Abstract of Title - The condensed history of the title to a
particular parcel of real estate.
Acceleration Clause - The clause in a note or mortgage that
can be enforced to make the entire debt due immediately if the
Accretion - The increase or addition of land by the deposit
of sand or soil washed up naturally from a river, lake or sea.
Accrued Items - On a closing
statement, items of expense that have been incurred but are not yet payable, such as interest on a
Acknowledgment - A formal declaration made before a duly
authorized officer, usually a notary public, by a person who has signed
Actual Eviction - Action whereby a defaulted tenant is
physically ousted from rented property pursuant to a court order. (See
Actual Notice - That which is known; actual knowledge.
Adjacent - Lying near to but not necessarily in actual contact
Adjoining - Contiguous; attaching, in actual contact with.
Adjustable-rate Mortgage (ARM) - A mortgage loan in which
the interest rate may increase or decrease to specific intervals, following an
Adjustments ?; Divisions of financial Responsibility
between a buyer and seller (also called prorations).
Administrator - A person appointed by court to administer
the estate of a deceased person who left no will, i.e., who died intestate.
Ad valorem tax - A tax levied
according to value; generally used to refer to real estate tax. Also called the general tax.
Adverse possession - The actual, visible, hostile, notorious,
exclusive and continuous possession of another?s land under a
claim of title. Possession for ten years may be a means of acquiring title.
Affidavit - A written statement sworn to before an officer
who is authorized to administer an oath or affirmation. Agency ? That relationship wherein an agent is employed
by a principal to do certain acts on the principal?s behalf.
Agency coupled with an interest ? An agency
relationship in which the agent has an interest in the property.
Agricultural real estate ? Farms,
timberland, pasture and orchards.
Air rights - The right to use the open space above a property,
generally allowing the surface to be used for another purpose.
Alienation - The act of transferring
property to another.
Alienation clause - The clause in a
mortgage stating that the balance of the secured debt becomes immediately due
and payable at the mortgagee's option if the property is sold.
Americans with Disabilities Act -(ADA) Federal law requiring
reasonable accommodations and accessibility to goods and
services for persons with disabilities.
Amenities - Elements of a property or its surroundings that
contribute to its attractiveness to potential buyers and to owner
Amortized loan - A loan in which the principal as well as
the interest is payable in monthly or other periodic installments over
the term of the loan.
Annual percentage rate (APR) - Rate of interest charged on a
loan, calculated to take into account up-front loan fees and points. Usually higher than the contract interest rate.
Antitrust laws - Laws designed to preserve the free enterprise
of the open marketplace by making illegal certain private
conspiracies and combinations formed to minimize competition.
Appeals - Complaints made to a higher court requesting the
correction of errors in law made by lower courts.
Apportionments - Adjustment of the income, expenses or
carrying charges of real estate usually computed to the date of closing of
title so that the seller pays all expenses to that date.
Appreciation - An increase in the worth or value of a
property due to economic or related causes.
Appurtenances - Those rights, privileges and improvements
that belong to and pass with the transfer of real property but are
not necessarily a part of the property, such as rights of way, easements and property
See annual percentage rate. ARM See adjustable-rate mortgage.
Arm?s length transaction - A transaction between relative
strangers, each trying to do the best for himself or herself.
Army Corps of Engineers - Federal body responsible for
regulating waterways and drainage.
Article 9A - The section of New York State ?s Real Property Law
relating to subdivision.
Article 12A - The section of New York State ?s Real Property Law
relating to real estate licenses.
Asbestos - Commonly-used insulating mineral that becomes
toxic when it is exposed and fibers and dust are released into the air.
Assemblage - The merging of two separate parcels under one owner.
Assessed valuation - A valuation placed on property by a
public officer or a board as a basis for taxation.
Assessment - The imposition of a tax, charge or levy, usually
according to established rates.
Assessment roll - Public record listing assessed value for
all real property in a village, town, city or county.
Assignment - The transfer in writing of interest in a bond,
mortgage, lease or other instrument.
Associate broker - A broker who chooses to work as a
salesperson under the name and supervision of another broker.
Assumption of mortgage - Acquiring title to property on
which there is an existing mortgage and agreeing to be personally liable
for the terms and conditions of the mortgage, including payments.
Attorney-in-fact A person who has
been given a power of attorney on behalf of a grantor. The power must be recorded, and ends on
the death of the grantor.
Avulsion- The removal of land from one owner to another when
a stream suddenly changes its channel. Back to Top
Balloon payment - The final payment of a mortgage loan that
is considerably larger than the required periodic payments because
the loan amount was not fully amortized.
Bargain and sale deed - A deed that carries with it no
warranties against liens or other encumbrances but that does imply
that the grantor has the right to convey title.
Bargain and sale deed with covenant - A
deed in which the grantor warrants or guarantees the title against defects arising
during the period of his or her tenure and ownership of the property but not
against defects existing before that time.
Benchmark - A permanent reference mark or point established
for use by surveyors in measuring differences in elevation. See datum.
Beneficiary - The person who receives or is to receive
benefits resulting from certain acts.
Bequeath - To give or hand down by will; to leave by will.
Bequest - That which is given by the terms of a will.
Bilateral contract - A contract in which
both parties promise to do something; an exchange of promises.
Bill of sale - A written instrument given
to pass title of from vendor to vendee.
Biweekly mortgage - A loan that is paid in 26 half-month
(biweekly) payments each year, resulting in an earlier payoff and
lower interest costs over the life of the loan.
Black book - Offering plan for a cooperative or condominium
as accepted for filing by the attorney general and used for
Blanket mortgage- A mortgage covering more
than one parcel of real estate.
Blanket unilateral offer of cooperation - A seller?s
option to agree to a commission split with the selling broker without sub-agency.
Blanket unilateral offer of sub-agency - Traditionally, a
seller?s automatic consent to sub-agency by submitting a listing to a MLS.
Blue-sky laws - Common name for those state and federal
laws that regulate the registration and sale of investment securities.
Board of directors - Elected managing body of a corporation,
specifically of a cooperative apartment building.
Board of Fire Underwriters - New York state agency responsible for
oversight of electrical systems and for enforcing its electrical
Board of managers - Elected managing body of a condominium.
Branch office - A secondary place of business apart from the
principal or main office from which real estate business is conducted.
Breach of contract - Violation of any terms or conditions in
a contract without legal excuse; for example, failure to make a payment
when it is due.
Bridge loan - A short-term loan designed to cover a gap
between the sale of one property and the purchase of another (also called a swing
loan, temporary loan or interim financing).
British thermal unit (BTU) - A unit of measure of heat that
is used to rate air-conditioning and heating equipment capacity. One
BTU raises one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
Broker?s agent - A broker who assists the listing
broker in marketing a property under a formal agency agreement.
Brokerage - The business of buying and selling for another
for a fee.
Building codes - Regulations established by state and local
governments fully stating the structural requirements for
Building loan agreement - An agreement whereby the lender
advances money to an owner with partial payments at certain
stages of construction.
Building-related illness (BRI) - Symptoms such as hypersensitivity,
asthma and allergic reactions caused by toxic substances and pathogens
in a building that remain with the affected individual even when he or she is away from the
building. See sick building syndrome.
Bullet loan - A short or intermediate-term (3 to 5 years)
interest-only loan with a balloon payment at the end of the term
(also called an intermediate loan or conduit financing).
Bundle of legal rights - The concept of land ownership that
includes ownership of all legal rights to the land?for example, possession,
control within the law and enjoyment.
