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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

facilitator
A real estate professional who assists in a transaction but does not have a agency relationship with that party. Also known as transaction broker or intermediary.

Fair Housing Act & Fair Housing Amendments Act
Federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. The federal Acts apply to all aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship, from refusing to rent to members of certain groups to providing different services during tenancy

Fair Housing Laws
Federal, state, and local laws, particularly Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which forbid discrimination because of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin, in the selling or renting of homes or apartments, and in other specified transactions. These laws have been recently been expanded to include familial status (having children) and disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Fannie Mae

Created by Congress in 1938 to bolster the housing industry during the Depression, Fannie Mae was originally part of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and authorized to buy only FHA-insured loans to replenish lenders' supply of money. In 1968, Fannie Mae became a private company operating with private capital on a self-sustaining basis. Its role was expanded to buy mortgages beyond traditional government loan limits, reaching out to a broader cross-section of Americans. Today, Fannie Mae operates under a congressional charter that directs it to channel its efforts into increasing the availability and affordability of homeownership for low-, moderate-, and middle-income Americans. Fannie Mae receives no government funding or backing, and is one of the nation's largest taxpayers as well as one of the most consistently profitable corporations in America. Fannie Mae establishes strict guidelines for mortgage loans it is willing to purchase. As the largest buyer of mortgage loans in the US, these guidelines have become the industry standard for the majority of home loans. Any loan that meets these Fannie Mae guidelines is called a "conforming loan".

FDIC
Acronym- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's mission is to maintain the stability of and public confidence in the nation's financial system. To achieve this goal, the FDIC has insured deposits and promoted safe and sound banking practices since 1933. FDIC insurance is offered at almost every US bank and savings and loan. In general, the FDIC insures individual accounts in each financial institution for a maximum of $100,000.00 per account. An individual or entity may only be insured for a total of $100,000.00 for all the accounts held in any one institution, or any of its branches

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA is the governmental unit that has leadership responsibilities for the Nation's emergency management system. Once the President has declared a major disaster, FEMA coordinates not only its own response activities but also those of as many as 28 other Federal agencies that may participate. FEMA also works with States, territories, and communities during non-disaster periods to help plan for disasters, develop mitigation programs, and anticipate what will be needed when major disasters occur. Among its many responsibilities the agency operates the Federal Insurance Administration, which makes flood insurance available to residents of communities that agree to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management practices.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC)
See Freddie Mac

Federal Housing Administration
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a wholly owned government corporation, was established under the National Housing Act of 1934 to improve housing standards and conditions; to provide an adequate home financing system through insurance of mortgages; and to stabilize the mortgage market. FHA was consolidated into the newly established Department of Housing and Urbian Development (HUD) in 1965. Since 1934, FHA has been extremely successful in achieving these goals. FHA loans require special a appraisal/inspection that determine if a property meet the agency's minimum property standards. While somewhat more expensive that a conventional loan in terms of interest rates and insurance fees, FHA loans offer slightly more liberal qualifying criteria. The current maximum FHA loan amount in the Houston area, for a single-family home, is $139,650.00

fee simple estate
The most complete form of ownership of real property; absolute ownership. Commonly used to to denote a property where the owner has undivided title to the land on which the property is situated

FHA
The Federal Housing Administration which insures mortgage loans made by approved lenders, in accordance with FHA regulations

FHLMC
Acronym - Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. See Freddie Mac.

fiduciary
The relationship of trust, honesty and confidence between agent and principal; the faithful relationship owed by an agent to the principal.

finder's fee

A fee charged by real estate brokers and apartment-finding services in exchange for locating a rental property. These fees are permitted by law. Some landlords, however, charge finder's fees merely for renting a place. This type of charge is not legitimate and, in some areas, is specifically declared illegal

first mortgage
A mortgage which is in first lien position, taking priority over all other liens (which are financial encumbrances).

fixed rate mortgage
A mortgage with an interest rate and monthly payment that doesn't vary for the term of the loan

fixture
Personal property which has been attached to real estate so as to become part of the real property. The article must meet at least one of three conditions: 1. Attached in a permanent manner. 2. Specially adapted to the property. or 3. Intentionally made part of the real property

