Real Estate Glossary

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Earnest money deposit
Money that accompanies an offer to purchase as evidence of good faith. It is almost always a personal check, certified check, or money order rather than cash.

Limited right to cross or use for some specified purpose the property of another. It may be permanent or temporary. Water, sewage, and utility suppliers frequently hold an easement across private property.

Eminent domain
The right or power of government to acquire private property for public use without the consent of the owner, provided fair compensation is provided.

A building or other improvement that extends beyond its boundary and intrudes upon the property of another.

Any impediment to a clear title. It can be a claim, lien, zoning restriction, or other legal right or interest in land that diminishes its value. The report of the title search usually shows all encumbrances.

Value an owner has in a piece of property less the debt against it. For example, if the market value of a house is $150,000 and the owner has paid off $10,000 of a $75,000 mortgage, the owner has $85,000 equity.

Equity build-up
Term used to refer to the increase of one’s equity in a property due to mortgage balance reduction and price appreciation.

Reversion of property to the state when the owner dies without leaving a will and has no heirs to whom the property may pass

Money or documents held by a third party until specific conditions of an agreement or contract are fulfilled.

Escrow account
Special bank account into which escrow monies are deposited and from which they are disbursed. Lawyers and real estate brokers maintain escrow accounts to hold money in trust for others.

Escrow company
A firm that specializes in handling the closing of a transaction.

Exclusive agency listing
Listing where the owner reserves the right to sell his property himself, but also agrees to list with no other broker during the listing period besides the appointed real estate broker.

Exclusive-right-to-sell listing
Listing that gives the broker the right to collect a commission no matter who sells the property during the listing period.

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