Tag Archives: Real Estate Terminology

15 Home Selling Terms to Add to Your Vocabulary

Even if you’ve sold a home before, deciphering real estate jargon can still seem impossible. There’s a lot of unique terminology you should know if you want to make the most of your sale, which means it’s crucial to be well-versed in some of the most common home selling terms before you list. If you’re still confused by contingencies or trying to decode disclosures, our glossary of real estate terms is here to get you on track.

15 Home Selling Terms, Explained

Here’s our A to Z list of the most important home selling vocab every seller should be familiar with. If you don’t see a specific term listed here, feel free to give us a call—we’d love to answer your questions!

Appraisal

House with coin stacks

The estimated market value of your property. Oftentimes a buyer will need to have a home appraised in order to secure financing.

As-Is

Listing a home “as-is” means that you’re selling it in its current state. This term tells buyers that you aren’t willing to make any changes or take money off the price—they will be responsible for handling all repairs.

Closing Costs

Calculating closing costs

This blanket term describes all the extra fees that come with closing on a home, which are usually deducted from the profit you make on the sale. Common closing costs include agent commissions (for you and the buyer), title fees, loan payoff costs, and any outstanding taxes or expenses.

Commission

This is what you’ll pay your agent (and the buyer’s agent) for their services. Commission is often negotiable and tends to be 5 to 6% of a home’s sale price, with around 3% going to each agent. 

Comparative Market Analysis

House figure on top of a calculator

Often abbreviated as CMA, this detailed evaluation of your home’s value is based on similar properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood.

Contingency

A contingency is a certain condition that must be met before a home is sold. If a contingency is not met, the buyer or seller can exit the deal, typically with no penalties. Financing, home inspections, and appraisals are just a few common contingencies.

Disclosures

Signing paperwork

Disclosures refer to any specific defects in a home that you’re legally obligated to share with a buyer. Required disclosures vary from state to state and even town to town, but your agent should be familiar with the most common types in your area.  

Earnest Money

This is a security deposit submitted by a buyer after they’ve put in an offer to show that they’re serious about purchasing your home. The money is typically applied towards their closing costs if the sale moves forward. 

Escrow

Agent chatting about an escrow account

An escrow account is normally set up by a lender to hold earnest money until the sale of a home. However, escrow accounts can also be used by lenders to hold real estate taxes and insurance premiums as you pay off your mortgage.

For Sale by Owner

Sometimes abbreviated as FSBO, this is when a homeowner tries to sell their property without the help of an agent, usually to avoid paying commission.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agent helping a client

A real estate agent is someone who has passed a real estate exam and possesses a license that allows them to buy or sell homes in a specific area.

Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers are agents who have received additional education, passed a broker exam, and completed a certain number of transactions. Most agents work under the supervision of a broker.

Realtor®

Realtors talking to each other

A Realtor® is an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Realtors® are required to follow a strict code of ethics and pay annual membership dues.

Staging

Staging is the process of styling and updating your home for potential buyers. It can involve cleaning, repainting, decluttering, making repairs, and moving around furniture to make your space look its best. 

Under Contract

Under contract sign

When a home is under contract, the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, and that buyer has the exclusive right to purchase the property.

Thinking About Selling Soon?

If you’re getting ready to list your home, we can help you navigate every step of the process. Just reach out to us to learn more about the services we offer to our sellers, and let us know if you have any questions. We’d be happy to lend you our expertise! 

Mortgage 101: What To Know Before You Apply

Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly. 

Know How Much You Can Spend

A person holding up money.

If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage. 

Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.

Get Your Finances in Order

Statistics on a laptop.

Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers. 

Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!

What You’ll Need to Apply

Paperwork.

In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:

  • W2s/tax returns
  • Photo ID
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments) 
  • Gift letters

Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand. 

Find the Right Mortgage

Three women pointing at a laptop.

Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:

  • Conventional/Fixed-rate:  The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
  • Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
  • FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.

These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!

Choose the Right Lender

When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options. 

Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know! 

Still Have Questions?

That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help. 

Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!

Home Buying Terminology: A Cheat Sheet

Buying a home shouldn’t be rocket science. You find the perfect home, make an offer to the seller, pay a couple of fees, and bam! You just bought a home.

However, buying a home actually has a lot of moving parts which include a number of funny real estate terms you’ve probably never heard before. Are Realtors and real estate agents even speaking English anymore?

To help you out, we’ve come up with a cheat sheet so you’ll know exactly what we are talking about when we explain the home-buying process.

Pre-Approval

Two adults meeting over a stack of paper.If you meet with an agent before you begin looking for homes, they’ll likely recommend you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-approval is the best first step to buying a home, because it essentially sets your budget for you.

