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REAL ESTATE DICTIONARY

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U-value
The amount of heat a door or window conducts between the inside air and the environment.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development

Also known as HUD. A federal agency that oversees the Federal Housing Administration and a variety of housing and community development programs.
unbundled real estate services
Real estate services not bound together, but purchase transaction at a time.
underlayment
A layer of wood between the subfloor and the floor.
underwriters’ knot
A code-approved knot tied at the end of an electrical cord to prevent the wires from being pulled away from their connection to electrical terminals.
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underwriting
The process in which lenders evaluate the risks posed by a particular borrower and set appropriate  conditions for the loan.
underwriting fee
A fee charged by the lender to verify information on the loan application, authenticate the property’s worth as collateral, and make a final determination about whether to grant a loan to the applicant.
undisclosed heir
A person who claims the right to a piece of property after the death of an owner without a will.
undisclosed spouse
A marital partner who can claim the right to a piece of property but is not identified in the owner’s will.
unilateral contract
A one-sided contract. If one party makes a promise to do something, the second party is not legally required to perform. If the second party does comply, however, the first party is obligated to keep its promise.
unrecorded deed
A deed that transfers ownership from one party to another without being officially recorded.
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unsecured loan
Any loan that is not backed by collateral.
unsecured loan
An unsecured loan is a loan that is not backed up by collateral. Often, loans from family members or pesonal acquaintances are unsecured loans. A gift from another person that is not expected to be repaid is not an unsecured loan.
upgrades
Options offered to buyers in a new-home project that go beyond the standard carpeting, lighting, finish carpentry, and other amenities.
upzoning
The process in which a property is zoned from a lower to a higher use.
urban sprawl
The unplanned expansion of development over a large area.
usury
Illegally excessive interest charged on any loan.

 

 

REAL ESTATE DICTIONARY

 

 


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a la carte real estate services
Professional real estate services that are rendered one transaction
at a time instead of the conventional full-service, commission-based brokerage
relationship.
A-frame design
An
interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is
open to the top rafters.
abstract of judgment
The summary of a court judgment that creates a lien against a
property when filed with the county recorder.
abstract or title search
The process of reviewing all recorded transactions in the public
record to determine whether any title defects exist that could interfere with
the clear transfer of ownership of the property.
accelerated cost recovery system
A tax calculation that provides greater depreciation in the early
years of ownership of real estate or personal property.
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accelerated depreciation
A bookkeeping method that depreciates property faster in the early
years of ownership.
acceleration clause
A
provision that gives a lender the right to collect the balance of a loan if a
borrower misses a payment.
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.
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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.
ad valorem tax
Tax
based on assessed property value.
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add-on interest
The interest a borrower pays on the principal for the duration of
the loan.
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.
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.
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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.
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affirmation
A
substitution for an oath granted to people based on religious
reasons.
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.
agency disclosure
Laws in most states require agents who act for buyers or sellers to
disclose who represents whom in a real estate transaction. Laws vary widely by
state.
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.
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air handler
Short
for air-handling unit, the blower equipment in a furnace, heat pump, or similar
appliance designed for circulating heated or cooled air through a central
heating system.
air lot
A designated
airspace over a piece of property.
air-handling unit
The
blower equipment in a furnace, heat pump, or similar appliance designed for
circulating heated or cooled air through a central heating
system.
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.
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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.
allowance
A budget
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 siding
A
metal covering that provides an alternative to paint for owners of wood
homes.
aluminum-clad windows
Wooden windows with aluminum covering the
exterior.
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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
(ASHI)

Professional association of independent
home inspectors whose members must meet the group’s education and performance
requirements. Call (800) 743-2744 for list of ASHI-certified inspectors in your
area.
Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA)

A law passed in 1990 that outlaws
discrimination against a person with a disability in housing, public
accommodations, employment, government services, transportation and
telecommunications.
amortization
The
process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly
scheduled installments. Initially, most of each payment is applied toward
interest owed, and later in the loan term increasingly applied toward
principal.
amortization tables
Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower’s
monthly payment.
amperage
The strength
of an electrical current.
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ampere
The basic
unit used to measure electric 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 assessments
The process of placing a value on property for the strict purpose
of taxation. May also refer to a levy against property for a special purpose,
such as a street lighting or sewer assessment.
annual mortgagor statement
A yearly statement to borrowers that details the remaining
principal and amounts paid for taxes and interest.
annual percentage rate (APR)
A measure of interest rate that expresses the cost of a mortgage as
a yearly rate on the loan balance. The APR assumes the loan is held for its full
term. For adjustable-rate loans, the APR assumes the loan’s index doesn’t change
from its initial value.
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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.
antioxidant compound
A substance applied to aluminum wiring connections to seal and
promote conduction.
appellant
A taxpayer
or representative who appeals to a higher tribunal.
application
A
document that details a potential borrower’s income, debt, and other obligations
to determine credit worthiness.
application fee
Includes any fees that are paid upon application. An application
fee may include charges for property appraisal and a credit report, if those
fees are not reported separately.
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appraisal
An
opinion of the value of a property at a given point in time.
appraisal fee
The fee
that a professional real estate appraiser charges to appraise, or estimate the
market value of, a 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.
approval
A thorough
assessment made by a lender of a borrower’s ability to pay for a home, and a
confirmation of the amount the borrower may obtain.
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APR (annual percentage rate)
A measure of interest that expresses the cost of a mortgage as a
yearly rate on the loan balance. The APR assumes the loan is held for its full
term. For adjustable-rate loans, the APR assumes the loan’s index doesn’t change
from its initial value.
apron
A paved area,
such as the junction of a driveway with the street.
aquastat
A thermostat
submerged in water and used to control the operation of a
device.
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.
arc
A spark between
two electrical points.
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arch
A curved
structure that supports weight over an area, such as a doorway.
arch surrounds
Half-round or elliptical trim mounted above a door or window for
decorative purposes.
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.
ARM (adjustable rate mortgage)
A loan with an interest rate that is periodically adjusted to
reflect changes in a specified financial index.
ARM index
A publicly
published number used to adjust the interest rate for an adjustable rate loan
(ARM). An index (such as Treasury bills or the prime rate) reflects the lender’s
cost of credit, and is not controlled by individual
lenders.
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arpent
A French
measurement of land equal to .84625 acres.
array
A term used by
tax assessors to describe a list of properties in a certain category sold within
a given period of time.
as-is condition
The
purchase or sale of a property in its existing condition.
asbestos
A
fire-resistant mineral used for insulation and home products that has been found
to pose a health hazard.
ASHI (American Society of Home
Inspectors)

A professional association of
independent home inspectors whose members must meet the group’s education and
performance requirements. Call (800) 743-2744 for list of ASHI-certified
inspectors in your area.
asking price
A
seller’s initial price for a property.
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assemblage
The
combining of two or more adjoining lots into one larger tract to increase total
value.
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.
assessor
An official
who determines the assessed value of a property.
assets
Items of value
which include cash, real estate, securities, and
investments.
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assignment
The
transfer of rights to pay a debt from one party to another, with the original
party remaining liable for the debt if the second party
defaults.
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.
automatic extension
A
clause in a listing contract stating that the agreement will automatically
continue for a certain period of time after the expiration date. This is
discouraged and prohibited in many states.
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automatic flue damper
A device in the flue of a heating unit that closes to prevent heat
loss when the unit is not in operation.
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.
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