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September 29, 2008

 Glossary of Terms

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  • Abstract of judgment,law
    The summary of a court judgment that creates a lien against a property when filed with the county recorder.

  • Accelerated cost recovery system
    A tax calculation that provides greater depreciation in the early years of ownership of real estate or personal property.

  • Accelerated depreciation
    A bookkeeping method that depreciates property faster in the early years of ownership.

  • Acceleration clause
    A provision that gives a lender the right to collect the balance of a loan if a borrower misses a payment.

  • Acceptance
    The seller's written approval of a buyer's offer.

  • Access
    Any means by which a person can enter property.

  • Accessibility
    The degree to which a building or site allows access to people with disabilities.

  • Accretion
    The gradual addition to the shore or bank of a waterway by deposits of sand or silt.

  • Acknowledgment
    A written declaration affirming that a person acted voluntarily.

  • Acre
    A measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet.

  • Acre foot
    The volume of material needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep.

  • Active solar system
    A system that utilizes electric pumps or fans to transfer solar energy for storage or direct use.

  • Actual age
    The number of years a structure has been standing.

  • Addendum
    An addition or change to a contract.

  • Additional principal payment
    Extra money included in the monthly payment to help reduce the principal and shorten the term of the loan.

  • Add-on interest
    The interest a borrower pays on the principal for the duration of the loan.

  • Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
    A loan with an interest rate that is periodically adjusted to reflect changes in a specified financial index.

  • Adjusted cost basis
    The cost of any improvements the seller makes to the property. Deducting the cost from the original sales price provides the profit or loss of a home when it is sold.

  • Adjustment period
    The amount of time between interest rate adjustments in an adjustable-rate mortgage.

  • Administrator
    A person given authority to manage and distribute the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.

  • Administrator's deed
    A legal document that an administrator of an estate uses to transfer property.

  • Adverse possession
    The acquisition of title to property through possession without the owner's consent for a certain period of time.

  • Adverse use
    The access and use of property without the owner's consent.

  • Aeolian soil
    Soil that is composed of materials deposited by the wind.

  • Affiant
    A person who makes a sworn statement.

  • Affirmation
    A substitution for an oath granted to people based on religious reasons.

  • A-frame design
    An interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters.

  • Agency
    The relationship of trust that exists between sellers and buyers and their agents. The agency is formed through a written contract.

  • Agency closing
    The process by which a lender uses a title company or other firm as an agent to complete a loan.

  • Agent
    A person licensed by the state to conduct real estate transactions.

  • Agreed boundary
    A compromise boundary to which property owners agree in order to resolve a dispute.

  • Agreement of sale
    A document the buyer initiates and the seller approves that details the price and terms of the transaction.

  • Alcove
    A recessed section of a room, such as a breakfast nook.

  • Alienation clause
    A provision that requires the borrower to pay the balance of the loan in a lump sum after the property is sold or transferred.

  • Alkali
    Mineral salt found in soil.

  • Alkaline soil
    Soil that contains a higher concentration of mineral salt than natural acid.

  • Alley
    A lane behind a row of buildings or between two rows of buildings.

  • Allowances
    Budgets offered by builders of new homes for the purchase of carpeting and fixtures.

  • Alternative mortgage
    Any home loan that does not conform to a standard fixed-rate mortgage.

  • Aluminum siding
    A metal covering that provides an alternative to paint for owners of wood homes.

  • Aluminum-clad windows
    Wooden windows with aluminum covering the exterior.

  • Amenities
    Parks, swimming pools, health-club facilities, party rooms, bike paths, community centers and other enticements offered by builders of planned developments.

  • American Society of Home Inspectors
    The American Society of Home Inspectors is a professional association of independent home inspectors. Phone: (800) 743-2744.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
    A law passed in 1990 that outlaws discrimination against a person with a disability in housing, public accommodations, employment, government services, transportation and telecommunications.

  • Amortization
    The process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly scheduled installments.

  • Amortization tables
    Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower's monthly payment.

  • Amperage
    The strength of an electrical current.

  • Anchor bolt
    A large steel bolt anchored in concrete and attached to a building to prevent the structure from moving.

  • Annual
    Any kind of plant that must be planted every year.

  • Annual mortgagor statement
    A yearly statement to borrowers that details the remaining principal and amounts paid for taxes and interest.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
    The cost of the loan expressed as a yearly rate on the balance of the loan.

  • Annuity
    The payment of a fixed sum to an investor at regular intervals.

  • Anticipatory breach
    A communication that informs a party that the obligations of the original contract will not be fulfilled.

  • Application
    A document that details a potential borrower's income, debt and other obligations to determine credit worthiness.

  • Application fee
    The fee that a lender charges to process a loan application.

  • Appraisal
    An opinion of the value of a property at a given point in time.

  • Appraisal fee
    The fee that an appraiser charges to estimate the market value of the property.

  • Appraisal report
    A detailed written report on the value of a property based on recent sales of comparable sites in the area.

  • Appraised value
    An opinion of the current market value of a property.

  • Appreciation
    An increase in the value of a home or other property..

  • Arbitration
    A method of resolving a dispute in which a third party renders a decision.

  • Arbor
    An area shaded by trees, shrubs or vines on a latticework structure.

  • Arch
    A curved structure that supports weight over an area, such as a doorway.

  • Architect
    A licensed professional who designs homes, buildings and other structures.

  • Architectural fees
    The fee an architect charges for services. In general, architects charge for their services by the hour, by the square foot, or by a percentage of the project budget.

  • Arpent
    A French measurement of land equal to .84625 acres.

  • Asbestos
    A fire-resistant mineral used for insulation and home products that has been found to pose a health hazard.

  • As-is condition
    The purchase or sale of a property in its existing condition.

  • Asking price
    A seller's initial price for a property.

  • Assessed value
    A tax assessor's determination of the value of a home in order to calculate a tax base.

  • Assessment
    The estimated value of a piece of real estate or a levy placed on property in addition to taxes.

  • Assessment rolls
    A list of taxable property compiled by the assessor.

  • Assets
    Items of value which include cash, real estate, securities and investments.

  • Assignor
    A person who transfers rights and interests of a property.

  • Assumable mortgage
    A mortgage that can be transferred to another borrower.

  • Assumption clause
    A provision that allows a buyer to take responsibility for the mortgage from a seller.

  • Assumption fee
    A fee the lender charges to process new records for a buyer who assumes an existing loan.

  • Average price
    The price of a home determined by totaling the sales prices of all houses sold in an area and dividing that number by the number of homes.

  • Avigation easement
    An easement over private property near an airport that limits the height of structures and trees.

  • Awning windows
    Single-sash windows that tilt outward and up.