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Defining Commonly Used Real Estate Lingo

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, familiarizing yourself with the acronyms, terms and definitions frequently used in the real estate market is a helpful tool when preparing to make your move.

Instead of getting bombarded with real estate lingo that sounds like a foreign language to you, we have put together a list of popular lingo used by agents so that you can be prepared for what to expect. Of course, any knowledgeable and professional real estate agent will help you navigate this uncharted territory and answer any questions you may have along the way, but being prepared has never hurt anybody.

Here are some of the commonly used real estate lingo you are likely to encounter in the midst of your real estate transactions. Don’t let the jargon intimidate you!

Popular Real Estate Acronyms:

  • APR – Annual Percentage Rate: A yearly interest rate that includes upfront fees and costs paid to acquire the loan, calculated by taking the average compound interest rate over the term of the loan. Mortgage lenders are required to disclose the APR so that borrowers can more accurately compare the actual cost of different loans with different fees.
  • CMA – Comparative (or Competitive) Market Analysis: A CMA is a report that shows prices of homes that are comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market, but not sold within the listing period.
  • EMD – Earned Money Deposit: A partial payment (deposit) demonstrating commitment in a contractual relationship, and commonly made in real estate transactions at the time of making the purchase offer. The remainder of the payment is due on the closing date. The seller keeps the earnest money if the buyer fails to make timely payment in full (or if there is a similar breach of the agreement).
  • FHA – Federal Housing Administration: The Federal Housing Administration provides mortgage insurance on FHA approved loans – typically the home has to meet certain standards as well as requires a minimum down payment from the borrower.
  • HOA – Homeowners Association: An organization made up of neighbors concerned with managing the common areas of a subdivision or condominium complex. These associations collect monthly dues and take on issues such as garden, pool, and fence maintenance, noise abatement, snow removal, parking area upkeep, repairs, and dues.
  • MLS – Multiple Listing Service: A computer-based service, commonly referred to as MLS, that provides real estate professionals with detailed listings of most homes currently on the market. The public can now access much of this kind of information through websites.
  • PITI – Principal, Interest, Taxes & Insurance: Abbreviation for the major expenses that make up a mortgage payment: principal (the amount borrowed), interest, (property) taxes, and (homeowners’) insurance.
  • PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance: Insurance that reimburses a mortgage lender if the buyer defaults on the loan and the foreclosure sale price is less than the amount owed the lender (the mortgage plus the costs of the sale). A home buyer who makes less than a 20% down payment will most likely have to purchase private mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI.
  • REO – Real Estate Owned: An acronym for the term Real Estate Owned in which bank (or other financial institutions) give to the properties they own.

These are just some of the popular acronyms used during a real estate transaction. There are many more, and if you are every confused by the things your agent is saying, do not be afraid to ask.

Check out this great infographic that defines popular terms that you are sure to hear during the home buying or selling process:

We know that buying a home can be intimidating, especially if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process. We hope that this information helps you to start you on your path with confidence!


Give us a call! We’d be honored to assist you in selling your home, as well as finding your next one. Remember, at any price in any neighborhood, The Robinson Team sells homes!

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