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Real Estate Glossary


Real Estate Glossary

“Real Estate has a language all its own. Here is some of the terminology you’ll be hearing.”

Adjustable Mortgage Loans: Mortgage loans under which the interest rate is periodically adjusted to more closely coincide with current rates. The amounts and times of adjustment are agreed to at the inception of the loan. Also called: Adjustable Rate Loans, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), Flexible Rate Loans, Variable Rate Loans.

Amortization: Payment of a debt in equal installments of principal and interest, rather than interest-only payments.

Annual Percentage Rate (A.P.R.): The yearly interest percentage of a loan, as expressed by the total finance charge actually paid (interest, loan fees, points).  The A.P.R. is disclosed as a requirement of federal truth in lending statutes.

Buydown: A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer, or third party, or some combination of these, which causes the lender to reduce the interest rate during the early years of the loan.

Cap: In adjustable rate mortgages, the limit on how much the interest rate or monthly payment can change.

Closing: The final procedure in which documents are executed and/or recorded, and the sale (or loan) is completed.  Closing Statement: The statement which lists the financial settlement between buyer and seller, and also the costs each must pay.

CMA: CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis, is a comparison of homes similar to a seller’s home in terms of size, style, features, and location that have sold recently or are on the market.  A CMA is prepared by a real estate agent to help set a home’s listing price.

Contingency: Commonly, a stated event which must occur before a contract is binding. For example, a home sale may be contingent upon the buyer obtaining financing.

Deposit: A portion of the down payment given by the buyer to the seller or escrow agent with a written offer to purchase to show good faith.

Down payment: Cash portion of the purchase price paid by a buyer from his own funds as opposed to that portion which is financed.

Escrow: A procedure in which a third (neutral) party holds all funds, documents, etc. necessary to the sale, with instructions from both buyer and seller as to their use and disposition.

FHA Loan: A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. FHA insurance enables lenders to loan a very high percentage of the sale price.

Graduated Payment Mortgage: A mortgage initially offering low monthly payments that increase at fixed intervals and at a predetermined rate.

Hazard Insurance: Otherwise known as homeowners’ insurance. This is a usual requirement of a mortgage lender and an advisable safeguard for any homeowner to protect against loss.

Index or Rate Index: A measure of interest rate changes used to adjust the interest rate of an Adjustable Mortgage Loan. Example: the change in U.S. Treasury securities (T-bills) with a 1-year maturity, based upon their weekly average yield.

Lien: A legal claim or charge on property as security for payment of a debt or for the discharge of an obligation.

Loan-to-Value Ratio: The ratio – expressed as a percentage – of the amount of a mortgage loan to the appraised value or selling price of the property.

Lock box:  A key storage system placed on a home entrance that is accessible only by active, licensed real estate agents who must abide by a strict set of guidelines when showing a seller’s home.

Margin: In Adjustable Mortgage Loans, the number of percentage points the lender adds to the index rate to determine the new interest rate at each adjustment.

MLS:  MLS stands for multiple listing service, by which member brokers cooperate in the sale of each other’s listings. Sellers may choose not to allow their property into multiple listing, if they wish.

PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance): Used to indicate the four major items included in a monthly mortgage payment.

Points:  A fee charged by a lender as a service charge or as an amount needed to make the yield on a mortgage competitive with other types of investments. Each point represents 1% of the loan amount.

Price Trend Analysis:  A tool developed and used exclusively by Weichert, Realtors to help set a home's listing price by projecting local trends, used in conjunction with a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis. Because home values appreciate over time, a Price Trend Analysis maximizes listing prices.

Principal: Amount of debt, not including interest; the face value of a loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Insurance issued by a private company against a loss by a lender in the event of default. Private mortgage insurance is generally required for conventional financing whenever less than 20% is put down.

Second Mortgage: A mortgage which ranks after the first mortgage lien in priority.

Settlement: Same definition as closing.

Title Insurance: Insurance against loss resulting from defects of title of public record.

VA Loans: Loans partially guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration, enabling veterans to buy a home with little or no down payment.

 


Selling for Top Dollar


 

Selling for Top Dollar!

 

Did you know? The best chance for selling your property is within the first seven weeks! Studies show that the longer a property stays on the market, the less financial return the seller will net.

