uses of the property. Deed restrictions may impose a vast variety of limitations and conditions -- for example, they may limit the density of buildings, dictate the types of structures that can be erected, or prevent buildings from being used for specific purposes or even from being used at all.
Developer: One who constructs buildings on lots and sells them.
Discount Points: An added loan fee charged by a lender to make the yield on a lower-than-market-value loan competitive with higher-interest loans.
Equity: The interest or value that an owner has in his or her property over and above any mortgage indebtedness.
FHA Loan: A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration and made by an approved lender in accordance with the FHA's regulations.
Homeowner's insurance policy: A standardized package insurance policy that covers a residential Real Estate owner against financial loss from fire, theft, public liability, and other common risks.
Joint tenancy: Ownership of Real Estate between two or more parties who have been named in one conveyance as joint tenants. If the instrument creating the joint tenancy specifically provides for survivorship, upon the death of a joint tenant his or her interest passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants by the right of survivorship.
Listing Agreement: A contract between a landowner (as principal) and a licensed Real Estate broker (as agent) by which the broker is employed as agent to sell Real Estate on the owner's terms within a given time, for whose service the landowner agrees to pay a commission.
Listing broker: The broker in a multiple-listing situation from whose office a listing agreement is initiated, as opposed to the selling broker, from whose office negotiations leading up to a sale are initiated. The listing broker and the selling broker may be the same person. See also Multiple listing.
Marketable title: Good or clear title reasonably free from the risk of litigation over possible defect.
Multiple listing: A exclusive listing (an exclusive right to sell or exclusive agency) with the additional authority and obligation on the part of the listing broker to distribute the listing to other brokers in the multiple-listing organization.
Real Estate: Land; a portion of the earth's surface extending downward to the center of the earth and upward into space, including all things permanently attached thereto, whether by nature or by a person; any and every interest in land.
Real Estate broker: Any person, partnership, association, or corporation who sells (or offers to sell), buys (or offers to buy), or negotiates the purchase, sale, or exchange of Real Estate or who leases (or offers to lease) or rents (or offers to rent) any Real Estate or the improvements thereon for others for a compensation or valuable consideration. A Real Estate broker may not conduct business without a Real Estate broker's license.
Realtor: A registered trademark term reserved for the sole use of active members of local Realtor boards affiliated with the National Association of Realtors.
Special Warranty Deed: A deed in which the grantor warrants, or guarantees, the title only against defects arising during the period of his or her tenure and ownership of the property and not against defects existing before that time, generally using the language, "by, through, or under the grantor but not otherwise."
Subdivision: A tract of land divided by the owner, known as the subdivider, into blocks, building lots, and streets according to a recorded subdivision plat, which must comply with local ordinances and regulations.
Survey: The process by which boundaries are measured and land areas are determined; the on-site measurement of lot lines, dimensions, and position of a house on a lot, including the determination of any existing encroachments or easements.
Title: The right to or ownership of land, and the evidence of ownership of land.
Title Insurance: A policy insuring the owner or mortgagee against loss by reason of defects in the title to a parcel of Real Estate, other than encumbrances, defects, and matters specifically excluded by the policy.
Valid contract: A contract that complies with all the essentials of a contract and is binding and enforceable on all parties to it.
VA Loan: A mortgage loan on approved property made to a qualified veteran by an authorized lender and guaranteed by the Veterans Administration in order to limit the lender's possible loss.
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John A. Benigno, ABR
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
124 N. Narberth Avenue
P.O. Box 427
Narberth, PA 19072
Office Phone: 610-664-2500
Licensed in Pennsylvania
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