Business interruption insurance - Insurance policy coverage
against a financial loss resulting from a property?s inability to
Buy down - A financing technique used to reduce the monthly
payments for the first few years of a loan. Funds in the form of discount points are
given to the lender by the builder or seller to buy down or lower the effective
interest rate paid by the buyer, thus reducing the monthly payments for a set time.
Buyer agency - An agency relationship in which the broker/agent
represents the interests of the buyer.
Buyer?s broker - A broker who has entered into an
agreement to represent a buyer (the broker?s principal and client) in finding a
By-laws - Rules and regulations adopted by an association. Back to Top
Cap - With an adjustable-rate mortgage, a limit, usually in percentage
points, on how much the interest rate or payment might be
raised in each adjustment period. For lifetime cap, see ceiling.
Capitalization - A mathematical process for estimating the
value of a property using a proper rate of return on the investment and the
annual net income expected to be produced by the property.
Capitalization rate - The rate of return a property will
produce on the owner?s investment.
Cash flow - The net spendable
income from an investment.
Casualty insurance - Insurance policy coverage against
theft, burglary, vandalism, physical damage to systems and health and
accident coverage on a specific-risk basis.
Caveat emptor - A Latin phrase meaning ?Let the buyer
CC&R's - Covenants, conditions and
restrictions of a condominium or cooperative development.
Ceiling - With an adjustable-rate mortgage, a limit, usually
in percentage points, beyond which the interest rates or monthly
payment on a loan may never rise. Sometimes known as a lifetime cap.
Certificate of compliance (C of C) - Verification that a
construction project meets certain standards, primarily
Certificate of title - A statement of opinion of title
status on a parcel of real property based on an examination of specified public
Certified Property Manager (CPM) - A real property Manager
who has completed specific educational requirements,
demonstration reports and qualified for the CPM designation, which is granted by the Institute of Real Estate Management of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Certiorari proceeding - A judicial proceeding seeking higher
court review of a lower court?s decision in a case or proceeding.
Chain of title - The conveyance of real property to one
owner from another, reaching back to the original grantor.
Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13 - Different forms of bankruptcy.
Chattel - Personal property such as household goods or fixtures.
Chattel mortgage - A mortgage on personal
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) - Gases produced by propellants
once used in aerosol sprays and the common coolant, freon.
CFC's are linked to depletion of the earth?s ozone layer.
Civil Rights Act of 1866 - Federal law that prohibits racial
discrimination in the sale and rental of property.
Closing statement - A detailed cash accounting of a real
estate transaction showing all cash received, all charges and credits
made and all cash paid out in the transaction.
Cloud on the title - An outstanding claim or encumbrance
that, if valid, would affect or impair the owner?s title.
Clustering - The grouping of home sites within a subdivision
on smaller lots than normal with the remaining land used as common
Code for Equal Opportunity - Professional standard of
conduct for fair housing compliance, promulgated by the National
Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
Coinsurance clause - A clause in insurance policies covering
real property that requires that the policyholder maintain fire
insurance coverage generally equal to at least 80 percent of the property?s actual replacement
Commercial real estate - Business property, including
offices, shopping malls, theaters, hotels and parking facilities.
Commingling - The illegal act of a real estate broker who
mixes other people?s money with his or her own.
Common elements - Parts of a property normally in common
use by all of the condominium residents.
Common law - The body of law based on custom, usage and
Community property - A system of property
ownership not in effect in New York.
Company dollar - A broker?s net commission income
after cooperating brokers arid the firm?s own salespersons have been
Comparables - Properties listed in an appraisal report that
are substantially equivalent to the subject property.
Comparative market analysis (CMA) - A study, intended to
assist an owner in establishing listing price, of recent comparable sales,
properties that failed to sell and parcels presently on the market.
Competent parties - Those recognized by law as being able to
contract with others; usually those of legal age and sound mind.
Condemnation - A judicial or administrative to exercise the
power of eminent domain through which a government agency takes
private property for public use and compensates the owner.
Condominium - The absolute ownership of an apartment or a
unit (generally in a multiunit building) plus an undivided
interest in the ownership of the common elements, which are owned jointly with the other condominium
Constructive eviction - Landlord actions that so materially
disturb or impair the tenant?s enjoyment of the leased premises
that the tenant is effectively forced to move out and terminate the lease without liability for any
Constructive notice - Notice given to the world by recorded
documents. Possession of property is also considered constructive
Contract for deed ? a contract for the sale of real
estate wherein the purchase price is paid in periodic installments by the
purchaser, who is in possession of
the property even though title is retained by the seller until final
payment. Also called and
installment contract or land contract.
Conventional Loan ? A loan not insured or guaranteed
by a government.
Conversions - Process by which an existing residential
property is changed into a cooperative or condominium.
Convertibility - An adjustable rate mortgage in which the
borrower may elect to change to a fixed-rate mortgage, either
whenever current rates are favorable, or at specific set conversion dates.
Conveyance - The transfer of title of Land from one to
another. The means or medium by which title to estate is transferred.
Cooperating broker - A broker other than the listing broker
who is involved in a real estate transaction. In
an MLS transaction, a subagent of the seller, unless a declared agent of the
Cooperative - A residential multi-unit building whose title
is held by a corporation owned by and operated for the benefit of persons
living within the building, who are the stockholders of the corporation, each possessing a
Co-ownership - Ownership by two or more persons.
Corporation - An entity or organization created by operation
of law whose rights of doing business are essentially the same
as those of an individual.
Cost approach - process of estimating the value of property
by adding to the estimated land value the appraiser?s estimate of
the reproduction or replacement cost of the building, less depreciation.
Counteroffer - A new offer made as a reply to an offer
County boards of health ? County level boards with
authority over public health issues, such as sanitary systems, water supplies
and food standards.
County planning boards - Primarily advisory county agencies
that promulgate reporting requirements and standards; county
planning boards have greater authority in rural counties.
Covenants - Agreements written into deeds and other
instruments promising performance or nonperformance of certain
Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R's)
- Provision in condominium by-laws restricting the owners? usage of the
Credit - On a closing statement, an amount entered in a
Criminal law - That branch of law defining
crimes and providing punishment.
Cubic-foot method - A technique for estimating building
costs per cubic foot.
Curvilinear system - Street pattern system that integrates
major arteries with smaller winding streets and cul-de-sacs.
Customer - A potential buyer of real estate; should not be
confused with a property seller (i.e., listing broker?s client). Back to Top
Damages - The indemnity recoverable by a person
who has sustained an injury, either to person, property or rights, through the act
or default of another.
Datum - Point from which elevations are measured. Mean sea
level in New York
harbor, or local datums.
DBA - ?Doing business as?; an assumed business
Dealer - An IRS classification for a person whose business
is buying and selling real estate on his or her own account.
Debit - On a closing statement, a charge or amount a party
owes and must pay at the dosing.
Debt service - Mortgage payments, including
principal and interest on an amortized loan.
Decedent - A person who has died.
Declaration - A formal statement of intention to establish a
Dedication - The voluntary transfer of private property by
its owner to the public for some public use such as for streets or schools.
Deficiency judgment - A personal judgment levied against the
mortgagor when a foreclosure sale does not produce sufficient funds
to pay the mortgage debt in full.
Delinquent taxes - Unpaid past-due taxes.
Delivery and acceptance - The transfer of
the possession of a thing from one person to another.
Demising clause - A clause in a lease whereby the landlord
(lessor) leases and the tenant (lessee) takes the
Density zoning - Local ordinances that limit the number of
housing units that may be built per acre within a subdivision.
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) - Agency that
issues permits for developments in or around a
protected wetland or other environmentally-sensitive area.
Department of Housing and Community Renewal - The New York
State department charged with administering rent
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - Federal
agency that administers the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Department of Transportation -State agency with oversight of New York ?s highway
Deposition - Sworn testimony that may be used as evidence
in a suit or
Descent - Acquisition of an estate by inheritance in which
an heir succeeds to the property by operation of law.
