Texas Real Estate License Glossary
Texas Real Estate Commission
ABANDONMENT – The voluntary surrender or relinquishment of possession of real property with the intention of terminating one’s possession or interest, but without vesting this interest in any other person.
ABATEMENT – A reduction or decrease in amount, degree, intensity or worth.
ABSORPTION RATE – An estimate of the rate at which a particular classification of space – such as new office space, new housing, new condominium units and the like – will be sold or occupied each year.
ABSTRACT OF TITLE – A concise, summarized history of the title to a specific parcel of real property, together with a statement of all liens and encumbrances affecting the property. The abstract of title does not guarantee or assure the validity of the title of the property. It merely discloses those items about the property which are of public record, and thus does not reveal such things as encroachments, forgeries, and the like.
ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION – A method of calculating the depreciation of certain property (that property which is used in a trade or business, or which is held for the production of income) at a faster rate than would be achieved from using the straight line method of depreciation.
ACCELERATION CLAUSE – A clause in a promissory note, agreement of sale, or mortgage which gives the lender the right to call all sums due and payable in advance of the fixed payment date upon the occurrence of a specified event, such as a sale, default, assignment or further encumbrance of the property.
ACCEPTANCE – The expression of the intention of the person receiving an offer (offeree, usually the seller) to be bound by the terms of the offer.
ACCESS – A general or specific right of ingress and egress to a particular property.
ACCRETION – The gradual and imperceptible addition to land by alluvial deposits of soil through natural causes, such as shoreline movement caused by streams or rivers.
ACCRUED – That which has accumulated over a period of time such as accrued depreciation, accrued interest or accrued expenses.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT – A formal declaration made before a duly authorized officer, usually a Notary Public, by a person who has signed a document.
ACRE – A measure of land equaling 43,560 square feet; 4,840 square yards; 160 square rods.
ADHESION CONTRACT – A contract which is very one-sided and favors the party who drafted the document.
AD VALOREM – Latin for “according to valuation,” usually referring to a type of tax or assessment.
ADVERSE POSSESSION – The acquiring of title to real property owned by someone else, by means of open, notorious and continuous possession for the statutory period of time (20 years in Hawaii).
AFFIDAVIT – A sworn statement reduced to writing and made under oath before a Notary Public or other official authorized by law to administer an oath.
AGENCY – A relationship created when one person, the “principal,” delegates to another, the “agent,” the right to act on the principal’s behalf in business transactions and to exercise some degree of discretion while so acting. An agency gives rise to a fiduciary relationship and imposes on the agent, as the fiduciary of the principal, certain duties, obligations and high standards of good faith and loyalty.
AGENT – One who is authorized to represent and to act on behalf of another person (called the principal). A real estate broker is the agent of his client, be it the seller or buyer, to whom he owes a fiduciary obligation. A salesman is the agent of his broker and does not have a direct personal contractual relationship with either the seller or buyer.
AGREEMENT OF SALE – An agreement between the seller (vendor) and buyer (vendee) for the purchase of real property.
AIR RIGHTS – The rights to the use of the open space or vertical plane above a property. Ownership of the land includes the right to all air above the property.
ALIENATION CLAUSE – A clause in a promissory note or mortgage which provides that the balance of the secured debt becomes immediately due and payable at the option of the mortgagee upon the alienation of the property by the mortgagor.
ALLODIAL SYSTEM – The free ownership of land by individuals.
AMENITIES – Features, both tangible and intangible, which enhance and add to the desirability of real estate.
AMORTIZATION – The gradual repayment of a debt by means of systematic payments of principal and interest over a set period, where at the end of the period there is a zero balance.
ANCHOR TENANT – Major department or chain stores which are strategically located at shopping centers so as to give maximum exposure to smaller satellite stores.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE – The relationship of the total Finance Charge to the total amount to be finance as required under the Federal Truth-in-Lending Law.
