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Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Other
  • Caveat emptor   A legal principle derived from Latin than means "let the buyer beware."
  • Ceiling height   The standard height of a ceiling is eight feet.
  • Central air conditioning   A device that generates cold air through an outside unit that is connected to ductwork inside the house.
  • Central business district   The area of a city where most large businesses are located.
  • Certificate of Deposit (CD)   A document which shows that the bearer has a specified amount of money on deposit with a bank, stock-brokerage firm or other financial institution.
  • Certificate of deposit index   An index based on the interest rates on six-month CDs. It used to determine the interest rate for some adjustable-rate mortgages.
  • Certificate of eligibility   A document issued by the Veterans Administration that verifies the eligibility of a veteran for a loan program.
  • Certificate of occupancy   A document which states that a home or other building has met all building codes and is suitable for habitation.
  • Certificate of sale   A document issued at a judicial sale, which entitles the buyer to receive a deed after court confirmation of the purchase of the property.
  • Certificate of title   A written opinion on the status of a piece of property based on an examination of the public record.
  • Chain of title   The official record that details the ownership history of a piece of property.
  • Chair railing   Decorative trim installed on a wall about 32 inches above the floor, which protects against scuffs from furniture.
  • Change order   A modification of the construction contract to authorize a change in the work, an adjustment in the amount of the contract or a change in the contract time. The owner, architect and contractor must sign the change.
  • Change frequency   The adjustment schedule on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
  • Chattel   Personal property such as furniture, clothing or a car.
  • Chattel mortgage   A lien on personal property used as collateral for a loan.
  • Chimney back   The back wall or lining of a fireplace or furnace chimney.
  • Chimney flue   The passage inside a chimney that channels smoke and heat to the outside.
  • Chimney pot   A short pipe at the top of a chimney that increases ventilation to the fireplace and reduces smoke.
  • Cinder block   A block made of ash and cement that is used in construction.
  • Cinder fill   Cinders used below a basement or around a foundation to promote drainage.
  • Circuit breaker   An electric fuse that activates or deactivates a circuit.
  • Cistern   A tank used to store rainwater.
  • Classified property tax   A tax that varies in rate depending on the use of the property.
  • Clear title   A property that does not have liens, defects or other legal encumbrances.
  • Closing   The final procedure in which documents are signed and recorded, and the property is transferred.
  • Closing costs   Expenses incidental to the sale of real estate, including loan, title and appraisal fees.
  • Closing statement   A document which details the final financial settlement between a buyer and seller and the costs paid by each party.
  • Cloud on title   An invalid encumbrance on real property.
  • Cluster development   A method of squeezing more homes into less space.
  • Codicil   A change to a will that adds or subtracts provisions or clarifies portions of the document.
  • Co-housing   Individual housing units that are clustered around a common building where residents share cooking and other activities.
  • Coign   The cornerstone of a building that differs in shape or color from the rest of the wall.
  • Co-insurance   Coverage that involves the use of two or more insurers..
  • Collar beam   The structural element that connects roof rafters.
  • Collateral security   Additional security that a borrower supplies to obtain a loan.
  • Collection   The series of steps a lender takes to bring a delinquent mortgage up to date.
  • Collusion   The action of two or more people to break the law.
  • Colonia   Unincorporated communities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Column   A slender upright structure that consists of a base, a round or square shaft and a capital.
  • Column footing   The support base for a load-bearing column. The footing is usually made of reinforced concrete.
  • Co-maker   A person who signs a promissory note with the borrower and assumes responsibility for the loan.
  • Combination door   An outer door with interchangeable screen and glass panels.
  • Combination window   A window with interchangeable screen and glass panels.
  • Commercial bank   A financial institution that provides a broad range of services, from checking and savings accounts to business loans and credit cards.
  • Commercial property   An area that is zoned for businesses.
  • Commingling   The mixing of money held in trust with other funds.
  • Commission   The negotiable percentage of the sales price of a home that is paid to the agents of the buyer and seller.
  • Commitment   A promise by a lender to make a loan with specific terms for a specified period.
  • Commitment fee   The fee a lender charges for promising to make a loan.
  • Common area   An area inside a housing development that is owned by all residents.
  • Common-area assessments   Fees paid by the owners of a condominium project or planned-unit development to maintain, repair, improve or operate common areas.
