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Real Estate Terms


  • Title   The actual legal document conferring ownership of a piece of real estate.
  • Title company   Firms that ensure that the title to a piece of property is clear and provide title insurance.
  • Title insurance   A policy issued to lenders and buyers to protect any losses because of a dispute over the ownership of a piece of property.
  • Title risk   Possible impediments to the transfer of a title from one owner to another.
  • Title search   A check of public title records to ascertain that the seller is the legal owner and that there are no claims or liens against the property.
  • Top producer   A real state industry term that refers to agents and brokers who sell a high volume of homes.
  • Top soil   The top layer of soil that is removed when lots are graded in preparation for construction.
  • Total expense ratio   The percentage of monthly debt obligations relative to gross monthly income.
  • Townhouse   An attached home that is not a condominium.
  • Tract home   Another term for a production home, a mass-produced house constructed by one builder in a project.
  • Trade equity   Other real estate or assets a buyer gives to a seller as part of the down payment.
  • Trading down   A reference to buyers who purchase a home that is less expensive than their current house.
  • Trading up   A reference to buyers who purchase a home that is more expensive home than their current house.
  • Transfer of ownership   Any legal means by which a piece of real estate changes hands.
  • Transfer tax   An assessment by state or local authorities at the time a piece of property changes hands.
  • Transom   A small hinged window directly above a door.
  • Trans-Union   Trans-Union Corp. is one of the “Big Three” credit-reporting bureaus that operate nationwide. Address: 760 Sproul Road, P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390. Phone: (312) 408-1400.
  • Tray ceiling   A tray ceiling has edges that slant toward the middle from the walls.
  • Treasury bills   Securities issued by the Treasury Department that have the full backing of the U.S. government.
  • Treasury index   An index used to determine interest rate changes for adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Trellis   A decorative landscape structure made of thin strips of wood or plastic.
  • Trim work   The finishing of doors, doorways, window frames and floors.
  • Truss   A prefabricated framework of girders, struts and other items used to support a roof or other load-bearing elements.
  • Trust account   Special accounts used by brokers and escrow agents to safeguard funds for a buyer or seller.
  • Trustee   A legally empowered person who holds or controls a piece of property for another person.
  • Truth-in-Lending Act   A federal law that protects consumers in a variety of ways. One of its key provisions allows a consumer to cancel a home-improvement loan, second mortgage or other loan if the home was pledged as security (except for a first mortgage or first trust deed) until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed.
  • Tuck-point   The process of removing old mortar from between bricks and replacing it with new mortar.
  • Two-step mortgage   An adjustable mortgage with two interest rates, one for the first five or seven years of the loan, and the other for the remainder of the loan term.
  • Two- to four-family property   A piece of property that is owned by one person but provides housing for up to four households.
  • Tap fees   Most companies charge a tap fee for hooking up utilities.
  • Tax deduction   A tax break given by the government. Mortgage interest, loan points and property taxes can be deducted.
  • Tax lien   An impediment placed against a property, such as back taxes.
  • Tax sale   The public sale of a property by the government for nonpayment of taxes.
  • Tax shelter   A term often applied to real estate investment and refers to various tax advantages.
  • Tear-down condition   A house that requires the entire interior to be rebuilt.
  • Teaser rate   An low, short-term rate offered on a mortgage to entice the borrower.
  • Tenancy by the entirety   When a married couple owns a home, it is usually considered tenancy by the entirety If the property must be sold to pay the debts of one spouse, both must agree.
  • Tenants in common   Two or more owners who share interest in a specific property.
  • Terrace   A terrace can be several things: an unroofed paved area right next to a house; a roofed balcony; a veranda; or a raised bed of earth constructed to enhance a landscape.
  • The 72-hour clause   When a buyer has a house to sell before they can purchase another home, most sellers insist on a 72-hour clause. In the event of a better offer coming in before the contingency is settled, this clause entitles the seller to give the buyer 72 hours to remove the contingency or lose the house.
  • Third-party origination   In a third-party origination transaction, the lender has another institution originate all or part of a mortgage.
  • Timeshare   Ownership that involves the acquisition of a specific period of time, or that percentage of interest, in a vacation home or resort.