Designation - An indication of special training and expertise,
awarded by various real estate organizations.
Determinable fee estate - A fee simple estate in which the
property automatically reverts to the grantor on the occurrence of a
specified event or condition.
Developer - One who improves land with buildings, usually
on a large scale, and sells to homeowners and/or investors.
Devise - A gift of real property by will; the act of leaving
real property by will.
Devisee - One who receives a bequest of real estate made by
Devisor - One who bequeaths real estate by will.
Direct public ownership - Land-use control method through
which land is owned by the government for such public uses as municipal
buildings, parks, schools and roads.
Direct sales comparison approach - An appraisal method in which
a subject property is evaluated in comparison with similar recently
sold properties; most useful for single residential properties.
Disclosure - A broker is responsible for keeping a principal
fully informed of all facts that could affect a transaction. If a
broker fails to disclose such information, he or she may be liable for any damages that result.
Disclosure statement - Document that must be filed by the
developer of a new or converted condominium or cooperative project,
including an architect?s or engineer?s evaluation of the structure, an expense statement,
prices per unit and other financial and administrative information.
Discounted cash flow analysis -Mathematical model of variables inherent in an investment.
Discounting - Method for mathematically calculating present
value of money, based on time and the discount rate.
Discount points - An added loan fee charged by a lender to
make the yield on a lower-than-market-value loan competitive with
Discount rate - Rate of return needed to compensate an
investor for risk; the Federal Reserve?s loan rate for eligible banks.
Disposition - Investment strategy for reconciling anticipated
gain or loss with the risk involved.
Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) - New York agency that
administers rent control and stabilization programs.
Documentary evidence - Evidence in the
form of written or printed papers.
Dominant estate - A property that includes in its ownership
the right to use an easement over another persons property for a
Down payment - The amount of cash that a
purchaser will pay at closing. Due diligence ? A fair and
responsible degree of care.
Duress - Unlawful constraint or action exercised on a person
who is forced to perform an act against his or her will. Back to Top
Earnest money deposit - Money deposited by a buyer under the
terms of a contract, to be applied to the the
sale is closed.
Easement appurtenant - An easement involving adjacent
parcels that runs with the land (is permanently attached), so that
subsequent owners are bound by it, and it passes with the land when conveyed.
Easement by necessity - An easement allowed by law as
necessary for the full enjoyment of a parcel of real estate; for example,
a right of ingress and egress over a grantor?s land.
Easement by prescription - An easement acquired by
continuous, open, uninterrupted, exclusive and adverse use of the property for
the period of time prescribed by state law.
Easement in gross - An easement that is not created for the
benefit of any land owned by the owner of the easement but that
attaches personally to the easement owner.
Encroachment - A building or some
portion or it ? a wall or fence, for instance?that extends beyond
the land of the owner and illegally intrudes on some land of an adjoining owner
or a street or alley.
Encumbrance - Any claim by another?such as a mortgage,
a tax or judgment lien, an easement, an encroachment, or a deed
restriction on the use of the land?that may diminish the value of a property.
Endorsement - An act of signing one?s name on the back
of a check or note with or without further qualifications.
Environmental impact study - Report detailing the effect of
a proposed development on the existing environment,
including possible alternative measures to remedy or repair environmental damage.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - A federal agency
involved with the problems of air and
water pollution, noise, pesticides, radiation and solid-waste
management. EPA sets standards, enforces environmental
laws, conducts research, allocates funds for sewage-treatment facilities and provides technical,
financial and managerial assistance for municipal, regional and state pollution control agencies.
Equal Credit Opportunity
Act (ECOA) - The federal law that prohibits discrimination in the extension of
credit because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or marital
Equalization - The raising or lowering of assessed values
for tax purposes in a particular county or taxing district to make them
equal to assessments in other counties or districts.
Equitable title - The interest held by a
vendee under a land contract or an installment contract; the equitable right to
obtain absolute ownership to property when legal title is held in
Equity of redemption - A right of the
owner to. Reclaim property before it is sold through foreclosure by the payment of the debt, interest
Erosion - The gradual wearing away of land by water, wind and
general weather conditions; the diminishing of
property caused by the elements.
Errors and omissions insurance - A form of
malpractice insurance for real estate brokers.
Escape clause - A provision in a contract that allows one
party to unilaterally void the contract with out penalty; for instance, a
seller may be allowed to look for a more favorable offer, while the purchaser
retains the right to drop all contingencies
or void the contract if another offer is received.
Escheat - The reversion of property to the state or county,
as provided by state law, in cases where a person dies intestate without heirs
capable of inheriting or when the property is abandoned.
Estate at will - The occupation
of lands and tenements by a tenant for an indefinite period, terminable by one or both parties at will.
Estate for years - An interest for a
certain, exact period of time in property leased for a specified consideration.
Estate in land - The degree, quantity, nature and extent of
interest a person has in real property.
Estate tax - Federal tax levied on property transferred upon
Estoppel certificate - A document
in which a borrower certifies the amount he or she owes on a mortgage loan and the rate of interest.
Often used for reduction certificate..
Eviction Plan - Method of converting a rental Property into
a condominium or cooperative, in which existing tenants will be evicted
when their leases expire.
Evidence of title - Proof of ownership of property; commonly
a certificate of title, a title insurance policy, an abstract of title with
lawyer?s opinion or a Torrens
Exchange - A transaction in which all or part of the consideration
for the purchase of real property is the transfer of like-kind property
(that is, real estate for real estate).
Exclusive agency listing - A listing contract under which
the owner appoints a real estate broker as his or her exclusive agent. The owner
reserves the right to sell without paying anyone a commission.
Exclusive right to sell - A listing contract under which the
owner appoints a real estate broker as his or her exclusive agent and agrees to pay
the broker a commission when the property is sold,
whether by the broker, the owner or another
Exclusive right to represent - The most
common form of buyer agency agreement. executed
contract A contract in which all parties have
fulfilled their promises and thus performed the contract.
Execution - The signing and delivery of an instrument. Also,
a legal order directing an official to enforce a judgment against the property of a
Executor - A male person, corporate entity or any other type
of organization designated in a will to carry out its provisions.
Executory contract - A contract under which something remains to be done by
one or more of the parties.
Executrix - A woman appointed to perform the duties of an
Express contract - An oral or written contract in which the parties
state the contract?s terms and express their intentions in words.
External obsolescence - Reduction in a
property?s value caused by factors outside the subject property, such as social
or environmental forces or objectionable neighboring property. Back to Top
Fair employment laws - Laws designed to prevent employers
from making their hiring and firing decisions on factors unrelated to job
Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 - Effective March 12,
1989, this amendment to the federal Fair Housing Act added two more classes protected from discrimination:
those physically and mentally handicapped, and those with
children under age 18. Fair Housing Partnership Agreement ?
Voluntary agreement between NAR and HUT) to cooperate in identifying fair
housing problems, issues and solutions.
Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 - The federal law that
prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex,
handicap, familial status or national origin. Amended in 1988 to include
persons with physical and mental
disabilities, and those with children under 18.
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) -A
corporation established to purchase primarily conventional mortgage loans in
the secondary mortgage market.
Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) - A
quasi-government agency established to purchase any kind of mortgage loans in the
secondary mortgage market from the primary lenders.
Fee appraiser - An appraiser who works as an independent
contractor, performing appraisal services for various clients.
Fee simple estate - The maximum possible
estate or right of ownership of real property, continuing forever. Sometimes called a fee or fee simple
FHA loan - A loan insured by the Federal Housing
Administration and made by an approved lender in accordance with the FHA?s
Fiduciary relationship - A relationship of trust and confidence
as between trustee and beneficiary, attorney and client or principal and agent.
