Glossary A

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A la carte real estate services

Professional real estate services that are rendered one transaction at a time instead of the conventional full-service, commission-based brokerage relationship.

A-frame design

An interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters.

Abstract of judgment

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

Abstract or title search

The process of reviewing all recorded transactions in the public record to determine whether any title defects exist that could interfere with the clear transfer of ownership of the property.

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.

Ad valorem tax

Tax based on assessed property value.

Add-on interest

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

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.

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.

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.

Agency disclosure

Laws in most states require agents who act for buyers or sellers to disclose who represents whom in a real estate transaction. Laws vary widely by state.

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.

Air handler

Short for air-handling unit, the blower equipment in a furnace, heat pump, or similar appliance designed for circulating heated or cooled air through a central heating system.

Air lot

A designated airspace over a piece of property.

Air-handling unit

The blower equipment in a furnace, heat pump, or similar appliance designed for circulating heated or cooled air through a central heating system.

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.

Allowance

A budget 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 (ASHI)

Professional association of independent home inspectors whose members must meet the group’s education and performance requirements. Call (800) 743-2744 for list of ASHI-certified inspectors in your area.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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. Initially, most of each payment is applied toward interest owed, and later in the loan term increasingly applied toward principal.

Amortization tables

Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower’s monthly payment.

Amperage

The strength of an electrical current.

Ampere

The basic unit used to measure electric 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 assessments

The process of placing a value on property for the strict purpose of taxation. May also refer to a levy against property for a special purpose, such as a street lighting or sewer assessment.

Annual mortgagor statement

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

Annual percentage rate (APR)

A measure of interest rate that expresses the cost of a mortgage as a yearly rate on the loan balance. The APR assumes the loan is held for its full term. For adjustable-rate loans, the APR assumes the loan’s index doesn’t change from its initial value.

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.

Antioxidant compound

A substance applied to aluminum wiring connections to seal and promote conduction.

Appellant

A taxpayer or representative who appeals to a higher tribunal.

Application

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

Application fee

Includes any fees that are paid upon application. An application fee may include charges for property appraisal and a credit report, if those fees are not reported separately.

Appraisal

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

Appraisal fee

The fee that a professional real estate appraiser charges to appraise, or estimate the market value of, a 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.

Approval

A thorough assessment made by a lender of a borrower’s ability to pay for a home, and a confirmation of the amount the borrower may obtain.

APR (annual percentage rate)

A measure of interest that expresses the cost of a mortgage as a yearly rate on the loan balance. The APR assumes the loan is held for its full term. For adjustable-rate loans, the APR assumes the loan’s index doesn’t change from its initial value.

Apron

A paved area, such as the junction of a driveway with the street.

Aquastat

A thermostat submerged in water and used to control the operation of a device.

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.

Arc

A spark between two electrical points.

Arch

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

Arch surrounds

Half-round or elliptical trim mounted above a door or window for decorative purposes.

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.

ARM (adjustable rate mortgage)

A loan with an interest rate that is periodically adjusted to reflect changes in a specified financial index.

ARM index

A publicly published number used to adjust the interest rate for an adjustable rate loan (ARM). An index (such as Treasury bills or the prime rate) reflects the lender’s cost of credit, and is not controlled by individual lenders.

Arpent

A French measurement of land equal to .84625 acres.

Array

A term used by tax assessors to describe a list of properties in a certain category sold within a given period of time.

As-is condition

The purchase or sale of a property in its existing condition.

Asbestos

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

ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors)

A professional association of independent home inspectors whose members must meet the group’s education and performance requirements. Call (800) 743-2744 for list of ASHI-certified inspectors in your area.

Asking price

A seller’s initial price for a property.

Assemblage

The combining of two or more adjoining lots into one larger tract to increase total value.

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.

Assessor

An official who determines the assessed value of a property.

Assets

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

Assignment

The transfer of rights to pay a debt from one party to another, with the original party remaining liable for the debt if the second party defaults.

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.

Automatic extension

A clause in a listing contract stating that the agreement will automatically continue for a certain period of time after the expiration date. This is discouraged and prohibited in many states.

Automatic flue damper

A device in the flue of a heating unit that closes to prevent heat loss when the unit is not in operation.

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.

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Kaitlyn Espada

The Alaska Real Estate Lady
Signature Real Estate Alaska
Kaitlyn@AlaskaRealEstateLady.com
(907) 414-1664