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Term Definition
The value of the unencumbered interest in a piece of real estate. Equity is determined by subtracting the total of unpaid mortgage balances, plus any outstanding liens against the property, from the fair market value of the property.

In the event that the owner of a property dies without leaving a will and has no legal heirs, ownership of the property will revert to the state.

An agreement under which property or instruments are placed with a third party for safekeeping, then returned to the owner after the fulfillment of a specific condition.

Escrow Account
An account from which funds can be withdrawn only for specific reasons stated in a contract. In lending, these accounts are usually used to hold and disburse real estate taxes and hazard insurance premiums which are paid in advance by the borrower.

Escrow Analysis
A periodic examination of escrow accounts that determines whether the current amount of monthly deposits is enough to pay taxes, insurance, and other bills at the time that they are due.

Escrow Collections
Funds that are collected by the loan servicer, then deposited into an escrow account. These funds are used to pay borrower expenses such as property taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard homeowners insurance.

Escrow Disbursements
The act of using escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, and other expenses from the property.

Escrow Payment
A loan servicer will hold a part of the borrower's monthly payment to be used to pay for taxes, hazard homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other items as they become due.

A person’s interest in a real property, measured by the degree, extent, and nature of interest.

Estate at Sufferance
A tenant’s unlawful occupancy of a property after his or her lease has expired.

Estate for Life
See Life Estate.

Estate Tax
A tax that is applied to a property left behind by a deceased party. This is subject to certain tax rules that may vary by state.

A doctrine that states that a person may not acknowledge facts as true and later deny them.

A legal proceeding that a lessor (landlord) must carry out in order to recover a property from a tenant occupying it.

Like-kind property that is used in a business or trade or held as an investment may be exchanged without any tax applied to the transaction, subject to certain conditions, under Section 1031 of the IRS Tax Code.

Exclusive Listing
A written contract giving a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specific and limited time. The contract retains the owner’s right to sell the property alone without the payment of a commission.

Exculpatory Clause
A stipulation in a mortgage that allows a borrower to surrender the property to the lender with no personal liability.

A building’s outside wall that faces the street.

Face Value
The dollar amount of a property’s value. It is indicated by numbers or words on a document.

Fair Credit Reporting Act
A federal law that gives persons the right to view and correct information about them used by credit reporting services.

Fannie Mae (FNMA)
Federal National Mortgage Association, a federally chartered corporation that buys mortgages, then packages them to sell as securities to buyers.

Federal Fair Housing Law
A federal law that forbids renters or sellers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
An agency within Housing and Urban Development that administers several loan programs with the intention of making more housing available.

Fee Agreement
An agreement between a borrower and a broker which normally specifies the relationship between them and the amount of compensation to the broker.

Fee Simple
Absolute ownership of real property.

Fiduciary Responsibility
An obligation for a party to act in the best interest of another party. This kind of obligation usually exists when one person places special confidence and trust in another person.

First Mortgage
The earliest mortgage on the property. This is determined only by the time of recording, not the size of the loan or mortgage type. When the first mortgage is paid off in full by the buyer, the second mortgage, if extant, becomes the first mortgage.

Fixed Payment Mortgage
A loan featuring a periodic, consistent payment of interet and principal. It is secured by a real property or properties.

Fixed Rate Mortgage
A mortgage with an interest rate that does not change over the life of the loan.

A level land area that may occasionally face the threat of a flood from a nearby body of water.

In the event that a borrower becomes delinquent, a lender may pursue forbearance as a course of action to delay foreclosure.

The procedure through which a borrower’s rights to a certain property are terminated, usually due to delinquency on a debt. Foreclosure procedures vary widely from state to state.

for rent by owner.

Freddie Mac (FHMLC)
Federal National Mortgage Association, a federally chartered corporation that buys mortgages, then packages them to sell as securities to buyers.

for sale by owner.

Fully Amortized Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
A mortgage that amortizes (pays down) a loan balance, and has an adjustable rate of interest.

Gable Roof
A triangular shaped roof with the ridges creating an angle at the top and the eaves creating an angle at the bottom.

An increase the value of a property.

Gain on Sale
Selling Price minus Adjusted Basis. This is the taxable profit that's made when an income-producing property is sold.

Garden Apartments
A housing complex that contains a lawn area that all or some of the tenants can access.

General Contractor
A person who constructs a building, improvement, etc. for a property’s owner or developer.

General Lien
A lien that encompasses every property owned by the debtor instead of a single specific property.

General Warranty Deed
A deed in which the the grantee is protected by the grantor against any other claims against the property.

The phenomenon of higher income residents displacing lower income residents in a neighborhood.

Graduated-Payment Mortgage(GPM)
A mortgage in which a borrower makes increasingly larger monthly payments over the loan term. For the first few years, the payment is very low, then rises gradually until the third or fifth year and remains constant thereafter.

the party to whom a real property’s title is conveyed.

the party who gives the deed to the grantee.

Gross Debt Service
the amount of money that is required to pay principal, interest and taxes. Also occasionally includes energy costs. If the unit is a condominium, all or part of the common fees are excluded, depending on which expenses are covered.

Gross Monthly Income
A person’s income before deducting taxes, saving plans, social security, etc.

Gross Operating Expenses
All the expenses that are required to keep the property cashflowing. Does not include capital improvements or mortgage payments.

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