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Real Estate Dictionary



CALIFORNIA RANCH ARCHITECTURE - A sprawling, one story, ranch-style building, lending itself to interior flexibility in floor plan design.
CANCELLATION CLAUSE -  A clause in a contract, setting forth the terms and conditions under which each party may cancel or terminate the agreements.  
CANDLE POWER -  The intensity of a light, expressed in candles.
CAPITALIZATION - A present value of income property by taking the annual net income (either known or estimated) and discounting by using a rate of return commonly acceptable to buyers of similar properties. Example: Net Income = $10,000 per year. Capitalizing at a rate of 10%, the property would be worth $100,000. (10,000 / .1 = 100,000)
CAP RATE - The percentage (acceptable to an average buyer) used to determine the value of income property through capitalization.
CARPORT - A roof supported by pillars or cantilevered which shelters a car.
CASEMENT WINDOW  - A window hinged at its sides, allowing it to swing open vertically.
CASH SALE -  A A sale for full payment in cash. 
CASING - The exterior surface covering an item: window, door, roof, etc.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - "Let the Buyer Beware". Legal maxim stating that the buyer takes the risk regarding the quality or condition of the item being purchased. States have enacted laws placing more responsibility for disclosure on the seller and the real estate broker.
CC&R's - Covenants, conditions, and restrictions. 
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY - A certificate issued by a local building department to a builder or renovator, stating that the building is in proper condition to be occupied.
CERTIFICATE OF SALE  - Certificate issued by a buyer at a judicial sale (for example a tax sale), which entitles the buyers to a deed upon confirmation of the sale by the court under under certain conditions.
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE - In areas where attorneys examine abstracts or chains of title, a written opinion, executed by the examining attorney, stating that title is vested as stated in the abstract.
CERTIFIED COPY - A true copy, attested to be true by the officer holding the original.
CHAIN OF TITLE - the chronological order of conveyance of a parcel of land, from the original owner (usually the government) to the present owner. 
CHAINS AND LINKS -  Real estate measurements used in surveying. A chain is 66 feet long or 100 links, each link being 7.92 inches.
CHATTEL -  Personal property. 
CHATTEL MORTGAGE - A lien on personal property. 
CHATTEL REAL - All estates in real property less than fee estates, such as a lease. 
CINDER BLOCK  - A building block composed of cinders (ashes) and cement, which does not have the weight or strength of a cement block. 
CIRCLE HEAD WINDOW - A semicircular window, usually above a door or another window, which has no moving parts and is used as a decorations as well as a method of adding light.
CIRCUIT BREAKER -  An electrical device which has taken the place of fuses in most homes. the circuit breaks when there is an electrical overload. Rather than replace a fuse you reset a circuit breaker.
CISTERN - A tank used to store rain water for use in areas where there is no water delivered to the property through plumbing.
CLAPBOARD - Narrow boards used as siding for frame houses, and having one edge thicker than the other. The boards run horizontal with the thicker edge overlapping the thinner edge.
CLEAR TITLE  - Usually called "Free and Clear" or without liens or mortgages.
CLIENT -  In real estate it refers to the principal of a real estate agent, insurance agent, stock broker, etc. Traditional meaning is one who represented by an attorney.
CLOSING - The final procedure in a real estate transaction in which documents are executed and recorded, and the sale or loan is completed. 
CLOSING COSTS - Expenses incidental to the sale of real estate, such as loan fees, title fees, appraisal fees, etc.
CLOSING STATEMENT - The statement which lists the financial settlement between buyer and seller and which costs each must pay at the time of closing.
CLOUD ON TITLE - An invalid encumbrance on real property, which if valid, would affect the rights of the owner. For example X buys lot A but by mistake it is recorded as the purchase of lot B. A cloud now exists on lot B. The cloud may be removed by quitclaim deed or court order.
CLUSTER HOUSING - Houses built close together with small yards and shared common lands. To preserve open spaces governing bodies often allow more houses to on a parcel of land in a cluster development than it would if each house was on a standard size lot.
CODE - A comprehensive set of laws drawn up to cover completely a given subject. Covers diverse subjects, such as the criminal code, and the building code.
COLLATERAL - Often mistakenly used to mean collateral security (see below)..
COLLATERAL ASSIGNMENT - An assignment of property as collateral security, and not with the intent to transfer ownership from assignor to assignee. 
COLLATERAL SECURITY - Most commonly used to mean some security in addition to the personal obligation of the borrower.
COLLUSION - An agreement of two or more people to do something unlawful. Generally, an agreement between people who represent different interests and "sell out" these interests for personal gain.
CO-MAKER - A security under a loan. The co-maker is equally responsible for repayment as the borrower (maker). Sometimes referred to as the "Co-Signer" on a loan.
COMMINGLING - To mix funds held in trust with other funds. A broker or builder must open a trust account to hold deposits that are directed to another party provided certain events take place. It is legal to place more than one client's funds into the trust account. However, it is illegal to add these funds to any other account therefore commingling the funds.
COMMISSION - An amount, usually a percentage, paid to an agent (real estate broker) as compensation for services. The amount is generally a percentage of the sales price or total rental.
