Real Estate Tips: Terms & Definitions in Real Estate

Buying real estate can be a stressful process especially if it’s your first time buying and you aren’t familiar with the terminology. Below are the definitions to some of the common real estate terms you’ll hear throughout the process. 

“Appraisal “
A written justification of the price paid for a property, primarily based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby.

“Appraised value” 
An opinion of a property’s fair market value, based on an appraiser’s knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

“Closing”
This has different meanings in different states. In some states a real estate transaction is not consider “closed” until the documents record at the local recorders office. In others, the “closing” is a meeting where all of the documents are signed and money changes hands.

“Closing costs”
Closing costs are separated into what are called “non-recurring closing costs” and “pre-paid items.” Non-recurring closing costs are any items which 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. A lender makes an attempt to estimate the amount of non-recurring closing costs and prepaid items on the Good Faith Estimate which they must issue to the borrower within three days of receiving a home loan application.

“Co-borrower”
An additional individual who is both obligated on the loan and is on title to the property.

“Contingency” 
A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.

“Contract”
An oral or written agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.

“Credit history”
A record of an individual’s repayment of debt. Credit histories are reviewed my mortgage lenders as one of the underwriting criteria in determining credit risk.

“Deed”
The legal document conveying title to a property.

“Down payment” 
The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage.

“Earnest money”
A deposit made by the potential home buyer to show that he or she is serious about buying the house.

“Escrow”
An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the earnest money deposit is put into escrow until delivered to the seller when the transaction is closed.

“Escrow account”
Once you close your purchase transaction, you may have an escrow account or impound account with your lender. This means the amount you pay each month includes an amount above what would be required if you were only paying your principal and interest. The extra money is held in your impound account (escrow account) for the payment of items like property taxes and homeowner’s insurance when they come due. The lender pays them with your money instead of you paying them yourself.

“Fixed-rate mortgage”
A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

“Home inspection”
A thorough inspection by a professional that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser.

“Homeowner’s insurance”
An insurance policy that combines personal liability insurance and hazard insurance coverage for a dwelling and its contents.

“Homeowner’s warranty”
A type of insurance often purchased by homebuyers that will cover repairs to certain items, such as heating or air conditioning, should they break down within the coverage period. The buyer often requests the seller to pay for this coverage as a condition of the sale, but either party can pay.

“Lender”
A term which can refer to the institution making the loan or to the individual representing the firm. For example, loan officers are often referred to as “lenders.”

“Pre-qualification”
This usually refers to the loan officer’s written opinion of the ability of a borrower to qualify for a home loan, after the loan officer has made inquiries about debt, income, and savings. The information provided to the loan officer may have been presented verbally or in the form of documentation, and the loan officer may or may not have reviewed a credit report on the borrower.

“Principal” 
The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

“Private mortgage insurance” (PMI)
Mortgage insurance that is provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders generally require PMI for a loan with a loan-to-value (LTV) percentage in excess of 80 percent.

“Purchase agreement”
A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

“Recording”
The noting in the registrar’s office of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.

“Title”
A legal document evidencing a person’s right to or ownership of a property.

“Title company” 
A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.

For more advice on buying or selling, visit my sites at http://www.sellingjuneau.com and http://juneausellersguide.com .

 

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