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Understanding Real Estate Terms

Matt Warmack

Matt is the reason we’re all here—to help Seattle home owners and buyers achieve their goals...

Matt is the reason we’re all here—to help Seattle home owners and buyers achieve their goals...

Feb 6 7 minutes read

Have you ever sat in a room with people speaking a language you don't understand? You try to judge from their expressions and reactions what they are talking about and if it is good or bad or even about you. It is a strange and sometimes isolating experience. 

When you get ready to buy or sell your home we don't want you to have that experience. We want you to feel like the language being spoken is your own native language. So we put together a list of terms and their definitions which you will most likely hear when you are buying or selling your home.

Acceptance: the date when both parties, seller and buyer, have agreed to and completed
signing and/or initialing the contract.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage: 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.

Amortized Loan: a loan that is paid in equal installments during its term.

Appraisal: an estimate of real estate value, usually issued to standards of FHA, VA and
FHMA. Recent comparable sales in the neighborhood is the most important factor in
determining value

Appreciation: an increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions
or other causes. The opposite of depreciation.

Assumable Mortgage: purchaser takes ownership to real estate encumbered by an
existing mortgage and assumes responsibility as the guarantor for the unpaid balance of
the mortgage.

Bill of Sale: document used to transfer title (ownership) of PERSONAL property.

Cloud on Title: any condition that affects the clear title to real property.

Consideration: anything of value to induce another to enter into a contract, i.e., money,
services, a promise.

Deed: a written instrument, which when properly executed and delivered, conveys title to
real property.

Discount Points: a loan fee charged by a lender of FHA, VA or conventional loans to
increase the yield on the investment. One point = 1% of the loan amount.

Dual Agent: a broker who has entered into an agency relationship with both the buyer and
seller in the same transaction.

Easement: the right to use the land of another.

Encumbrance: anything that burdens (limits) the title to property, such as a lien,
easement, or restriction of any kind.

Equity: the value of real estate over and above the liens against it. It is obtained by
subtracting the total liens from the value.

Escrow Payment: that portion of a mortgagor’s monthly payment held in trust by the
lender to pay for taxes, hazard insurance and other items as they become due.

Fannie Mae: nickname for Federal National Mortgage Corporation (FNMA), a tax-paying
corporation created by congress to support the secondary mortgages insured by FHA or
guaranteed by VA, as well as conventional loans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA): an agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD). Its main activity is the insuring of residential mortgage loans
made by private lenders. The FHA sets standards for construction and underwriting but
does not lend money or plan or construct housing.

FHA Insured Mortgage: a mortgage under which the Federal Housing Administration
insures loans made, according to its regulations.

Fixed Rate Mortgage: a loan that fixes the interest rate at a prescribed rate for the
duration of the loan.

Foreclosure: procedure whereby property pledged as security for a debt is sold to pay the
debt in the event of default.

Freddie Mac: nickname for Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), a federally
controlled and operated corporation to support the secondary mortgage market. It
purchases and sells residential conventional home mortgages.

Graduated Payment Mortgage: any loan where the borrower pays a portion of the
interest due each month during the first few years of the loan. The payment increases
gradually during the first few years to the amount necessary to fully amortize the loan
during its life.

Home Inspection: A professional inspection that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. This is paid for by the buyer.

Lease Purchase Agreement: buyer makes a deposit for future purchases of a property with
the right to lease property in the interim.

Lease with Option: a contract, which gives one the right to lease property at a certain sum
with the option to purchase at a future date.

Loan to Value Ratio (LTV): the ratio of the mortgage loan principal (amount borrowed) to
the property’s appraised value (selling price). Example – on a $100,000 home, with a
mortgage loan principal of $80,000 the loan to value ratio is 80%.

Mortgage: a legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment
of a debt.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP): the amount paid by a mortgagor for mortgage
insurance. This insurance protects the investor from possible loss in the event of a
borrower’s default on a loan.

Note: a written promise to pay a certain amount of money.

Origination Fee: a fee paid to a lender for services provided when granting a loan, usually
a percentage of the face amount of the loan.

Payoff Statement: Letter stating requirements and amounts necessary to clear underlying loan.

Pre-Inspection: An inspection conducted prior to the buyer making an offer on a home. Both the buyer and their agent are present at the time of inspection.

Pre-Qualification: Obtained from a bank or lending agency which evaluates your income and debts to determine the amount you can be loaned to purchase a home. 

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): see Mortgage Insurance Premium.

Second Mortgage / Second Deed of Trust / Junior Mortgage / Junior Lien: an additional
loan imposed on a property with a first mortgage. Generally, a higher interest rate and
shorter term than a “first” mortgage.

Settlement Statement (HUD-1): a financial statement rendered to the buyer and seller at
the time of transfer of ownership, giving an account of all funds received or expended.

Severalty Ownership: ownership by one person only. Sole ownership.

Tenancy In Common: ownership by two or more persons who hold an undivided interest
without right of survivorship. (In event of the death of one owner, his/her share will pass
to his/her heirs.

Title Insurance: an insurance policy that protects the insured (buyer or lender) against loss
arising from defects in the title.

Title Report: A preliminary report disclosing condition of title on real property issued prior to the final title Insurance Policy.

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