Real Estate "Jargon"
Real estate listings and advertisements are usually full of acronyms and abbreviations that are unfamiliar to first-time buyers. Here's a cheat sheet to help you figure out what it all means.
Bedrooms (bds,bdrms,beds) - "Bedroom" usually means a sleeping area with a door, window and a closet, but the definition varies in different places. If a bedroom in the basement does not have an egress window, it cannot be considered a bedroom on the listing. So, if you see the home has 3 bedrooms, there may be a 4 room in the basement that can be converted into a bedroom by just adding an egress window.
Bathrooms (bth,bths) -“Full bathroom" is a room with a toilet, a sink and a bathtub (with or without a shower also). A "three-quarter bathroom" has a toilet, a sink and a shower. A "half bathroom" or has only a toilet and a sink.
Closing costs -- The entire package of miscellaneous expenses paid by the buyer and the seller when the real estate deal closes. These costs include the brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney's settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance and so on. Closing costs are generally paid through escrow. Buyer and Seller each individually have their own costs related to closing that they are required to pay. In some cases the buyer may ask the seller to pay for some of their closing costs as part of the offer to purchase their home, talk to your lender to see how much you are allowed to ask for if you are considering asking the seller to pay for any closing costs. There are limits with each different type of loan and situation.
CMA – comparative/comparable/competitive market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of homes that are comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market, but not sold within the listing period.
Contingency – “an offer contingent upon…” a provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met. One example is a buyer's contractual right to obtain a professional home inspection before purchasing the home.
Fixture (attached) -- anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. (Real estate is legally called "real property," while movables are called "personal property.") Examples of fixtures include installed wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings, landscaping and so on. Some things may be secured to a wall but can be unsecured easily (i.e. shelving unit screwed to the wall with one screw for instance can be looked at as unsecured because the screw is simply holding it up, but yet it is attached to the wall so many of these items can be a “gray” area). Fixtures are a frequent subject of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt, get it in writing.
FP/GFP -- fireplace or gas fireplace
Gen Tax – Property tax amount due yearly. When you have a mortgage, they usually collect this monthly with your house payment and then the mortgage company pays your yearly taxes.
Heat System – OHW,GHW,EHW,OFA,GFA,EFA, EBB, Dual Fuel/Off-Peak, Floor, Radiant, Multi-Zones – HW stand for Hot Water Heating which means the home has a boiler type furnace. FA stands for Forced Air which means there is a furnace with duct work to distribute the heat. EBB stands for Electric Base Board Heating. Dual/Off-peak means that there are two forms of heating and usually set up so that one system shuts off during high-peak hours and the 2nd system turns on during that time to cut down on heating costs during peak hours. Radiant heating are similar to baseboard heating but have been known to be safer and more cost effective, located closer to the ceiling instead of close to the floor. Floor stands for in-floor heating, usually under ceramic tile or under cement (i.e garage floor heat). Multi-Zones stands for multiple controls for different areas of the home to be set at different temperatures to regulate the heat separately in different areas of the home.
HDW, HWF, HDWD -- hardwood floors
Hollywood Bath – Means it is accessible from a bedroom and also from the main hall.
Listing -- an agreement between a real estate broker and a home owner that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the owner's home. The word "listing" is also used to refer to the for-sale home itself. A home being sold by the owner without a real estate agent isn't a "listing."
HOA -- homeowner's association dues. But find out if its paid monthly or yearly and what it covers.
Lock box -- locked key-holding device affixed to a for-sale home so real estate professionals can gain entry into the home after obtaining permission from the listing agent
MLS -- Multiple Listing Service. An MLS is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. Membership isn't open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listings Web sites. MLSs are local or regional. There is no MLS covering the whole country.
REALTOR® -- a real estate broker or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.
Specials Unpd & Specials Inst – Specials Unpaid means the total amount of specials owed to the city on that particular property. Specials Installment is amount due to the city yearly. Just like taxes, if you have a mortgage, the lender usually figures this into your monthly payment and then pays your yearly specials payment for you.
Title Insurance -- an insurance policy that protects a lender's or owner's interest in real property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. It's customary for the buyer to pay for the lender's title insurance policy. The buyer will usually be offered an “owner’s” title insurance policy at closing for an extra fee and will have 30 days after closing to decide whether to purchase at the reduced rate or not. After that it may still be available for purchase at a higher price. It’s a good idea to ask friends, family or a real estate attorney if they think you should purchase the policy for the particular property you are purchasing.
M,B,U,L – (floor levels) Main Floor, Basement, Upper Level, Lower Level (Upper and Lower are usually used in regards to bi-levels and multi-level homes.