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Real Estate Glossary

This glossary was created by a team of real estate professionals. It contains terms regarding real estate buying and selling, home finance, home improvement, as well as legal terms. For your convenience, the glossary is searchable alphabetically.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

early occupancy
The condition in which buyers can occupy the property before the sale is completed.

earnest money
A deposit made by the buyer as evidence of good faith in offering to purchase real estate and to secure performance of the contract. Earnest money is typically held by a title company, in an escrow account, during the period between acceptance of the contract and the closing

earnest money contract (EMC)
A contract for the sale or purchase of real estate in which the purchaser is required to tender earnest money to evidence good faith in completing the contractual obligations. Also see sales contract and promulgated contracts.

easement
A right to use another person's real estate for a specific purpose. The most common type of easement is the right to travel over another person's land, known as a right of way. In addition, property owners commonly grant easements for the placement of utility poles, utility trenches, water lines or sewer lines. The owner of property that is subject to an easement is said to be "burdened" with the easement, because he or she is not allowed to interfere with its use. For example, if the deed to John's property permits Sue to travel across John's main road to reach her own home, John cannot do anything to block the road. On the other hand, Sue cannot do anything that exceeds the scope of her easement, such as widening the roadway

easement by prescription
A right to use property, acquired by a long tradition of open and obvious use. For example, if hikers have been using a trail through your backyard for ten years and you've never complained, they probably have an easement by prescription through your yard to the trail.

economic obsolescence

Loss of value of real property due to external forces or events; eg., a sewer plant is built next door to the subject property. Contrast with Functional Obsolescence.

effective interest rate
The cost of credit on a yearly basis expressed as a percentage. Includes up-front costs paid to obtain the loan, and is, therefore, usually a higher amount than the interest rate stipulated in the mortgage note. Useful in comparing loan programs with different rates and points

effluxion of time
The normal expiration of a lease due to the passage of time, rather than due to a specific event that might cause the lease to end, such as destruction of the building

egress
An exit, or the act of exiting. The most famous use of this word was by P.T. Barnum, who put up a large sign in his circus tent saying "This Way to the Egress." Thinking an egress was some type of exotic bird, people eagerly went though the passage and found themselves outside the circus tent. Compare with ingress.

emblements

Annual crops produced by cultivation. They are deemed to be personal property

eminent domain
The right of government to take private property for public use, through court action known as condemnation. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is "justly compensated" (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss. A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, but such uses may include roads, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals or other public buildings. Sometimes called expropriation

enclave community

Smaller in scope than master-planned communities, enclave communities typically blend different price ranges of residential neighborhoods with amenities such as public recreation areas and parks, neighborhood schools and extensive landscaping. Recreation areas may include public swimming pools, tennis courts, and children's play grounds. Many offer large water features and gated access

encroachment
A fixture, or structure, such as a wall or fence, which invades a portion of a property belonging to another. Solutions range from paying the rightful property owner for the use of the property to the court-ordered removal of the structure

encumbrance
A cloud against clear, free title to the property which does not prevent conveyance, such as unpaid taxes, easements, deed restrictions, mortgage loans, etc

endorsement

Writing one's name, either with or without additional words, on a negotiable instrument, or on a paper attached to it.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The 1974 federal law (Title VII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act) which requires fairness and impartiality without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs in the extension of credit, and good faith exercises of any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (eg. the creditor must state reasons for denial of credit).

Equal Treatment/Different Impact

It is possible to be guilty of discrimination even by treating two individuals the same. If the results of the treatment are discriminatory, or tend to exclude or otherwise harm members of a minority group, or have discriminatory impact, they are against the law. For example, an apartment house which rents only to doctors and lawyers, where there are few, if any, minority doctors or lawyers in the area, may be a violation of the Fair Housing Laws.

equity

The difference in dollars between a house's value and the mortgage amount

escalator clause

The clause in a contract permitting adjustments of the payments

escheat
The reversion of property to the state in the event the owner thereof dies without leaving a will (intestate) and has no heirs to whom the property may pass by lawful descent.

escrow
(1) A third party account that holds money safely while a sale is in progress. (2) An account used to save monies required for the payment of an eventual debt. Often used by lenders to save for property taxes, hazard insurance, homeowner's dues, etc. Escrow accounts are typically non-interest bearing for the contributors, but may pay interest to the entity holding the account (lenders, title companies, lawyers, etc.).

estimate of value
An appraisal; the appraised value.

et ux
Abbreviation for "et uxor", meaning "and wife

eviction
Removal of a tenant from rental property by a law enforcement officer. First, the landlord must file and win an eviction lawsuit, also known as an "unlawful detainer."

exception
As used in the conveyance of real estate, an exception is the exclusion of some part of the property conveyed, with title of that excepted part remaining with the grantor. For example, in most subdivision developments, mineral rights are not conveyed to the purchaser of a lot, but remain the property of the developer. Contrast with Reservation.

exclusive agency (EA)

A listing agreement which gives the listing agent the right to sell the property for a specified time. The owner reserves the right to sell the property himself without paying a commission to the agent. Brokers run the risk of investing their time, effort, and money in a listing that, even if sold through their marketing efforts, does not produce a commission. Contrast with Exclusive Right to Sell.

exclusive right to sell (ERS)
A listing agreement which gives the listing agent the right to sell the property for a specified time, with the right to collect a commission if the property is sold by anyone, including the owner, during the listing period. Contrast with Exclusive Agency.

exculpatory clause
A provision in a lease that absolves the landlord from responsibility for all damages, injuries or losses occurring on the property, including those caused by the landlord's actions. Most states have laws that void exculpatory clauses in rental agreements, which means that a court will not enforce them

executor/executrix
The man/woman appointed in a will to carry out the requests of the will. Contrast with Administrator/Administratrix.

expropriation
See eminent domain