Acre - An area of land, containing 43,560 square feet, or 4,840 square yards.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) - Adjustable-rate mortgage loan featuring an interest rate that moves up and down as market conditions change. ARMs generally offer a lower initial interest rate, but your mortgage payments may change (usually semiannually or annually). Rate changes are based on an index such as the one-year Treasury Index or the cost-of-funds index (COFi). Some ARMs can be converted to fixed rate.

Affidavit Of Title - A written statement, made under oath by a seller or grantor of real property and acknowledged by a notary public, in which the grantor: (1) identifies him-or herself and indicates marital status, (2) certifies that since the examination of the title on the date of contract no defects have occurred in the title, and (3) certifies that he or she is in possession of the property (if applicable).

Agreement of sale - A purchase agreement, the seller and the buyer agree to buy and sell according to certain price and terms. May also be called contract of terms.

Alienation Clause ("Due on Sale Clause") - A mortgage clause that gives the lender the right to call the whole balance of the loan due when ownership of property transfers.

ALTA (American Land Title Association) - Since any lending institution funding a loan for the acquisition of property wants assurance of good title on the property, there is a special policy prepared for the benefit of the lender known as ALTA Policy.

Amortization - A schedule for repayment of a loan, including interest and principal, by regular installment payments. Mortgage loans are typically amortized over 15 to 30 years.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) - The total yearly cost of a loan stated as a percentage of the loan amount: Includes the base interest rate, primary mortgage insurance, and loan origination fee (points). Use the APR to compare various loan programs, as all lenders are required to use the same guidelines in determining APR.

Annuity - An amount of money, which constitutes one of a series of periodic payments.

Application Fee - Often non-refundable, this is the fee charged by the lender to cover a portion of the costs of processing a loan application.

Appraisal - A professional opinion of the market value of a property. Sometimes, an appraised value may be dependent upon certain improvements or repairs being made.

Appraiser - A qualified person who is employed to establish the value of property.

Appreciation - Is the increase in the value of property. This may result from economic condition or supply and demand.

Appurtenance - A privilege, right, or physical item that passes on with the land upon transfer of title.

Assessed Value - Value placed on a property by the tax assessor for property tax purposes.

Assessment - Evaluating property for tax purposes.

Assessor - The person who evaluates property for tax purposes.

Assumable Mortgage - A mortgage that can be taken over (assumed) by the buyer when a property is sold.


Balloon Mortgage - A mortgage that offers lower interest rates for a shorter term financing, usually seven years, and requires final payment or refinancing at the end of the term.

Balloon Payment - A payment of a loan that extinguishes the debt.

Blanket Mortgage - A mortgage that secures more than one property.

Breach Of Contract - The violation of an obligation in a contract.

Building Code - Regulations established by the local governments, restricting the structural requirements for buildings.

Building Line (Set Back Ordinance) - A line located at a certain distance from the front and sides of a lot establishing where a building can be erected.

Buy Down - Payment of additional money (points) to lower the interest rate of the loan.


Cap - Limit on the amount an adjustable rate mortgage may increase or decrease during specific intervals and over the term of the loan. This safeguard protects the buyer from dramatic changes in monthly payments.

Capital Gain - Taxable profit derived from the sale of a capital asset. The capital gain is the difference between the sale price and the basis of the property, after making appropriate adjustments for closing costs, fixing up expenses, capital improvements, allowable depreciation, etc.

Capital Loss - Losses from the sale of capital, opposite of capital gain.

Capital improvement - Improvements to property that add to the value, and extend the useful life of the property.

Closing - See "Settlement".

Closing Costs - Expenses (such as loan fees, title fees, appraisal fees, etc.), over and above the price of the property, incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership. Also called "settlement costs". Closing costs may be paid by the buyer, the seller or shared by both. In some cases, all or a portion of these costs may be included in the financing amount.

Closing Statement - The statement showing buyers and sellers charges and credits, and including copies of the forms used in a closing.

Cloud On The Title - A claim or encumbrance that is still outstanding, if it proved valid then it will affect the marketability of the title.

Common Elements - Elements in a condominium project that are owned jointly by the condo owners in a group.

Community Property - Property owned by the husband and wife jointly which was acquired while they were married to each other.

