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50 Real Estate Terms You Should Be Aware of Anyhow

September 1, 2023

Before you take a dip into the world of real estate, it's important to preload the basics. 

Brokers or real estate agents take up most of the real estate payload. They conduct virtual showings, property shortlisting, and facility maintenance. But that's just one side of the moon.

To get into the humdrum of property management, renting, and investment, seek out your potential client market and list your showings via real estate CRM software to acquire sure-shot deals and earn profit.  

Real estate has seen immense growth in the past few years. From virtual showings to realtor allocation to digital escrows, earlier lengthy formalities have been digitized. This glossary list covers all major real estate terms you need to know before you start off.

What are the most common real estate terms?

If you get into the vortex of real estate, you would spin endlessly. The constant juggle of virtual listing, real estate licenses, homeowner association's approval, mortgages, and security inspections would drive you bananas.  Taking a careful step into the domain is crucial and will help you become a real estate expert in no time.

Although the glossary isn’t exhaustive, it does cover all the basic terms that are important to know for anyone who is learning about the industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a buyer, seller, or even an aspiring broker; anyone can use this list as a go-to resource.

Note: Not all letters of the alphabet are listed if they do not contain relevant enough terms.

A through E

Agents, acquisition, and assets. Let's look at how the starting point of the real estate journey holds for a newbie.


Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): A mortgage loan with an interest rate that can change throughout the loan’s lifetime.

real estate agent: A real estate professional who is legally licensed to buy and sell property on behalf of their clients. An agent cannot operate independently; they must work under a licensed broker.

Amortization: It is the process of gradually reducing mortgage loan debt over time by establishing scheduled monthly payments. The interest payment of an amortized loan will decrease as time goes on, while the principal payment will increase.

Assessed value: The value assigned to a real estate property that is used to determine its property tax rate.

Assets: Assets are property investments directly or indirectly owned as a group of subsidiaries or mortgaged under a specific deed in exchange for a loan appeal. Assets are tangible and often have some worth or ROI attached to their market value. 


Broker: A real estate professional licensed to represent clients and manage a brokerage in their state. Brokers receive extensive education and licensing, allowing them to manage individual agents through a firm or operate independently.

Buying agent: A real estate agent or broker that operates on behalf of a client buyer to help them find and purchase a property.

Tip: Still unclear on all the job titles? Explore the difference between a real estate broker and an agent in more detail. 


Capitalization rate, or cap rate: a metric used in real estate to evaluate the potential return on an investment property.

Cash reserves: Money that is set aside or saved by an individual or a business to use in case of an emergency.

Closing: The process of finalizing a real estate transaction. This includes finalizing mortgage agreements, paying applicable transaction fees, and signing on the dotted line to close the deal.

Closing costs: The fees associated with finalizing a real estate transaction. Both the buyer and seller will have expenses during the closing process. Closing costs normally include an application fee, inspection fees, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and the agents’ commission.

Commercial leases: A leasing agreement that is specific to commercial real estate. There are 7 different kinds of commercial leases that real estate agents should be familiar with. 

Comparable, or comp: A term that refers to the prices of recently sold properties that are used to determine the market value of other similar properties. A seller will refer to these “comps” when trying to figure out what their property is worth.

Comparative market analysis: A process used to determine the value of a home based on the sale prices of similar properties in the area.

Contingency: A condition that must be met in order for a real estate contract to be finalized.

Contract: A written and legally binding agreement between a buyer and seller outlining the details of a real estate transaction.

Curb appeal: The appearance and overall attractiveness of a property’s exterior.


Debt-to-income ratio: A percentage that helps lenders calculate the risk associated with giving a loan to a borrower. It is the total of all monthly debt payments divided by monthly gross income.

Dual agency: A situation where a real estate agent or broker represents the buyer and seller.

Down payment: The amount of money that a buyer must pay upfront as part of a real estate transaction. It is usually expressed as a small percentage of the overall price of a property. Most mortgage lenders will require a down payment as collateral.

Days on the market: Days on the market are defined as the duration for which your listing was available to public. Owners list their property and take it off once they receive an offer from the buying party after a specific time period has lapsed.


Earnest money: A cash deposit paid by the buyer during a real estate contract to indicate they are serious about purchasing the property. Sometimes called a good faith deposit.

Equity: A measure calculated by taking the market value of a property and deducting the amount still owed on the mortgage, if any.

Escrow: An arrangement in which a neutral third-party provider holds the funds associated with a real estate transaction until a specific condition is met.

Exclusive Right to Sell agreement: A listing agreement where a property owner must pay a commission to a real estate agent no matter who finds the buyer. If the owner finds a buyer, they must still pay a commission to the agent.

