Glossary of Terms
When buying or selling a home, you will encounter many terms that may be unfamiliar. To assist, we have provided this glossary of Real Estate terms.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z
Glossary of Terms - S
SALE AGREEMENT: Also known as "Agreement of Purchase and Sale" or "Purchase Agreement:. The contract that sets out the terms and conditions agreed to by the purchaser and the vendor in the sale of land.
SALE AND LEASEBACK (SALE-LEASEBACK): Where the vendor sells the property to the purchaser, then leases it back immediately for a long term.
SALE OF PERSONAL RESIDENCE BY ELDERLY: An income tax forgiveness program on capital gains realized by the elderly on the sale of their homes.
SALE PRICE: Also known as "purchase price", the amount of money paid by the purchaser to the vendor for the property under the agreement.
SALES ASSOCIATE: A real estate professional in the employ of another such real estate professional.
SALES COMPARISON APPROACH: Method of estimating value of a property by comparing similar properties that have been sold recently.
SALES CONTRACT: See "sale agreement". SANDWICH LEASE: A slang term for a sublease, where the tenant is sandwiched between the owner and the subtenant, acting both as lessor and lessee at the same time.
SATELLITE TENANT: A smaller shop in a mall.
SATISFACTION OF MORTGAGE: Written evidence from the lender that a loan has been paid out in full and the borrower released from any obligation to the lender.
SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION (S&L): Another form of mortgage lender.
SAVINGS ASSOCIATION INSURANCE FUND (SAIF): The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance fund for deposits in savings and loan associations.
SCARCITY: The idea that price is driven by availability of the product. If there is not enough product to meet demand (the product is scarce), the price of the product will rise.
SCENIC EASEMENT: A right to the use of land which is given for the purpose of ensuring that the land is never developed and the natural beauty of the area is, as a result, preserved.
SCHEDULE: A document attached to an instrument for registration or to a contract or agreement, which may contain information required in the instrument or extra terms of the contract.
SCHEDULED MORTGAGE PAYMENT: The periodic payment the borrower is obliged to pay on a loan.
SEARCH: An investigation, a review of public records for problems, concerns or simply for information. See "title search".
SEASONED MORTGAGE: An old loan under which the borrower has proven herself capable of meeting loan obligations.
SECOND: One sixtieth of a minute which is one sixtieth of a degree which is one 360th of a circle. Used in metes and bounds descriptions when astronomic bearings are used to describe directions.
SECOND MORTGAGE: A mortgage loan which is registered on title after another mortgage (the first mortgage) and, therefore, is behind the first mortgage in priority. In the event of default and sale of the property, the second mortgagee will only be paid if there are funds left after the payment of the first mortgagee.
SECONDARY FINANCING: Another term for a second mortgage; a loan which stands behind the principal loan.
SECONDARY MARKET: The purchase and sale of mortgages among lenders.
SECTION: A square mile in the Government Survey Method, contains 640 acres.
SECURITY: An asset held as a guarantee of payment of a loan.
SECURITY DEPOSIT: Money held by the landlord to ensure the tenant meets his obligations under the lease.
SECURITY INTEREST: Legal term for the claim the lender has against the borrower's property which has been pledged under a loan.
SEE-THROUGH BUILDING: Slang term for a property which is mostly empty of tenants.
SELF-AMORTIZING MORTGAGE LOAN: A loan which will be paid off by the end of its term, such that its term equals its amortization period.
SELLER FINANCING: Also known as "vendor take-back mortgage" or "mortgage back", where the seller of a property agrees to payment of part of the purchase price over time with the debt to the seller registered on title as a mortgage.
SELLER'S MARKET: Demand is greater than supply, such that the vendor may demand a higher price.
SELLER-TAKE-BACK: See "seller financing".
SELLING AGENT: The real estate professional who brings the eventual purchaser to the property and the vendor. As opposed to "listing agent".
SEMIANNUAL: Occurring twice per year.
SEMIDETACHED HOUSING: A dwelling that shares one side wall with another dwelling.
SEPARATE PROPERTY: Property owned by one spouse solely, rather than jointly with the other spouse.