Condemnation - The process of exercising the government's right of eminent domain.

Conditions - Requirements that must be satisfied to consummate a transaction. Not satisfying these requirements may release a party from a certain obligation

Conditional Sale Contract - A contract whereby the seller retains title to the sold property until the purchaser meets certain conditions and requirements that are stated in the contract.

Condominium - The ownership of a unit in a multi unit structure. In addition to the ownership of the unit, the owner also shares in common elements.

Condominium Association - see "Home owner's association".

Construction/End Loan - A mortgage that finances the construction of a home and converts to permanent financing when the home is completed. It allows buyers to deal with only one lender, file only one credit application and pay only one set of closing costs.

Contingency - A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding.

Contract - A written agreement that may involve one or more parties that is legally binding to do a certain act.

Contract Of Sale - see "agreement of sale"

Conventional Loans - A loan secured by investors, but insured by neither the FHA nor guaranteed by the VA. Both fixed rate and adjustable rate loans are available with conventional financing.

Convertible ARM - Some ARMs include a provision allowing conversion to a fixed-rate mortgage at specified times, typically during the first five years of the loan. Some lenders charge a premium for this option, find out the exact conversion terms and costs from your lender. This will help you decide whether this is a cost-effective option.

Conveyance - The transferring of real property from one person to another.


Deed - The legal document conveying title (ownership) to a property.

Deed Restrictions - A requirement in a deed that limits the use of property being conveyed.

Default - Not performing an obligation required under the contract.

Deferred Maintenance - Due repairs to a property that have not been completed which cause physical deterioration.

Depreciation - The loss of value of property through time which may actually occur, or may be allowed as a tax expense on the income tax return. Depreciation allowed on paper does not necessarily result from actual deterioration of property.

Deterioration - The physical wear and tear that leads to actual depreciation of property.

Discharge Of Mortgage - A document used to release a mortgage that is a lien on a property.

Disclosure Report - An act relating to disclosure by the seller of residential real property. The purpose of this report is to provide prospective buyers with information about material defects in the residential real property. A seller's disclosure form is needed before the sale of property.

Discount Points or Points - Any amount paid to the lender when a loan is originated to reduce the interest rate of the loan. In most cases each point is equal to one percent of the original loan amount. Either the buyer or seller may pay points.

Dual Agency - Some states permit a real estate licensee to potentially act as a dual agent, that is, represent more than one party to the transaction. A licensee may legally act as a dual agent with the written disclosure and informed consent of a consumer in form required by law.

Due On Sale Clause - See "Alienation Clause".

Down Payment - The part of the purchase price that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a loan.


Earnest Money - An amount of money, deposited by a buyer under the terms of a contract, that is to be forfeited if the buyer defaults but applied on the purchase price if the sale is closed.

Easement - The right to use property that belongs to another person.

Easement Appurtenant - An easement given over one parcel of land to benefit another parcel and to provide access to it. The parcel of land over which easement is given is called the servient estate, and the parcel of land benefiting from such an easement is dominant estate.

Egress - The way out from the property. The opposite of ingress.

Emblements - Plants that grow on the property.

Encroachment - The trespassing of property from one land to the other, for example, a garage overlapping the property line.

Encumbrance - Liens, mortgages, taxes, judgments, easements, deed restrictions, etc. that may diminish the value of property.

Equitable Title - The interest held by a vendee under a land contract. Example: In a land contract or an installment purchase plan, the right that the payer has in obtaining title to the property upon payment of the note in full is the equitable title.

Equity - The market value of a property minus the amount of any existing loans or liens.

Escheat - When a person dies without a will and without any heirs, his/her property reverts back to the state.

Escrow Account - A separate account for accumulating the portion of your monthly payments that will pay future taxes, insurance, fees, assessments and so forth. Depending on your lender and the financing you select, an escrow account may be required.

Escrow Agent - A disinterested third party appointed to act as custodian for documents and funds during the transfer from seller to buyer.

Estate - The property held by a deceased person.

Estoppel Certificate - A document in which a borrower certifies the amount owed on a mortgage loan and the rate of interest.

Exclusive Agency Listing - Also referred to as exclusive listing. A listing agreement by which the broker is specified as the only agent hired to sell the property, however the owner has the right to sell the property without paying the commission if the owner sells it through his/her own efforts.