APPRAISAL – The process of estimating, fixing, or setting the market value of real property. An appraisal may take the form of a lengthy report, a completed form, a simple letter, or even an oral report.
APPRECIATION – An increase in the worth or value of property due to economic or related causes, which may prove to be either temporary or permanent.
APPURTENANT – Belonging to; adjunct; appended or annexed.
ARBITRATION – The non-judicial submission of a controversy to selected third parties for their determination in the manner provided by agreement or by law.
ASSESSED VALUATION – The value of real property as established by the state government for purposes of computing real property taxes.
ASSESSMENT – A specific levy for a definite purpose, such as adding curbs or sewers in a neighborhood. Individual condominium owners are subject to special assessments benefiting the project as a whole and not funded through regular maintenance charges.
ASSIGNMENT – The transfer of the right, title and interest in the property of one person, the assignor, to another, the assignee. In real estate, there are assignments of mortgages, contracts, agreements of sale, leases, and options, among others.
ASSUMPTION OF MORTGAGE – The act of acquiring title to property which has an existing mortgage on it and agreeing to be personally liable for the terms and conditions of the mortgage, including payments.
ATTACHMENT – The legal process of seizing the real or personal property of a defendant in a lawsuit, by levy or judicial order, and holding it in the custody of the courts as security for satisfaction of the judgment which the plaintiff may recover in any action upon a contract, express or implied.
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT – One who is authorized by another to act in his place under a power of attorney.
ATTORNMENT – The act of a tenant formally agreeing to become the tenant of a successor landlord; as in attorning to a mortgagee who has foreclosed on the leased premises.
BALLOON PAYMENT – The final payment of a note or obligation, which is substantially larger than the previous installment payments, and which repays the debt in full; the remaining balance which is due at the maturity of a note or obligation.
BARGAIN AND SALE DEED – A deed which recites a consideration and conveys all of the grantor’s interest in the property to the grantee.
BASELINE AND MERIDIAN – An imaginary set of lines used by surveyors to locate and describe land under the Rectangular Survey Method of property description used in most mainland states.
BASIS – The financial interest which IRS attributes to the owner of an asset for purposes of determining annual depreciation and gain or loss on sale of the asset.
BENCH MARK – A mark affixed to a permanent reference or monument, such as an iron post or a brass marker (usually embedded in a cement sidewalk), used to establish elevations and altitudes over a surveyed area.
BENEFICIARY – A person who receives the benefits from the gifts or acts of another, such as one who is designated to receive the proceeds from a will, insurance policy or trust.
BILATERAL CONTRACT – A contract in which each party promises to perform an act in exchange for the other party’s promise to perform.
BILL OF SALE – A written agreement by which one person sells, assigns or transfers his right to, or interest in, personal property to another.
BLANKET MORTGAGE – A mortgage which is secured by several structures or a number of lots. A blanket mortgage is often used to finance proposed subdivisions or development projects, especially cooperatives.
BLUE SKY LAWS – State securities laws designed to protect the public from fraudulent practices in the promotion and sale of securities, e.g., through limited partnerships, syndications, bonds.
BOOT – Money or other property given to make up any difference in value or equity between two exchanged properties.
BOUNDARIES – The perimeters or limits of a parcel of land as fixed by legal description which is usually a metes and bounds description.
BREACH OF CONTRACT – Violation of any of the terms or conditions of a contract without legal excuse; default, non-performance, such as failure to make payment when due.
BROKER – One who acts as an intermediary between parties to a transaction. A real estate broker is a properly licensed person who, for a valuable consideration, serves as an agent to others to facilitate the sale or lease of real property.
BROKERAGE – That aspect of the real estate business which is concerned with bringing together the parties and completing a real estate transaction. Brokerage involves exchanges, rentals, trade-ins and management of property, as well as sales.
BUDGET MORTGAGE – A mortgage with payments set up to cover more than interest and principal reductions.
BUFFER ZONE – A strip of land separating one parcel from another.
