Abstract of Title A historical summary of the recorded instruments and proceedings on the title of a property.

Air Rights The right to use or control the space above a property. Air Rights can also be sold, rented or leased to another party.

Amenities The benefits from home ownership, such as a feature that enhances value.

Appraisal An estimate of the value of the property. One may have an appraisal to determine the offering price during a sale.

Assignment The process by which a right or contract is transferred from one party to another. Assigned contracts include mortgages, leases and deeds of trust.

Broker A state licensed sales agent who acts for property owners and prospective purchasers in Real Estate transactions.

Brownstone A 19th century house which shares a common wall with the neighboring property.

Building Amenities The assets that buildings offer its owners or tenants. These can include a doorman, health club, club, garage etc.

Building Restrictions Requirements in building codes that affect the size and appearance of the building.

Capital Expenditure An improvement that will have a life of one year or more and will increase the value of the property.

Certificate of Occupancy Each building is required to have a Certificate of Occupancy which permits the structure to be occupied by members of the public. This means that the building is in compliance to health and building codes.

Closing The transfer of ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer according to the sales contract.

Co-Broke This is the term used when a broker sends out their listing to other brokers and other firms. The brokerage community then receives the listings and the commission will now be split evenly between the seller’s broker and the firm that provides the buyer of the property. All sales listings and most rental listings are co-broked in Boston.

Commission Payment to the broker for his or her efforts on marketing and selling the property it is usually a percentage of the total purchase price.

Commission Split The sharing of commissions between the listing agent and the broker of the buyer.

Common Area The area on the property or in the building that is available for use to all owners and tenants.

Comparables Used in assessing or establishing the fair market value of a property, a property which has been sold recently that is similar in size, condition, location and amenities.

Condominium A building where individuals own individual units but share common areas with the other unit owners of the building. A more liberal type of ownership than Coops, Condominiums also have more lenient policies regarding subletting and pets.

Contract A legally binding agreement between two parties. To have a valid contract for the sale of Real Estate there must be:

  • an offer
  • an acceptance
  • competent parties
  • consideration
  • legal purpose
  • written documentation
  • description of the property
  • signatures of the principals

Conversion Property changing to a different form of ownership, such as a condominium to a cooperative or a commercial building to a residential building.

Cooperative A type of ownership of property. This is when the individual unit owners own shares in the cooperative building and do not own the actual property. The amount of shares owned is determined by the value and size of the apartment. The cooperative building owns all of the units and the purchaser is buying stock in the building. These are very common in New York City but rarely found in Boston.

Deed A written document by which title of property is expressed from one party to another.

Duplex Apartment An apartment that has two levels.

Escrow A state where consideration, benefits, legal rights, money, documents or other valuables are transferred to another party in advance of that party’s legal claim to them, on the basis that the legal claim will arise at a given point in the future. It is a form of trust.

Estate The word used to describe the collection of all assets of a deceased person. Also, the extent of interest a person has in real property.

Estate for Life The interest of real property that ends with the death of a person.

Exclusive Listing A contract whereby the owner of a property grants a single broker the right to market the property for sale.

Façade The exterior front wall of a building.

Financing Borrowing money to purchase a property.

Firm Price An asking price for a property that is not open for negotiation.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage A loan where the interest rate remains constant over the entire term of the loan.

Adjustable Rate A loan where the interest rate is not fixed over the term but is allowed to vary according to the change in a specified index.

Floor Plan A scale diagram of the arrangement of rooms and their sizes drawn by an architect.

Foreclosure An enforcement process in which the lender under a defaulted mortgage takes title to the property for the purposes of selling it to recoup moneys owed under the mortgage.

Full Bath A bathroom with a bath or a shower.

Grandfather Clause If a new law is passed or an old is changed those people whose activity was legal under the previous law are allowed to continue because of this condition. This law is common with pets; some buildings that do not allow pets now, did in past, therefore, those owners are allowed to keep their pets.

Half Bath A bathroom without a bath or a shower.

Interest Rates The cost of borrowing money from a lender. Rates change over time and are set by the Federal Reserve.

Lease A written agreement to rent a property or part of a property from the owner. Lien A legal claim against property for money owed.

Listing The agreement that allows a real estate professional to market a property. Available apartments are also referred to as listings.

Loft A loft refers to open living space that was converted from commercial space to residential space. Lofts contain very high ceilings, large windows and open space.

Lot A measured section of land.

Maintenance Monthly charges paid by the owner or tenant of a condominium building for that person’s share of costs of keeping the common-use portions of the building in good condition. This includes the daily cost to operate the building and it is calculated based on each individual unit. Market Value An estimation of the price for a property in relation to the current real estate market.

Mortgage Money borrowed from a lender in order to purchase a piece of property. Mortgages vary in terms of length as well interest rates.

Negotiation The process of discussing an issue between two parties who are working towards the same goal. Successful negotiation usually leads to a contract and then a sale.

Notarize To verify the authenticity of a signature by a certified Notary Public.

Offer An expression of the desire to purchase a property at a specific price. Once an offer is made and then accepted it leads to the purchase of the property.

Offer Accepted The term refers to when the owner of the property agrees and accepts the offer and terms of the purchaser.

Open House A specified time when a property that is for sale is advertised by opening its doors to prospective buyers. A broker advertises an open house to help the sale of the property.

Open Listing A listing where the owner of the property hires more than one broker and only pays commission to the one that provides the purchaser.

Ordinance A law enacted by the local government.

Penthouse A luxury apartment at or near the top of a building.

Pied a Terre A French term that refers to an apartment that is not the primary residence of the owner. A Pied a Terre is used when a person lives in another location and comes to Boston several times a month or a few weeks a year.

Property Tax The tax issued on the ownership of property.

Points A charge levied by the lender on the borrower for the mortgage for prepaid interest. Each point is equal to 1% of the principal of the mortgage.

Powder Room Also known as a half bath. A powder room is a bathroom without a shower or a bath.

Referral A recommendation made to a client about the services of a particular agent or firm.

Rental Building A building where the apartments are only rented and not sold.

Reserve Fund An account reserved to provide funds for future expenses in order to maintain the cooperative or condominium building.

Sale Price The amount of money paid by the purchaser to the seller. Also known as the purchase price.

Security Deposit A payment required by a landlord to guarantee that the tenant meets his or her obligations under the lease and to guard against any potential damages that may be incurred during the term of the lease.

Square Footage The area measured in square feet of a certain property. Square footage can be measured in different ways and is usually considered approximate. Condominium apartments have specific laws that determine the way which the apartment is measured therefore condominium measurements are more accurate.

Sublet The term used when an owner of an apartment decides to rent the apartment to a tenant.

Tax Deductible An expense that reduces taxable income. The most common deduction for a home owner is interest paid on their mortgage.

Term A specified period of time.

Term, Amortization The term in which the interest and principal payments of a loan must be made.

Title The legal term for the evidence that the owner is in lawful possession of the land and property.

Townhouse A townhouse is a private residence where at least one wall is shared with another residence.

Triplex An apartment that has three levels.

Unit A single residence within a building.

Utilities Services such as water, gas, electricity, telephone and television. Utilities in some buildings throughout the city are included in the maintenance charges.

Vacate To move out and leave the property.

Walk Up Building A building that does not have an elevator. Most walk up buildings are four to six floors.

Walk Through Inspection The inspection of a property immediately before the closing to ensure that the property does not have any new damages.

Zone An area set by local law for specific use with certain rules and regulations.