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Real Estate Lingo 101

1. Buyer’s Agent vs. Listing Agent

There are usually two agents involved when you buy a home; the “buyer’s agent,” who represents you, and the “listing agent,” who represents the home seller. Dual agency is when there is only one agent representing both sides of the transaction.

2. Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Conventional loans include “fixed rate” and “adjustable rate” mortgages. A fixed rate mortgage has a predetermined interest rate throughout the life of the loan; the most common are for 30 years. An adjustable rate mortgage has a variable interest rate; the most common are for 5, 7, or 10 years.

3. Listings

Real estate agents frequently refer to homes for sale as “listings.” A “listing” on a website shows information about the home, like the price and number of bedrooms.

4. Inspection

After you’ve made an offer on a home, you’ll need to schedule an inspection. The inspector will go through every nook and cranny, and review things like the plumbing, electrical, foundation, walls, heating, and appliances. Get advice from your realtor on a good inspector. If they find something wrong, you can negotiate for a reduced price. If they miss something, you could be stuck with expensive repairs after you’ve purchased the home.

5. Appraisal

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will require an appraisal of the home you want to buy. A licensed appraiser will estimate the home’s value based on comparable homes that have sold in the area and an investigation of the property. If the appraised value is less than the offer you are making on the home, you might not be approved for a loan. Before making an offer, ask your agent to do a comparative market analysis, which will tell you what comparable homes have sold for nearby. If you’re a seller, get an estimate on how much your home is worth as well as how to increase your home's appraisal value.

6. Contingencies

When you put in an offer on a home, you can specify certain conditions that must be met before the deal will go through – these are called contingencies. You have to make sure you can actually get the loan (a financing contingency), that the inspection doesn’t show anything too crazy (inspection contingency), and that the appraised value is close to what you’re offering to pay (appraisal contingency). Those are just a few common examples; there are several other types of contingencies, which you should discuss with your agent.

7. Closing Costs

Closing costs are the costs you have to pay as a home buyer, who just purchased a home or property. Typically, closing costs will amount to 2-5% of the purchase price, and that doesn’t include the down payment. Common fees include excise tax, loan-processing costs and title insurance.

8. Title Insurance

After all the negotiations are done and the seller has accepted your offer, you will receive a home title report. Most mortgage lenders require you to pay title insurance as part of the closing costs.
Title insurers search the public records to make sure the home seller actually had rights to the title and that there are no liens on the home (like an unpaid contractor or unpaid taxes).

9. Appreciation vs Depreciation

Appreciation is an increase in value of the home or property over time. For example, buying a home in a safer school district can cause appreciation.
Depreciation is a decrease in value of the home or property over time. For example, buying a home that is in a bad neighborhood can cause depreciation 

10. Escrow

An Escrow is a bond, deed, or other document kept in the custody of a third party on behalf of of two other parties who are in the process of completing a transaction, taking effect only when a specified condition has been fulfilled.


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