A-frame design An interior style that features a steeply peaked roofline and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters.
Abstract of judgment law The summary of a court judgment that creates a lien against a property when filed with the county recorder.
Accelerated cost recovery system A tax calculation that provides greater depreciation in the early years of ownership of real estate or personal property.
Accelerated depreciation A bookkeeping method that depreciates property faster in the early years of ownership.
Acceleration clause A provision that gives a lender the right to collect the balance of a loan if a borrower misses a payment.
Acceptance The seller’s written approval of a buyer’s offer.
Access Any means by which a person can enter property.
Accessibility The degree to which a building or site allows access to people with disabilities.
Accretion The gradual addition to the shore or bank of a waterway by deposits of sand or silt.
Acknowledgment A written declaration affirming that a person acted voluntarily.
Acre A measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet.
Acre foot The volume of material needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep.
Active solar system A system that utilizes electric pumps or fans to transfer solar energy for storage or direct use.
Actual age The number of years a structure has been standing.
Add-on interest The interest a borrower pays on the principal for the duration of the loan.
Addendum An addition or change to a contract.
Additional principal payment Extra money included in the monthly payment to help reduce the principal and shorten the term of the loan.
Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) A loan with an interest rate that is periodically adjusted to reflect changes in a specified financial index.
Adjusted cost basis The cost of any improvements the seller makes to the property. Deducting the cost from the original sales price provides the profit or loss of a home when it is sold.
Adjustment period The amount of time between interest rate adjustments in an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Administrator A person given authority to manage and distribute the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.
Administrator’s deed A legal document that an administrator of an estate uses to transfer property.
Adverse possession The acquisition of title to property through possession without the owner’s consent for a certain period of time.
Adverse use The access and use of property without the owner’s consent.
Aeolian soil Soil that is composed of materials deposited by the wind.
Affiant A person who makes a sworn statement.
Affirmation A substitution for an oath granted to people based on religious reasons.
Agency The relationship of trust that exists between sellers and buyers and their agents. The agency is formed through a written contract.
Agency closing The process by which a lender uses a title company or other firm as an agent to complete a loan.
Agent A person licensed by the state to conduct real estate transactions.
Agreed boundary A compromise boundary to which property owners agree in order to resolve a dispute.
Agreement of sale A document the buyer initiates and the seller approves that details the price and terms of the transaction.
Alcove A recessed section of a room, such as a breakfast nook.
Alienation clause A provision that requires the borrower to pay the balance of the loan in a lump sum after the property is sold or transferred.
Alkali Mineral salt found in soil.
Alkaline soil Soil that contains a higher concentration of mineral salt than natural acid.
Alley A lane behind a row of buildings or between two rows of buildings.
Allowances Budgets offered by builders of new homes for the purchase of carpeting and fixtures.
Alternative mortgage Any home loan that does not conform to a standard fixed-rate mortgage.
Aluminum siding A metal covering that provides an alternative to paint for owners of wood homes.
Aluminum-clad windows Wooden windows with aluminum covering the exterior.
Amenities Parks, swimming pools, health-club facilities, party rooms, bike paths, community centers and other enticements offered by builders of planned developments.
American Society of Home Inspectors The American Society of Home Inspectors is a professional association of independent home inspectors. Phone: (800) 743-2744.
Americans with Disabilities Act A law passed in 1990 that outlaws discrimination against a person with a disability in housing, public accommodations, employment, government services, transportation and telecommunications.
Amortization The process of paying the principal and interest on a loan through regularly scheduled installments.
Amortization tables Mathematical tables that lenders use to calculate a borrower’s monthly payment.
Amperage The strength of an electrical current.
Anchor bolt A large steel bolt anchored in concrete and attached to a building to prevent the structure from moving.
Annual Something that happens once a year.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) The cost of the loan expressed as a yearly rate on the balance of the loan.
Annual mortgagor statement A yearly statement to borrowers that details the remaining principal and amounts paid for taxes and interest.
Annuity The payment of a fixed sum to an investor at regular intervals.
Anticipatory breach A communication that informs a party that the obligations of the original contract will not be fulfilled.
Application A document that details a potential borrower’s income, debt and other obligations to determine credit worthiness.
Application fee The fee that a lender charges to process a loan application.
Appraisal An opinion of the value of a property at a given point in time.
Appraisal fee The fee that an appraiser charges to estimate the market value of the property.
Appraisal report A detailed written report on the value of a property based on recent sales of comparable sites in the area.
Appraised value An opinion of the current market value of a property.
Appreciation An increase in the value of a home or other property..
Arbitration A method of resolving a dispute in which a third party renders a decision.
Arbor An area shaded by trees, shrubs or vines on a latticework structure.
Arch A curved structure that supports weight over an area, such as a doorway.
Architect A licensed professional who designs homes, buildings and other structures.
Architectural fees The fee an architect charges for services. In general, architects charge for their services by the hour, by the square foot, or by a percentage of the project budget.
Arpent A French measurement of land equal to .84625 acres.
As-is condition The purchase or sale of a property in its existing condition.
Asbestos A fire-resistant mineral used for insulation and home products that has been found to pose a health hazard.
Asking price A seller’s initial price for a property.
Assessed value A tax assessor’s determination of the value of a home in order to calculate a tax base.
Assessment The estimated value of a piece of real estate or a levy placed on property in addition to taxes.
Assessment rolls A list of taxable property compiled by the assessor.
Assets Items of value which include cash, real estate, securities and investments.
Assignor A person who transfers rights and interests of a property.
Assumable mortgage A mortgage that can be transferred to another borrower.
Assumption clause A provision that allows a buyer to take responsibility for the mortgage from a seller.
Assumption fee A fee the lender charges to process new records for a buyer who assumes an existing loan.
Average price The price of a home determined by totaling the sales prices of all houses sold in an area and dividing that number by the number of homes.
Avigation easement An easement over private property near an airport that limits the height of structures and trees.
Awning windows Single-sash windows that tilt outward and up.