The Blog ofLanding Real Estate

Understand the terms your agent is using

Understand the terms your agent is using
By Lisa DiBiase


For home buyers and sellers, the real estate jargon can be intimidating. Some people are not comfortable asking what it means, therefore I have put together a list of the most common acronyms and real estate terms we use daily.

“As-is”: A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently. This typically occurs when a listing was previously under contract and the buyers terminated the purchase and sale contract.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Broker’s price opinion (BPO): The real estate broker’s opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined prior to the acquisition of the property. Agents will perform this upon the request of a bank, typically when a property is in the foreclosure process.

Clear to Close: A term used by a lender when all conditions have been met by the buyer for the loan to be funded at closing.

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer agency agreement may require the buyer to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compensation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive market analysis (CMA): An analysis done by real estate sales agents and brokers using active, pending, and sold comparable properties to estimate a listing price for a property.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower’s credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower’s credit report based on information contained therein.

Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property has been on the market.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit (EMD): The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer’s good faith.

Escrow account: An account for real estate taxes and insurance which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fee Simple: Absolute title to land, free of any other claims against the title, which one can sell to another by will or inheritance.  

FHA: Federal Housing Administration.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Homeowner’s insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent’s agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower’s loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower’s lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer’s funds and the borrower’s loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer’s loan.

Mortgage: A legal agreement by which a bank or other creditor lends money at interest in exchange for taking title of the debtor’s property, with the condition that the conveyance of title becomes void upon the payment of the debt.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

Mortgage loan servicing company: A company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A service that compiles available properties for sale by member brokers.

Multiple Offers: More than one buyer broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Payoff letter: A written document from a seller’s mortgage company stating the amount of money needed to pay the loan in full.

Pre-approval: A higher level of buyer/borrower pre-qualification required by a mortgage lender. Some pre-approvals have conditions the borrower must meet.
Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Pre-qualification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some pre-qualifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Promissory note: A promise-to-pay document used with a contract or an offer to purchase.

Purchase and Sale Agreement: A real estate contract between a Seller and a Buyer who have agreed to specific terms on a specific listing/property.

Special assessment: A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative.
Also, a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

Under contract/Pending: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Agents have a big responsibility to handle your largest asset in most cases, please always have open communication to understand what your options are. As I have said before, please call a local Realtor® for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It’s best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or lisa@landinghomesmaine.com.