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Real Estate Dictionary



BACK TITLE LETTER - In states where attorneys examine title for title insurance purposes, this letter is given by a title insurance company to an attorney, giving to said attorney the condition of title as of a certain date. 
BACKUP OFFER - A secondary offer to buy property, used in case the first (primary) offer fails.

BALLOON PAYMENT - The final installment paid at the end of the term of a note. For example; a buyer may take out an interest only loan for five years with the principle due at the end of this time period. 

BASIS POINT - A  finance term meaning a yield of 1/100th of 1% annually.
BATHROOM - A room containing a toilet, sink and either a bathtub or a bathtub and shower combination. A room with the above but a shower in place of a tub is called a 3/4 bath. If the room only has a sink and toilet it is called a 1/2 bath.
BATT - A strip of insulation fitting closely between the studs of a wall.
BATTEN -  A narrow strip (usually wood) used to cover seams between siding boards.
BENCH MARK - A survey mark showing the height of that point in relation to seal level.
BIANNUAL - Twice per year.
BIENNIAL - Every two years.
BILATERAL (RECIPROCAL) CONTRACT - Contract under which the parties expressly enter into mutual promises, such as sales contracts.
BI-LEVEL - Two levels. Commonly refers to construction of a house. Also called "split" level.
BILL OF SALE - An instrument by which one transfers personal property.
BINDER - 1) A report issued by a title insurance company setting forth the condition of title as of a certain date, and setting forth the conditions which if satisfied will cause a policy of title insurance to be issued. 2) A policy of title insurance calling for a reduced rate (used by investors) for a future policy if the property is sold within a specified period.

BLANKET MORTGAGE (Trust Deed) - A single mortgage or trust deed which covers more than one piece of real estate.

BLOCK - 1) In a city, a square or rectangular area enclosed by streets. 2) In some states, a part of a subdivision legal description, such as Lot 1, Block 2, Tract 7. 
BLOCK BUSTING -  An illegal method of obtaining houses at below fair market value by telling residents that people of a different race or religion, moving into the area, will cause the property values to fall.
BOARD -  A lumber description meaning 2 inches thick and 8 or more inches wide. 
BOARD AND BATTEN - A siding construction of wide boards (usually one foot wide) placed 1/2 inch apart; the seams are covered by 3 inch wide battens.
BOILER PLATE - The form of language used for contract, CC&R's (restrictions), etc.
BOND - 1) An insurance agreement insuring against loss by acts or default of a third party. In construction a performance bond insures that the builder will finish the projects. 
BREACH OF CONTRACT - Failure to performance a contract, in whole or part, without legal excuse.
BREEZEWAY - 1) In construction of a house with no garage, a canopy which extends from the house over the driveway as a protection from the weather for an automobile and for those people going between the house and the automobile. 2) A covering over a porch or patio, connecting two sections of a house or garage. Open on two sides, allowing air circulation.
BRIDGE (LOAN) FINANCING - A form of interim loan, generally made between a short term loan and a permanent or long term loan, when a borrower needs to have more time before taking on long term financing.
BRIDGING - Floor joist bracing, usually of wood or metal.
BROKERAGE -  The act of bringing together principals (buyer-seller, landlord-tenant, etc.) for a fee or commission, rather than acting as a principal.
BROKERAGE COMMISSION - see commission.
BROKER, REAL ESTATE - One who is licensed by the state to carry on the business of dealing in real estate. A broker may receive a commission for his or her part in bringing together a buyer and seller, landlord and tenant, or parties to an exchange.
BROOM CLEAN (BROOM SWEPT) - A term used to describe the condition of a building, delivered to a buyer or tenant. As the term indicates, the floors are swept and free of debris.
BUFFER ZONE (BUFFER STRIP) - A parcel of land separating two other parcels or areas, such as a strip of land between and industrial and residential area.
BUILDER - One whose occupation is the construction of structures (homes or buildings).
BUILDING CONTRACT - A contract setting forth the terms under which construction is to be undertaken. Price may be based on a flat sum or cost plus a percentage.
BUILDING LINE - a line beyond which there can be no construction.
BUILDING PERMIT - A permit given by a local government to construct a building or make improvements.
BUILDING RESTRICTIONS - Prohibition by a government body (zoning restrictions) or a private party (a former owner) against construction of certain structures on a property.
BUILT-IN'S - Commonly described as stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, ovens, and other appliances or furniture framed into the building construction and not movable.
BULKHEAD - 1) a retaining wall to hold back water and thereby extend the shoreline. 2) A metal double doorway that leads to the basement.
BUS - A copper bar through which electrical current flows.
BUTTE - A steep hill, usually standing alone.
BUTTRESS - A support for a wall. A prop.
BUYERS MARKET - A condition favoring the buyers. More homes for sale then there are interested buyers.
BUY-SELL OFFER - An offer by one owner to buy out the interests of another owner, partner or shareholder.
BX CABLE - The main conduits coming into a house. Electrical wiring that runs through metal conduits.
BY-LAWS - Rules and regulations, adopted by an association or corporation that govern its activities. I.E. a condo association or neighborhood association.
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