BUILDING PERMIT – A written permission granted by the County Building Department and required prior to beginning the construction of a new building or other improvement (including fences, fence walls, retaining walls and swimming pools).
BUILDING RESIDUAL TECHNIQUE – A method of determining the value of an improvement normally used in appraising income property.
BULK TRANSFERS – Any transfer in bulk, and not in the ordinary course of the seller’s business, of a major part of the materials, inventory or supplies of an enterprise.
BUNDLE OF RIGHTS – An ownership concept describing all those legal rights which attach to the ownership of real property, including the right to sell, lease, encumber, use, enjoy, exclude, will, etc.
BUSINESS DAYS – Days of the week excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; normal working days.
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES – Any type of business which is for sale.
CANTILEVER – A projecting beam or overhanging portion supported at one end only.
CAPITAL GAIN – The taxable profit derived from the sale of a capital asset.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT – Any structure which is erected as a permanent improvement to real property; any improvement which is made to extend the useful life of a property, or to add to the value of the property.
CAPITALIZATION – A mathematical process for converting net income into an indication of value, commonly used in the income approach to appraisal.
CAP RATE (CAPITALIZATION RATE) – The percentage selected for use in the income approach to valuation of improved property. The cap rate is designed to reflect the recapture of the original investment over the economic life of the improvement, to give the investor an acceptable rate of return (yield) on the original investment, and to provide for the return on borrowed capital.
CERTIFICATE OF REASONABLE VALUE (CRV) – A certificate issued by the Veterans Administration setting forth a property’s current market value estimate, based upon a VA approved appraisal.
CERTIFIED CHECK – A check which the bank guarantees to be good, and against which a stop payment is ineffective.
CERTIFIED PROPERTY MANAGER – A professional property manager who has qualified for membership in and is a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management, and is designated a CPM.
CHAIN OF TITLE – The recorded history of matters which affect the title to a specific parcel of real property, such as ownership, encumbrances and liens, usually beginning with the original recorded source of the title.
CHATTEL – Personal property which is tangible and moveable.
CLEAR TITLE – Title to property that is free from liens, defects or other encumbrances, except those which the buyer has agreed to accept, such as mortgage to be assumed, the ground lease of record, and the like; established title; title without clouds.
CLIENT TRUST ACCOUNT – An account set up by a broker to keep client’s monies segregated from the broker’s general funds.
CLOSING – The final stage of consummating a real estate transaction when the seller delivers title to the buyer, in exchange for the purchase price.
CLOSING COSTS – Expenses of the sale which must be paid in addition to the purchase price (in the case of the buyer’s expenses), or be deducted from the proceeds of the sale (in the case of the seller’s expenses).
CLOSING STATEMENT – A detailed cash accounting of a real estate transaction prepared by an escrow officer or other person designated to process the mechanics of the sale, showing all cash that was received, all charges and credits which were made, and all cash that was paid out in the transaction; also called a settlement statement.
CLOUD ON TITLE – Any document, claim, unreleased lien or encumbrance which many impair or injure the title to property or make the title doubtful because of its apparent or possible validity.
CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT – The grouping of housing units on less than normal size homesites, with the remaining land being devoted to common areas.
CODE OF ETHICS – A written system of standards of ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors, first written in 1913, establishes the high standards of conduct for members of the Realtor community.
COLLATERAL – Something of value given or pledged as security for a debt or obligation. The collateral for a real estate mortgage loan is the mortgaged property itself, which has been hypothecated.
COLOR OF TITLE – A condition which has the appearance of good title, but which in fact is not valid title, as where title is founded on some written document which on its face appears valid and effective, but which is actually invalid.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY – A classification of real estate which includes income producing property such as office buildings, gasoline stations, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels and motels, parking lots and stores, and other similar uses.
COMMINGLING – To mingle or mix; for example, to deposit client funds in the broker’s personal or general account. A licensee found guilty of commingling can have the license suspended or revoked by the Real Estate Commission.