Pre-approval involves sitting down with a lender to discuss your financial portfolio. This includes your credit score, borrowing history, outstanding debts, annual income, and any assets you have. After reviewing all of this, the lender gives you an exact number: that’s how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Not only is your budget set, home sellers will take you more seriously because they know you can qualify for enough loan to support your offer.

Earnest Money

Two parents sitting with a child who is opening a piggy bank full of coins.Defined loosely, earnest money is the money you pay to confirm a contract. When you’re buying a home, this is essentially a good faith deposit. It lets the seller know that you’re serious—serious enough to go ahead and put money down.

This money sits in a joint account (called an “escrow” account) held by both the buyer and seller. When the home purchase is finalized, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment.

Due Diligence

A few bills next to a checklist that has home-buying items on it.Due diligence refers to the period of time after the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer. This is the time when you as the buyer can schedule inspections, confirm financing, and make sure that buying this home is in your best interest.

Now’s the time to do some research! Have the home inspected by a professional to ensure nothing is wrong with it, consult public records to learn more about its past homeownership, as well as any environmental issues in the neighborhood, and work with your lender to make sure this is a good financial decision.

So…. Are Realtors and Agents the Same Thing?

Yes and no. The primary difference between REALTOR®s and real estate agents is the National Association of Realtors, also known as the NAR. The NAR is a professional organization of real estate brokers that abides by a specific Code of Ethics that all REALTOR®s are required to follow.

A real estate agent works under a brokerage, but is not necessarily a licensed NAR member.

Let’s Find Your Dream Home Together

Young couple being handed the keys to their new home.We’ll never hide behind big words when it comes to helping you find the home that’s right for you.

Give us a call today to begin your home-buying journey.

What Do Those Home Selling Terms Even Mean?

Real estate lingo can be hard to decipher because, well, there’s so much of it! It might even seem like your Realtor is speaking another language.

From fancy acronyms to words like “escrow” and “riders,” there are a lot of terms out there that might seem totally foreign. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know what they mean!

If you’re in the process of selling your home, here are a few real estate acronyms you really should know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

Man's hand resting on the mouse pad of a silver laptop.A comparative market analysis is a great way to research the market and find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s an in-depth report that lists the prices of sold homes that are similar to your home (otherwise known as “comps” or “comparables”).

CMAs provide information about homes that were recently sold, home that are currently on the market, and homes that were on the market but were not sold within the listing period.

FSBO: For Sale By Owner

Home sellers who opt not to use a Realtor will list their home as For Sale By Owner. This simply means the homeowner is selling their home without the help of a Realtor and is taking on all the responsibilities of selling their home.

When you choose to sell without a Realtor, you may be saving money on their commission fee, but you’re taking on a lot of additional work and responsibility. Plus, you may end up losing money in the long run if you don’t know how to stage and photograph your home, market it effectively, or price it correctly and competitively.

Escrow

Escrow refers to a number of documents, payments, and other material that are held by a third party. Once you’ve negotiated the sale of your home with a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure there’s a proper escrow set up.

Basically, when a buyer makes an offer on your home, they’ll write you a check for “earnest money” (kind of like a security deposit or holding fee). This money is held by a neutral third party until you and the buyer negotiate a contract and close the sale.

Since you can’t use the money and neither can the buyer, the money is considered to be in “escrow”.

Contingency

When you’re negotiating the contract of your home sale with the buyer, there are likely to be a few contingencies in your contract. Contingencies protect the buyer if they fail to qualify for a loan, if they are dissatisfied with the results of the home inspection, or if something else falls through.

Carefully consider all terms of the contract, including specific contingencies, when reviewing offers. The more contingencies an offer contains, the riskier it is to accept the offer, as there are more ways it could potentially fall through. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a contract that benefits you and the buyer.

Need a Translator? We’ve Got You Covered

Allow us to handle all the details of selling your property, giving you more time to focus on finding and relocating to your new home. We’ll be there to guide you through every aspect of selling your home, from pricing it to signing the closing paperwork.

Give us a call today to get started.

What’s Your Style? 5 Popular Architectural Styles to Consider for Your Dream Home

Dream homes around the country have one thing in common: amazing architecture. From Greek Revival to Modern, we’re breaking down the most popular architectural styles in America to help you discover your own dream home.

A two-story Greek Revival plantation home with tall columns, wrap-around porches, and a grassy lawn.

1. Greek Revival Homes

Popular during the 1820s, ’30s, and ’40s, Greek Revival takes inspiration from the ornate temples of ancient Greek cities.

