Real Estate Dictionary

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: Repayment of a debt through monthly installments of principal and interest. The monthly payment is based on a schedule that will allow you to own your home at the end of a specific period.

Annual Percentage Rate (A.P.R.): The A.P.R. shows the cost of the loan expressed as a yearly interest rate. It includes the interest, points, mortgage insurance and other fees associated with the loan. The A.P.R. is disclosed as a requirement of the federal Truth in Lending statutes.

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

Buyer's Agent: The licensed real estate salesperson who represents the interests of, and negotiates on behalf of, the buyer of a home or property.

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

CMA: CMA, or Competitive 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; it is not an appraisal.

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

Dual Agent: A licensed real estate salesperson who represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction at the same time. Also applies to a buyer's agent when the seller's agent works for the same company. In either case, both parties must provide written informed consent to Dual Agency.

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 make loans to borrowers who might not qualify for conventional mortgages.