COMMITMENT - A written promise to make or insure a loan for a specified amount and on specified terms.
CONDEMNATION - The taking of private property for public use without the consent of the owner, but only upon payment of just compensation.
CONDITION - In real property law, some limiting restriction to a grant or conveyance of property, stating that upon the happening or failure to happen of a stated event, the estate shall be changed in some manner.
CONDITIONAL COMMITMENT - A loan commitment that will become true if what the borrower (buyer) told the finance company can be verified. Sometimes referred to as a pre-approval.
CONDITIONAL SALES CONTRACT - A sale in which the title to property remains with the seller until the purchaser has fulfilled the terms of the contract, usually payment in full.
CONDOMINIUM - A structure of two or more units, the interior space of which is individually owned; the balance of the property (both land and buildings) is owned in common by the owners of the individual units. The size of each unit is measured from the interior surfaces of the exterior walls, floors, and ceiling. The balance of the property is called the common area. A new form of condominium agreement is for all or a portion of the land exclusive of the building, sidewalks, and driveways.
CONFORMITY, PRINCIPLE OF - An appraisal term stating that general uniformity of the structures in an area will produce the highest value.
CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES - Damages created by a change in other property. 
An owner's right to compensation varies with state stature. 
CONSERVATION - Preservation, through zoning, of improved areas to maintain the quality of the area. 
C0NSIDERATION - Anything which is, legal, of value, and induces one to enter into a contract.
CONSTRUCTION COST - The total cost of building, including overhead and profits as well as land, labor, and materials.
CONSTRUCTION LOAN - Short term financing of real estate construction. 
CONTIGUOUS - Near or close to , whether actually touching or not. 
Generally refers to touching or bordering on.
CONTINGENCY - Commonly, the dependence upon a stated event which must occur before a contract is binding  For example, the sale of a house could be contingent on the buyer obtaining financing.
CONTINGENT FEES -  Fees to be paid only in the event of a future occurrence. A broker's commission is paid only if the property is sold or leased (unless otherwise agreed upon).  A buyer broker may be paid a fee that counts toward a commission in the even a property is purchased, but it may be forfeited if a transaction does not take place within a time certain.
CONTRACT - An agreement between two or more persons or entities which creates or modifies a legal relationship. Generally based upon offer and acceptance.
CONTRACT OF SALE - In some areas of the country, synonymous with land contract. In other areas synonymous with purchase agreement.
CONTRACTUAL LIEN - A voluntary lien such as a mortgage or deed of trust.
CONVENTIONAL LOAN - A mortgage or deed of trust not obtained under a government insured program. 
CONVERSION - 1) Legal term referring to the "legal" changing from real to personal property (or vice versa), although there is no actual change in the property. 2) A taking of something for one's own use which was originally in his possession only to hold for the owner. 3) The changing of an apartment to a condominium.
CONVEYANCE - Transfer of title to land. Includes most instruments by which an interest in real estate is created, mortgaged, or assigned.
COOPERATING BROKER -  The broker who finds the buyer and so shares in the commission with the listing broker. 
CORD - A measure, usually associated with cut wood. Pile of wood 4' high, 4' wide, and 8' long equal to 1.28 cubic feet.
CORNICE - The "crowning" member of a wall. The top molding near the ceiling. 
CORPOREAL PROPERTY - That property which can be touched. An example would be a window glass. The view through the window is incorporeal.
COST APPROACH -  An appraisal method, estimating the replacement cost of a structure, less depreciation, plus land value.
COST ESTIMATING -  1) In construction, the expenditure of building based on a detailed cost of materials (usually includes the cost of labor). 2) In appraisal the term is general, referring to replacement cost, but not limited to a specific method of arriving at the cost.
COST-PLUS CONTRACT - A building contract setting the builder's profit as a percentage of the actual cost of labor and materials.
COUNTER OFFER - An offer (as apposed to an acceptance) in response to a offer. For example A offers to buy B's house for X dollars. B responds with an counter that is higher than what A offered. B's response is a counter offer. 
COURTESY OF BROKERS - Willingness of a seller to pay a commission to any broker supplying a suitable buyer, or the willingness of a listing broker to share the commission with any broker supplying a suitable buyer.
COVENANT - Refers to any written agreement. In real estate the covenant is most often expressed in a deed by the grantor or implied by law. 
COVENANT OF QUIET ENJ0YMENT -  Usually inserted in leases or conveyances whereby grantor promises that the tenant or grantee shall enjoy possession of the premises in peace and without disturbance caused by defective title.
CREDIT REPORT - A report on the past ability of a loan applicant to pay installment payments. 
CRV (Certificate of Reasonable Value) - An appraisal of property for insurance purposes required by the Veteran's Administration.
CUL DE SAL - A street or alley open at one end only. In real estate the term usually applies to a dead-end street, in a subdivision, with a large circular area where U turns are permitted. 
CURTESY - A common law interest of a husband in a deceased wife's property. Abolished in most states.
CUSTOM BUILDER - One who builds for a specific owner, designing the building or home to suit said owner's need, rather than building a home speculating that a buyer can be found.
CUSTOMER - A buyer of goods or services.
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