Fire and hazard insurance - Policy providing coverage for
direct loss of or damage to property resulting from fire, storms, hail, smoke or
First substantive contact - The point at which agents must
disclose and obtain signed acknowledgements of their agency relationships.
Fixture - An item of personal property that has been converted
to real property by being permanently affixed to the realty.
Floating slab foundation -Type of concrete slab foundation
in which the footings and slab are poured separately.
Franchise - An organization that leases a Standardized trade
name, operating procedures, supplies and referral service
to member real estate brokerages.
Fraud Deception - that causes a person to give up property
or a lawful right.
Freehold estate - An estate in land in which ownership is
for an intermediate length of time, in contrast to a leasehold estate.
Front foot - A standard measurement, one foot wide, of the
width of land, applied at the frontage on its street line.
Full covenant and warranty deed - A deed that provides the
greatest protection, in which the grantor makes five legal promises (covenants of seisin, quiet enjoyment, further assurances,
warranty forever, against encumbrances) that the
grantee?s ownership will be unchallenged.
Full-value assessment - Practice of assessing property at
its full value, rather than by a percentage of full value.
Functional obsolescence - A loss of value to an improvement
to real estate due to functional problems,often caused by age or poor design.
Future interest - A person?s present right to an
interest in real property that will not result in possession or enjoyment until some time in the
future. Back to Top
Gap - A defect in the chain of title of a particular parcel
of real estate; a missing document or conveyance that raises doubt as to
present ownership. General agent One authorized to act
for the principal in a specific range of matters.
General contractor - A construction specialist who enters
into a formal contract with a landowner or lessee to construct a building or
General lien - The right of a
creditor to have all of a debtor?s property?both real and
personal?sold to satisfy a debt.
Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) - A
government agency that plays an important role in the secondary
mortgage market. It sells mortgage-backed securities that are backed by pools of FHA and VA loans.
Grace period - Additional time allowed to perform an act or
make a payment before a default occurs.
Graduated lease - A lease that provides for a graduated
change at stated intervals in the amount of the rent to be paid; used largely in
Grant - A sale or gift of real property.
Grantee - A person who receives a
conveyance of real property from the grantor.
Granting clause - Words in a deed of conveyance that state
the grantor?s intention to convey the property. This clause is generally worded as ?convey and
warrant,? ?grant,? ?grant, bargain and sell? or
Grantor - The person transferring title to or an interest in
real property to a grantee.
GRI (Graduate, REALTORS® Institute) - A professional
designation earned by any member of a state-affiliated Board of REALTORS®
who completes specific courses approved by the board.
Gridiron pattern - Street pattern systems that evolved out
of the government rectangular survey, featuring a
regular grid of straight-line
streets and alleys.
Gross income - Total income from property
before any expenses are deducted.
Gross income multiplier - The figure used as a multiplier of
the gross annual income of a property to produce an estimate of the
Gross lease - A lease of property under which a landlord
pays all property charges regularly incurred through ownership, such as repairs,
taxes and insurance.
Gross rent multiplier (GRM) - A figure used as a multiplier
of the gross rental income of a property to produce an estimate of the
Ground lease - A lease of land only, on which the tenant usually owns a building or is required to build as specified in the lease. Such
leases are usually longterm net leases; the tenant?s rights and obligations continue until the lease expires or is terminated through default.
Groundwater - Surface runoff and underground water systems.
Group boycott - An agreement among members of a trade to
exclude other members from fair participation in the activities of the trade. Back to Top
Habendum clause - That part of a
deed beginning with the words ?to have and to hold? following the granting clause and defining the
extent of ownership the grantor is conveying.
Heat pump - Mechanism that uses heat from
outside air to reduce heating and air-conditioning costs.
Heir - One who might inherit or succeed to an interest in
land under the state law of descent when the owner dies without leaving a valid
Highest and best use - That possible use of land that would
produce the greatest net income and thereby develop the highest land value.
Holding period - The time an investment or asset is possessed.
Holdover tenancy - A tenancy whereby a lessee retains
possession of leased property after his or her lease has expired and the landlord, by
continuing to accept rent, agrees to the tenant?s continued occupancy.
Holographic will - A will that is written, dated and signed
in the testator?s handwriting but is not witnessed.
Home equity loan - A loan (sometimes called a line of
credit) under which a property owner uses his or her residence as collateral and can
then draw funds up to a prearranged amount against the property.
Homeowners? association - A nonprofit group of homeowners
in a condominium, cooperative or PUD that administers common elements and
enforces covenants, conditions and restrictions.
Homeowner?s insurance policy - A standardized package
insurance policy that covers a residential real estate owner against financial loss
from fire, theft, public liability and other commercial risks.
Homestead- Land that is owned and occupied as the family home. The right to protect a
portion of the value of this land from unsecured
judgments for debts. Back to Top
Impact fees - Charges levied by a local government to, help the community absorb the public costs involved in the development of a new subdivision.
Implied contract - A contract under which the agreement of
the parties is demonstrated by their acts and conduct.
Implied creation of a sub-agency - The unintended creation
of a fiduciary relationship through an informal cooperation arrangement between
Implied warranty of habitability - A theory
inland-lord/tenant law in which the landlord renting residential property
implies that the property is habitable and fit for its intended use.
Improvement - Any structure erected on a site to enhance the
value of the property?buildings, fences, driveways, curbs, sidewalks
Income approach - The process of estimating the value of an
income-producing property by capitalization of the annual net income expected
to be produced by the property during its remaining useful life.
Incompetent - A person who is unable to manage his or her
own affairs by reason of insanity, imbecility or feeblemindedness.
Independent contractor - Someone retained to perform a
certain act but subject to the control and direction of another only as to the
end result and not as to the way in which he or she performs the act;
contrasted with employee.
Index - With an adjustable-rate mortgage,
a measure of current interest rates, used as a basis for calculating the new
rate at the time of adjustment.
Industrial real estate - Warehouses, factories, land in
industrial districts and research facilities
(sometimes referred to as manufacturing property).
Informed consent - Agreement to an act based on the full and
fair disclosure of all the facts a reasonable person would need in order to
make a rational decision.
Inheritance tax - New
tax levied on those who inherit property located in the state.
Injunction - An order issued by a court to restrain one
party from doing an act deemed to be unjust to
In rem - A
proceeding against the realty directly as distinguished from a proceeding
against a person.
Installment sale - A method of reporting income received
from the sale of real estate when the sales price is paid in two or more
installments over two or more years.
Interim financing - A short-term loan usually made during
the construction phase of a building project (in this case often referred to as
a construction loan).
Internal rate of return (IRR) - Discount rate that, when
applied to both positive and negative cash flows, results in zero net present value.
Land Sales Full
Disclosure Act - A federal law that regulates the sale of certain real estate
in Interstate commerce.
Intestate - The condition of a property owner who dies
without leaving a valid will.
Involuntary alienation - Transfer of real estate without the
owner?s initiative, as in foreclosure or condemnation.
Involuntary bankruptcy - A bankruptcy proceeding initiated by one or more of the debtor's creditors.
Involuntary lien - A lien imposed against property without consent of the owners, i.e., taxes, special
Irrevocable consent - An agreement filed by an out-of-state broker stating that suits and actions may be
brought against the broker in the state where a license
Joint venture - The joining of two or more people to conduct a specific business enterprise.
Joist and rafter roof - Roofing system that relies on sloping timbers supported by a ridge board and
made rigid by interconnecting joists.
Jumbo loan - A loan that exceeds FNMA and FHLMC maximum loan limit.