Flood Control District

A special taxing district created to provide flood control in specific areas of a county

flood insurance
A special and separate type of homeowner's insurance the provides coverage for damages resulting from flooding. Flood insurance is required by most lenders only if the property is located within a designated flood plain. The cost of the policy is related to the associated flooding risk. If a property has a small section of land located within a flood plain, but away from the residential improvements (house), the lender will still require a policy, but its cost will be much lower. Likewise, flood insurance policies for properties not located within any floodplain, are fairly inexpensive. Most flood insurance is underwritten by the federal government through FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program in cooperation with private insurance agencies. More than 18,000 communities participate in the Federal flood insurance program. More than 3.8 million National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) home and business policies are in effect. The United States experiences flooding threats throughout all four seasons of the year and, in fact, flooding is the most common natural disaster. There are, on average, 1000 floods per year in the U.S. Nearly everyone is at some risk of experiencing the effects of flooding. In the Houston area, 25 percent of flood-insurance claims come from areas outside a designated flood plain.

flood plain
Flood plains are by definition subject to periodic flooding. They are generally characterized by relatively flat topography and soil types that were laid down during past inundations by flood waters. If your property is in the 100-year flood plain, there is a 1-in-100 chance in any given year that your property will flood. If it is in the 25-year flood plain, there is a 1-in-25 chance in any given year that your property will flood. The statistical chance of flooding is not changed by any one flooding event; but repeated flooding may result in the flood plain being recalculated. A 100-year flood plain is always wider than a 25-year flood plain, and the 25-year flood plain is contained within the 100-year flood plain. The flood prone areas of the United States cover approximately 150,000 square miles or 94 million acres of land, an area roughly the size of the State of Montana. People living in flood plains are 26 times more likely to experience a flooding disaster than they are a fire disaster during the life of the 30-year mortgage on their homes. The changes in flood plain maps reflect changes in land use (such as increased building activity), changes in the waterways, and flood control improvements (such as detention ponds or other flood control measures). As more lots are covered with more buildings and parking lots, the amount of water that flows into creeks and lakes increases because there is less vegetation to absorb the water when it rains. This is one reason why buildings that were not originally built in a flood plain are now in the 25-year or 100-year flood plain

FNMA
Usually referred to as "Fannie Mae", the acronym stands for the Federal National Mortgage Association.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
For sale by owner. An individual homeowner who is attempting to sell his property without a real estate broker. The acronym, FSBO is pronounced "fizzbo."

foreclosure
The loss of property or a privilege due to breaking a law. For example, a landlord may forfeit his or her property to the federal or state government if the landlord knows it is a drug-dealing site but fails to stop the illegal activity. Likewise, a homeowner may lose his house to satisfy IRS debts or if the government suspects the home was bought with money derived from criminal acts. The government may seize and sell the property at auction, often far below its fair market value, before the homeowner has been allowed the due process of a trial. If the homeowner is found not guilty, the government is only required to pay back the amount received at auction, and not the market value

fraud
A misstatement of a material fact made with intent to deceive or made with reckless disregard of the truth, and which actually does deceive

Freddie Mac
Chartered by Congress in 1970, Freddie Mac is a publicly held corporation that purchases mortgages in the secondary mortgage market. Freddie Mac came into being as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) with the mission to create a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders. By supplying lenders with the money to make mortgages and packaging the mortgages into marketable securities which are sold to investors, Freddie Mac also helps to sustain a stable mortgage credit system which in turn, reduces the mortgage rates paid by homebuyers. Over the years, Freddie Mac has been responsible for opening the door to homeownership for one out of six home buyers in America who would not have qualified otherwise

front foot
One linear foot (12 inches) along the street side of a lot

FSBO
For Sale By Owner -

functional obsolescence
Loss of value of real property caused by modernization or changing tastes or standards; e.g.. single bath, inadequate closet space, etc. Contrast with economic obsolescence.