Real Estate Terminology



"Let's Rock The House!"


Here Are Some of The Most Commonly Used And Misinterpreted Real Estate Terms. Please Look For Monthly Updates to These Pages.

Access Right - The right of an owner to access his/her property. (Cutting a curb etc.)

Asking Price - What an owner would like to receive in a sale of property.

Assessed Value - A valued established for property tax purposes.

Assignment of Lease - Transferring one's right to use leased property.

Attornment - When a tenant agrees to be a tenant of a new landlord.

Balloon Mortgage - A mortgage that requires a large, final payment.

Base & Meridian - Used in a property survey. Imaginary lines. Base lines run east/west and Meridian north/south.

Binder - A deposit and an agreement, in good faith, to purchase property.

Buffer Zone - A dividing area between two areas of different land use. (residential/commercial etc.)

Chair rail - A waist high molding used to protect walls from chair damage.

Chattel - Personal property. Any tangible property other than real estate.

Corporeal - Tangible/visible personal or real property.

Deed - A legal document that when signed, transfers ownership of land.

Demised Premises - A property which is subject to leasing.

Distraint - The right of a landlord to seize a tenant's personal property in lieu of rent.

Double-hung window - A window with two sashes which move up and down.

Earnest Money - When a purchaser places a deposit on real estate.

Easement - The rights that one has in the property of another. (Utility company)

Egress - A means of exit or to have access to public roads, etc.

Ejectment - When a landlord takes action to regain property when there is no lease.

Eminent Domain - When property is taken for public use by the government.

Fanlight - A semicircular window sash often found over doors.

Filtering Down - Where a neighborhood is progressively occupied by low-income residents.

Finial - Some form of decoration found at the uppermost points of a structure.

Frame house - A wooden framed house.

Listing Broker - The real estate broker who advertises the property for sale. Mantel - A frame found around a fireplace made of wood, stone or brick.

Metes & Bounds - A technical description of a property. Boundary lines etc.

Molding - Pieces of wood used in detailed finishing or as trim.

Multiple Listing Services - An association of real estate brokers who agree to share listings.

Puffing - Overstating the benefits of a property.

Rider - An attachment to a contract or lease.

Riparian Rights - The rights of a person's use of a public waterway.

Sidelight - A pair of long windows which flank either side of a door.

Selling Broker - The broker who finds a buyer for a listed property.

Usufructuary Rights - Use of a property that belongs to another.

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Access Panel - A removable panel that provides access to shutoff valves.

Air Filter - Protects the furnace blower and other components from dust.

Attic Fan - A fan that draws air from inside the house and pushes it through vents.

Bargeboard - A fascia board affixed to a roof to hide carpentry work.

Bead - A round molding found around windows and doors.

Bearing Wall - A wall that supports its own weight and any vertical load.

Beam - Used in a structure to support floors and ceilings.

BX - Electrical cable which consists of two or more wires in a flexible covering.

Building Brick - A standard brick which is universally used in building. (No Holes)

BTU - British Thermal Unit. Energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Blower - The fan that moves the air from the furnace through the ducts.

Boiler - Heating system that uses fuel in order to heat water.

Blanket Insulation - Rolls of fiberglass.

Crawl Space - Located beneath a structure and usually stores plumbing and wiring.

Concrete Form - A constructed mold used to set poured cement.

Conduit - A metal pipe in which electrical wire is installed.

Cement - Binding agent in concrete, mortar and grout.

Concrete - A mixture of cement, water, gravel and sand.

Cored Brick - A brick with several holes in the center for extra strength.

Clapboard - Horizontal wooden strips of siding material.

Cleanout - A plug in a sewage or drain pipe that allows cleaning access.

Cap - A fitting that joins pipes of different size or material.

Course - Rows of stones, shingles, bricks applied in a horizontal fashion.

Coupling - A connector fitting that allows you to connect two pieces of straight pipe.

CPVC - Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. Plastic used in pipes.

Condenser - Coils through which refrigerant is pumped.

DWV System - Drain, waste and vent. Uses gravity to carry water.

Drywall Construction - Interior wall construction which does not require the use of plaster.

Decking - Boards which are used to construct the floor of a deck.

Dimmer Switch - A switch which can control the amount of light produced.

Duct - Tubing through which air is carried from the furnace to the rest of the structure.

Drop-cloth - A large piece of plastic or cloth used to protect flooring.

Expansion Joints - Allows for expansion and construction between sections of concrete.

Exhaust Fan - Fan that pulls air from kitchen and bathrooms.

