real estate terminology & definitions

(March 19, 2017 , posted in Tips)


For your reference find below real estate terminology for real estate, mortgage and definitions for home buyers and sellers.  Click here to download a PDF.

ALR – Agricultural Land Reserve
A provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use, farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled.

Amortization
The number of years a borrower is scheduled to repay the entire amount of a mortgage.

Applied Practice Course
See either Residential Trading Services Applied Practice Course or Commercial Trading Services Applied Practice Course.

Appraisal
An estimate of a property's market value, used by lenders in determining the amount of a 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.

Associate Broker
An individual that holds a broker license and chooses to associate or affiliate with another sponsoring broker rather than opening their own brokerage office.

Balanced Market
A market in which the sales to active listings ratio is in a range of 14 to 20 per cent. In general, a balanced market results in home prices remaining relatively stable.

Bank of Canada Overnight Target Rate
The target level interest rate set by the Bank of Canada at which major financial institutions borrow and lend one-day (or "overnight") funds among themselves.

Basis Point
A unit equal to 1/100 of one per cent used to denote changes in bond yields and other interest rates. For example, a 25 basis point change in the Bank of Canada’s target overnight rate refers to an increase of 0.25 per cent.

Benchmark Property or Home Price
A property or home price against which other properties can be evaluated.

Bond Yield
The percentage return that an investor can expect to earn from a bond issue over the maturity of the bond.

Brokerage
A real estate company under which an individual is licensed.

Buyer’s Market
When there is a higher number of homes to choose from than buyers in comparison. Prices of homes tend to be lower and they remain available for sale longer. Buyers usually have more leverage in negotiating a purchase.

Capitalization (“Cap”) Rate
The ratio between the net operating income produced by an asset and its capital cost (the original price paid to buy the asset) or alternatively its current market value.

Carrying Cost
Financial and operational expense associated with an investment.

Closing Costs
Expenses in addition to the purchase price for buying and selling a property.

Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI)
A measurement designed by BCREA to forecast changes in broad commercial real estate activity.

Commercial Trading Services Applied Practice Course
The compulsory course, administered by BCREA, for new licensees who plan to practice primarily in commercial real estate which forms part of the BC’s real estate licensing process. 

Condominium
Shared ownership in property. Owners have title (ownership) to individual units and a proportionate share in the common elements.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)
A measure that examines the weighted average of prices of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care, calculated by averaging price changes for each item.

Conventional Mortgage
A mortgage loan that does not exceed 80 per cent of the lending value of the property.

Core Inflation
A measure of inflation that excludes products that face volatile price movements or that can have temporary price shocks which can diverge from the overall trend of inflation and give a false measure of inflation.

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

CREA – Canadian Real Estate Association
The Canadian association that represents more than 100,000 real estate brokers/agents and salespeople working through more than 100 real estate boards and associations across Canada.

Debt Service Ratio
The percentage of a borrower's gross income that can be used for housing costs, including mortgage payment and taxes (and condominium fees, when applicable).

Down Payment
The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage.

Equity
The difference between the price for which a property can be sold and the mortgage(s) on the property. Equity is the owner's stake in the property.

FICOM – BC Financial Institutions Commission
An agency of the provincial government that provides public protection through ten statutes, including the Real Estate Development Marketing Act.

Green Tool Kit for REALTORS®
A website developed by BCREA to act as a foundation of information, references and links to help REALTORS® and their clients learn more about the environmental and sustainability perspective of real estate. 

Gross Debt Service Ratio
A general rule that your housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating costs, and 50 per cent of condominium fees, if applicable) should not be more than 32 per cent of your gross monthly income.

Gross Domestic Product
The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period.

Grow Op
A marijuana-growing operation, usually located in a house.

Headline/Total CPI Inflation
The raw inflation figure as reported through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that is released monthly by the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

High-Ratio Mortgage
A mortgage that exceeds 80 per cent of the loan-to-value ratio; must be insured by either the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or a private insurer to protect the lender against default by the borrower who has less equity invested in the property.

HST – Harmonized Sales Tax
The tax created as a combination of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Property Sales Tax (PST), which is 12 per cent in BC. 

Housing Starts
The number of privately owned new houses (technically housing units) on which construction has been started in a given period.

Inflation
A rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.

Inflation Adjusted
A measure of a change in price that accounts for the return period's inflation rate.

Inflation-Control Target
The target range established by the Bank of Canada and the federal government within which the Bank aims to contain annual inflation as measured by the rate of change in the total CPI. The Bank of Canada is currently mandated to keep inflation within a range of one to three per cent, with a two per cent inflation target.

Interest
The cost of borrowing money.

Leverage
Controlling a large asset with a relatively small amount of cash. In real estate, $20,000 down payment (or less) can be used to purchase (control) a $100,000 home, for example.

Licensee
A managing broker, associate broker and/or representative of a brokerage. A licensee is not necessarily a REALTOR®. See REALTOR® definition for further information.

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 REALTOR® to facilitate the sale or lease of a property.

Listing Broker
The REALTOR® who signs a contract with an owner to sell the property.

Median or Average Home Price
The average price of a home calculated by adding all sold prices and dividing by the number of homes sold.

