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A Short Guide to Real Estate Lingo and Acronyms.

houses for sale in the paper

Real estate ads are usually full of acronyms and terms that are unfamiliar to many first time buyers. Here's a helpful cheat sheet to guide you through the lingo.


An addition or change to a contract.

Backup offer

A secondary bid for a property the seller will accept if the first offer fails.

Buyer's agent

An agent representing a buyer in a home purchase.


The final act of a transaction wherein papers are signed, monies are exchanged and the title is transferred.


 Comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of homes whichare comparable to a subject home and were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market but not sold within the listing period.

Contingency Clause

A provision of an agreement that must be satisfied before the contract is binding. Examples are a buyer's right to obtain a satisfactory professional home inspection before purchasing the home and a buyer’s right to obtain a mortgage commitment.


A new offer as to price, terms and/or conditions made in reply to and superseding a prior offer.

Curable Defect

A deficiency in a property that is easy or inexpensive to fix, such as chipping paint.

Earnest Money

Also called an initial deposit. Something of value given as part of the purchase price to show "good faith" and to secure an agreement.


formal dining room.


anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. (Real estate is legally called "real property," while movables are called "personal property.") Examples of fixtures include installed wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings (may or may not be fixtures; most probably aren’t) landscaping and so on. Fixtures are a frequent subject of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt, get it in writing.

Hazard Insurance

Also called homeowner’s insurance. A policy that protects the insured against loss due to fire or other natural disaster in exchange for a premium paid to the insurer.

Low Dues

Low homeowner's association dues, but find out how "low" the dues are compared to other dues in the area.

Lock Box

Locked key-holding device affixed to a for-sale home so real estate professionals can gain entry into the home after obtaining permission from the listing agent

Lsd pkg

Leased parking area. This may come with additional cost.


A written contract between an owner (principal) and an agent (broker) authorizing the agent to sell, lease or rent the owner's property in exchange for compensation.

Market Value

The price for a property that a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree upon when neither is under abnormal pressure.

Planned Unit Development (PUD)

A highly designed residential project that features relatively dense clusters of houses which are usually surrounded by areas of commonly owned open space maintained by a non-profit community association.

Pot'l Exp

Expansion potential, meaning there is extra space on the lot or the possibility of adding a room or even an upper level, subject to local zoning restrictions.

Purchase Contract

Also called a purchase and sale agreement. A legal document which binds a buyer to purchase a piece of property for a set price and also binds the seller to sell that property to the buyer.


The act of entering the written record of title to real property into the public records.


Multiple Listing Service : An MLS is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members who are real estate brokers. Membership isn't open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listing websites. MLS’s are local or regional. There is not an MLS which covers the entire country.


a real estate broker or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.

Title insurance

an insurance policy which protects a lender's or owner's interest in real property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. It is customary for the buyer to pay for the lender's title insurance policy, which is almost always required, and it is customary for the owner to pay owners’ title insurance, which while not required, is almost always bought at the time of purchase.


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