Exclusive Right To Sell - A listing that employs one exclusive agent and promises her/him a fee in the event anyone procures a buyer, including other competing agents, or the sellers themselves.

Executed Contract - A contract in which all parties have fulfilled their promises.

Execution Of A Contract - Signing of a contract by all parties involved to make it valid.


Fair Market Value - The estimated value of property, provided it's offered for sale for a reasonable amount of time, and the buyer and seller are not under presser to sell.

FANNIE MAE - The Federal National Mortgage Association. This is a private corporation that provides money for the secondary mortgage market.

Federal Fair Housing Act - This is a federal, non-discrimination law that took effect in 1968. It prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Fair Housing Amendment act of 1988 added persons with handicaps (mental and physical) and familial status (families with children). The Michigan Civil Rights Act "Elliot Larson" approved in 1977 prohibits discrimination based on age and marital status.

Fee - Interest in real property.

Fee Simple Title - The owner of the property owns the interest of the property, there are no tenants or other owners with an interest in the property.

FHA Financing - A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and made by an approved lender in accordance with the FHA's regulations. FHA requires that the property being purchased meet certain minimum standards. This mortgage may be easier to qualify for than a conventional mortgage, but it also has a lower maximum loan limit that varies depending on the average cost of housing in a given region. FHA loans require the borrower to pay mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) if the down payment is less then 20%. Fixed and adjustable rates are available with FHA loans.

Fiduciary - The loyalty relationship between the agent and the principal. It also refers to the agent as a "fiduciary" to the principal, i.e. a person who owes loyalty to the principal.

Financial Index - An agreed upon basis for making interest rate changes on an adjustable rate mortgage. One example of a financial index could be the cost of U.S. Treasury Bonds.

Fixed Rate - The interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

Fixtures - Personal property attached to real property that has become a part of real property.

Flood Insurance - Additional insurance that compensates for physical property damages resulting from flooding. It is required for properties located in federally designated flood areas.

FREDDIE MAC - This is known as the Federal Home Loan Corporation, which is a federal agency that provides money for the secondary mortgage market.


Grandfather Clause - A clause, in the law, that allows for the continuation of a pre-existing situation, as in an exemption for zoning laws.

Grant - To transfer interest in real estate using a deed.

Guaranteed Mortgage - A mortgage that secures a loan, which is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.


Habendum - Clause Part of the deed, "To have and to hold", defining the extent the grantor is conveying.

Home Owner's Association - A group that maintains the interests of a subdivision or condominium complex. May be as little as a set of rules, or as much as maintenance of common grounds. There may also be a monthly fee.

Homestead - The right, given to a homeowner, to exempt her/his home from judgments and bankruptcies.

HUD - The Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Independent Contractor - One who is retained to perform a certain act, but is subject to the control and direction of another, only as to the end result, and not as to the way they performs the act. This person normally sets their own working hours, pays their own expenses, receives no employee benefits, and pays for their own social security and income tax to the government, but not as a withholding from their paycheck. The majority of real estate salespeople work as independent contractors.

Ingress - The way to enter a property.

Initial Interest Rate - The interest rate charged for the first six or 12 months of an adjustable rate mortgage (before the first interest rate adjustment).

Instrument - A written legal document.

Insured Mortgage - A mortgage that secures debt with insurance, provided by a government agency, or a private corporation

Interest Rate Cap - Limit on the amount an adjustable rate mortgage may increase or decrease during specific intervals and over the term of the loan. This safeguard protects the buyer from dramatic changes in monthly payments.


Joint Tenancy - Ownership held by two or more persons with the right of survivorship.



Land - Real property, which consists of the surface of the earth, including the sub surface and what is above the surface.

Land Contract - A contract, by which, a person buys real estate, and pays the purchase price in installments. The seller, hereby, retains the title to the property, and transfers it to the buyer upon payment in full.

Legal Description - A statement that identifies land according to a legal system.

Lien - A charge or claim against the real estate of another.

Loan Commitment - A written promise by a lender to make a loan under certain terms and conditions. These include interest rate, length of the loan, lender fees, annual percentage rate, mortgage and hazard insurance and other special requirements.

