Real Estate Glossary - Common Terms
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  • Amortization: The process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly scheduled installments.
  • Amortization tables: Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower's monthly payment.
  • Annual mortgagor statement: A yearly statement to borrowers that details the remaining principal and amounts paid for taxes and interest.
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The cost of the loan expressed as a yearly rate on the balance of the loan.
  • 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.
  • Application: A document that details a potential borrower's income, debt and other obligations to determine credit worthiness.
  • Application fee: The fee that a lender charges to process a loan application.
  • Appraisal: An opinion of the value of a property at a given point in time.
  • Appraisal fee: The fee that an appraiser charges to estimate the market value of the 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.
  • Arbitration: A method of resolving a dispute in which a third party renders a decision.
  • Architect: A licensed professional who designs homes, buildings and other structures.
  • Asbestos: A fire-resistant mineral used for insulation and home products that has been found to pose a health hazard.
  • Asking Price: A seller's initial price for a property.
  • Amortization tables: Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower's monthly payment.
  • 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.
  • Assets: Items of value which include cash, real estate, securities and investments.
  • 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.
  • Avigation easement: An easement over private property near an airport that limits the height of structures and trees.
  • Acceleration clause: A provision that gives a lender the right to collect the balance of a loan if a borrower misses a payment.
  • Accelerated depreciation: A bookkeeping method that depreciates property faster in the early years of ownership.
  • Acceptance: The seller's written approval of a buyer's offer.
  • Acre: A measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet.
  • 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.
  • Add-on interest: The interest a borrower pays on the principal for the duration 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.
  • 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.
  • Affirmation: A substitution for an oath granted to people based on religious reasons.
  • A-frame design: An interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters.
  • 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.
  • Agent: A person licensed by the state to conduct real estate transactions.
  • Agreement of sale: A document the buyer initiates and the seller approves that details the price and terms of the transaction.
  • 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.
  • Aluminum-clad windows: Wooden windows with aluminum covering the exterior.
  • Aluminum siding: A metal covering that provides an alternative to paint for owners of wood homes.
  • 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: The American Society of Home Inspectors is a professional association of independent home inspectors. Phone: (800) 743-2744.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: A law passed in 1990 that outlaws discrimination against a person with a disability in housing, public accommodations, employment, government services, transportation and telecommunications.