COMMISSION – The compensation paid to a real estate broker(usually by the seller) for services rendered in connection with the sale or exchange of real property.
COMMITMENT – A pledge or promise to do a certain act, such as the promise of a lending institution to loan a certain amount of money at a fixed rate of interest to a qualified buyer, provided the loan is obtained on or before a certain date.
COMMON AREAS – Land or improvements designated for the use and benefit of all residents, property owners and tenants.
COMMON ELEMENTS – Parts of the property which are necessary or convenient to the existence, maintenance and safety of the condominium, or are normally in common use by all of the condominium residents.
COMMON LAW – That body of law which is based on usage, general acceptance, and custom, as manifested in decrees and judgments of the courts; judge-made law, as opposed to codified or statutory law.
COMMON WALL – A wall separating two living units.
COMMUNITY PROPERTY – A system of property ownership based on the theory that each spouse has an equal interest in property acquired by the efforts of either spouse during marriage.
COMPARABLES – Recently sold properties which are similar to a particular property being evaluated, and which are used to indicate a reasonable fair market value for the subject property.
COMPOUND INTEREST – Interest which is computed upon the principal sum plus accrued interest.
CONCESSIONS – Discounts given by landlords to prospective tenants to induce them to sign a lease.
CONDEMNATION – Either a judicial or administrative proceeding to exercise the power of eminent domain, i.e., the power of the government to take private property for public use.
CONDOMINIUM OWNERSHIP – An estate in real property consisting of an individual interest in an apartment or commercial unit, and an undivided common interest in the common areas such as the land, parking areas, elevators, stairways, and the like.
CONSIDERATION – An act or forbearance, or the promise thereof, which is offered by one party to induce another to enter into a contract; that which is given in exchange for something from another.
CONSTRUCTIVE EVICTION – Acts done by a landlord which so materially disturb or impair the tenant’s enjoyment of the leased premises that a tenant is effectively forced to move out and terminate the lease without liability for any further rent.
CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE – Notice of certain facts which are implied bylaw to a person because he could have discovered the fact by reasonable diligence or by inquiry into public records.
CONTINGENCY – A provision placed in contract which requires the completion of a certain act or the happening of a particular event before a contract is binding.
CONTRACT – A legal agreement between competent parties who agree to perform or refrain from performing certain acts for a consideration. In real estate, there are many different types of contracts, including listings, contracts of sale, options, mortgages, assignments, leases, deeds, escrow agreements, and loan commitments, among others.
CONVEYANCE – The transfer of title to real property by means of a written instrument such as a deed or an assignment of lease.
COOPERATING BROKER – A broker who joins with another broker in the sale of real property.
COOPERATIVE OWNERSHIP – Cooperative ownership of an apartment unit means that the apartment owner has purchased shares in a corporation which holds title to the entire apartment building.
CO-TENANCY – A form of concurrent property ownership in which two or more persons own an undivided interest in the same property.
COUNTER-OFFER – A new offer made as a reply to an offer received from another; this has the effect of rejecting the original offer, which cannot thereafter be accepted unless revived by the offeror’s repeating it.
COURTESY TO BROKERS – The practice of sharing commissions with cooperating brokers.
COVENANT – A written agreement or promise of two or more parties by which either pledges to perform or not to perform specified acts on a property, or which specifies certain uses or non-uses of the property.
COVENANTS AND CONDITIONS – Covenants are promises contained in contracts, the breach of which would entitle a person to damages. Conditions, on the other hand, are contingencies, qualifications or occurrences upon which an estate or property right would be gained or lost.
COVENANTS RUNNING WITH THE LAND – Covenants which become part of the property and benefit or bind successive owners of the property.
CUL DE SAC – A street which is open at one end only, and which usually has a circular turnaround; a blind alley.