Exclusive agency agreement: A listing agreement between a property owner and a real estate agent where commission is paid if the agent finds a buyer. The owner is not responsible for paying a commission if they find a buyer.

F through J

Stay tuned – more real estate terms are coming your way.


Foreclosure: A legal process that occurs when a property owner fails to uphold their mortgage agreement and make their payments. The mortgage lender will claim the property and resell it to recoup their losses.

FHA loan: A mortgage loan backed and administered by the Federal Housing Administration.

Fixed-rate mortgage: A home loan with an interest rate that stays the same throughout the loan’s lifetime.

Facility maintenance: Mostly associated with official buildings, this practice helps owners conduct thorough service inspections in their property before they put it out. It includes housing benefits, electricity, electronic appliances and technical and operational feasibility.


Home appraisal: The process during which a licensed appraiser evaluates different elements of a property to determine its fair market value. A mortgage lender orders an appraisal.

Home inspection: An examination of the overall condition of a property. It is ordered by a real estate buyer.

Homeowner's Association: The Homeowner's Association is a private body with real estate permits, licenses, and rental approvals. It also permits the legal use of escrow while buying or selling a property to deposit large sums of funds.


Interest: The profit a mortgage lender makes in exchange for the loan. It is quantified as a percentage.

K through O

Not many terms fall in this next section, but you’ll find the most important ones below.


Listing: A property that is up for sale.

Listing agent: A real estate agent or broker that operates on behalf of the property owners to help them sell their property.

Listing agreement: A legally binding contract that allows a real estate agent to sell a property on behalf of their client, the property owner.


Mortgage: a long-term loan given by a lender to finance a real estate property. The property is used as collateral in exchange for the money that is borrowed.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A digital database of current real estate listings that a group of agents or brokers operates. An MLS provides accurate, up-to-date information about the status of local listings.


Net operating income (NOI): a value that determines how much profit a commercial real estate property generates.


Open listing: A situation in which a property owner chooses to sell their home on their own. There is no exclusive agreement, which means they can have listings with multiple agents.

Open house: An event run by a real estate agent that allows prospective buyers to visit a property without an appointment for a certain period of time. The goal is to generate interest and showcase the property in a casual setting.

P through T

What’s up next?


Pocket listing: a property that is up for sale but hasn’t been publicly available to other agents or buyers.

Principal: The total amount borrowed in a mortgage loan.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI): An insurance policy that requires payment of additional premiums that protect the lender in case the borrower goes into default.


Realtor: an individual who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association for real estate professionals. By becoming a member, realtors agree to abide by a strict Code of Ethics laid out by the NAR.

Refinancing: The process of replacing a current mortgage loan with a new one under different terms and conditions. The goal is to get a better interest rate on the new loan.

Reverse mortgage: A loan that allows the borrower to relinquish home equity in exchange for money. This type of loan is only available to homeowners that are 62 and older.


Short sale: A property that is sold for less than the amount that is owed on the mortgage.

Staging: The process of organizing the interior of a home to be more attractive to prospective buyers.


Title insurance: A type of insurance that protects the buyer and lender in case the seller does not have full lawful ownership of the property.

Title search: The process of searching through public records to ensure that the seller of a property has lawful ownership of it. A title search can uncover possible deficiencies or defects in ownership that could greatly impact a real estate transaction.

U through Z

Last but not least.


USDA loan: A government-backed mortgage loan available to US residents that live in rural areas.


VA loan: A federal mortgage loan designated for veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Congratulations on making a "real" entry into estate!

While you may not be a subject matter expert, you’re on your way there. Next time real estate jargon comes up in a conversation, you’ll be more than prepared. Brushing up on these elemental terms would help you whenever you plan to buy or sell a property in the future. Half-baked knowledge makes things difficult for a person, and so having a holistic idea of how the real estate world functions would help you implement learnings better or advise others with confidence.

Learn how to manage your facilities better without leaving them in the godforsaken hands of the tenant with property management software.


real estate crm software
Don't be afraid to eat in an open house, the deal's coming up!

Manage your high-intent real estate clients and allocate property management processes with ease with real estate CRM software.

real estate crm software
Don't be afraid to eat in an open house, the deal's coming up!

Manage your high-intent real estate clients and allocate property management processes with ease with real estate CRM software.

50 Real Estate Terms You Should Be Aware of Anyhow Read about the most widely used real estate terms that play an intrinsic role in large business transactions and real estate ventures between two parties.
Izabelle Hundrev Izabelle is a Partner Marketing Specialist at InStride and a former content specialist at G2. Outside of work, she is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel. (she/her/hers)

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