SEPTIC SYSTEM: A manner of dealing with sewage of a dwelling, through pipes into a septic tank.
SERIOUS DELINQUENCY: The condition of being far behind in mortgage payments such that mortgage enforcement by the lender is imminent.
SERVICING (THE LOAN): The act of collecting periodic payments toward a debt.
SERVICING FEE: The fee charged to the borrower for the lender's costs of collecting payments and administering a loan.
SERVIENT ESTATE: The piece of land which is subject to an easement. As opposed to the "dominant estate".
SERVIENT TENEMENT: The piece of land which is subject to an easement. As opposed to the "dominant tenement".
SET BACK ORDINANCE/BYLAW: A municipal government rule that establishes the minimum distance a building or other improvement must stand from property lines.
SETTLEMENT BOOK: An information pamphlet given by lender to borrower which explains the process of the loan, settlement of the loan, etc.
SETTLEMENT COSTS: See "closing costs".
SETTLEMENT SHEET: The information sheet which sets out the allocation of funds on closing.
SEVER: To divide one piece of property from another to be sold or used separately.
SEVERALTY: Ownership of land by an individual.
SEVERANCE: The word for the act of dividing one property from another or splitting a property into pieces.
SHARED APPRECIATION MORTGAGE (SAM): A loan arrangement which allows the lender to share, in exchange for a reduced interest rate, in any gain in the value of the property against which the mortgage is secured.
SHELL LEASE: A rental agreement wherein the tenant rents the incomplete building and agrees to complete the interior work, such as plumbing, wiring, interior walls, floors, etc.
SHERIFF: Enforcement officer in a jurisdiction, person charged with the responsibility of enforcing writs and liens against people.
SHERIFF'S DEED: The instrument of conveyance for property sold to satisfy a court judgment.
SHERIFF'S SALE: The forced sale of a property to satisfy a debt or judgment.
SIGN BACK: The act of countering an offer with a return offer. The original offer document is amended, initialled by the person amending it, and sent back to the original offeror as a new, counter offer.
SIGNED SEALED AND DELIVERED: A legal phrase suggesting that the party executing a document intends it to be enforceable even if no consideration is given to her for signing.
SIMPLE INTEREST: A charge for the use of money which is calculated on a periodic basis as a percentage of the principal borrowed. No further interest is charged on interest accumulated in earlier periods.
SINGLE AGENCY: The representation of only one party to a transaction.
SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE (UNIT): A property designed for the use and occupancy of one family group.
SITE: The location of something.
SOFT MARKET: Also known as "buyers' market", when vendors far outnumber buyers and prices fall.
SPEC HOUSE: A new dwelling which is being built or has been completed by a builder before a purchaser has been found to buy it.
SPECIAL ASSESSMENT: The levying of an additional tax on a property for a specific purpose (i.e. to apportion the cost of infrastructure upgrades among area land owners).
SPECIAL USE PERMIT: A temporary exemption from zoning use by-laws or ordinances.
SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED: An instrument of conveyance in which the vendor warrants she has done nothing to cloud title but nothing further.
SPECIAL-PURPOSE PROPERTY: A piece of land specifically designed and improved for a specific purpose -- a school or hospital.
SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE: A remedy for breach of contract, where the breaching party is ordered to complete the contract according to its terms.
SPECULATIVE BUILDER: A developer who constructs housing without pre-selling.
SPECULATOR: Someone who buys property on the expectation that its value will increase and it will be sold at a profit.
SPILLOVER EFFECT: The impact of changes to or development of one parcel of land on a neighboring or nearby parcel.
SPOT ZONING: The practice of applying zoning ordinances or bylaws to specific properties when neighboring lands may be under a different classification.
SPREADING AGREEMENT: A contract in which the borrower gives the lender additional security for a loan by allowing it to be lodged against other property owned by the borrower.
SQUARE-FOOT METHOD: Method of estimating cost of construction on the basis of the area of the building to be built.
SQUATTER'S RIGHTS: The legal rights to occupy a property which accrue to a person as a result of their long-time, open, notorious and adverse possession of it.