Junior lien - An obligation such as a second mortgage that is subordinate in priority to an existing lien
on the same realty. Back to Top
Kickbacks - The return of part of the commission as gifts or money to buyers or sellers.
Laches - Loss of a legal right through undue delay in asserting it.
Land - The earth's surface, extending downward to the center of the earth and upward infinitely into
Land contract - See contract for deed.
Landfill - A site for the burial, layering and permanent storage of waste material, consisting of
alternating layers of waste and topsoil.
Last will and testament - An instrument executed by an owner to convey the owner's property to
specific persons after the owner's death.
Latent defects - A hidden defect that is not discoverable by ordinary inspection.
Law of agency - The law that governs the relationships and duties of agents, clients and customers. See
Lead poisoning - Illness, including the impairment of physical and mental development in children and
aggravated blood pressure in adults, resulting from the ingestion of lead toxins, primarily in paint or
Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) - Federal environmental protection program to protect the
nation's groundwater by identifying underground tanks and preventing or correcting leakage of
Leasehold estate - A tenant's right to occupy real estate during the term of a lease; generally
considered personal property.
Legacy - A disposition of money or personal property by will.
Legal description - A description of a specific parcel of real estate complete enough for an independent
surveyor to locate and identify it.
Legality of object - The requirement that a valid and enforceable contract may not involve an illegal
purpose or one that is against public policy.
Leverage - The use of borrowed money to finance the bulk of an investment.
Liability insurance - Standard package homeowner's insurance policy coverage for personal injuries to
others resulting from the insured's acts or negligence, voluntary medical payments and funeral
expenses for accidents sustained by guests or resident employees on the property and physical damage
to other's property.
License - (1) A privilege or right granted to a person by a state to operate as a real estate broker or
salesperson. (2) The revocable permission for a temporary use of land.
Life estate - An interest in real or personal property that is limited in duration to the lifetime of its
owner or some other designated person.
Limited liability company (LLC) - A hybrid business entity that combines the managerial freedom of
partnerships with the limited liability for owner and avoidance of income taxes offered 1w
Liquidated damages - An amount of money, agreed to ill advance, that will serve as the total
compensation due to the injured party if the other does not comply with the contract's terms.
Liquidity - The ability to sell an asset and convert it into cash at a price close to its true value in a short
period of time.
Lis pendens - A recorded legal document giving constructive notice that an action affecting a particular
property has been filed in court.
Listing agreement - A contract between a landowner (as principal) and a licensed real estate broker (as
agent) by which the broker is employed as agent to sell real estate on the owner's terms within a given
time, for which service the landowner agrees to pay a commission or fee.
Listing agent - The broker with whom a seller enters into a valid listing agreement for the sale of his or
her real estate.
Littoral rights - (1) A landowner's claim to use water in large navigable lakes and oceans adjacent to his
or her property. (2) The ownership rights to land bordering these bodies of water up to the high-water
Loan servicing - The lender's duties in administering a loan, such as collecting payments, accounting
And bookkeeping, maintaining records and issuing loan status reports to the borrower.
Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio - The relationship between the amount of the mortgage loan and the value of
the real estate being pledged as collateral. Back to Top
Management agreement - Employment contract between property owner and manager, under which the
manager assumes the responsibility for administering and maintaining the property as the owner's
Margin - With an adjustable-rate mortgage, the number of points over an index at which the interest rate is set.
Marginal tax rate - Percentage at which the last dollar of income is taxed; top tax bracket.
Marketable title - Good or clear title reasonably free from the risk of litigation over possible defects.
Market allocation - An agreement among members of a trade to refrain from competition in specific areas.
Market analysis - Study undertaken by a property manager of the local and regional market, as well as the underlying property itself, to provide information about the economic conditions, supply, demand and similar competing properties.
Market data approach - See direct sales comparison approach.
Memorandum of sale - A non-bonding information sheet prepared by brokers in some New York localities that states the essential terms of the agreement; the final contract is later drawn up by an attorney.
Mill - One-tenth of one cent. A tax rate of 52 mills would be $.052 tax for each dollar of assessed valuation of a property.
Minimum building standards - Degree of quality and care mandated by the state; local codes and regulations may require adherence to a higher standard.
Minor - A person under 18 years of age.
Misrepresentation - A false statement or concealment of a material fact made with the intent of causing another party to act.
Month-to-month tenancy - A periodic tenancy; that is, the tenant rents for one period at a time. In the absence of a rental agreement (oral or written), a tenancy is generally considered to be month to month.
Monument - A fixed natural or artificial object used to establish real estate boundaries for a metes-and-bounds description.
Mortgage bankers - Companies that are licensed to make real estate loans that are sold to investors.
Mortgage broker - An individual who acts as an intermediary between lenders and borrower for a fee.
Mortgage lien - A lien or charge on the property of a mortgagor that secures the underlying debt obligations.
Mortgage reduction certificate - An instrument executed by the mortgage setting forth the present status and the balance due on the mortgage as of the date of the execution of the instrument. Back to Top
Negative amortization - Gradual building up of a large mortgage debt when payments are not sufficient to cover interest due and reduce the principal.
Negative cash flow - Negative figure resulting when expenditures on an investment exceed the income it produces.
Negligence - An unintentional tort caused by failure to exercise reasonable care.
Negotiable instrument - A signed promise to pay a sum of money.
Net lease - A Lease requiring that the tenant pay not only rent but also some or all costs of maintaining the property, including taxes, insurance, utilities and repairs.
Net operating income (NOI) - The income projected for an income-producing property after deducting losses for vacancy and collection and operating expenses.
Net present value (NPV) - Difference between the present value of all positive and negative cash flows.
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) - Local agency with authority over the city's water supply (from its source to local reservoirs), and which ensures that construction projects do not interfere with the watershed.
New York State Division of Human Rights - Agency with which a complaint of housing discrimination may file a complaint within one year of the alleged act.
New York Human Rights Law - State law prohibiting discrimination in housing.
Nonconforming mortgage - Flexible loan that does not meet standard uniform underwriting requirements, usually structured for borrowers who have unique credit situations or who wish to purchase an unusual property.
Nonconforming use - A use of property that is permitted to continue after a zoning ordinance prohibiting it has been established for the area.
Non-eviction plan - Method of converting a rental property into a condominium or cooperative.
Non-homogeneity - A lack of uniformity; dissimilarity. Because no two parcels of land are exactly alike, real estate is said to be non-homogeneous.
Notary public - A public officer who is authorized to take acknowledgments to certain classes of documents such as deeds, contracts and mortgages and before whom affidavits may be sworn.
Note - An instrument of credit given to attest a debt.
Novation - Substituting a new obligation for an old one or substituting new parties to an existing obligation. nuisance An act that disturbs another's peaceful enjoyment of property.
NYSAR - New York State Association of REALTORS®. Back to Top
Offer and acceptance - Two essential components of a valid contract; a "meeting of the minds," when all parties agree to the exact terms.
Office property - Any type of structure (low-rise, high-rise, complex or campus) used by such non-manufacturing, non-retail tenants as medical, legal and financial professionals.
Open-end mortgage - A mortgage loan that is expandable to a maximum dollar amount, the loan being secured by the same original mortgage.
Option - An agreement to keep open for a set period an offer to sell or purchase property. Back to Top
Package loan - A real estate loan used to finance the purchase of both real property and personal property, such as the purchase of a new home that includes carpeting, window coverings and major appliances.
Package mortgage - A method of financing in which the loan that finances the purchase of a home also finances the purchase of items of personal property such as appliances.
Parcel - A specific piece of real estate.
Participation financing - A mortgage in which the lender participates in the income of the mortgaged venture.