Enamel - A latex or alkyd-based paint.

Exterior Paint - Those paints most suitable to withstand the weather.

Flat Paint - A type of paint that dries to a non-flective finish.

Frame Construction - A building which is primarily constructed of wood.

Footer - The cement base used to support construction.

Foundation - Supports the superstructure.

Foundation Wall - Concrete or masonry wall below the ground for frame support.

Fascia - Trim used in edging in order to provide a decorative finish.

Fabric - Physical material of a building.

Frost Line - Where the frost penetrates the soil.

Floodlighting - A bright light used to illuminate a large space.

Fluorescent Bulb - A phosphorous coated glass bulb that provides light with little heat.

Four-way Switching - A system that enables a single source to be controlled from multiple locations.

Ganging - A bank of switches which can control various devices from one location.

Gloss Paint - A type of paint that produces a shiny, reflective finish.

Hot Water Dispenser - Provides instant hot water from you sink spray hose area.

Heat Pump - An electric refrigeration unit that either provides heat or cool air.

Humidifier - A device that reduces the humidity in the air.

Head Joint - Mortar between the ends of two bricks.

Header - A system of bricklaying where the small end of the brick faces out.

I-Beam - A beam made of steel used to support long spans, such as in basements.

Incandescent Bulb - The most popular bulb, made of glass with a metallic filament.

Jamb - Lining at the head or side of a door or window.

Joist - Used in horizontal framing for ceilings and floors.

Kilowatt - Measurement = 1,000 watts.

Lath - Wood or other strip material used to support wet-water plaster.

Lumens - Amount of light emitted by a bulb.

Leads - The first row of brick walls which determine length and alignment.

Loose-fill Insulation - Various components which are poured between walls and floors.

Latex - A quick drying, water-based paint.

Masonry - Stone, brick or concrete held together with mortar.

Masking - Using adhesive tape to cover certain surfaces from being painted.

Mortar - A mixture of sand, gravel, water & cement used as a brick bonding agent.

O-ring - Rubber rings that open and close water ports.

Paneling - A wall surface with vertical panels.

Pitch - The slope of a surface.

Plumb - Ensures exactness in perpendicular and vertical measurements.

Pointing - Removing loose mortar between bricks and replacing it.

Plumber's Putty - A putty used to adhere various plumbing fixtures.

PB - Polybutylene. A type of plastic used in pipes.

Plenum - The main ducts leading from the furnace.

Primer - A type of paint, used on the first coat that binds the finish.

Pigment - An agent that gives paint its color.

Roughing-in - Installing pipes in unfinished walls and floors.

Registers - Grilles attached to the end of ducts which allow the furnace air flow into a room

Radiator - Heating device attached to the furnace that circulates hot water through pipes.

Rolling - The method of painting using a roller.

Rafter - Sloping beams which provide main support to a roof.

Retaining Walls - A wall which is erected to support a bank of dirt.

Rowlock Header - Long, narrow end of a brick is faced out.

Rowlock Stretcher - Broad surface of a brick is facing out.

Stud - Usually a 2x4 used in vertical framing. Typically spaced 16" apart.

Superstructure - Part of the structure above ground and foundation walls.

Subfloor - Plywood nailed to the floor joists before the finished flooring is laid.

Soffit - Used for attic ventilation and placed on the underside of the overhang.

Single-pole Switching - Simple on/off switch to operate a fixture.

Spotlighting - Often used as security lighting, it produces an intense beam of light.

Snaking - Clearing blocked drains via the use of an auger.

Solar Heating - Warm air via the heat of the sun.

Semi-gloss - A paint that has a finish between flat and high gloss.

Satin Finish - Another term for a flat, non-reflective finish.

Spray-painting - The use of a spray gun or aerosol cans to paint a surface.

Stretcher - A lengthwise laid brick.

Three-way Switching - Wiring system which allows two switches to control one fixture.

Tee - A physical "T" shaped fitting that allows the joining of 3 pipes.

Tubular Sleeve - A foam product used to insulate pipes.

Tapping-in - Connecting new pipes to existing pipes.

Thermostat - A device that monitors temperature and adjusts for heating and cooling.

Turpentine - A solvent used for cleaning-up after painting and thinning of paint.

Trimming - Using a small brush to paint tight or difficult areas.

Vapor Barrier - Material used to prevent condensation in walls.

Wall Heater - Electric unit that is used to heat a single room.

Wythe - The thickness of a brick wall. 1-wythe is a wall of one brick in thickness.

Zoning - Dividing heating and cooling distribution within a house.

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