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Glossary Real Estate Terms a-c

acceleration clause
A provision in a mortgage that gives the lender the right to demand payment of the entire principal balance if a monthly payment is missed.

acceptance
An offeree’s consent to enter into a contract and be bound by the terms of the offer.

additional principal payment
A payment by a borrower of more than the scheduled principal amount due in order to reduce the remaining balance on the loan.

adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
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.

adjusted basis
The original cost of a property plus the value of any capital expenditures for improvements to the property minus any depreciation taken.

adjustment date
The date on which the interest rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

adjustment period
The period that elapses between the adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

administrator
A person appointed by a probate court to administer the estate of a person who died intestate.

affordability analysis
A detailed analysis of your ability to afford the purchase of a home. An affordability analysis takes into consideration your income, liabilities, and available funds, along with the type of mortgage you plan to use, the area where you want to purchase a home, and the closing costs that you might expect to pay.

amenity
A feature of real property that enhances its attractiveness and increases the occupant’s or user’s satisfaction although the feature is not essential to the property’s use. Natural amenities include a pleasant or desirable location near water, scenic views of the surrounding area, etc. Human-made amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, community buildings, and other recreational facilities.

amortization
The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan by installments.

amortization schedule
A timetable for payment of a mortgage loan. An amortization schedule shows the amount of each payment applied to interest and principal and shows the remaining balance after each payment is made.

amortization term
The amount of time required to amortize the mortgage loan. The amortization term is expressed as a number of months. For example, for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the amortization term is 360 months.

amortize
To repay a mortgage with regular payments that cover both principal and interest.

annual mortgagor statement
A report sent to the mortgagor (the borrower) each year. The report shows how much was paid in taxes and interest during the year, as well as the remaining mortgage loan balance at the end of the year.

annual percentage rate (APR)
The cost of a mortgage stated as a yearly rate; includes such items as interest, mortgage insurance, and loan origination fee (points).

annuity
An amount paid yearly or at other regular intervals, often on a guaranteed dollar basis.

application
A form used to apply for a mortgage loan and to record pertinent information concerning a prospective mortgagor and the proposed security. Lenders use the information on the loan application to evaluate whether or not they can give the loan, and if so, the amount of money they can lend.

appraisal
A written analysis of the estimated value of a property prepared by a qualified appraiser. Contrast with home inspection.

appraised value
An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

appraiser
A person qualified by education, training, and experience to estimate the value of real property and personal property.

appreciation
An increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or other causes. The opposite of depreciation.

assessed value
The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation.

assessment
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 sewer assessment.

assessment rolls
The public record of taxable property.

assessor
A public official who establishes the value of a property for taxation purposes.

asset
Anything of monetary value that is owned by a person. Assets include real property, personal property, and enforceable claims against others (including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, and so on). More

assignment
The transfer of a mortgage from one person to another.

assumable mortgage
A mortgage that can be taken over ("assumed") by the buyer when a home is sold.

assumption
The transfer of the seller’s existing mortgage to the buyer. See assumable mortgage.

assumption clause
A provision in an assumable mortgage that allows a buyer to assume responsibility for the mortgage from the seller. The loan does not need to be paid in full by the original borrower upon sale or transfer of the property.

assumption fee
The fee paid to a lender (usually by the purchaser of real property) resulting from the assumption of an existing mortgage.

attorney-in-fact
One who holds a power of attorney from another to execute documents on behalf of the grantor of the power.

balance sheet
A financial statement that shows assets, liabilities, and net worth as of a specific date.

balloon mortgage
A mortgage that has level monthly payments that will amortize it over a stated term but that provides for a lump sum payment to be due at the end of an earlier specified term. The principal and interest on the loan are amortized over a longer period than the actual term of the mortgage.

bankrupt
A person, firm, or corporation that, through a court proceeding, is relieved from the payment of all debts after the surrender of all assets to a court-appointed trustee.

bankruptcy
A proceeding in a federal court in which a debtor who owes more than his or her assets can relieve the debts by transferring his or her assets to a trustee.

before-tax income
Income before taxes are deducted.

beneficiary
The person designated to receive the income from a trust, estate, or a deed of trust.

bequeath
To transfer personal property through a will.

betterment
An improvement that increases property value as distinguished from repairs or replacements that simply maintain value.

bill of sale
A written document that transfers title to personal property.

binder
A preliminary agreement, secured by the payment of an earnest money deposit, under which a buyer offers to purchase real estate.

biweekly payment mortgage
A mortgage that requires payments to reduce the debt every two weeks (instead of the standard monthly payment schedule). The 26 (or possibly 27) biweekly payments are each equal to one-half of the monthly payment that would be required if the loan were a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, and they are usually drafted from the borrower’s bank account. The result for the borrower is a substantial savings in interest.

blanket insurance policy
A single policy that covers more than one piece of property (or more than one person).

bona fide
In good faith, without fraud.

bond
An interest-bearing certificate of debt with a maturity date. An obligation of a government or business corporation. A real estate bond is a written obligation usually secured by a mortgage or a deed of trust.

breach
A violation of any legal obligation.

bridge loan
A form of second trust that is collateralized by the borrower's present home (which is usually for sale) in a manner that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on a new house before the present home is sold. Also known as "swing loan."

budget
A detailed plan of income and expenses expected over a certain period of time. A budget can provide guidelines for managing future investments and expenses.

budget category
A category of income or expense data that you can use in a budget. You can also define your own budget categories and add them to some or all of the budgets you create. "Rent" is an example of an expense category. "Salary" is a typical income category.

building code
Local regulations that control design, construction, and materials used in construction. Building codes are based on safety and health standards.

 

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