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Glossary of Real Estate Terms

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  Abbreviations


Acre – A measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet, 4,840 square yards, 4,047 square meters, 160 square rods or 0.4047 hectare.

Adjacent – Lying near to but not necessarily in actual contact with.

– Contiguous; attaching, in actual contact with.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
– A mortgage loan in which the interest rate may increase or decrease at specific intervals, following an economic indicator.

Adverse Possession
– The actual, visible, hostile, notorious, exclusive and continuous possession of another’s land under a claim of title. Possession for 10 years may be a means of acquiring title.

– That relationship wherein an agent is employed by a principle to do certain acts on the principle behalf..

– One who undertakes to transact some business or to manage some affair for another by authority of the latter.

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, e.g. scenic views, proximity to public transport or recreational facilities.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – Rate of interest charged on a loan, calculated to take into account up–front loan fees and points. Usually higher than the contract interest rate.

Appreciation – An increase in the value of a property due to the changes in market conditions or supply and demand, etc.

– An estimate of a property’s valuation by an appraiser who is usually presumed to be an expert in this work.

Arm’s Length Transaction – A transaction between relative strangers, each trying to do the best for him or her self.

Asbestos – Commonly used insulating mineral that becomes toxic when it is exposed and fibers and dust are released into the air.

Assessed Value – A valuation placed on property by a public officer or a board as a basis for taxation.

Asking Price – The listed price of the property, but may not always be the selling price.

Assessed Value – A valuation placed on property by a public officer or a board as a basis for taxation.


Basement – Space wholly or partly below grade, usually not used for living accommodations.

Bearing Walls
– Walls that serve as more than simple partitions, that support ceilings, upper stories, or roof.

– The evidence of a personal debt that is secured by a mortgage or other lien on real estate.

– One who buys and sells for another for a fee.

Building Permit
– Written permission from the local government to build or alter a structure.

Bundle of Legal Rights
– The concept of land ownership that includes ownership of all legal rights to the land. E.g. Possession, control within the law and enjoyment.

Buyer's Market
– When the demand for property is less than supply so the advantages shift to the buyer. Contrast with Seller's Market.


Capital Gains – Profits realized from the sale of assets such as real estate.

– The federal Comprehensive Environmental, Responsibility, Compensation and Liability Act, which established procedures for redemption of contaminated areas.

Certificate of Compliance (C of C)
– Verification that a construction project meets certain standards, primarily safety related

Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
– A document issued by a municipal authority stating that a building complies with building, health and safety codes and may be occupied.

Certificate of Title
– A statement of opinion of title status on a parcel of real property based on an examination of specified public records.

Chain of Title
– The conveyance of real property to one owner from another, reaching back to the original grantor

– Movable items of personal property such as household goods or fixtures.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s)
– Gases produced by propellants once used in aerosol sprays and in common coolant Freon. CFC’s are linked to depletion of the earth’s ozone layer.

– The sale of a property is finalized by the legal representatives of the vendor and the purchaser, mortgage documents come into effect, costs are paid and the new owner takes possession of the property.

Closing Date
– The date on which the buyer takes title to the property.

– Comparative market analysis.

Commercial Real Estate
– Business property, including offices, shopping malls, theaters, hotels and parking facilities.

– Payment to a broker for services rendered, such as in the sale or purchase of real property. Usually a percentage of the selling price.

Common Elements
– Areas of a property, land or amenities in common use by all condominium residents, e.g. a driveway.

– The absolute ownership of an apartment or a unit (generally in a multiunit building) plus an undivided interest in the ownership of the common elements, which are owned jointly with the other condominium unit owners.

– An agreement entered into by two or more legally competent parties by the term of which one or more of the parties, for a consideration, undertakes to do or refrain from doing some legal act or acts.

Contract Law
– That law dealing with contracts between parties.

– The transfer of title of land from one to another. The means or medium by which title to real estate is transferred.

– A residential multiunit building whose title is held by a corporation owned by and operated for the benefit of persons living within the building, who are the stockholders of the corporation, each possessing a proprietary lease.

– Agreements written into deeds and other instruments promising performance or non performance of certain acts.

– A Dead End Street. A street with only one entrance, the other end being closed. Often valued for the privacy provided to homes in the street.


Deed – A written instrument that, when executed and delivered, conveys title to or an interest in real estate.

Deed Restriction
– An imposed restriction in a deed for the purpose of limiting the use of the land by future owners.