In America, you’ll find this architectural style sprinkled in cities throughout the country. Picture the magnificent columns and symmetrical design of historic Southern plantation homes, monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and you’re thinking of Greek Revival.

This architectural style exudes elegance and sophistication, which is why Greek Revival is one of the most popular housing styles in the United States. Many Greek Revival homes feature:

  • neutral exterior colors, particularly white
  • gabled roofs with a cornice
  • tall columns, either fluted or smooth

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a row of tri-colored Victorian houses with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

2. Victorian Homes

Fans of Full House will instantly recognize these colorful Victorian homes in San Francisco. The Victorian architectural style made its debut in America during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, popping up in small towns and big cities alike.

Victorian homes are often asymmetrical and ornate, and they typically include some or all of the following features:

  • bright, bold exteriors instead of neutral tones
  • elaborate trim and rooflines
  • towers with pointed roofs
  • bay windows

Two Tudor-style buildings, the one on the left with black timber in a criss-cross pattern and the one on the right with red timber in a criss-cross pattern.

3. Tudor Homes

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, homes started to take on the look of medieval European castles and inns.

The Tudor, or Tudor Revival, style is best recognized by the decorative timbers on the exterior of the house, but homes with this architectural style also feature:

  • steep gabled roofs
  • dormer windows
  • large decorative chimneys

A two-story brick Colonial house with dormer windows on the roof and two brick chimneys flanking both sides of the house.

4. Colonial Revival Homes

Arguably the most popular architectural style in the United States, Colonial Revival first came on the scene between the 1880s and 1950s. Dutch Revival and Georgian Revival are considered subcategories of the Colonial Revival style.

Like Tudor homes, Colonials often feature dormer windows and gabled roofs, but they can also have:

  • simple rectangular windows
  • symmetrical exteriors
  • covered center entrances

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater House, a Modern three-story home with a stone chimney that is surrounded by trees.

5. Modern Homes

Also known as Mid-Century Modern, this architectural style was popular during the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s and valued simplicity over showy design. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House is a great example of this popular home style.

Since Modern houses were also designed as a way to connect with nature, these properties tend to feature:

  • open floor plans that flow to outdoor spaces
  • large windows and sliding glass doors
  • ranch or split-level layouts

No Matter Your Style, We Can Find Your Dream Home

Have your heart set on a certain architectural style? We’ll help you find (or build!) your dream home with the look and feel you want. Contact us and let’s talk.

Do You Know What These Crucial Real Estate Acronyms Mean?

A man standing on a flat field and juggling apples.Acronyms are tossed around like crazy in the real estate world, which can be confusing to even the most veteran home buyers. But don’t worry — it doesn’t take long to learn the language.

Here’s a quick list of the most widely used home buying acronyms and what they actually mean. Of course, if you’d like to know even more real estate terminology, don’t hesitate to call us.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

The multiple listing service is a massive database of available properties that is split up into hundreds of different regions. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a home as “on the market,” it means that the home is available on the MLS.

Buyers can search for properties that are on the MLS by using a real estate agent’s website (like ours!), but that’s not the only way to find homes. Your agent can send you updates whenever new properties hit the market.

Want to get these email updates? Call us and we’ll set them up for you!

PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance

A wooden cutout of a house standing next to three stacks of coins, each taller than the next and with a sprout growing out of the top.Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance are the four parts of a mortgage payment. Initially, you will pay more toward the interest on the mortgage, but you will start to pay off more of the principal (the initial loan amount) the longer you stay in your home.

Want to see the estimated PITI for your next loan? Check out our handy mortgage calculator on our website.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, is a mortgage insurer that offers a variety of home buying assistance programs to help people purchase homes that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

FHA-insured loans generally offer more flexible credit qualifications and a lower down payment. However, borrowers are required to pay for mortgage insurance.

Interest rates and terms depend on the FHA-approved mortgage lender you choose.

PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance

Speaking of mortgage insurance, many lenders require you to have private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you can’t put 20% down on your home. This insurance protects the lender in case you can’t pay off your mortgage.

HOA: Homeowners Association

A community pool with orange inflatable innertube floating on top.Want to live in a community with a pool or clubhouse? Chances are you’re looking for a neighborhood with an HOA, or homeowners association.

An HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas and any amenities, and it typically sets standards for how homes should look in order to keep property values up. In some cases, homeowners associations may even include Internet, cable, and lawn care with their HOA dues.

If you’re considering buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the association’s CC&Rs — Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions — to see what rules the HOA enforces.

We’ll Help You Speak the Language

Understanding real estate terminology is one of the best ways to start your research as a home buyer. Want to know the meanings of other commonly used terms? Give us a call!