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Wendy Gimpel

Decoding Real Estate Terms

Ever felt like the real estate world speaks its own language? It’s common for many diving into property dealings. Real estate comes with its unique vocabulary, and understanding it can be a challenge. No worries! Here’s a simple guide to break down those terms and make everything clearer. By the end of this, real estate lingo will be a breeze.

Appraisal

Think of buying a house like buying a big toy. An appraisal is a special check to make sure the house’s price is right. A professional looks at the house and similar ones nearby to ensure you’re not overpaying.

Association Fee / HOA fee

Imagine buying a condo with a beautiful pool, only to find out there’s a monthly fee for its upkeep. That’s your association or HOA fee, covering common areas and amenities.

Closing Disclosure / CD

When it comes to understanding costs and distributions in a transaction, the Closing Disclosure is your go-to document. It details every financial aspect of the deal.

Closing Costs

These are the expenses on top of the home’s price, including buyer loan-related fees and agent commissions for sellers.

Collateral

This is your property’s role in guaranteeing your mortgage or loan. Think of it as the bank’s insurance policy on their loan to you.

Comparables

Ever wonder how agents determine property prices? They look at ‘comparables’ or recent sales of similar properties in the area.

Contingencies

These conditions, like home inspections or loan approvals, must be met for the deal to go through.

Counteroffer

If you make an offer and the seller responds with a different price or terms, that’s a counteroffer.

Earnest Money

This deposit, made by the buyer to the seller, is a show of good faith, indicating serious intent to purchase.

Escrow

Imagine selling a toy and having a buddy hold the payment until the deal’s done. In real estate, “escrow” is like that buddy. An escrow company keeps the money safe until the house deal is complete, then hands it over.

Principal

This is the core amount of your loan, excluding any interest.

REO

REO stands for “Real Estate Owned.” These are properties that once faced foreclosure and are now owned by financial institutions, like banks. Often, these properties are listed for sale, aiming to recover some of the bank’s initial investment.

Short sale

A short sale occurs when a homeowner sells their property for a price less than the amount they still owe on their mortgage. This type of sale requires the lender’s approval because they will receive less than the loan’s outstanding amount. It’s often used as an alternative to foreclosure.

Title

Your proof of ownership. It’s a legal document that also gives a historical overview of property transfers.

Underwriting

This is the evaluation process for potential homebuyers’ financial credibility and the review of historic documents for title insurance.

Navigating the Real Estate Lingo: Final Words

That’s a breakdown of 15 key real estate terms everyone should know. Armed with this knowledge, property decisions become a lot easier. If there’s ever confusion or if you need more information about real estate, remember guidance is just around the corner.


Contact Wendy Gimpel for deeper insights and trusted advice in the real estate world. Your dream home and a clear path to it are both within reach.

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