The real estate industry is just like any other major industry segment. The people that work within the industry use specific phrases and words that are not too common in other types of work. Understanding some of the common jargon will help first time buyers feel a little more comfortable with the process.
Mortgage – This is a loan that provides the financing for the purchase of a home. Buyers will sign a promissory note that explains the terms of the loan. The interest rate, amount borrowed and number of payments required to repay the debt are all laid out in this document. A mortgage is different from a car loan or a credit card since a piece of property is used as collateral for the loan.
Appraisal – This is a report that explains the home’s value. A professional appraiser will inspect the home and then compare it to other similar homes in the nearby area. Based on common criteria such as location, square footage, age and amenities the appraiser assigns a market value to the property. This is slightly different from a home inspection. A home inspection is designed to point out any areas in need of repair or replacement. An appraisal simply decides how much a home is worth as it currently stands.
Contingency – These are requirements spelled out in the real estate contract that must be completed or met in order for the sale to go through.
For instance, most contracts will have a contingency concerning the appraisal. If the home is not worth the sales price then the buyer may be able to get out of the contract.
Escrow – This refers to the funds, assets or securities being held by a third party separate from the buyer and seller. The buyer will place funds in escrow as proof that they wish to go forward with the sale. Once the seller has met the conditions of the contract the funds will be released.
Disclosures – The buyer must be informed of various details by the seller prior to the purchase. Each area will have slightly different requirements for the disclosures in their location. An example would be the location of a home in a known flood zone. This would affect the homeowner’s insurance and could affect the buyer’s ability to pay.
Closing – This is the last phase of the property purchase. All parties involved in the transaction will meet at either an attorney’s office or an escrow agent’s office (title company). The seller, buyer, and any attorney will typically attend the closing. At the closing the seller will receive funds for the transaction and the buyer will sign the necessary documents for the loan. The deed will be transferred from seller to buyer. Finally, the closing costs will be paid based on the agreed terms in the contract.