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Real Estate Terms


  • R-value   A construction term that refers to the resistance of to heat loss. The higher the R-value, the slower the rate of heat loss.
  • Radon   A ground-generated radioactive gas that seeps into some homes through sump pumps, cracks in the foundation and other inlets. A leading cause of lung cancer , radon is found in mostly the northern half of the country.
  • Rafter   Rafters form the slope of a pitched roof and are analogous to floor joists.
  • Rammed-earth construction   An alternative building process in which dirt is compacted into large structural frames to create walls.
  • Ranch style   Modern ranch-style homes, popularized in the 1950s, were championed by such architectural giants as Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Rate-improvement mortgage   A loan with a clause that entitles a borrower to a one-time cut in the interest rate without going through refinancing.
  • Rate lock   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 guaranteed interest rate is in effect.
  • Real estate   Land and anything permanently affixed to it, including buildings, fences and other items attached to the structure.
  • Real estate agent   A real estate agent has a state license to represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. Most agents work for real estate brokers.
  • Real estate attorney   A lawyers who specializes in real estate transactions.
  • Real estate broker   A real estate agent who is licensed by the state to represent a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. Most brokers also have agents working for them, and are entitled to a portion of their commissions.
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs)   The trusts are publicly traded companies that own, develop and operate commercial properties.
  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)   A federal law designed to make sellers and buyers aware of settlement fees and other transaction-related costs. RESPA also outlaws kickbacks in the real estate business.
  • Real property   Land and any permanent fixtures on it, including buildings, trees and minerals.
  • Realtist   A designation for an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
  • REALTOR®   A designation for an agent or broker who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
  • Recission   The cancellation of a contract by law or consent by the parties involved.
  • Reconveyance   When a borrower completely pays off the mortgage, the property is reconveyed to them from the lender.
  • Recorder   A public official responsible for keeping the records of all real estate transactions.
  • Recording   The filing of a specific document to the appropriate government entity.
  • Recording fee   A fee charged by real estate agents for conveying the sale of a piece of property into the public record.
  • Redlining   The practice by a bank or insurance company to deny credit or insurance to people based on ethnic background or neighborhood.
  • Refinancing   The process of replacing an older loan with a new mortgage that has better terms.
  • Regulation Z   The federal code issued under the Truth-in-Lending Act which requires that a borrower be advised in writing of all costs associated with the credit portion of a financial transaction.
  • Rehabilitation mortgage   A mortgage that provides for the costs of repairing and improving a resale home or building.
  • Relocation benefits   Benefits provided by employers for new workers and can include moving costs, reimbursement for temporary housing and transportation, real estate agent assistance and discounted loans.
  • Relocation company   A firm that administers all aspects of moving in new employees to the community.
  • Remaining balance   The amount of unpaid principal on a home loan.
  • Remaining term   The original loan term minus the number of payments made.
  • Renter’s insurance   A policy that covers the replacement value of possessions.
  • Rent loss insurance   A policy that covers any loss of rent or rental value in the event of fire or other damage that renders the property uninhabitable.
  • Repayment plan   When a borrower falls behind in mortgage payments, many lenders will negotiate a repayment plan rather than go to court.
  • Replacement reserve fund   Money that is set aside from homeowners’ assessments to replace common property, such as furniture in a planned development’s community room.
  • Repossession   When a house is repossessed, it is taken back by the lender holding the mortgage.
  • Resale value   The future value of a piece of property that can be affected by many factors, including the surrounding neighborhood, school scores, and economic and housing market conditions.
  • Reserve fund   All homeowners associations set aside a certain amount of money for major repairs or improvements.
  • Restructured loan   A mortgage in which new terms are negotiated.
  • Return on investment   The amount of profit a property generates.
  • Reverse mortgage   A special type of loan available to equity-rich, older owners. Repayment is not necessary until the borrower sells the property or moves into a retirement community.
  • Ridge board   A horizontal board that serves as the apex of the roof structure.
  • Ridge vent   A vent located along the ridge board of the roof that allows moisture to escape.
  • Right of first refusal   An agreement by a property owner to give another person the right to buy or rent the property before it goes on the open market.
  • Right to recission   A provision in the federal Truth-in-Lending Act that allows borrowers to cancel certain kinds of loans within three days of signing.
  • Rough-in   The installation of plumbing, electrical and other mechanical systems.
  • Rural Housing Service   A U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides financing to farmers and certain borrowers to purchase rural property when other funds are not available.