CUSTOMER TRUST FUND (CTF) – An impound account maintained for the purpose of setting up a reserve to pay certain periodic obligations such as real property taxes, insurance premiums, lease rent, and maintenance fees.
DEALER – An IRS designation for a person who regularly buys and sells real property.
DEBT SERVICE – The amount of money needed to meet the periodic payments of principal and interest when a debt is amortized.
DECLARATION OF RESTRICTIONS – A statement of all the covenants, conditions and restrictions (“CC&R’s”) which affect a parcel of land.
DEDICATION – The application of privately owned land to the public for no consideration, with the intent that the land will be accepted and used for public purposes.
DEED – A written instrument by which a property owner “grantor” transfers to a “grantee” an ownership in real property.
DEED OF TRUST – A legal document in which title to property is transferred to a third party trustee as security for an obligation owed by the trustor (borrower) to the beneficiary(lender).
DEFAULT – Failure to fulfill a duty or promise or failure to perform any obligation or required act. The most common occurrence of default on the part of a buyer or lessee is non-payment of money.
DEFERRED COMMISSIONS – Commissions which are earned but not yet fully paid.
DEFICIENCY JUDGEMENT – A judgment against a borrower, endorser, or guarantor for the balance of the debt issued when the security for a loan is insufficient to satisfy the debt.
DENSITY – A term, frequently used in connection with zoning requirements, which means the maximum number of building units per acre or the number of occupants or families per unit of land area (acre, square mile, etc.); usually the ratio of land area to improvement area.
DEPOSIT – Money offered by a prospective buyer as an indication of good faith in entering into a contract to purchase; earnest money; security for the buyer’s performance of a contract.
DEPRECIATION (APPRAISAL) – A loss in value due to any cause; any condition which adversely affects the value of an improvement.
DEPRECIATION (TAX) – For tax purposes, depreciation is an expense deduction taken for an investment in depreciable property.
DEPTH TABLE – Tables of percentage designed to provide a uniform system of measuring the additional value to lots which accrues because of added depth, with the extra depth valued according to the added utility which it creates.
DESCENT – The acquisition of an estate by inheritance, where an heir succeeds to the property by operation of law. Descent literally means the hereditary succession of an heir to property of an ancestor who dies intestate.
DESCRIPTION – The portion of a conveyance document which defines the property being transferred.
DEVELOPER – One who attempts to put land to its most profitable use by the construction of improvements.
DEVISE – A transfer of real property under a will.
DISCLAIMER – A statement denying legal responsibility, frequently found in the form of, “There are no promises, representations, oral understandings or agreements except as contained herein.”
DISCOUNT POINTS – An added loan fee charged by a lender to make the yield on a lower-than-market interest VA or FHA loan competitive with higher interest conventional loans.
DISCRIMINATION – The act of making a distinction against or in favor of a person on the basis of the group or class to which the person belongs; the failure to treat people equally.
DISTRAINT – The right of a landlord, pursuant to a court order, to seize a tenants belongings for rents in arrears.
DOMICILE – The state where an individual has his true, fixed, permanent home and principal business establishment and to which place he has the intention of returning whenever he is absent.
DOUBLE ESCROW – An escrow set up to handle the concurrent sale of one property and purchase of another property by same party.
DOWER – The legal right or interest a wife acquires in property her husband held or acquired anytime during marriage.
DUAL AGENCY – Representing both principals (buyer and seller) to a transaction.
DUE ON SALE CLAUSE – A form of acceleration clause found in some mortgages, especially savings and loan mortgages, requiring the mortgagor to pay off the mortgage debt when selling the secured property, thus resulting in automatic maturity of the note at the lender’s option.
DUPLEX – A structure that provides housing accommodations for two families by having separate entrances, kitchens, bedrooms, lanais, living rooms and bathrooms. A two-family dwelling.
DURESS – Unlawful constraint or action exercised upon a person whereby he is forced to perform some act against his will. A contract entered into under duress is void.