AMORTIZATION – The number of years it takes to repay the entire amount of a mortgage.

APPRAISAL – An estimate of a property’s market value, used by lenders in determining the amount of the mortgage.

APPRECIATION – The increase of a property’s value over time.

ASSESSMENT – The value of a property, set by the local municipality, for the purposes of calculating property tax.

CLOSING – The real estate transaction’s completion, when the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met, and the deed to the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.

CLOSING COSTS – Expenses in addition to the purchase price for buying and selling a property.

CLOSING DATE – The date on which the title and keys to the property are transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the money is paid.

COUNTEROFFER – One party’s written response to the other party’s offer during negotiation of a real estate purchase between buyer and seller.

EASEMENT – A legal right to use or cross (right-of-way) another person’s land for limited purposes. A common example is a utility company’s right to run wires or lay pipe across a property.

ENCROACHMENT – An intrusion onto an adjoining property. A neighbour’s fence, storage shed, or overhanging roof line that partially (or even fully) intrudes onto your property are examples of encroachments.

EQUITY – A homeowner’s financial interest in a property. This is the difference between the value of the property and the amount owing (if any) on the mortgage.

JOINT TENANCY – A form of ownership in which two or more individuals (often spouses) have an equal share in the ownership of a property. In the event of one owner’s death, his or her share is automatically transferred to the surviving owner(s), apart from the deceased’s will.

LEVERAGE – Controlling a large asset with a relatively small amount of cash. In real estate, $25,000 down payment (or less) can be used to purchase (control) a $100,000 home, for example.

LIEN – Any legal claim against a property, filed to ensure payment of a debt.

LISTING AGREEMENT – The contract between the listing broker and an owner, authorizing the real estate professional to facilitate the sale or lease of a property.

LISTING BROKER – The real estate professional who signs a contract with an owner to sell the property.

MAINTENANCE FEE – A monthly fee paid by condominium owners for maintaining the development’s common areas.

MORTGAGE BROKER/AGENT – A licensed individual who brings together a borrower in search of a mortgage and a lender willing to issue that mortgage. The mortgage professional typically earns a fee from the lender.

MORTGAGEE – The lender.

MORTGAGE DEFAULT INSURANCE – Government-backed or privately-backed insurance protecting the lender against the borrower’s default on high-ratio (and other types of) mortgages.

MORTGAGE LIFE INSURANCE – Insurance that pays off the mortgage debt, should the insured borrower die.

MORTGAGOR – The borrower.

MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE (MLS) SYSTEM – A system for relaying information to real estate professionals about properties for sale.

PORTABILITY – A mortgage feature that allows borrowers to take their mortgage with them without penalty, when they sell their present home and buy another one.

PREPAYMENT PRIVILEGE – A mortgage feature that allows the borrower to prepay a portion or all of the principal balance with or without penalty. This privilege is frequently restricted to specific amounts and times.

PRINCIPAL – The mortgage amount initially borrowed, or the portion still owing on the mortgage. Interest is calculated on the principal amount.

RATE (Interest) – The return the lender receives for advancing the mortgage funds required by the borrower to purchase a property.

RESERVE FUND – The portion of a condominium maintenance fee that is set aside to cover major repair and replacement costs.

TITLE – The legal evidence of ownership of a property.

TITLE SEARCH – A detailed examination of the ownership documents to ensure there are no liens or other encumbrances on the property, and no questions regarding the seller’s ownership claim.

ZONING REGULATIONS – Strict guidelines set and enforced by municipal governments regulating how a property may or may not be used.