  • Common-interest development   A project composed of individually owned units that share usage and financial responsibility for common areas.
  • Common law   A body of laws based on custom, usage and rulings by courts in various jurisdictions.
  • Community property   Property accumulated through the joint efforts of husband and wife. It is a classification of property peculiar to certain states.
  • Community Reinvestment Act   A federal law that encourages financial institutions to loan money in the neighborhoods where minority depositors live.
  • Commute   The distance and time it takes a person to reach the workplace.
  • Comparables   Properties used as comparisons to determine the value of a certain property.
  • Comparative market analysis   An estimate of the value of a property based on an analysis of sales of properties with similar characteristics.
  • Competent   A term for a buyer who is legally fit to enter into a sales contract.
  • Compound interest   The interest paid on the principal balance in a mortgage and on the accrued and unpaid interest of the loan.
  • Concrete tilt-up   The process of pouring concrete into forms on the ground, allowing the forms to harden and then raising the material to a vertical position to form walls.
  • Condemnation   The process the government uses to take private property for public use without the consent of the owner.
  • Conditional commitment   A promise by a lender to make a loan if the borrower meets certain conditions.
  • Condominium   Individual units in a building or development in which owners hold title to the interior space while common areas such as parking lots, community rooms and recreational areas are owned by all the residents.
  • Condominium conversion   The change in title from a single owner of an entire project or building to multiple owners of individual units.
  • Conduit   A metal pipe that houses electrical wiring.
  • Consent judgment   A binding written agreement between two parties to have a judgment entered and recorded.
  • Conservator   A court-appointed guardian.
  • Consideration   Anything that is legal, has value and induces a person to enter into a contract.
  • Construction budget   The funding that an owner arranges for the construction of a project.
  • Construction documents   Drawings and specifications from an architect that provide detailed requirements for the construction of a project.
  • Construction loan   Short-term loans a lender makes for the construction of homes and buildings. The lender disburses the funds in stages.
  • Construction to permanent loan   The conversion of a construction loan to a longer-term traditional mortgage after construction has been completed.
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS)   A nationwide, nonprofit organization that helps consumers get out of debt and improve their credit profile. National headquarters: 8701 Georgia Avenue., Suite 507, Silver Springs, MD 20910. Phone: (800) 388-2227.
  • Contemporary style   A design that features streamlined shapes, large unadorned windows and industrial materials.
  • Contiguous lots   Pieces of property that are adjoined.
  • Contingency   A condition specified in a purchase contract, such as a satisfactory home inspection.
  • Contingency listing   A property listing with a special condition attached.
  • Contingent fee   A fee that must be paid if a certain event occurs.
  • Contract   An agreement between two or more parties that creates or modifies an existing relationship.
  • Contract for deed   A contract in which the seller agrees to defer all or part of the purchase price for a specified period of time.
  • Contract to purchase   A contract the buyer initiates which details the purchase price and conditions of the transaction and is accepted by the seller. Also known as an agreement of sale.
  • Contractor   The individual who contracts for the construction of a home or project.
  • Contractual lien   A voluntary obligation such as a mortgage or trust deed.
  • Controlled growth   Any restrictions imposed on the amount or type of new development in an area.
  • Conventional loan   A long-term loan a lender makes for the purchase of a home.
  • Convertible adjustable-rate mortgage   A mortgage which starts as an adjustable-rate loan, but allows the borrower to convert the loan to a fixed-rate mortgage during a specified period of time.
  • Conveyance   The transfer of title of property.
  • Conveyance tax   A tax imposed on the transfer of real property.
  • Cooperating broker   A real estate broker who finds a buyer for a property that another broker has listed.
  • Cooperative corporation   A business trust that holds the title to a cooperative residential building and grants occupancy rights to shareholders in the corporation.
  • Cooperative mortgages   Any loans related to a cooperative residential project.
  • Cooperative project   A project in which a corporation holds title and sells shares representing individual units to buyers who then receive a proprietary lease as their title.
  • Cornice   A horizontal molding that projects from the top of a structure or wall.
  • Corporate relocation   An arrangement by which employers pay to transfer and move employees.
  • Co-signer   A second party who signs a promissory note and takes responsibility for the debt.