Mortgage
A contract between a borrower and a lender. The borrower pledges a property as security to guarantee repayment of the mortgage debt. Lenders consider both the property (security) and the financial worth of the borrower (covenant) in deciding on a mortgage loan.

Mortgage Broker
A person or company having contacts with financial institutions or individuals wishing to invest in mortgages.

Mortgage Insurance
Government-backed or privately-backed insurance protecting the lender against the borrower's default on high-ratio (and other types of) mortgages.

Mortgage Insurer
In Canada, high-ratio mortgages (those representing greater than 80 per cent of the property value) must be insured against default by either Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or private insurers. The borrower must arrange and pay for the insurance, which protects the lender against default.

Mortgage Payment
The regular installments made towards paying back the principal and interest on a mortgage.

Mortgage Prepayment Penalty
A fee paid by a borrower to the lender in exchange for being permitted to break a contract (a mortgage agreement); usually three months' interest, but it can be a higher or it can be the equivalent of the loss of interest to the lender.

Mortgage Term
The length of time a lender will loan mortgage funds to a borrower. Most mortgage terms run from six months to five years, after which the borrower can either repay the balance (remaining principal) of the mortgage, or renegotiate the mortgage for another term.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®)
A co-operative selling system for relaying information to REALTORS® about properties for sale.

Presale Cross Reference List
A tool developed by BCREA, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC (CHBA BC) and the Urban Development Institute (UDI) to assist homebuyers in the purchase of homes under development, also known as presales.

Prime Rate
The lowest rate of interest at which money may be borrowed commercially.

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

Professional Development Program (PDP)
BCREA’s continuing professional education program developed for BC REALTORS® which includes a broad range of courses on a variety of topics including agency, law, commercial, property management, technology, office management and ethics. As a condition of real estate board membership, REALTORS® complete 18 credits in each PDP cycle.

Property Transfer Tax (PTT)
A land registration tax that must be paid when an application for a taxable transaction is made at any Land Title Office in BC to register changes to a certificate of title.

Quality of Life
An approach adopted by BCREA to demonstrate the commitment of the real estate profession to improve Quality of Life throughout the province.

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

Real Estate Development Marketing Act
The BC statute that imposes disclosure requirements on developers marketing various forms of development.

Real Estate Services Act
The BC statute that imposes licensing requirements on persons who provide trading services related to real estate, rental management services and strata management services.

REALTOR Link®
A Canada-wide, password protected intranet for REALTOR® only.

REALTOR®
A real estate professional who is a member of a local real estate board and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Only these professionals can call themselves REALTORS®.

REALTOR Care® Program
A charitable program under which Canadian REALTORS® give back to their communities.

Refinancing
The process of obtaining a new mortgage, usually at a lower interest rate, to replace the existing mortgage.

REP – Relicensing Education Program
A program facilitated by the Real Estate Council of BC that requires real estate licensees to complete applicable continuing education courses during the licensees' two-year licence registration period as a condition of continued licensing.

Residential Trading Services Applied Practice Course
The compulsory course, administered by BCREA, for new licensees who plan to practice primarily in residential real estate which forms part of the BC’s real estate licensing process. 

Sales to Active Listings Ratio
A measure of balance between supply and demand in the housing market. It is calculated as the number of unit sales divided by the number of active listings.

Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR)
A rate adjustment used for economic or business data that attempts to remove the seasonal variations in the data. 

Seller’s Market
A housing market is generally characterized as a "sellers’ market" when there is an excess of demand for homes over current supply as measured by active or new listings. A sellers’ market typically occurs when the ratio of home sales to active listings is above 20 per cent.

Shelter Taxes
BCREA describes the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) as provincial shelter taxes. HST and PTT negatively impact the affordability of housing, which directly impedes the quality of life of British Columbians.

Superintendent of Real Estate
The office of the Superintendent falls under the BC Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM). FICOM is an agency of the provincial government that provides public protection through ten statutes, including the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA). REDMA governs marketing, sales and long-term leases of development units.

Term
The length of time a lender will loan mortgage funds to a borrower. Most mortgage terms run from six months to five years, after which the borrower can either repay the balance (remaining principal) of the mortgage, or renegotiate the mortgage for another term.

Term Mortgage
A non-amortizing mortgage under which the principal is paid in its entirety upon the maturity date. Sometimes called a straight loan.

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.

Total Debt Service Ratio
The maximum percentage of a borrower's income that a lender will consider for all debt repayment (other loans and credit cards, etc.) including a mortgage.

Unit
Term used to describe the individual home or apartment held by the owner within a condominium development.

Variable-Rate Mortgage
A mortgage for which payments are fixed, but whose interest rate changes in relationship to fluctuating market interest rates. If market rates go up, a larger portion of the payment goes to interest. If rates go down, a large portion of the payment is applied to the principal.

WEBForms™
A website operated by The Canadian Real Estate Association for the exclusive use of REALTORS® and other subscribers of information and standard forms produced by CREA and Canadian real estate boards and associations. To visit the WEBForms™ website, click here.

Working With a REALTOR® Brochure
A standard tool used by all REALTORS® in BC that explains agency relationships and describes which personal information is collected.

Year-to-Date
A period, starting from the beginning of the current year, and continuing up to the present day.

Zoning Regulations
Strict guidelines set and enforced by municipal governments regulating how a property may or may not be used.

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