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September 29, 2008

 Glossary of Terms

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  • Back fill
    Soil used to solidify the foundation of a structure.

  • Back title letter
    A letter that a title insurance company gives to an attorney who then examines the title for insurance purposes.

  • Back-to-back escrow
    Arrangements that an owner makes to oversee the sale of one property and the purchase of another at the same time.

  • Backup offer
    A secondary bid for a property that the seller will accept if the first offer fails.

  • Backwater valve
    A valve in a sewer line that prevents sewage from flowing back into a house.

  • Balance sheet
    A statement that shows the assets, liabilities and net worth of an individual.

  • Balloon loan
    A mortgage in which monthly installments are not large enough to repay the loan by the end of the term. As a result, the final payment due is the lump sum of the remaining principal.

  • Balloon payment
    The final lump sum payment due at the end of a balloon mortgage.

  • Balloon-frame construction
    A type of framing used in two-story homes in which studs extend from the ground to the ceiling of the second floor.

  • Balustrade
    Railing held up by a set of posts on a porch or stairway.

  • Bankruptcy
    A proceeding in which an insolvent debtor can obtain relief from payment of certain obligations. Bankruptcies remain on a credit record for seven years and can severely limit a person's ability to borrow.

  • Bargain sale
    The sale of a piece of property for less than market value.

  • Baseboard
    Any board or molding found at the bottom of an interior wall.

  • Baseboard electric heat
    Heating units installed in the floor that can be controlled by a central thermostat.

  • Basement
    The area of a home below ground level.

  • Basis Point
    A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point. For example, the difference between a loan at 8.25 percent and a mortgage at 8.37 percent is 12 basis points.

  • Bay
    The opening between two columns or walls that forms a space.

  • Bay window
    A window that projects outward in a curve.

  • Bearing wall
    A wall that supports its own weight in addition to other parts of a structure.

  • Before-tax income
    Total income before taxes are deducted.

  • Beneficiary
    The lender who makes a loan, also called a mortgagee. The person borrowing money is the mortgagor.

  • Bequest
    Personal property given to a person through a will.

  • Betterment
    An improvement that increases a property's value as opposed to repairs that maintain the value.

  • Bidding war
    Offers from multiple buyers for a piece of property. Agents also sometimes compete to list a house for sale.

  • Bilateral contract
    A contract in which the parties involved give mutual promises. Also called "reciprocal" contracts.

  • Bill of sale
    A document that transfers ownership of personal property.

  • Binder
    A report issued by a title insurance company that details the condition of a home's title. and provides guidelines for a title insurance policy.

  • Biweekly mortgage
    A mortgage that requires payments every two weeks and helps repay the loan over a shorter term.

  • Blanket insurance policy
    A policy that covers more than one person or piece of property.

  • Blanket mortgage
    A mortgage that covers more than one property owned by the same borrower.

  • Blighted area
    A neighborhood that has deteriorated.

  • Blind nailing
    Nails driven into a wall and concealed with putty.

  • Blue sky laws
    Regulations on the sale of securities to prevent consumers from investing in fraudulent or high-risk companies without being informed of the risks.

  • Blueprint
    Nails driven into a wall and concealed with putty.

  • Board foot
    Measurement of lumber that is the equivalent of 144 cubic inches.

  • Board of Equalization
    A state board charged with ensuring that local property taxes are assessed in a uniform manner.

  • Board-and-batten siding
    Siding is composed of 8- to 12-inch wide wooden boards nailed vertically to create a barn-like exterior.

  • Boilerplate
    Form language used in deeds, mortgages and other documents. Details can be added by individual parties.

  • Bona fide
    A legal term that refers to actions or persons that are honest and in good faith.

  • Bond
    An agreement that insures one party against loss by acts or defaults of another party.

  • Book value
    The value of a property as a capital asset based on its cost plus any additions, minus depreciation.

  • Boring test
    An analysis of soil in which holes are bored into the ground and samples are removed.

  • Borough
    A section of a city that has authority over local matters.

  • Borrow
    Sand, gravel or other material used for grading.

  • Borrow pit
    The hole at a site that has been excavated.

  • Boulevard
    A street lined with trees or constructed with a landscaped median.

  • Boundary
    The dividing line between two adjacent properties.

  • Braced framing
    A construction method in two-story homes in which the frame is reinforced with posts and braces.

  • Breach of contract
    The failure to perform provisions of a contractwithout a legal excuse.

  • Breach of covenant
    The failure to obey a legal agreement.

  • Breach of warranty
    A seller's inability to pass clear title to a buyer.

  • Break-even point
    The point in which the owner's rental income matches expenses and debt.

  • Breast height
    The height at which the diameter of a tree is measured: four feet, six inches above the ground.

  • Breezeway
    A roofed passageway with open sides.

  • Brick
    Building material made from clay molded into oblong blocks and fired in a kiln.

  • Bridge loan
    A short-term loan for borrowers who need more time to find permanent financing.

  • Broker
    A person licensed by the state to deal in real estate.

  • Brokerage
    The act of bringing together two or more parties in exchange for a fee or commission.

  • Broom clean
    The ideal condition of a building when it is turned over to an owner or tenant.

  • Brownstone
    A vintage row house constructed of red sandstone.

  • Buffer strip
    A parcel of land that separates two or more properties.

  • Builder upgrades
    Extra house features or better finishing materials that a builder offers.

  • Building and loan association
    An organization that raises money to helps its members purchase real estate or construct a building.

  • Building code
    A comprehensive set of laws that controls the construction or remodeling of a home or other structure.

  • Building inspector
    A city or county employee who enforces the building code and ensures that work is correctly performed.

  • Building line or setback
    Guidelines that limit how close an owner can build to the street or an adjacent property.

  • Building moratorium
    A halt on home construction to slow the rate of development.

  • Building paper
    A thick, water-resistant paper that serves as insulation.

  • Building permit
    A permit issued by a local government agency that allows the construction of home or renovation of a house.

  • Building restrictions
    Regulations that limit the manner in which property can be used.

  • Built-ins
    Appliances or other items that are framed into a home or permanently attached.

  • Bulkhead
    A retaining wall designed to hold back water from the ocean or another body of water.

  • Bundle of rights
    The various interests or rights an owner has in a property.

  • Bungalow
    A small one-story house or cottage.

  • Butterfly roof
    A roof formed by two gables that dip in the middle to resemble a butterfly's wings.

  • Buy-down mortgage
    A home loan in which the lender receives a premium as an inducement to reduce the interest rate during the early years of the mortgage.

  • Buyer broker
    A real estate broker who exclusively represents the buyer's interests in a transaction and whose commission is paid by the buyer rather than the seller.

  • Buyer's market
    A slow real estate market in which buyers have the advantage.

  • Buyer's remorse
    An emotion felt by first-time homebuyers after signing a sales contract or closing the purchase of a house.

  • Bylaws
    The rules and regulations that a homeowners association or corporation adopts to govern activities.