  • Counteroffer   A response to an offer.
  • Corner bead   A reinforcement placed in the corner where two walls intersect.
  • Corner influence   The effect on the value of a property because it is situated on a corner or near a corner.
  • Corrective work   Necessary or desired repairs to remedy problems uncovered by a home or specialized inspection.
  • Cost-plus contract   A construction contract that determines the builder's profit based on a percentage of the cost of labor and materials.
  • Cottage   A small, one-story house.
  • Covenant   A legal assurance or promise in a deed or other document, or implied by the law.
  • Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs)   Rules and regulations for a development, such as acceptable landscaping or improvements that can be made to individual units.
  • Craftsman style   An architectural style that evolved as part of the Arts and Craft movement near the turn of the century.
  • Crawl space   The space between the ground and the first floor of a home, usually no higher than four feet.
  • Creative financing   Innovative home-financing arrangements that help sell a property.
  • Credit   The money a lender extends to a buyer for a commitment to repay the loan within a certain time frame.
  • Credit history   A record of an individual's current and past debt payments.
  • Creditor   An individual or institution to whom a debt is owed.
  • Credit life insurance   Insurance that pays off a mortgage in the event of the borrower's death.
  • Credit rating   The degree of credit worthiness assigned to a person based on credit history and financial status.
  • Credit report   A credit bureau report that shows a loan applicant's history of payments made on previous debts. Several companies issue credit reports, but the three largest are Trans Union Corp., Equifax and Experian (formerly TRW ).
  • Credit repository   Large companies that gather financial and credit information from various sources about individuals who have applied for credit.
  • Credit union   Nonprofit cooperative organizations that provide banking and financial services, including mortgages, home improvement loans and home equity loans, to their members.
  • Cross-bridging   The strengthening of a structure by bracing cross members between beams.
  • Cul de sac   A street or alley that is closed at one end.
  • Cupola   A dome-like structure that sits on top of a roof.
  • Curable defect   A deficiency in a property that is easy or inexpensive to fix, such as chipping paint.
  • Curb appeal   The first impression of a house as seen from the street.
  • Curtain wall   An exterior wall that encloses a yard or other area but does not provide any structural support to a home.
  • Custom builder   A builder who constructs a home or building based on plans created by the owner.
  • Custom home   A structure designed by an architect hired by the owner.
  • Call option   A clause in a loan agreement that allows a lender to ask for the balance at any time.
  • Can lights   Cylindrical chambers with bulbs recessed into the ceiling.
  • Cancellation clause   A clause that details the conditions under which each party may terminate the agreement.
  • Cantilever   A projecting structure supported on one end, such as a balcony.
  • Cap   A limit on the amount the interest rate or monthly payment can increase in an adjustable-rate mortgage.
  • Cape Cod style   A wood-frame or shingled house with a steep roof and several windows projecting from the second floor.
  • Capital   Money used to create income, such as funds invested in rental property.
  • Capital expenditure   The cost of making improvements on a property.
  • Capital gains   Profits an investor makes from the sale of real estate or investments.
  • Capital gains tax   A tax placed on the profits from the sale of real estate or investments.
  • Capital improvement   Any improvement that extends the life or increases the value of a piece of property.
  • Capitalization   A mathematical formula that investors use to compute the value of a property based on net income.
  • Capitalization rate   The percentage rate of return estimated from the net income of a piece of property.
  • Caravan   A group of real estate agents who tour a house that has been recently listed for sale.
  • Carport   A roof that covers a driveway or other parking area.
  • Casement window   A window hinged on its sides to allow it to swing open vertically.
  • Cash flow   The amount of cash a rental property investor receives after deducting operating expenses and loan payments from gross income.
  • Cashier's check   A check the bank draws on itself rather than on a depositor's account.
  • Cash-out refinance   The refinancing of a mortgage in which the money received from the new loan is greater than the amount due on the old loan. The borrower can use the extra funds in any manner.
  • Cathedral ceiling   A high open ceiling formed by finishing exposed roof rafters.
  • Caulk   An acrylic or silicon sealant used to fill cracks, crevices and holes in a home.
  • Cavedium   A courtyard or atrium.
  • Caveat   A formal notice, that asks a court to suspend action until the party which filed the challenge can be heard.




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