– One who improves land with buildings, usually on a large scale, and sells to homeowners and/or investors.

– A broker is responsible for keeping a principle fully informed of all facts that could affect a transaction. If a broker fails to disclose such information, he/she may be liable for any damages that result.

Down Payment
– The amount of Cash that a purchaser will pay at closing.


Easement – A right to use the land of another for a specific purpose, as for a right of way or utilities; an incorporated interest in land. An easement apparent passes with the land when conveyed.

– A building or some portion of it, a wall or fence for instance, that extends beyond the land of the owner and illegally intrudes on some land of an adjoining owner or a street or ally.

– Any claim by another, such as a mortgage, a tax or judgment lien, an easement, an encroachment, or a deed restriction on the use of the land, that may diminish the property value.

Engineer Inspection
– A thorough inspection that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property.

Environmental Impact Study
– Report detailing the effect of a proposed development on the existing environment, including possible alternative measures to remedy or repair environmental damage.

Equitable Title
– The interest held by a vendee under a land contract or an installment contract; the equitable right to obtain absolute ownership to property when legal title is held in another’s name.

– The amount of an asset actually owned. Equity is the difference between the market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage.

– The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest that a person has in real property.

– A legal process to oust a person from possession of real estate.


Fannie Mae – A quasi–government agency established to purchase any kind of mortgage loans in the secondary mortgage market from the primary lenders.

Fee Simple Estate
– The maximum possible estate or right of ownership of real property, continuing forever. Sometimes called a fee, or fee simple absolute.

– An item of personal property that has been converted to real property by being permanently affixed to the property.

– Waterproofing material used to seal seams of roof, chimney & walls.

Freddie Ma
c – A corporation established to purchase primarily conventional mortgage loans in the secondary mortgage market.


Gables – The triangular part of a building's end wall which extends up to meet the two slopes of a roof.

– The heavey beam, wood or steel, that furnishes the main support for the first floor.

Grace Period
– Additional time allowed to perform an act or make a payment before a default occurs.


Hectare – Land measurement equivalent to 10,000 square meters, or approximately 2.471 Acers.

Highest and Best Use
– That possible use of land that would produce the greatest net income and thereby develop the highest land value.


Improvement – Any structure erected on a site to enhance the value of the property, buildings, fences, landscaping, driveways, curbs, sidewalks or sewers.

Investment Property – A property that is not occupied by the owner but leased to produce income.


JB – A form of co–ownership that gives each tenant equal shares and rights in the property including the right of survivorship, e.g. ownership of a property passes to the surviving owners.



Land Tax – A tax based on the value of a property (not the principal place of residence) that is paid by the owner.

– A person who rents property to another; a lessor. A property owner who surrenders the right to use the property for a specific time in exchange for the receipt of rent.

– A written agreement between a landlord and a tenant granting a period of tenancy of a property under specific terms and conditions.

– A person leasing a property.

– The owner of a property that is leased to another person.

– The use of borrowed money to finance the bulk of an investment.

– A right given by law to certain creditors to have their debt paid out of the property of a defaulting debtor, usually by means of a court sale.

Lis Pendens
– A record legal document giving constructive notice that an action affecting a particular property has been filed in court.

– A written contract between an owner and a real estate agent, authorizing the agent to perform services for the principal involving the owner's property.


Market Price – The actual selling price of a property.

Market Value
– The price at which a ready, willing and able seller is happy to sell and a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to buy. As long as neither is under any pressure to act. Establishing the market value is the objective of an appraisal.

Metes and Bounds Description
– A legal description of a parcel of land that begins at a well marked point and follows the boundaries, using direction and distances around the tract, back to the place of beginning.

– A conditional transfer or pledge of real estate as security for the payment of a debt. Also, the document creating a mortgage lien.


Negligence – An unintentional tort caused by failure to exercise reasonable care.

Negative Cash Flow
– Where the return on investment is not sufficient to cover the costs on the investment, e.g. property maintenance and interest on the loan.

Non Conforming Use
– Use of land that is not allowed by the local zoning ordinance.

– Substituting a new obligation for an old one, or substituting new parties to an existing obligation.


Offer and Acceptance – Two essential components of a valid contract; a “meeting of the minds,” when all parties agree to accept terms.


PMI – Private mortgage insurance

– A unit of measurement used for various loan charges. One point equals 1 percent of the amount of the loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance
– Insurance limits a lenders potential loss in a mortgage default, issued by a private company rather than by the FHA.


