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Real estate & Financial Terms | Architectural and Construction Terms | Full Glossary

Full Glossary of Terms

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A loan whose interest rate is adjusted according to movements in the financial market
A payment plan by which a borrower reduces a debt gradually through monthly payments of principal and interest
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The annual cost off credit over the life of a loan, including interest, service charges, points, loan fees, mortgage insurance, and other items
An evaluation to determine what a piece of property would sell for in the marketplace
The increase in the value of a property
A tax levied on a property or a value placed on the worth of property by a taxing authority
A transaction allowing the buyer of a home to assume responsibility for an existing loan on the home instead of getting a new loan
A loan which has a series of monthly payments (often for 5 years or less) with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment at the end
A receipt for a deposit paid to secure the right to purchase a home at terms agreed upon by the buyer and seller
Builder Friendly
House plans in which many angles, room sizes, and other architectural features are designed to reduce labor and job site waste.
A subsidy (usually paid by a builder or developer) to reduce the monthly payments on a mortgage loan
A limit to the amount an interest rate or a monthly payment can increase for an adjustable rate loan either during an adjustment period or over the life of the loan
Certificate of Occupancy
A document from an official agency stating that the property meets the requirements of local codes, ordinances, and regulations
A meeting to sign documents which transfer property from a seller to a buyer (Also called settlement)
Closing Costs
Charges paid at settlement for obtaining a mortgage loan and transferring real estate title
Colonial Style
House plans that feature colonial styling will have many of the gracious styling features found in southern homes built in the 1800s and very early 1900s. These features would include porches with rounded columns, separate windows with mullions and transoms, six panel doors, brick or siding mainly, brick fireplaces. The roof will be mainly gabled with some hip roofs. 
Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC and Rs
The standards that define how a property may be used and the protections the developer has made for the benefit of all owners in a subdivision
A home in a multi-unit complex; each purchaser owns an individual unit, and all the purchasers jointly own the common areas, such as the surrounding land, hallways, etc
Conical Roof
A roof in the shape of an inverted cone atop a cylindrical tower
Construction License
A license to reproduce, re-use, and modify a house plan without additional fees.
Conventional Loan
A mortgage loan not insured by a government agency (such as FHA or VA)
The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate schedule to a fixed rate schedule
A form of ownership in a multi-unit complex; the purchasers own shares of the entire complex rather than owning individual units
Craftsman Style
Craftsman style house plans should look like they were designed in the early 1900s, but will have a more modern interior layout. Common features of the craftsman style home will include porches with columns that have a large square base and tapered square columns. Most house plans in this style will be siding, and many will have metal roofs. Wide trim around windows and doors and at the corners are used throughout the house.
Credit Rating
A report ordered by a lender from a credit bureau to determine if the borrower is a good credit risk
A breach of a mortgage contract (such as not making monthly payments)
The number of homes built on a particular acre of land Allowable densities are usually determined by local jurisdictions
The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount on a home The downpayment is usually paid at closing
A clause in a mortgage contract requiring the borrower to pay the entire outstanding balance upon sale or transfer of the property A mortgage with a due-on-sale clause is not assumable
Earnest Money
A sum paid to the seller to show that a potential purchaser is serious about buying
Right-of-way granted to a person or company authorizing access to the owner’s land; for example, a utility company may be grated an easement to install pipes or wires An owner may voluntarily grant an easement, or in some cases, be compelled to grant one by a local jurisdiction
A scale drawing of the side, front, or rear of a structure.
The difference between the value of a home and what is owed on it
The handling of funds or documents by a third party on behalf of the buyer and/or seller
The exterior face of a building which is the architectural front
Farm House Style
A Farmhouse home design is a less formal style that looks best on larger lots, or on acreage. A house plan that is designed in this style will have a lot of porches, front and rear. This expands the living area to the outside. Exterior finish is mostly siding. Double hung windows are used extensively. Columns and railings are prominent features of Farmhouse house plans. 
Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
A federal agency which insures mortgages that have lower downpayment requirements than conventional loans
Fixed Rate Mortgage
A mortgage whose interest rate remains constant over the life of the loan The payments are not necessarily level (See Graduated Payment Mortgage and Growing Equity Mortgage)
Fixed Schedule Mortgage
A mortgage whose payment schedule for the life of the loan is established at closing The payments and interest rate are not necessarily level
Floor Plan
A scale diagram of a room or building drawn as if seen from above
The base upon which a structure stands. Typical foundations include Concrete Slab, Crawl Space, and Basement.
To build or assemble the structural components of a house.
French Country Style
A house plan designed in the French Country style will have steeper roof pitches with shorter overhangs. This style is appropriate in stucco, stone, brick and vertical board and batten siding, and many times incorporating all four exterior finishes. Some additional design elements include brick corbels, wood brackets, window planters, roof finials, cupolas and less of an emphasis placed on the entryway.  
The triangular portion of the wall, between the enclosing lines of a sloping roof
Gambrel Roof
A ridged roof with two slopes on either side, the lower slope having the steeper pitch
General Contractor
A party that performs or supervises the construction or development of a property pursuant to the terms of a primary contract with the property owner
Georgian Style
Georgian style house plans are typically very balanced designs, with a center 2-story massing. Features generally include separate single windows balanced equally on each side of the front door. Exterior finish is brick and occasionally stucco. It is a more formal style. The Georgian style house plan will feature more detailed and intricate cornice designs and incorporate shutters on the windows. 
Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM)
A fixed-rate, fixed-schedule loan which starts with lower payments than a level payment loan; the payments rise annually over the first 5 to 10 years and then remain constant for the remainder of the loan GPMs involve negative amortization
Growing Equity Mortgage (Rapid Payoff Mortgage)
A fixed-rate, fixed-schedule loan which starts with the same payments as a level payment loan; the payments rise annually, with the entire increase being used to reduce the outstanding balance No negative amortization occurs, and the increase in payments may enable the borrower to pay off a 30-year loan in 15 to 20 years, or less
Hazard Insurance
Protection against damage caused by fire, windstorm, or other common hazards Many lenders require borrowers to carry it in an amount at least equal to the mortgage
Hip Roof
A roof with four pitched sides. The line where two slopes of the roof meet is called a hip.
Housing Finance Agency
A state agency which offers a limited amount of below-market-rate home financing for low-and moderate-income households
The interest rate or adjustment standard which determines the changes in monthly payments for an adjustable rate loan
The public facilities and services needed to support residential development, including highways, bridges, schools, and sewer and water systems
The cost paid to a lender for the use of borrowed money
Joint Tenancy
A form of ownership by which the tenants own a property equally If one dies, the other would automatically inherit the entire property
Level Payment Mortgage
A mortgage whose payments are identical for each month over the life of the loan
A piece of land having specific boundaries, especially one constituting a part of a city, town, or block
Mirror Reverse Plan
A mirrored image of a home plan with the text appearing backwards. A building permit may not be obtained using a mirror reverse plan.
Mortgage Broker
A broker who represents numerous lenders and helps consumers find affordable mortgages; the broker charges a fee only if the consumer fins a loan
Mortgage Commitment
A formal written communication by a lender, agreeing to make a mortgage loan on a specific property, specifying the loan amount, length of time and conditions
Mortgage Company (Mortgage Banker)
A company that borrows money from a bank, lends it to consumers who want to buy homes, then sells the loans to investors
Mortgage Loan
A contract in which the borrower’s property is pledged a s collateral and which can be repaid in installments over a long period The mortgagor (buyer) promises to repay principal and interest, to keep the home insured, to pay all taxes, and to keep the property in good condition
Mortgage Origination Fee
A charge by a lender for the work involved in preparing and servicing a mortgage application (usually 1 percent of the loan amount)
The lender who makes a mortgage loan
A vertical member, as of stone or wood, dividing a window or other opening.
Negative Amortization
An increase in the outstanding balance of a loan when a monthly payment is not large enough to cover all of the interest due
A formal document showing the existence of a debt and stating the terms of repayment
Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (the 4 major components of monthly housing payments)
A charge of 1 percent of the mortgage amount Points are a one-time charge assessed by the lender at closing to increase the interest yield on a mortgage loan
Payment of all or part of a debt prior to its maturity
The amount borrowed in a loan, excluding interest and other charges
Property Survey
A survey to determine the boundaries of your property The cost will depend on the complexity of the survey
The resistance of insulation material (including windows) to heat passing through it The higher the number, the greater the insulating value
Rapid Payoff Mortgage
(See Growing Equity Mortgage)
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
A federal law requiring lenders to provide home buyers with information about known or estimated settlement costs The act also regulates other aspects of settlement procedures
Recording Fee
A charge for recording the transfer of a property, paid to a city, county, or other appropriate branch of government
Right Reading Reverse Plan
A reversed plan with all text reading correctly.
Roof Pitch
Describes the slope or angle of a roof. The pitch is calculated by the number of inches it rises vertically for every 12 inches it extends horizontally.
Sales Contract
A contract between a buyer and seller which should explain, in detail, exactly what the purchase includes, what guarantees there are, when the buyer can move in, what the closing costs are, and what recourse the parties have if the contract is not fulfilled or if the buyer cannot get a mortgage commitment at the agreed-upon terms
(See Closing)
Shared Appreciation Mortgage
A loan in which partners agree to share specified portions of the downpayment, monthly payment, and appreciation
Site Plan
A plan showing where a house (and other structures) will be located on the lot.
Study Plan or Review Plan
A house plan that includes exterior views plus the interior plans. The purpose of a study plan is to help the buyer decide if the plan meets their needs. A study plan is not complete and does not incluide a license to build from that plan.
A party, hired by the General Contracter, to develop all or part of a property.
Tenancy in Common
A form of ownership in which the tenants own separate but equal parts To inherit the property, a surviving tenant would either have to be mentioned in the will or, in the absence of a will, be eligible through state inheritance laws
Evidence (usually in the form of a certificate or deed) of a person’s legal right to ownership of a property
Traditional Style
Most homes being built fall into this house style category. Many of the other house styles will have elements that could place them in a traditional house style. Traditional house plans typically will be brick, siding or stucco, with roof pitches of 8:12 or more. Many of these house plans will feature hip roofs with approximately 12” overhangs and will have windows with mullions. Eighty percent of the homes currently being built could fall into this style category. 
Transfer Taxes
Taxes levied on the transfer of property or on real estate loans by state and/or local jurisdictions
Veterans Administration (VA)
A federal agency which insures mortgage loans with very liberal downpayment requirements for honorably discharged veterans and their surviving spouses
A final inspection of a home before settlement to search for problems that need to be corrected before ownership changes hands
A promise, either written or implied, that the material and workmanship of a product is defect-free or will meet a specified level of performance over a specified period of time Written warranties on new homes are either backed by insurance companies or by the builders themselves
Regulations established by local governments regarding the location, height, and use for any given piece of property within a specific area