Real estate glossary

Acceptance - The date at which both parties (buyer and seller) have agreed to and have competed the signing /initialing of the contract. 

Abstract of Title - A complete historical  summary of the public records relating to the ownership of a particular piece of land. 

Affidavit - A statement the buyer or seller may be asked to sign at the closing, attesting to certain information.

Appraisal - A processional's estimate and opinion of the market value of a property.  An appraisal involves an analysis of local market data and the characteristics of a property  to establish a professional opinion of its current market value. 

Appreciation - An increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions, home improvements, or other factors. 

Assessments - Special changes by municipality or neighborhood association for a set purpose and set period of time. 

Capital Improvements - Improvements made to the property that may increase the market value of the home.

Cash Reserve - A requirement of some lenders that buyers have a certain amount of cash remaining after closing (such as enough to make the first two mortgage payments.)

Closing - The final steps in the transfer of property ownership via title.  At the closing, the buyer signs the mortgage and mortgage note, the seller receives payment for the property, and the buyer and/or seller pay closing costs.  Also referred to as Settlement.

Closing Cost - The total cost of completing the transfer of ownership of the property, other than the purchase price. Typical closing costs include charges for obtaining the mortgage loan such as origination fee, discount points, appraisal fee, survey, title insurance, legal fees, fees for real estate professionals, prepayment of taxes and insurance, and real estate transfer taxes. 

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) - A method of real estate evaluation that estimates the current market value of a home by comparing it with homes in the area that have recently sold or were offered for sale. 

Contingency - A contingency is a clause in the purchase contract that describes certain conditions that must be met before the contract is binding. 

Counter offer - A response to a purchase offer that rejects all of part of the original purchase  offer but continues the negotiations in an attempt to reach an acceptable sales contract.

Covenants - Specific agreements or regulations, which are legally enforceable and are transferred with the deed to the new owner, governing the use of a property.  Covenants may also be used in historic districts.  Also know as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R); Deed Restrictions; or Restrictive Covenants



Document Recording 

Down Payment

Earnest Money



Escape Clause


Fixed - Rate Mortgage

Home Inspection

Homeowner's or Hazard Insurance


Market Value - 

Mortgage - A security agreement between the lender and the buyer in which the property is collateral for the loan.  The mortgage gives the lender the right to collect payment on the loan and to foreclose if the loan obligations are not met. 

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) - The MLS is a service of the local Board of REALTORS® that allows Realtors to upload and share all available for sale properties. 

Origination Fee



Property (Fixture / Non-Fixture) - In a real estate contract, the property is the land within the legally described boundaries and all permanent structures and fixtures.  Fixture property refers to items permanently attached to the structure, such carpeting, sinks, ceiling lights, which transfer with the property. 

Punch List - A list of items that nave not been completed at the time of the final walk-through of a newly constructed home. 

Settlement Statement - This document is an itemized statement of services  and charges relating to the closing or settlement of the property transfer.  The buyer has the right to examine the settlement statement 1 day before the closing. 

Title Insurance - An insurance policy that guarantees the accuracy of the title search and protects against potential errors.  Most lenders require the buyer to purchase a title insurance policy.

Walk-Through - A final inspection of the property by the buyer and the buyer's agent to determine the property is as described in the purchase agreement