Real Estate Terms - A


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The elimination of a nuisance.

abstract of title

A historical list of recorded changes that affect title to specific real estate, such as transfers of ownership, conveyances, mortgages, liens, and easements.

acceleration clause

A clause in a deed or mortgage which gives the lender the right to make all sums owing him immediately due and payable. Usually triggered by a certain stated event such as a sale of the property.


Acquiring title to improvements to property or additions resulting from annexation of fixtures or natural causes.


The gradual addition to the shore or bank of a waterway by deposits of sand or silt.

accrued items

Expenses paid in arrears and revenues received in arrears that are transferred to an income statement in a prior period by using the postings "Other Payables" and "Other Receivables". Accrued items are not to be included in subsequent taxable periods.

acquisition cost

The total cost of acquiring a piece of property. In addition to the purchase price, it includes fees and costs paid to other parties, such as mortgage origination fees and points, title insurance, appraisals costs, and other closing costs.


A land measure equaling 43,560 square feet or 4,840 square yards.

actual eviction

Wrongful removal of a tenant from possession of a premises, usually by a landlord, contrary to the terms of the lease.

ad valorem

A tax on property based on its value.


An addition or supplement to a contract.

adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage loan in which the interest rate may be adjusted periodically, following the rise or fall of interest rates as measured by a published index. Most ARMs specify the frequency of rate adjustment (the "adjustment period"), and "caps" -- limits to the amount of rate change in any single adjustment, and to the maximum interest rate allowed during the life of the loan.

adjustment date

The date on which an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is subject to an interest rate change.

advance fee

A fee paid in advance of services rendered. In real estate, agents are often paid an advance fee to perform extraordinary tasks such as locating properties that are not listed for sale.

adverse possession

A principle of real estate law whereby a person who possesses the land of another for an extended period of time may be able to claim legal title to that land.

affidavit of title

A sworn statement by a seller of real estate in which the seller certifies that no defects to the title have occurred since the examination of the title on the date of the contract and that he is in possession of the property.


A legal relationship in which an agent is authorized to act for another. In the case of real estate, a buyer or seller engages a real estate agent. The agent has a fiduciary obligation to perform required duties in good faith and in the interest of the buyer or seller.


A person authorized to act on behalf of another person. For certain transactions, such as real estate buying or selling, the agent can enter into agreements or contracts that are binding to the buyer or seller.


The transfer of title or interest in property from one person to another. It may be voluntary or involuntary (as in foreclosure).

all-inclusive trust deed

A trust deed that secures a “wrap-around mortgage,” in which a new loan “wraps around,” or encompasses an existing loan.

ALTA policy

American Land Title Association title insurance policy which insures a mortgage lender against title defects in a new mortgage.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. In the area of real estate, builders must comply with ADA standards including: wheelchair access, ramps and slopes, parking and loading, elevators, doors and bathrooms.


A loan payment method in which a portion of the principal is paid in each periodic installment.

amortization schedule

The table which details each periodic payment over the life of a loan. It shows the portions of principal and interest for each payment and the principal balance after each payment, as well as the total interest paid to date.

annual percentage rate (APR)

A standardized measure of the actual credit cost of a loan expressed as a percentage rate on a annual basis. Unlike the interest rate which dictates the rate of interest charged on the unpaid balance for each payment, the APR takes additional finance costs, such as loan "points" and closing costs into account, and always shows a true rate that is higher than the interest rate. The APR is calculated according to rules established as part of the federal Truth-in-Lending Act.

application (loan)

The Uniform Residential Loan Application is a standard Freddie Mac form. see the application here


A declaration of the estimated value of real estate.

appraised value

An appraiser’s estimated value of a specific property.


An appraiser acts as an impartial person whose job it is to determine home value by gathering, analyzing, and applying information pertinent to a property.


An increase in the value of property over time.


Rights and duties related to the land itself and not to the particular individuals who may have created them.

arbitration (mediation)

In Las Vegas the standard real estate contract includes: "Before any legal action is taken to enforce any term or condition under this Agreement, the parties agree to engage in mediation, a dispute resolution process, through GLVAR. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event the buyer finds it necessary to file a claim for specific performance, this paragraph shall not apply."


(see adjustable-rate mortgage)


A hazardous material, has been used in more than 3,000 different construction materials and manufactured products, including many found in homes. This material could have been installed in homes through the 1980s. There is no standard for disclosing or inspecting asbestos. Buyer beware.


In the present condition. To advertise a property “for sale as is” informs potential buyers that the seller will not correct any defects, visible or not. This does not release the seller from disclosing defects.see Seller's Real Property Disclosure Form"


The creation of a tract by combining adjoining lots. Usually done to increase the total value or to accommodate larger development projects.

assessed value

The value of a property as determined by an assessor. In Clark County, property taxes are based on assessed value.


A tax, levy, or fee imposed on real estate, such as the property tax. Based on established rates.


The agency charged with assessments against real estate.


An owned item having value, such as real estate.


A documented transfer of property, a claim, a right, or ownership of an obligation such as a mortgage, bond, or lease.

associate broker

A person who is licensed as a broker by the state, but who works for a principal broker.

assumable mortgage

A mortgage which can be transferred along with the property under obligation. The new owner of the property assumes responsibility for the payments, and is bound to the terms and obligations of the mortgage.


In the case of a mortgage, the subsequent taking over of the terms, conditions, and responsibility for payment of an existing mortgage by a new borrower. Usually as a result of the transfer of real estate.


--- The legally ordered taking of property or earnings into legal custody to satisfy a debt.


One who has written authority (usually by a power of attorney) to act on behalf of another, whether or not the attorney-in-fact is an actual attorney at law.

automated underwriting

A particular computerized system for doing automated underwriting. Mortgage insurers and some large lenders have developed such systems, but the most widely used are Fannie Mae’s “Desktop Underwriter” and Freddie Mac’s “Loan Prospector.”

automatic extension

Typically, a clause in a real estate offer-to-purchase contract that allows for a automatic extension of the closing date.


A sudden movement of soil due to flood, earthquake, or shift in the course of a boundary stream.