Real Estate Glossary
As you start shopping around for a home, you’ll probably come across some unfamiliar real estate lingo. What is a CMA? What does “dk” stand for? And what exactly does contingency mean? If it all sounds Greek to you, we’ve got you covered. Look below to find the plain English definitions of some of the most common real estate terms and abbreviations.
Appraisal value: The appraisal value of a home is how much the property is worth according to a certified appraiser. An appraiser takes many factors into consideration, including the condition of the property, comparable sales in the area, projections for future value, any extra upgrades or additions the home may offer.
ARM: Adjustable Rate Mortgage. With an ARM, interest rates vary over the life of the loan and can change every six to 12 months or even monthly. Typically, an ARM’s interest rates are tied to an economic index, such as the national mortgage rate. When rates are high, your rate will increase. When rates are low, your rate will drop.
B/B or BD/BA: In home listings, this stands for bedrooms and bathrooms. So, if the ad says “3B/2B” this means the home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In most areas, a room must have a window and a closet to be considered a bedroom.
Fixed-rate mortgage: A mortgage with interest rate that is locked in throughout the life of the loan (usually 15 to 30 years.)
Full bathroom: A full bathroom includes a sink, bathtub/shower and a toilet.
Half bathroom: Also known as a “powder room” a half bathroom has only a toilet and sink.
Three-quarter bathroom: This kind of bathroom includes a toilet, sink and shower, not a bathtub.
assum. fin.: This stands for assumable financing, which is also known as an assumable mortgage. This is a mortgage that can be assumed by the buyer when they purchase a home. Typically, the buyer must qualify in order to assume the loan.
Closing costs: The closing costs are the expenses the buyer and seller must pay when the real estate deal closes. These costs generally include the brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney’s settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance and more. Closing costs are generally paid through escrow.Closing costs are separated into what are called “non-recurring closing costs” and “pre-paid items.” Non-recurring closing costs are expenses that are paid just once as a result of buying the property or obtaining a loan. “Pre-paids” are items which recur over time, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.
CMA: CMA is short for comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of comparable homes in the area that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market but expired. Your realtor can put together a CMA for you to help you determine the most appropriate asking price for your home.
Collateral: In a home loan, the property is the collateral. A borrower could lose their property (or collateral) if they do not repay the loan according to the mortgage terms.
Contingency: A condition that must be met before a real estate contract is legally binding. For example, buyers typically include an inspection contingency in their purchase agreement, which means the contract is not binding until a qualified inspector provides an inspection report for the home.
dk: In home listings, “dk” is short for deck.
expansion pot’l or expansion potential: When a home listing includes the phrase, expansion pot”, this means the property includes extra space the buyer could use to add a room, an upper level or another structure, subject to local zoning restrictions.
FDR or formal dining room: A formal dining room is a room that is separate from the kitchen and designated for eating meals.
Fixture: Also known as “real property” a fixture is anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property that will remain in the home after the property is sold. This might include light fixtures, window coverings, carpet and landscaping features. However, it’s important to define which fixtures will stay in a purchase agreement to ensure there is no confusion.
frplc, fplc, FP: Fireplace
grmet kit: Gourmet kitchen. Although this term is often used loosely in the real estate industry, a gourmet kitchen is generally a higher-end kitchen with top-quality appliances and decor.
HDW, HWF, Hdwd: Hardwood floors
hi ceils: high ceilings
in-law potential: This means the home has potential for a separate apartment where an in-law could possibly live.
Listing agreement: This is an agreement between a real estate agent and a home owner in which the real estate agent agrees to market and attempt to sell the owner’s home. The word “listing” can also refer to the home for sale as well as the ad promoting the home.
lo dues: Short for low homeowner’s association dues. However, this phrase is used loosely. What may be low to one buyer could be high to the next.
Lock box: A box that contains the key to a home for sale. The lock box is usually attached to the front door of the home. Real estate agents who want to show the home must contact the listing agent. The listing agent then gives the agent a code to gain access to the lock box so they can enter the home.
lsd pkg.: Leased parking area, often for an additional cost.
MLS or Multiple Listing Service: An organization that provides information about homes listed for sale by real estate brokers who are members. The general public cannot join an MLS only real estate professionals can join. However, real estate listing companies can purchase MLS data to display on their websites. All multiple listing services are local or regional. There is not one MLS that covers the entire U.S.
nr bst schls: Near the best schools. Although a home may be near the best schools, you should confirm that the home is officially located in the school district you desire. Contact the county Board of Education or visit their website to view school district maps. Counties frequently rezone school districts, so this information can change over time.
Personal property: These are moveable items in a home that will not remain once the home is sold. The current owners will take personal property, including furniture, specified appliances and unattached rugs, with them when they move. This is the opposite from a fixture or “real property.”
PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is a type of insurance that protects the lender against the risk of your default. You are required to pay PMI if your down payment on a home is less than 20 percent of the total purchase price.
Preapproval: The process in which a borrower completes a loan application and provides debt, income, and savings documentation to the lender. Once the lender reviews and approves this information, they pre-approve the borrower for a certain loan amount.
PITI: This stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. In most cases, your monthly payment to the lender includes all of these and might include mortgage insurance, as well.
pwdr rm: Powder room, also known as a half bathroom.
REALTOR®: A real estate broker or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. A REALTOR is different from a real estate agent. Real estate professionals who are REALTORS must adhere to a strict code of ethics which often surpasses state laws.
Refinancing: The process in which a home owner pays off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan. Home owners generally refinance to receive a better interest rate or to switch from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage.
Second mortgage: A mortgage taken out on property that already has one mortgage. However, the first mortgage takes priority over the second mortgage.
Subdivision: A housing development created by dividing a tract of land into individual lots for sale or lease.
Title: A legal document that proves the holder’s ownership of a property.
Title insurance: Insurance that protects a lender or the buyer against loss resulting from property ownership disputes. A buyer generally has to pay for the lender’s title insurance policy.
Transfer tax: State or local tax to be paid when a title passes from one owner to another.
UPR: Upper floor
VA mortgage: A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a loan program that allows buyers who are veterans to receive a legitimate no down payment loan and avoid paying PMI.