Partition - The division of real property made between those who own it in undivided shares.
Partnership - An association of two or more individuals who carry on a continuing business for profit as co-owners. A general partnership is a typical form of joint venture in which each general partner shares in the administration, profits and losses of the operations. A limited partnership is administered by one or more general partners and funded by limited or silent partners who are by law responsible for losses only to the extent of their investments.
Party wall - A wall that is located on or at a boundary line between two adjoining parcels of land and is used by the owners of both properties.
Passive income - Income derived from an investment activity in which the investor does not take an active management or participatory role.
Percolation - Test of soil's ability to process waste water prior to installing a septic system.
Periodic estate - An interest in leased property that continues from period to period to week, month to month or year to year.
Personal property - Items, called chattels, that do not fit into the definition of real property; movable objects.
Personal representative - The administrator or executor appointed to handle the estate of a decedent.
Physical deterioration - Loss of value due to wear and tear or action of the elements.
Pier and beam foundation - Foundation style in which partly-submerged columns (piers) support the foundation slab, with an air pocket (crawlspace) between the slab and the ground.
Planned unit development (PUD) - A planned combination of diverse land uses such as housing, recreation and shopping in one contained development or subdivision.
Planning board - Municipal body overseeing orderly development of real estate.
Plat - A map of a town, section or subdivision indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties.
Platform framing construction - Common form of construction for one- and two-story residential buildings; one floor is built at a time, with the lower floor providing a platform on which the upper floor is built.
Point A - unit of measurement used for various loan charges; one point equals 1 percent of the amount of the loan.
Point of beginning - In a metes-and-bounds legal description, the starting point of the survey, situated in one corner of the parcel.
Police power - The government's right to impose laws, statutes and ordinances, including zoning ordinances and building codes, to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
Policy and procedures guide - A broker's compilation of guidelines for the conduct of the firm's business.
Pollution - Artificially-created environmental impurity. polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCBs) Potentially hazardous chemical used in electrical equipment, principally transformers.
Potentially responsible parties (PRP's) - Under Super-fund, the landowners suspected of contaminating a property.
Precedent - A court decision that serves as authority for later cases.
Preliminary prospectus - Description of new or converted condominium or cooperative property, subject to change, available for inspection by present tenants after review by the attorney general (also referred to as a red herring).
Premises - Lands and tenements; an estate; the subject matter of a conveyance.
Prepayment penalty - A charge imposed on a borrower who pays off the loan principal early.
Present value of money - Money's value changes over time: For example, the present value of $1 receivable in one year is $1 minus the lost potential interest on the dollar. If the interest rate is 7 percent. then the present value of $1 to be received in one year is 93~t today.
Price-fixing - An agreement between members of a trade to artificially maintain prices at a set level.
Primary mortgage market - Lenders who make loans directly to real estate borrowers.
Principal - (1) A sum lent or employed as a fund or an investment as distinguished from its
income or profits. (2) The original amount (as in a loan) of the total due and payable at a certain
date. (3) A main party of a transaction; the person for whom the agent works.
Priority - The order of position or time.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) - Insurance that limits a lender's potential loss in a mortgage
default, issued by a private company rather than by the ELlA.
Probate - To establish the will of a deceased person. procuring cause The effort that brings about
the desired result. Under an open listing the broker who is the procuring cause of the sale receives
Professional home inspections - Examination of a property's structure and systems performed by
a trained professional for either prospective buyers, lenders or home owners.
Progression - Economic principle that a lower-quality property's worth will be enhanced by its
proximity to higher-quality properties.
Property manager - Someone who manages real estate for another person for compensation.
Proprietary lease - A written lease in a cooperative apartment building, held by the
tenant/shareholder, giving the right to occupy a particular unit.
Pro-rations - Expenses, either prepaid or paid in arrears, that are divided or distributed between
buyer and seller at the closing.
Prospectus - A printed statement disclosing all material aspects of a real estate project.
Protected classes - Groups of individuals who have been found to be in need of protection by federal, state or local laws and regulations against discriminatory actions or conditions.
Public offering - A transaction falling under the jurisdiction of the New York attorney general's office, requiring certain specific transactional and financial disclosures. The sale of any form of shared housing in New York is a public offering.
Pour autre vie - For the life of another. A life estate pour autre vie is a life estate that is measured by the life of a person other than the grantee.
Purchase-money mortgage (PMM) - A note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust given by a buyer, as
borrower, to a seller, as lender, as part of the purchase price of the real estate.
Pyramid - Investment strategy of refinancing existing properties and using borrowed money. Back to Top
Quitclaim deed - A conveyance by which the grantor transfers whatever interest he or she has in the real estate, if any, without warranties or obligations.
Radioactive waste - Hazardous by-product of uses of radioactive materials in energy production, medicine
and scientific research.
Radon gas - Odorless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that becomes hazardous when trapped and
accumulated in unventilated areas of buildings. Long-term exposure to radon is suspected of causing lung
Ratification - Method of creating an agency relationship in which the principal accepts the conduct of
someone who acted without prior authorization as the principal's agent.
Ready, willing and able buyer - One who is prepared to buy property on the seller's terms and is ready to
take positive steps to consummate the transaction.
Release - The act or writing by which some claim or interest is surrendered to another.
Real estate - A portion of the earth's surface extending downward to the center of the earth and upward infinitely into space including all things permanently attached thereto, whether by nature or by a person.
Real estate broker - Any person, partnership, association or corporation that sells (or offers to sell), buys (or
offers to buy) or negotiates the purchase, sale or exchange of real estate, or that leases (or offers to lease) or
rents (or offers to rent) any real estate or the improvements thereon for others and for a compensation or
Real estate investment syndicate - Business organization in which individuals combine their resources to
invest in, manage or develop a particular property.
Real estate investment trust (REIT) - Trust ownership of real estate by a group of individuals who purchase
certificates of ownership in the trust.
Real estate mortgage investment conduit (REMIC) - A tax vehicle created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986
that permits certain entities that deal in pools of mortgages to pass income through to investors.
Real estate sales contract - A contract for the sale of real estate, in which the purchaser promises to pay the
agreed purchase price, and the seller agrees to deliver title to the property.
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) - The federal law that requires certain disclosures to
consumers about mortgage loan settlements. The law also prohibits the payment or receipt of kickbacks and
certain kinds of referral fees.
Real Property Law - New York Law governing the real estate profession, including prohibitions against
discrimination in housing.
Reconciliation - The final step in the appraisal process, in which the appraiser reconciles the estimates of
value received from the direct sales comparison, cost and income approaches to arrive at a final estimate of
value for the subject property.
Rectangular survey system - A system established in 1785 by the federal government providing for surveying and describing land outside the 13 original colonies by reference to principal meridians and base
Redemption period - A period of time established by state law during which a property owner has the right
to redeem his or her real estate from a tax sale by the sales price, interest and costs.
Reduction certificate - A statement from the lender detailing the amount remaining and currently due on a
mortgage, usually sought when a mortgage is being assumed or prepaid (also referred to as an stopple
Regional analysis - Study of the economic and demographic character of the larger regional or metropolitan
area in which a property is located.
Regression - Economic principle that the worth of a higher-quality property will be diminished by its
proximity to lower-quality properties.
Regulation Z - Law requiring credit institutions and advertisers to inform borrowers of the true cost of
obtaining credit; commonly called the Truth-in-Lending Law.
Release - The act or writing by which some claim or interest is surrendered to another.
