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Real Estate Terms


  • Leverage   The use of a small amount of cash–a 5 percent or 10 percent down payment–to buy a piece of property.
  • Liabilities   A borrower’s debts and financial obligations.
  • Liability insurance   A policy that protects owners against any claims of negligence, personal injury or property damage.
  • Lien   A claim laid by one person or company on the property of another as security for money owed.
  • Life cap   A limit on the amount that a loan rate can move during the term of the mortgage. For example, the rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage that begins at 5 percent and has a lifetime cap of 6 percentage points cannot rise above 11 percent, even if rates on fixed-rate mortgages soar to 20 percent.
  • Life-cycle cost analysis   An analysis of a building project’s expected operating, maintenance and replacement costs, calculated by an architect.
  • Limited partnership   Real estate syndicates and other investment groups use this type of ownership.. A general partner makes the group’s investment decisions, oversees the investment and is principally liable for any losses.
  • Lintel   A horizontal piece over a door or window that carries the weight of the structure above it.
  • Liquid assets   Cash and all other assets that can be converted to cash relatively quickly. Liquid assets can include money in savings and checking accounts, money-market accounts, and most certificates of deposit.
  • Liquidated damages   When a real estate deal goes awry, one party often is entitled to liquidated damages, a sum of money set out in the purchase contract in that event.
  • Listing   A piece of property placed on the market by a listing agent.
  • Listing inventories   The known number of houses for sale within a given market.
  • Live-in partnership   An arrangement in which two unrelated people purchase a home.
  • Live-work space   An officially designated dwelling in which the occupant conducts a home-based business or enterprise.
  • Load-bearing wall   A wall that supports not only its own weight, but the weight of other parts of a home. Also called a bearing wall.
  • Loan application   The first step toward submitting a home loan requires the borrower to itemize basic financial information.
  • Loan application fee   A fee charged by lenders to for making a loan application.
  • Loan commitment   A promise by a lender or other financial institution to make or insure a loan for a specified amount and on specific terms.
  • Loan officer   An official representative of a lending institution who is empowered to act on behalf of the lender within certain limits.
  • Loan origination fee   Most lenders charge borrowers an origination fee–or points–for processing a loan. A point is 1 percent of the total loan amount.
  • Loan processing fee   A fee charged by some lenders for gathering information to enable the lender to process the loan.
  • Loan term   The amount of a time set by the lender for a buyer to pay a mortgage. Most conventional loans have 30-year or 15-year terms.
  • Loan -to-value ratio   A technical measure used by lenders to assess the relationship of the loan amount to the value of the property
  • Lock-in   When interest rates are volatile, many borrowers want to “lock in” an interest rate and many lenders will oblige, setting a limit on the amount of time the lock-in is in effect.
  • Loft   A living space not partitioned into rooms or a small space built above a larger room.
  • Log cabin   Homes constructed of rough-hewn timbers and a standard housing form in the early European settlement of the U.S.
  • Low-ball offer   An offer made to a seller that is substantially below market value. The longer a property stays on the market, the more likely there are to be such offers.
  • Low density   A low concentration of housing units in a specific area.
  • Low-documentation loan   A mortgage that requires only minimal verification of income and assets.
  • Low-down-payment loan   A home loan that requires the borrower to make only a small down payment before obtaining the financing needed to purchase a house.
  • Landscape   A home’s surroundings can range from a shrub-studded emerald lawn to a native-plant xeriscape. It is a major component of curb appeal.
  • Landscape architect   A professional who holds a degree in landscape architecture, which involves training in horticulture, landscape design and planning.
  • Landscape designer   A landscape designer has training in horticulture and landscape planning, but does not necessarily hold a degree.
  • Landscape contractor   A professional who carries out the plans of a landscape architect or a landscape designer.
  • Late charge   A fee a lender imposes on a borrower when the borrower does not make a payment on time.
  • Late payment   A payment a lender receives after the due date has passed.
  • Latent defect   An invisible problem in a piece of property such as bad wiring, termite damage or lead paint.
  • Lead   A metallic chemical element present in older dwellings, primarily in the form of lead-based paint and lead plumbing. Exposure to lead has been found to be a health risk.
  • Lease   A binding agreement that contains the terms and conditions of a renter’s occupancy.
  • Leasehold estate   An arrangement in which the borrower does not own a specific piece of property but possesses a long-term lease.
  • Lease option   A lease that contains the right to purchase the property for a specific price within a certain time frame.
  • Lender   A bank, savings institution or mortgage company that offers home loans.
  • Legal blemish   Blemishes on a piece of property, such as a zoning violation or fraudulent title claim.
  • Legal description   A specific way of identifying and locating a piece of real estate that is acceptable to a court.
  • Letter of intent   A formal statement that the buyer intends to purchase the property for a certain price on a certain date.