Loan to Value Ratio (LTV) - The ratio of the mortgage loan principal (amount borrowed) to the property's appraised value. On a $ 100,000 home, with a mortgage loan of $ 80,000, the loan to value ratio is 80%.


MAGGIE MAE - The Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Corporation. A privately owned corporation that insures loans on real estate, usually when the buyer has a small down payment, lower than 20%.

Market Comparison Approach - Appraisal method that employs information available on comparable properties that have sold similar to the property in question.

Market Price - The actual price paid for property.

Market Value - An estimated sum as to what the property value is, providing proper exposure, and no pressure due on the buyer or seller.

Marketable Title - Good title to the property, that has no clouds on it and may be transferred freely.

Mechanic's Lien - A lien placed on real property because of unpaid bills for improvements on the property.

Metes and Bounds - A method used to legally describe property using a point of beginning, distances, boundaries, monuments, and benchmarks.

Mill - Equal to one tenth of one cent, or $.001

Mortgage - A temporary conditional pledge of property to a creditor as security for performance of an obligation or repayment of a debt.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) - The insurance issued by a government agency such as the FHA.

Mortgage Banker - A company that originates mortgages exclusively for resale in the secondary market.

Mortgage Broker - An individual or company that for a fee acts as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders.

Mortgagee - The lender of money or the receiver of the mortgage document.

Mortgagor - The borrower of money or the giver of the mortgage document.

Mortgage Pre-Approval Service - A service offered by many lenders that allows you to qualify for financing before finding a property to buy.


Note - A written promise to pay a certain amount of money at a certain time at a certain interest rate.


Offer - A promise made by one party to act in a certain manner, if the other party agrees to perform a certain act.

Online Real Estate Listings - Properties listed for sale on the Internet.

"On Or Before" - A phrase generally referring to a date by which an action must occur. On that date, or before it.

Open House - A marketing tool in which a listing agent opens a house for view.

Open Listing - A property given to a number of brokers to market at the same time.

Open Space - Undeveloped land or common areas in a planned community reserved for parks, walking paths or other natural uses.

Option - A right, obtained to purchase property, at a certain price and terms, and within a specified period of time.

Oral Agreement - Contractual arrangements that are not in writing and are usually not legally binding.

Ordinance - The law enacted by the local government, as in a city or county.

Original Principal Balance - The amount of principal owed on a loan before a borrower makes any payments.

Origination Fee - A fee charged by the lender for making a real estate loan. Usually a percentage of the amount loaned, such as one percent. Not to be confused with an application fee.

Owner Financing - A transaction in which the seller of a property agrees to finance all or part of the purchase.

Owner's Association - A committee that is formed to establish regulations in condo projects. It consists of the owners of the individual condos.


Package Mortgage - A mortgage that secures a loan to purchase real and personal property, in one transaction.

PITI - (principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance) Stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance -the components that make up the monthly loan payments.

Plat - A plan or map showing location and dimensions of property.

Pocket Card - An identification card, supplied to licensees that must be carried while doing business as evidence of being licensed.

PMI - (Private Mortgage Insurance) Insurance written by a private company that insures repayment of the loan balance to the lender in the event of default by the borrower. Usually required for homes financed with less than a 20 percent down payment.

Points - See "Discount Points"

Prepayment Privilege (Penalty) - The right given to a purchaser to pay all or part of a debt prior to its maturity. The mortgagee cannot be compelled to accept any payment other than those originally agreed to.

Prequalification - The process of determining how much money a prospective homebuyer will be eligible to borrow before a loan is applied for.

Principal - (1) A person who employs, and authorizes another person who is called an agent to act on her/his behalf. (2) The initial loan amount issued for a mortgage.

Procuring Cause - The cause, leading through a certain series of events to the happening of a final event.

Property - The right of ownership. Property may be personal or real.

Property Owner's Association - see "Home owner's association".

Purchase Agreement - See "Agreement of Sale".


Quiet Enjoyment - The right of possession, without outside interference.

Quieting Title - Court action to remove a cloud from a title.

Quit Claim Deed - A deed that conveys the grantor's interests in property to the grantee, There is no warranty given with the trade of the deed.


