Like any other professional field, real estate comes with its own jargon—technical terms and slang phrases that insiders throw around effortlessly, but newcomers may find to be a bit intimidating.
Before you begin your own real estate process—whether purchasing a family home or investing in commercial real estate, it’s wise to clear up a few of these common terms, and to make sure you know what, exactly, your agent is talking about.
Speaking of agents, make sure you know the different types. The buyer’s agent is indeed the agent who works for the buyer; the agent who represents the seller is called the listing agent. When an agent represents both parties, that’s called dual agency.
When agents talk about homes that are for sale, they’ll refer to them as listings. Similarly, if you want to view some homes on a website like Trulia or Zillow, you’ll be looking at different listings.
Also know some mortgage terms. A fixed rate mortgage means you’ll be paying the same interest rate over the course of the loan. An adjustable rate mortgage is subject to change; it may offer a better rate now, but it could rise in the future.
Pre-approval is another mortgage-related term to know. Getting pre-approval is not the same as actually getting a loan, but it does show that the mortgage lender is willing to loan you a certain amount.
After you have a contract in place but before you close on the home, you will have the option of getting an inspection by a qualified home inspector. This is a thorough evaluation of the home that may result in some recommendations or repair requests. Many lenders will require you to have an inspection—and even if not, it’s still a good idea.
Lenders may also require an appraisal, which just means an evaluation of how much the property is truly worth.
When you want to propose buying a home for a set price, that’s called an offer. When the seller agrees and you lock into a legally binding agreement, that’s a contract.
A contingency is a clause in your contract. For example, you may be set to close contingent on a good inspection, contingent on receipt of funds from your lender, contingent on the seller replacing the carpet, etc.
When you close on a home sale, there are closing costs to consider—the fees associated with the title company, the lender, the attorneys involved, etc.
Finally, note that prepaids refer to the insurance and mortgage payments that must be made at closing, almost always by the buyer.