Qualified Buyer – A buyer who has satisfied a lender that he or she is financially able to qualify for a loan. Qualifying the buyer is one of the primary steps taken by the lender as part of the loan process.


Radon Gas – Odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas theat becomes hazardous when trapped and accumulated in unventilated areas of buildings. Long term exposure to radon is suspected of causing lung cancer.

Real Estate
– A portion of the earths surface extending downward to the center of the earth and upward infinitely into space, including all things permanently attached thereto, whether by nature or by person.

Real Estate Sales Contract
– A contract for the sale of real estate, in which the purchaser promises to pay the agreed purchase price and seller agrees to deliver title to the property.

– A fixed, periodic payment made by a tenant of a property to the owner for possession and use, usually by prior agreement of the parties.

Replacement Cost
– The construction cost at current prices of a property that is not necessarily an exact duplicate of the subject property but serves the same purpose or function as the original.

Retail Property
– Any type of property used for commercial retail purposes, including storefronts, shopping centers & enclosed malls.

Roof Pitch
– The slope of the roof.


Sale and Leaseback – A transaction in which an owner sells his or her improved property and as part of the same transaction, signs a long term lease to remain in possession of the premises.

Sales comparison Approach
– The process of estimating the value of a property by examining and comparing actual sales of comparable properties.

Sales Contract
– A contract containing the complete terms of the arrangement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel of real estate.

Septic System
– Wastewater treatment and disposal system used by indervidual households.

– The amount of space local zoning regulations require between a lot line and a building line.

– Upright supports that form a wall.

– A tract of land divided by the owner, known as the subdivider, into blocks, building lots and streets according to a recorded subdivision plat.

– The process by which parcel of land is measured and its area ascertained; also the map showing the measurements, boundaries and area.


Tenancy – The right to occupy a property under agreed terms and conditions.

– One who holds or possesses lands or tenements by any kind of right or title.

– Wood–boring insects whose presence causes structural damage.

– Evidence that the owner of land is in lawful possession thereof; evidence of ownership.

– A hybrid form of real estate ownership in which the owner has fee simple title to the living unit and land below it, plus a fractional interest in common elements.

– A fiduciary who holds or controls property for the benefit of another.


Utilities – The private or public service facilities such as gas, electricity, telephone, water and sewer that are provided as part of the development of the land.


Valuation – A written analysis of the estimated worth or value of a property Valuing by appraisal.


Wall Cavity – The space between the inner and outer sections of a wall.

Water Course
– A natural stream of running water being fed by a natural source such as a stream or river.

– A written document, properly witnessed, providing for the transfer of title to property owned by the deceased, called the testator.




Zone – An area set off by the proper authorities for specific use subject to certain restrictions or restraints.
Zoning – Local authority guidelines for the permitted use of land.


These are some abbreviations that you may see used in the description of real estate, or in regard to real estate.
ac – a/c / air–conditioning
amen / amenities
bi / built–in
bir / built–in robe
br / bedroom
bthrm / bathroom
bv / brick veneer
cac / central air conditioning
cnr / corner
cpbds / cupboards
crpt / carpet
d/h / ducted heating
d/w / dish washer
dbl gge / double garage
dble / double
det / detached
dr / dining room
dlug / double lock–up garage
encl / enclosed
ens / ensuite bathroom
ent / entrance, entry
estab / established
exc / excellent
ext / external
f/furn / fully furnished
fib / fibro
flr / floor
gdh / gas ducted heating
gge, grge / garage
ghws / gas hot water service
htg / heating
hws / hot water service
ingr pl / in–ground pool
int / internal
kit / kitchen

ldry / laundry
lge / large
lnge / lounge
lug / lock–up garage
mod / modern
mstr / master
/ open fire place
orig / original
pkg, prkg / parking
pol flrs / polished floors
pw,p/w / per week
rc / reverse cycle
rem / remote control
/ rendered
ret / return
rm / room
row / right of way
sb / solid brick
sec / secure
semi / semi–detached
sep / separate
shr / shower
sob / shower over baths/s
sstl / stainless steel
t'out / throughout
tce / terrace
tmbr / timber
upstrs / upstairs
ver / verandah
wb / weatherboard
wc / water closet (toilet)
wi / pant walk–in pantry
wir / walk–in robe
ww / wall to wall
yo / years old