STAKING: A surveyor's method of marking the boundaries of a property by placing a physical entity (a stake or bar) in the ground.
STAMP TAX: The charge levied by governments on the transfer of property.
STANDARD MORTGAGE: A mortgage which has equal periodic payments and is paid out at the end of its term.
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE: A professional code of behavior for real estate professionals promulgated by the National Association of Realtors.
STARTER HOME: A small home, inexpensive, suitable to first-time home buyers. STATE STAMPS: State levied land transfer taxes.
STATEMENT OF RECORD: A filing required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from a developer with a project involving 50 or more lots who plans to market it across several states.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: The period of time after the originating incident in which an injured party may start a legal claim against the party who caused the injury.
STATUTORY LIEN: A claim which may be registered against property and is created by a law.
STRAW MAN: A slang term for a trustee who purchases property on behalf of another who wishes to remain anonymous.
STREET ADDRESS: See "municipal address".
SUBDIVISION: 1. The creation of a number of smaller lots out of one or more large lots for the purposes of developing each smaller lot and selling them. 2. A newly created urban development.
SUBDIVISION REGULATION(S): Rules set out by the local government that set out minimum requirements for approval of a new subdivision.
SUBJECT BUILDING: A term used to identify the building being dealt with, examined or considered, as distinguished from other buildings.
SUBJECT PROPERTY: A term used to identify the property being dealt with, examined or considered, as distinguished from other properties.
SUBJECT TO: An indication that title to a property includes an obligation of some sort, an easement, right of way, lien, right of claim. Opposite of "together with".
SUBJECT TO MORTGAGE: A term of an agreement which states that the purchaser will assume an existing mortgage registered on title to the property.
SUBLEASE: A rental contract between a tenant and someone who rents from the tenant.
SUBLESSEE: A tenant's tenant.
SUBLESSOR: A tenant who leases the premises to another person.
SUBMARGINAL LAND: Real property that could not be developed in a financially useful way.
SUBMORTGAGE: Where a mortgage is pledged as security for a loan to the mortgagee (the original lender).
SUBORDINATE FINANCING: See "secondary financing".
SUBORDINATION: Placing the right of one person behind those of another.
SUBORDINATION CLAUSE: An agreement by the lender which allows the current mortgage to be "postponed" or placed behind a later mortgage in priority.
SUBSTITUTE OF TRUSTEE: An instrument registering a change of trustee under a deed of trust.
SUCCESSION: The conveyance of property to the heirs of a deceased person under the laws governing intestate distribution of assets.
SUFFERANCE: A legal concept, the deemed consent to the actions of another person which results when a person who could be expected to react to the other person's actions refuses to do so.
SUIT: A legal action commenced to enforce a claim or right.
SUPERADEQUACY: A feature of a property which may not be recognized fully in the price of the property.
SUPPORT DEED: An instrument conveying ownership of land in exchange for a promise on the part of the grantee to care for the grantor for his lifetime.
SURETY BOND: A legal document issued to assure the completion of an act by another person.
SURFACE RIGHT: A legal interest in the use or occupation of the top of land. As opposed to "subsurface" or "mineral rights".
SURPLUS FUNDS: Money gained in a mortgage enforcement sale of property which is in excess of the money required to satisfy the mortgage, interest, penalties, and costs.
SURRENDER: To give up, to turn over something to a person claiming interest in it.
SURVEY: A pictorial depiction of land and the improvements on it. Shows boundary lines (with measurements and bearings), buildings, sheds, easements, etc.
SURVEYOR: A professional who is trained to map out land and improvements to land accurately.
SURVIVORSHIP: The condition of outliving others. Surviving joint tenants have the right to take title to the land from a deceased joint tenant by right of survivorship.
SWEAT EQUITY: Slang term for the contribution to the value of a property made by manual labor.
SWEETENER: Slang term for an added incentive to a party to induce her to enter a transaction.
SWING LOAN: A short-term loan designed to bridge the borrower's finances between two events. For example, a person who buys a new home in April but cannot sell her old home until June may require a swing loan to carry both homes for the interim period until the old home may be sold and the proceeds used to pay out the swing loan. Also known as "bridge financing".