Connect With Us
I am interested in

Main Content

Real Estate Terms


  • Back fill Soil used to solidify the foundation of a structure.
  • Back title letter A letter that a title insurance company gives to an attorney who then examines the title for insurance purposes.
  • Back-to-back escrow Arrangements that an owner makes to oversee the sale of one property and the purchase of another at the same time.
  • Backup offer A secondary bid for a property that the seller will accept if the first offer fails.
  • Backwater valve A valve in a sewer line that prevents sewage from flowing back into a house.
  • Balance sheet A statement that shows the assets, liabilities and net worth of an individual.
  • Balloon-frame construction A type of framing used in two-story homes in which studs extend from the ground to the ceiling of the second floor.
  • Balloon loan A mortgage in which monthly installments are not large enough to repay the loan by the end of the term. As a result, the final payment due is the lump sum of the remaining principal.
  • Balloon payment The final lump sum payment due at the end of a balloon mortgage.
  • Balustrade Railing held up by a set of posts on a porch or stairway.
  • Bankruptcy A proceeding in which an insolvent debtor can obtain relief from payment of certain obligations. Bankruptcies remain on a credit record for seven years and can severely limit a person’s ability to borrow.
  • Bargain sale The sale of a piece of property for less than market value.
  • Baseboard Any board or molding found at the bottom of an interior wall.
  • Baseboard electric heat Heating units installed in the floor that can be controlled by a central thermostat.
  • Basement The area of a home below ground level.
  • Basis Point A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point. For example, the difference between a loan at 8.25 percent and a mortgage at 8.37 percent is 12 basis points.
  • Bay The opening between two columns or walls that forms a space.
  • Bay window A window that projects outward in a curve.
  • Bearing wall A wall that supports its own weight in addition to other parts of a structure.
  • Beneficiary The lender who makes a loan, also called a mortgagee. The person borrowing money is the mortgagor.
  • Before-tax income Total income before taxes are deducted.
  • Bequest Personal property given to a person through a will.
  • Betterment An improvement that increases a property’s value as opposed to repairs that maintain the value.
  • Bidding war Offers from multiple buyers for a piece of property. Agents also sometimes compete to list a house for sale.
  • Bilateral contract A contract in which the parties involved give mutual promises. Also called “reciprocal” contracts.
  • Bill of sale A document that transfers ownership of personal property.
  • Binder A report issued by a title insurance company that details the condition of a home’s title. and provides guidelines for a title insurance policy.
  • Biweekly mortgage A mortgage that requires payments every two weeks and helps repay the loan over a shorter term.
  • Blanket insurance policy A policy that covers more than one person or piece of property.
  • Blanket mortgage A mortgage that covers more than one property owned by the same borrower.
  • Blighted area A neighborhood that has deteriorated.
  • Blind nailing Nails driven into a wall and concealed with putty.
  • Blueprint
  • Blue-ribbon condition A house maintained close to its original condition. Also called mint condition.
  • Blue sky laws Regulations on the sale of securities to prevent consumers from investing in fraudulent or high-risk companies without being informed of the risks.
  • Board-and-batten siding Siding is composed of 8- to 12-inch wide wooden boards nailed vertically to create a barn-like exterior.
  • Board foot Measurement of lumber that is the equivalent of 144 cubic inches.
  • Board of Equalization A state board charged with ensuring that local property taxes are assessed in a uniform manner.
  • Boilerplate Form language used in deeds, mortgages and other documents. Details can be added by individual parties.
  • Bona fide A legal term that refers to actions or persons that are honest and in good faith.
  • Bond An agreement that insures one party against loss by acts or defaults of another party.
  • Book value The value of a property as a capital asset based on its cost plus any additions, minus depreciation.
  • Boring test An analysis of soil in which holes are bored into the ground and samples are removed.
  • Borough A section of a city that has authority over local matters.
  • Borrow Sand, gravel or other material used for grading.
  • Borrow pit The hole at a site that has been excavated.
  • Boulevard A street lined with trees or constructed with a landscaped median.
  • Boundary The dividing line between two adjacent properties.
  • Braced framing A construction method in two-story homes in which the frame is reinforced with posts and braces.
  • Breach of contract The failure to perform provisions of a contractwithout a legal excuse.
  • Breach of covenant The failure to obey a legal agreement.
  • Breach of warranty A seller’s inability to pass clear title to a buyer.
  • Break-even point The point in which the owner’s rental income matches expenses and debt.
  • Breast height The height at which the diameter of a tree is measured: four feet, six inches above the ground.
  • Breezeway A roofed passageway with open sides.
  • Brick Building material made from clay molded into oblong blocks and fired in a kiln.
  • Bridge loan A short-term loan for borrowers who need more time to find permanent financing.
  • Brokerage The act of bringing together two or more parties in exchange for a fee or commission.
  • Broker A person licensed by the state to deal in real estate.
  • Broom clean The ideal condition of a building when it is turned over to an owner or tenant.
  • Brownstone A vintage row house constructed of red sandstone.
  • Buffer strip A parcel of land that separates two or more properties.
  • Building and loan association An organization that raises money to helps its members purchase real estate or construct a building.
  • Building code A comprehensive set of laws that controls the construction or remodeling of a home or other structure.
  • Building inspector A city or county employee who enforces the building code and ensures that work is correctly performed.
  • Building moratorium A halt on home construction to slow the rate of development.
  • Building paper A thick, water-resistant paper that serves as insulation.
  • Building permit A permit issued by a local government agency that allows the construction of home or renovation of a house.
  • Builder upgrades Extra house features or better finishing materials that a builder offers.
  • Building line or setback Guidelines that limit how close an owner can build to the street or an adjacent property.
  • Building restrictions Regulations that limit the manner in which property can be used.
  • Built-ins Appliances or other items that are framed into a home or permanently attached.
  • Bulkhead A retaining wall designed to hold back water from the ocean or another body of water.
  • Bundle of rights The various interests or rights an owner has in a property.
  • Bungalow A small one-story house or cottage.
  • Butterfly roof A roof formed by two gables that dip in the middle to resemble a butterfly’s wings.
  • Buy-down mortgage A home loan in which the lender receives a premium as an inducement to reduce the interest rate during the early years of the mortgage.
  • Buyer broker A real estate broker who exclusively represents the buyer’s interests in a transaction and whose commission is paid by the buyer rather than the seller.
  • Buyer’s market A slow real estate market in which buyers have the advantage.
  • Buyer’s remorse An emotion felt by first-time homebuyers after signing a sales contract or closing the purchase of a house.
  • Bylaws The rules and regulations that a homeowners association or corporation adopts to govern activities.