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Real Estate Words Glossary Archive


The leasing of premises by a lessee to a third party for part of the lessee's remaining term.


A tract of land divided by the owner into smaller lots for homesites or other use.


The illegal practice of directing potential home buyers to or away from certain neighborhoods either to maintain or to change the character of an area, or to create a speculative situation.

Special assessment

A special tax imposed on specific parcels of real estate that will benefit from a proposed public improvement, such as a street or sewer.

Settlement costs

See closing costs.


The day on which title is conveyed.


One structure containing two dwelling units separated vertically by a common wall.

Seller’s market

One with few sellers and many buyers.

Secondary mortgage market

Market for the purchase and sale of existing mortgages, designed to provide greater liquidity for mortgages; plays an important role in getting money from those who want to lend to those who want to borrow.

Second mortgage

Lien on property that is subordinate to a first mortgage. In the event of default, the second mortgage is repaid after the first. Also called a junior mortgage, and in some circumstances a home equity loan.

Sales contract

Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.

Right of survivorship

A feature of joint tenancy giving the surviving joint tenants the rights, title and interests of the deceased joint tenant. Right of survivorship is the basic difference between buying property as joint tenants and as tenants in common.

Right of first refusal

A person's right to have the first opportunity to either lease or purchase real property.

Restrictive covenants

Clauses placed in a deed to restrict the full use of the property by controlling how future landowners may or may not use the property; also used in leases.

Reserve account

An account for money collected each month by a lender to pay for property taxes and property insurance as they come due.