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Real Estate Terms


  • Damper   A movable plate in a fireplace that allows smoke and fumes to travel up the chimney’s flue.
  • Days on the market   The period of time a property is listed for sale until it is sold or taken off the market
  • Deadbolt lock   Locks that require a key to open from the outside and a turn button from the inside.
  • Debt   Any amount one person owes to another.
  • Deck   A roofless, floored area that adjoins a house.
  • Deed   The legal document that transfers ownership of a piece of property.
  • Deed of trust   A document that gives a lender the right to foreclose on a piece of property if the borrower defaults on the loan.
  • Deep-seal floor drain   A drain used to dispose of water from the basement floor to a sewer line.
  • Default   The failure to fulfill a duty or promise or discharge an obligation, such as making monthly mortgage payments.
  • Deferred maintenance   Any repair or maintenance of a piece of property that has been postponed, resulting in a decline in property value.
  • Delinquent mortgage   A mortgage that involves a borrower who is behind on payments. If the borrower cannot bring the payments up to date within a specified number of days, the lender may begin foreclosure proceedings.
  • Density test   An analysis of soil to determine if the surface can support the foundation of a house.
  • Dentils   Small rectangular blocks that project from a building, usually under cornices or along rooflines.
  • Deposit   Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase property. Also called earnest money.
  • Depreciation   The decline in value of a piece of property.
  • Design/build   A project in which the owner contracts directly with an individual or company to perform design and construction.
  • Designer   Unlike architects, designers are limited to drawing blueprints.
  • Digital images   Images that are incorporated into house listings to give potential buyers a view of the property.
  • Dimension plans   Plans which show the layout of a house but are less detailed than full blueprints.
  • Disability insurance   An insurance policy which covers an individual’s ability to produce income.
  • Disclosure   A statement to a potential buyer listing information relevant to a piece of property, such as the presence of radon or lead paint.
  • Discount points   Fees that a borrower pays at the time the lender makes the loan. A point equals 1 percent of the total loan amount.
  • Distressed property   Property that is in poor physical or financial condition.
  • Document needs list   A list of documents a lender requires when a potential submits a loan application.. The required documents range from paycheck stubs to credit card statements.
  • Domed ceiling   A hemispherical ceiling that projects upward without support.
  • Domicile   A person’s primary or permanent home.
  • Dormer   A window set upright in a sloping roof.
  • Double-hung window   A window that consists of two sashes that slide up and down.
  • Dovetail joints   Joints that lock two pieces of wood together with meshed teeth.
  • Down payment   The amount of money a buyer agrees to give the seller when a sales agreement is signed. Complete financing is later secured with a lender.
  • Down spouts   A vertical gutter that empties water from the roof to the ground.
  • Drainage   A system of gutters and drainpipes that carry water away from the foundation of a house.
  • Draw   A payment made to subcontractors or suppliers from a construction loan.
  • Dropped ceiling   A flat ceiling built lower than the original ceiling.
  • Dry rot   A fungal decay that causes wood to become brittle and crumble.
  • Drywall   A construction material composed of gypsum or plaster wrapped in paper and produced in large sheets that can be nailed to wall studs.
  • Dual agency   A relationship in which a real estate agent or broker represents both parties in a transaction.
  • Duct   Any kind of pipe or channel that carries water, wiring or conditioned air through a house.
  • Due-on-sale clause   Standard language in a mortgage which states that the loan must be paid when a house is sold.
  • Duplex   A structure that consists of two separate family units.
  • Dutch colonial style   A design that features barn-like gambrel roof, a ground-level front porch, and dormers.