Rate Guarantee - The lender's guarantee, usually for a specified period of time, that the interest rate in effect the date you apply for a loan (or at the time of approval) will be the final rate on your loan when closed.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) - An arrangement under federal and state law where a group of investors can invest their money in real estate, and receive better tax treatment than a corporation.

Real Property - The land, and house permanently attached to the land, as opposed to personal property which is not a part of the land, nor attached to the real property.

REALTORŪ - A word used to describe a member of a real estate board affiliated with the National Association of Realtors.

Recording a Document - Entering the documents into the public records at the registers of deeds office in the county where the property is located to give public and constructive notice.

Refinance - Replacing an existing loan with anew one to get a lower rate, switch from one loan type to another, or convert equity to cash. A refinance loan will involve various loan fees, just as with any other mortgage.

Register of Deeds - The office, in each county, where legal documents relating to the sale of real property are recorded.

Regulation Z - Also known as the truth-in-lending law, a federal law that requires credit institutions to inform the borrowers the true cost of obtaining credit.

RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) - A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.

Right Of First Refusal - When this right is given to a person, that person has the right to purchase the property, when the property is offered for sale, and an offer is made on such property. This person can buy the property if they match the offer made on it by a third party.

Right Of Way - A form of easement that allows a person to pass over the property of another person.

Riparian Rights - An owner's right in land that borders on or includes a stream, river, or lake. These rights include access to and use of the water.


Sale Contract - See "Agreement of Sale".

Secondary Mortgage Market - The lender will frequently sell his loan to an entity in the secondary mortgage market. This secondary market has nothing to do with second mortgages; instead, it consists of government or private associations that buy loans from primary lenders. Often the loans are bought and grouped together in a pool for resale. The best known of the participants in the secondary mortgage market is FANNIE MAE, the federal national mortgage association. Fannie Mae buys and sells both first and second mortgages. GINNIE MAE tends to favor FHA and VA loans since they are stable loans but also buys conventional mortgages.

Setback - Zoning requirement that requires the building to start at a certain distance from the property line.

Settlement - Closing a transaction, this is the event where property exchanges hands, as well as money. All documents are signed at the closing.

Sheriff's Deed - A deed, drawn under court order, to convey title of property that is sold to satisfy a judgment or foreclosure.

Special Assessments - Special taxes levied on a property that is the result of a public improvement, paving of streets, and constructing sewer lines.

Specific Performance - A court order requiring a party to carry out her/his promise in a valid contract. The order usually takes place as a result of a lawsuit by the other party.

Survey - A drawing or map showing the precise legal boundaries of a property, the location of improvements, easements, rights of way, encroachments, and other physical features.


Tax Deed - A deed given to a person who purchased property because of nonpayment of taxes.

Tax Sale - A sale of property because of nonpayment of taxes.

Term - The number of years before a loan is paid in full; 15 to 30 year terms are most common for home mortgages.

Term Mortgage - The borrower pays interest only on the loan, and the whole principal is due in a lump sum after a certain period of time.

Testate - To die with a will.

Title - A legal document that proves a person's right to ownership of a property.

Title Insurance - Insurance to protect the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against loss arising from disputes over ownership of property.

Title Option - An attorney's opinion of a title, based on an Abstract of Title.

Transfer Tax - State or local tax payable when title passes from one owner to another.

Trust Account - A bank account that the broker maintains to handle other people's money, deposited on behalf of property purchased (Ernest Money).


Underwriting - The process of evaluating a loan application to determine the risk involved for the lender. It involves an analysis of the borrower's credit worthiness and the quality of the property itself.

Usury Laws - Laws limiting the legal amount a lender can charge the borrower in interest rates on a loan.


VA Financing - A loan guaranteed by the Veterans Administration (VA) to a qualified veteran and made by an authorized lender on an approved property. Fixed and adjustable rates are available with VA loans. The VA charges borrowers a funding fee.

Valid - Binding and enforceable.

Valuation - The act of estimating value of property.

Variance - Zoning permission allowing the introduction of a nonconforming use.

Void - Not binding, unenforceable.


Warranty Deed - A deed, whereby the grantor promises the guarantee protection against any claims of title by a third party.




Zoning - Regulating the use of property by local governments to ensure proper development of the community.