Remainder - The remnant of an estate that has been conveyed to take effect and be enjoyed after the
termination of a prior estate, as when an owner conveys a life estate to one party and the remainder to
Remainder interest - The remnant of an estate that has been conveyed to take effect and be enjoyed after the
termination of a prior estate, such as when an owner conveys a life estate to one party and the remainder to
Remainder man - The person who is to receive the property after the death of a life tenant.
Rent control - State or local regulations restricting the amount of rent that may be charged for particular properties.
Rent stabilization - Local regulations that stem from the adoption of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act,
and which limit maximum allowable rent increases.
Replacement cost - The construction cost at current prices of a property that is not necessarily an exact
duplicate of the subject property but serves the same purpose or function as the original.
Reproduction cost - The construction cost at current prices of an exact duplicate of the subject property.
reserves Money set aside to accumulate for future expenses.
Residential real estate - All property used for housing, from acreage to small city lots, both single-family
and multifamily, in urban, suburban and rural areas.
Restraint of trade - The unreasonable restriction of business activities as the result of the cooperation or
conspiracy of members of the trade.
Retail property - Any type of property used for commercial retail purposes, including storefronts,
shopping centers and enclosed malls.
Return - The income from a real estate investment, calculated as a percentage of cash invested.
Reverse-annuity mortgage (RAM) - A loan under which the homeowner receives monthly payments based
on his or her accumulated equity rather than a lump sum. The loan must be repaid at a prearranged date or
upon the death of the owner or the sale of the property.
Reverse discrimination (benign discrimination) - housing discrimination, usually based on quotas, designed
by a municipality to achieve a racial balance perceived as desirable.
Reversion - The remnant of an estate that the grantor holds after he or she has granted a life estate to
another person, if the estate will return, or revert, to the grantor; also called a reverter.
Reversionary right - The return of the rights of possession and quiet enjoyment to the lessor at the
expiration of a Lease.
Reversionary interest - The remnant of an estate that the grantor holds after he or she has granted a life
estate to another person, if the estate will return, or revert, to the grantor; also called a reverter.
Right-of-way - The right to pass over another's land more or less frequently according to the nature of the
Riparian rights - An owner's rights in land that borders on or includes a stream, river, lake or sea. These
rights include access to and use of the water.
R-value - Numerical measurement of insulating material's resistance to heat transfer; a higher R-value indicates superior insulation. Back to Top
Safe Drinking Water Act - Federal law requiring local public water suppliers to periodically test the quality
of drinking water.
Sale and leaseback - A transaction in which an owner sells his or her improved property and, as part of the
same transaction, signs a long-term lease to remain in possession of the premises.
Sales comparison approach - The process of estimating the value of a property by examining and comparing
actual sales of comparable properties.
Salesperson - A person who performs real estate activities while employed by or associated with a licensed real estate broker.
Satisfaction piece - A document acknowledging the payment of a debt. Also called satisfaction of
Secondary mortgage market - A market for the purchase and sale of existing mortgages, designed to
provide greater liquidity of mortgages.
Section 8 - Federal housing assistance program administered by the FHA, in which low- and moderate-
income tenants pay a fixed portion of their income in rent, with HIJD paying the remainder.
Security deposit - A payment by a tenant, held by the landlord during the lease term and kept (wholly or
partially) on default or destruction of the premises by the tenant.
Seisin - The possession of land by one who claims to own at least an estate for life therein.
Self-dealing - The act of a broker who lists property and then buys it and collects the agreed-on commission.
Selling broker - The broker who successfully finds a ready, willing and able buyer for a property (may or
may not be the listing broker).
Septic system - Wastewater treatment and disposal system used by individual households.
Servient tenement - Land on which an easement exists in favor of an adjacent property (called a dominant estate); also called servient estate.
Setback - The amount of space local zoning regulations require between a lot line and a building line.
Severalty - Ownership of real property by one person only; also called sole ownership.
Shared-appreciation mortgage - A mortgage Loan in which the lender, in exchange for a loan with a favor
able interest rate, participates in the profits (if any) when the property is eventually sold.
Sick building syndrome (SBS) - Range of symptoms, such as asthma, coughing and hoarseness, that are
related to the individual's presence in the affected building, but that disappear when he or she is not
exposed to the building's environment. See building related illness.
Single agency - An agency relationship in which the agent represents a single party.
Situs - The location of a property.
Small claims court - A special local court for settling disputes without the need for attorneys or expensive
Solar energy - Use of solar collectors to convert heat from the sun into usable heat and energy for a
Sole proprietorship - A business owned by one individual.
Sonny Mae (SONYMA) - The state of New York Mortgage Agency.
Special Agent - One authorized by a principal to perform asmgle act or transaction.
Steering - The illegal practice of channeling home seekers to particular areas for discriminatory ends.
Straight-line method - A method of calculating cost recovery for tax purposes, computed by dividing the
adjusted basis of a property by the number of years chosen.
Straight (term) loan -A loan in which only interest is paid during the term of the loan, with the entire
principal amount due with the final interest payment.
Sub agency - An agency relationship in which the broker's sales associate, or a cooperating broker, assumes
a fiduciary duty to the principal who has designated the broker as an agent.
Special purpose real estate - Religious institutions, schools, cemeteries, hospitals and government-held
Special-use permit - Permission granted by a local government to allow a use of property that, although in
conflict with zoning regulations, is nonetheless in the public interest (a house of worship in a residential
Special warranty deed - A deed in which the grantor warrants, or guarantees, the title only against defects
arising during the period of his or her tenure and ownership of the property and not against defects existing
before that time, generally using the language "by, through or under the grantor but not otherwise."
Specific lien - A lien affecting or attaching only to a certain specific parcel of Land or piece of property.
Specific performance suit - A legal action brought in a court of equity in special cases to compel a party to
carry out the terms of a contract.
Sponsor - The developer or owner organizing and offering for sale a condominium or cooperative
Spot zoning - Special zoning actions that affect only a small area. Uses that are not in harmony with the
surrounding uses are illegal in New York.
Staff appraiser - A professional appraiser employed in-house to perform appraisals solely for the employer.
Statute of frauds - The part of state law requiring that certain instruments, such as deeds, real estate sales
contracts and certain leases, be in writing to be legally enforceable.
Statutory lien - A lien imposed on property by statute a tax lien, for example in contrast to a voluntary
lien such as a mortgage lien that an owner places on his or her own real estate.
Statutory redemption - The right of a defaulted property owner to recover the property after its sale by
paying the appropriate fees and charges.
Subject property - The property being appraised.
Subject to a mortgage - When a property is taken "subject to" a mortgage, the purchaser is not personally liable to the mortgage for satisfaction of the pre-existing debt (unless he or she agrees to be held liable).
Subordination - agreement Relegation to a lesser position, usually in respect to a right or security.
Subrogation - The substitution of one creditor for another with the substituted person succeeding to the
legal rights and claims of the original claimant.
Subscribing witness - One who writes his or her name as witness to the execution of an instrument.
Substitution - An appraisal principle stating that the maximum value of a property tends to be set by the
cost of purchasing an equally desirable and valuable substitute property.
Subsurface rights - Ownership rights in a parcel of real estate of any water, minerals, gas, oil and so forth
that lie beneath the surface of the property.
Suit for possession - A court suit initiated by a landlord to evict a tenant from leased premises after the
Tenant has breached one of the terms of the lease or has held possession of the property after the lease's
Suit to quiet title - A court action intended to establish or settle the title to a particular property, especially when there is a cloud on the title.
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) - Federal law defining landowner responsibility for cleanup of environmental contamination resulting from past activities. Establishes innocent landowner defense against liability for contamination caused by prior owners.
Supervising broker - The one broker registered with the Department of State as in charge of a real estate
office, responsible for the actions of salespersons and associate brokers.
