If you're new to the real estate game, there's lots to know before buying, selling, or investing in property. Real estate is an involved arena, and there's plenty of specific language and jargon related to the industry. Brush up on these 20 common terms which are used frequently in the real estate field and you'll feel better prepared to make your next property moves properly!

Amenities: All the "perks" which enhance what a building has to offer are the amenities. Think doorman, garage, storage space, gym, etc. The more of these that come with the purchase, the more you'll feel you're getting for your money.

Appraisal: A licensed appraiser will give an evaluation on the worth of a property based on the study of recent sales of properties in a similar category. The seller can use this determination to generate a reasonable and competitive asking price on their property.

Closing: More like an opening to new beginnings, the closing is the action when the ownership of the property exchanges hands from the seller to the buyer, along with a signed contract.

Commercial Zones: No, not a McDonald's ad during your favorite prime time programming, but areas where a property can be used for retail shops, eateries, and other businesses, rather than residential living.

Commission: A brokers cut of the work they've put in to market and sell a property. Traditionally, the commission will be a specific percentage of the purchase price for the property.

Contract: This legal agreement between the buyer and the seller includes the offer, the acceptance, and the description of the property in question, and must be signed by all parties in order to be legally valid. Be sure to read every bit of fine print and consult with a lawyer if required or recommended before signing on the dotted line.

Counter-Offer: While this sounds like what one may be willing to spend on a kitchen counter, it's actually a new offer made for a property when the prior one was not up to snuff. A counter-offer can be made by either the buyer or the seller until the two parties reach an agreement… or not.

Fixture: Anything attached to the property permanently is considered a fixture, and is generally accepted to come with the sale price of a property. Appliances, lighting, etc. fall into this category unless otherwise agreed upon in the contract.

Floor Plan: This is a drawn out or computer-generated plan of the property space with dimensions, room sizes, and placement, and where the doors, windows, and room partitions are located. This is helpful to plan for furnishings and to get an idea of the space layout before seeing it in person.

Full Bath: While a tub filled to the brim with warm water and bubbles is one definition, when it comes to real estate jargon, a full bath means that the bathroom contains a toilet, a sink, and a tub or shower. A half-bath would not have the tub or shower.

Lease: When you rent a property from the owner, this is considered a lease. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis and often include other facilities such as heating, electric, water, etc.

Lot: A section of land that is part of a listing is considered to be the lot. Often this is measured in acres. If you are seeking a large area for a home or property with plenty of space surrounding it, seek out a generous lot.

Maintenance: If you plan to purchase in a co-op, there will be a monthly maintenance charge to pay for the costs for the building's general needs. This includes taxes, mortgage, operational costs, even a doorman if applicable. Factor this charge into your monthly costs to ensure you've planned your spend accordingly.

Penthouse: Usually one of the grander spaces in a building, the penthouse is on the top floor of a building and is often the most expensive. If you're ready to move on up, consider the penthouse for luxury living and a smart long-term investment.

Pied-a-Terre: Some people purchase or rent a place that they seldom or periodically stay at, and is not used as their primary residence. This is called a pied-a-terre and is often used by those who travel for work, vacation in the same area year after year, or for investment purposes. Subletting is sometimes allowed so the owner may make money on the place when not in use personally.

Realtor: AKA a real estate agent, this person must be part of the National Association of Realtors and assists the buyer or seller with the purchase or sale of their property via marketing, listings, and showings. They will make a commission off the sale of the property.

Sublet: An apartment owner can rent their place to a tenant provided this action is allowed by the building. The owner may live elsewhere or in another portion of the property.

Title: This document proves that a person owns or has the right to a property. The title will change hands at time of closing.

Tenant: The tenant has temporary use of a property which belongs to another owner. A renter or sub-letter would be examples of tenants.

Valuation: Once appraised, the valuation is the estimated worth or price of a property. Be sure to acquire a reliable person or service to provide this information to you before selling or buying.

Now that you are more real estate educated, it's time to make the move to buy or sell with knowledge and confidence. Now close that deal!

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.