There are 5 main factors to achieving your goal of getting top dollar for your property.

 

Factor 1: PRICING

It is very important to price your property at a competitive market value right when you list it. The market is so competitive that even over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell. I have found your first offer is usually your best offer.

 

An overpriced home:

 

Minimizes offers

Lowers showings

Lowers agent response

Limits financing

Limits qualified buyers

When you think about it, 80% of the marketing is done when we decide on what price to list your home.

 

For people unwilling to list a property at current market value, I usually recommend holding off on putting the property on the market for awhile.

 

Factor 2: CLEANING

Most people are turned off by even the smallest amount of uncleanliness or odor when buying a home. Sellers lose thousands of dollars because they do not adequately clean. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell your home faster and net hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more.

 

If you are planning on moving, why not get rid of that old junk now so that your house will appear larger? Make more space!

 

Odors must be eliminated, especially if you have dogs, cats, or young children in diapers, or if you are a smoker. You may not notice the smell, but the buyers do! Most agents have a difficult time communicating to their sellers about odor. If you employ an agent to get the most amount of money for you, please don't take offense if he/she must confront you about odor problems.

 

Factor 3: ACCESS

Top selling agents will not show your home if both the key and access are not readily available. They do not have time to run around town picking up and dropping off keys. They want to sell homes! The greatest way to show a house is to have a key! When your home is being shown, be sure to do the following:

 

Keep all lights on, including exterior “coach” lights by your front door

Keep all drapes and shutters open

Keep all doors unlocked

Leave soft music playing

Take a short walk with your children and pets

Let the buyer be at ease and let the agents do their job

 

Factor 4: PAINT AND CARPET

Paint is your best improvement investment for getting a greater return on your money. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and neat. If your house has chipped paint, exposed wood, or the paint looks faded, it is time to paint.

 

If your carpet is worn, dirty, outdated, or an unusual color, you may need to seriously consider replacing it. Many houses do not sell because of this problem. Don't think that buyers have more money than you do to replace carpet. They don't. They simply buy elsewhere.

 

Factor 5: CURB APPEAL

The first impression a buyer gets of your home is from the curb.

 

Your front yard immediately reflects the inside condition of your house to the buyer. People enjoy their yards. Make certain that the trees and bushes are trimmed so the house can be seen from the street. Have the grass mowed, trimmed and edged. Walkways should be swept. The front door should be freshly painted or freshly stained.

 

Clean away debris. Remove parked cars. This all adds to curb appeal.

If a buyer does not like the outside, they may not stop to see the inside!

 

Well, now you know all of the 5 main factors to getting top dollar for your property:

 

Factor 1: Pricing

Factor 2: Cleaning

Factor 3: Access

Factor 4: Paint and Carpet

Factor 5: Curb Appeal

If you carefully consider these factors, you will maximize your chances of selling your property within the first seven weeks for top dollar!

 

            


 

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is a serious problem that can lead to adverse health problems. In children, high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavioral and learning problems, slow growth, and hearing problems. In adults, lead poisoning can cause reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.

Lead poisoning is especially a problem in cities with older buildings. Typically, lead is present in the paint from older buildings, in the water supply, and in the environment from cars and buses. Preventing lead poisoning in large cities, where there is such widespread possibility for exposure is both difficult and expensive. Federal programs have attempted to address this problem.

Lead poisoning is also an issue that buyers and sellers need to consider. Houses that were built before 1978 probably have paint that contains lead. Federal law requires that sellers disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards and are likely to stipulate corrections. 

 

Radon Gas

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home. The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you're at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.

Testing is the only way to know your home's radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface.

 

Underground Heating Oil Tanks

Underground heating oil tanks can pose many potential problems to both home buyers and sellers. They have been the source of many environmental problems such as contamination of surrounding soil and ground water.

Leaks are generally caused by the rust inside underground tanks or by an electrical condition sparked by electric utility lines.

Buyers should always have the tank inspected to make sure that it is structurally sound. Buyers who do not want an underground fuel tank can arrange for an above ground tank to be installed in the basement and the underground tank to be shut off. Cleanup of any leaks will also have to be taken care of.

For buyers, the underground heating oil tank should be written in the sales contract. For sellers, your lawyer should make sure that the description and condition of the underground heating oil tank is accurate and up-to-date.