Surety bond - Bond covering an owner against financial losses resulting from the criminal acts or
negligence of an employee in the course of performing his or her job.
Surface rights - Ownership rights in a parcel of real estate that are limited to the surface of the property and do not include the air above it (air rights) or the minerals below the surface (subsurface rights).
Surrogate's court (probate court) - A court having jurisdiction over the proof of wills, the settling of
estates and adoptions.
Suspension or revocation - The action of punishing violations of the license law by recalling a license
temporarily (suspension) or permanently (revocation).
Swing Loan - A short term loan similar to a bridge loan that uses the strength of the borrowers equity in the
property he or she is selling, to purchase a new property.
Syndicate - A combination of people or firms formed to accomplish a joint venture of mutual interest. Back to Top
Tacking - Adding or combining successive periods of continuous occupation or real property by several
different adverse possessors.
Takeout loan - A loan commitment obtained prior to a lender extending a construction loan, under the
terms of which the takeout lender will pay off the construction loan once the work is finished. Provides
assurance for the construction lender that the initial short-term loan will be satisfied.
Taxation - The process by which a government or municipal quasi-public body raises monies to fund its
Tax credit - A direct reduction in tax payable, as opposed to a deduction from income.
Tax deed - An instrument, similar to a certificate of sale, given to a purchaser at a tax sale.
Tax foreclosure - Legal proceeding (comparable to a private mortgage foreclosure) brought by a taxing
body against the property itself (in rem); former owner loses all rights and claims.
Tax lien - A charge against property created by operation of law. Tax liens and assessments take priority
over all other liens.
Tax rate - The rate at which real property is taxed in a tax district or county. For example, real property
maybe taxed at a rate of .056 cents per dollar of assessed valuation (56 mills).
Tax sale - A court-ordered sale of real property to raise money to cover delinquent taxes.
Tenancy at will - An estate that gives the lessee the right to possession until the estate is terminated by
either party; the term of this estate is indefinite.
Tenancy by the entirety - The joint ownership acquired by husband and wife during marriage. Upon
death of one spouse, the survivor becomes the owner of the property.
Tenancy in common - A form of co-ownership by which each owner holds an undivided interest in real
property as if he or she were sole owner. Each individual owner has the right to partition. Tenants in
common have no right of survivorship.
Tenant at sufferance - One who comes into possession of land by lawful title and keeps it afterward
without any title at all.
Term - The originally scheduled period of time over which a loan is to be paid.
Termites - Wood-boring insects whose presence causes structural damage.
Testate - Having made and left a valid will. testator The (male) maker of a valid will. testatrix The (female)
maker of a valid will.
Testers - Members of civil rights and neighborhood organizations, often volunteers, who observe real
estate offices to assess compliance with fair housing laws.
Tie-in arrangement - An arrangement by which provision of certain products or services is made contingent
on the purchase of other, unrelated products or services.
Time is of the essence - A phrase in a contract that requires the performance of a certain act within a stated
period of time.
Time-sharing - Undivided ownership of real estate for only a portion of the year.
Torrens system - A method of evidencing title by registration with the proper public authority, generally
called the registrar.
Tort - A civil wrong done by one person against another. town house A hybrid form of real estate ownership in which the owner has fee simple title to the living unit and land below it, plus a fractional interest in common elements.
Township - The principal unit of the rectangular survey (government survey) system, a square with six-
mile sides and an area of 36 square miles.
Trade fixtures - Articles installed by a tenant under the terms of a lease and removable by the tenant
before the lease expires.
Trespass - An unlawful intrusion on another's property.
True tax - Actual taxes payable for a property after all exemptions and reductions for which the property or its owner is qualified.
Truss roof - Particularly strong roofing system composed of chords, diagonals and gusset plates, pre-
assembled at a mill.
Trust - A fiduciary arrangement whereby property is conveyed to a person or an institution, called a
trustee, to be held and administered on behalf of another person, called a beneficiary.
Trust account - Escrow account for money belonging to another.
Trust deed - An instrument used to create a mortgage lien by which the mortgagor conveys his or her title
to a trustee, who holds it as security for the benefit of the note holder (the lender); also called a deed of trust.
Trustor - The individual who establishes a trust. umbrella policy An insurance policy that covers additional
risk beyond several underlying policies. Back to Top
Underground storage tanks - Buried containers used for storage or disposal of chemicals, fuel and gas that
pose an actual or potential environmental hazard in the event of a leak.
Underwriting -The process by which a lender evaluates a prospective borrower's application through
verification of employment and financial information and analysis of credit and appraisal reports.
Undisclosed dual agency - Representation of both principal parties in the same transaction without full
written disclosure to and approval of all parties.
Unenforceable contract - A contract that seems on the surface to be valid, yet neither party can sue the
other to force performance of it.
Uniform Commercial Code - A codification of commercial law, adopted in most states, that attempts to
make uniform all laws relating to commercial transactions, including chattel mortgages and bulk transfers.
Uniform Settlement Statement (HUD Form 1) - A special form designed to detail all financial particulars
of a transaction.
Unilateral contract - A one-sided contract wherein one party makes a promise so as to induce a second
party to do something. The second party is not legally bound to perform; however, if the second party does
comply, the first party is obligated to keep the promise.
Unity of ownership - The four unities traditionally needed to create a joint tenancy: unity of title, time,
interest and possession.
Universal agent - One empowered by a principal to represent him or her in all matters that can be
delegated. Back to Top
Valid contract - A contract that complies with all the essentials of a contract and is binding and enforceable
on all parties to it.
VA loan - A mortgage loan on approved property made to a qualified veteran by an authorized lender and
guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to limit the lender's possible loss.
Value - The power of a good or service to command other goods in exchange for the present worth of
future rights to its income or amenities.
Vendee - A buyer under a land contract or contract of sale. vendor A seller under a land contract or contract of sale.
Vicarious liability - Liability that is created not because of a person's actions but because of the relationship between the liable person and other parties.
Voidable contract - A contract that seems to be valid on the surface but that may be rejected or disaffirmed
by one of the parties.
Void contract - A contract that has no legal force or effect because it does not meet the essential elements
of a contract.
Voluntary alienation - Transfer of title by gift or sale according to the owner's wishes.
Voluntary lien - A lien created by the owner's voluntary action, such as a mortgage. Back to Top
Waiver - The renunciation, abandonment or surrender of some claim, right or privilege.
Warranty deed - A deed in which the grantor fully warco-ownersrants good clear title to the premises.
Waste - An improper use or an abuse of a property by a possessor who holds less than fee ownership, such
as a tenant, life tenant, mortgagor or vendee.
Wetland survey - An intensive examination of property, coordinated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
to determine whether or not it should be classified and protected as a wetland.
Will - A written document, properly witnessed, providing for the transfer of title to property owned by the
deceased, called the testator.
Without recourse - Words used in endorsing a note or bill to denote that the future holder is not to look to
the endorser in case of nonpayment.
Wraparound loan - A method of refinancing in which the new mortgage is placed in a secondary, or
subordinate, position; the new mortgage includes both the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage
and whatever additional sums are advanced by the lender. In essence it is an additional mortgage in which
another lender refinances a borrower by lending an amount over the existing first mortgage amount without
disturbing the existence of the first mortgage.
Wraparound mortgage - An additional mortgage in which another lender refinances a borrower by lending
an amount including the existing first mortgage amount without disturbing the existence of the first
Year-to-Year Tenancy - A periodic tenancy in which rent is collected from year to year.
Zoning boards of appeals - Official local government bodies established to hear complaints about the impact of zoning ordinances on individual properties, and to consider variances and special-use permits. Back to Top
Zoning ordinances - An exercise of police power by a municipality to regulate and control the character and use of property.