As we navigate a complex world of real estate transactions, representations and engagements with out clients, we want to make sure you’re always educated, knowledgeable and comfortable. Browse through our extensive list of commonly used real estate terms and phrases.


An expression of the desire to purchase a property at a specific price. Once an offer is made and then accepted it leads to the purchase of the property.

Powder Room 

Also known as a half bath. A powder room is a bathroom without a shower or a bath.


A charge levied by the lender on the borrower for the mortgage for prepaid interest. Each point is equal to 1% of the principal of the mortgage.

Property Tax 

The tax issued on the ownership of property.

Pied a Terre 

A French term that refers to an apartment that is not the primary residence of the owner. A Pied a Terre is used when a person lives in another location and comes to Boston several times a month or a few weeks a year.


A luxury apartment at or near the top of a building.


A law enacted by the local government.

Open Listing 

A listing where the owner of the property hires more than one broker and only pays commission to the one that provides the purchaser.

Open House 

A specified time when a property that is for sale is advertised by opening its doors to prospective buyers. A broker advertises an open house to help the sale of the property.

Offer Accepted 

The term refers to when the owner of the property agrees and accepts the offer and terms of the purchaser.


A recommendation made to a client about the services of a particular agent or firm.


 To verify the authenticity of a signature by a certified Notary Public.


The process of discussing an issue between two parties who are working towards the same goal. Successful negotiation usually leads to a contract and then a sale.


Money borrowed from a lender in order to purchase a piece of property. Mortgages vary in terms of length as well interest rates.

Market Value 

An estimation of the price for a property in relation to the current real estate market.


Monthly charges paid by the owner or tenant of a condominium building for that person’s share of costs of keeping the common-use portions of the building in good condition. This includes the daily cost to operate the building and it is calculated based on each individual unit.


A measured section of land.


A loft refers to open living space that was converted from commercial space to residential space. Lofts contain very high ceilings, large windows and open space.


The agreement that allows a real estate professional to market a property. Available apartments are also referred to as listings.

Term, Amortization 

The term in which the interest and principal payments of a loan must be made.


An area set by local law for specific use with certain rules and regulations.

Walk Through Inspection 

The inspection of a property immediately before the closing to ensure that the property does not have any new damages.

Walk Up Building 

A building that does not have an elevator. Most walk up buildings are four to six floors.


To move out and leave the property.


Services such as water, gas, electricity, telephone and television. Utilities in some buildings throughout the city are included in the maintenance charges.


 A single residence within a building.


An apartment that has three levels.


A townhouse is a private residence where at least one wall is shared with another residence.


The legal term for the evidence that the owner is in lawful possession of the land and property.


A legal claim against property for money owed.


A specified period of time.

Tax Deductible 

An expense that reduces taxable income. The most common deduction for a home owner is interest paid on their mortgage.


The term used when an owner of an apartment decides to rent the apartment to a tenant.

Square Footage 

The area measured in square feet of a certain property. Square footage can be measured in different ways and is usually considered approximate. Condominium apartments have specific laws that determine the way which the apartment is measured therefore condominium measurements are more accurate.

Security Deposit 

A payment required by a landlord to guarantee that the tenant meets his or her obligations under the lease and to guard against any potential damages that may be incurred during the term of the lease.

Sale Price 

The amount of money paid by the purchaser to the seller. Also known as the purchase price.

Reserve Fund 

An account reserved to provide funds for future expenses in order to maintain the cooperative or condominium building.

Rental Building 

A building where the apartments are only rented and not sold.

Capital Expenditure

An improvement that will have a life of one year or more and will increase the value of the property.


Property changing to a different form of ownership, such as a condominium to a cooperative or a commercial building to a residential building.


A legally binding agreement between two parties. To have a valid contract for the sale of Real Estate there must be:

  • an offer
  • an acceptance
  • competent parties
  • consideration
  • legal purpose
  • written documentation
  • description of the property
  • signatures of the principals


 A building where individuals own individual units but share common areas with the other unit owners of the building. A more liberal type of ownership than Coops, Condominiums also have more lenient policies regarding subletting and pets.

Common Area 

The area on the property or in the building that is available for use to all owners and tenants.

Commission Split 

The sharing of commissions between the listing agent and the broker of the buyer.


Payment to the broker for his or her efforts on marketing and selling the property it is usually a percentage of the total purchase price.


This is the term used when a broker sends out their listing to other brokers and other firms. The brokerage community then receives the listings and the commission will now be split evenly between the seller’s broker and the firm that provides the buyer of the property. All sales listings and most rental listings are co-broked in Boston.


The transfer of ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer according to the sales contract.

Certificate of Occupancy 

Each building is required to have a Certificate of Occupancy which permits the structure to be occupied by members of the public. This means that the building is in compliance to health and building codes.


A type of ownership of property. This is when the individual unit owners own shares in the cooperative building and do not own the actual property. The amount of shares owned is determined by the value and size of the apartment. The cooperative building owns all of the units and the purchaser is buying stock in the building. These are very common in New York City but rarely found in Boston.

Building Restrictions 

Requirements in building codes that affect the size and appearance of the building.

Building Amenities 

The assets that buildings offer its owners or tenants. These can include a doorman, health club, club, garage etc.


 A 19th century house which shares a common wall with the neighboring property.


A state licensed sales agent who acts for property owners and prospective purchasers in Real Estate transactions.


The process by which a right or contract is transferred from one party to another. Assigned contracts include mortgages, leases and deeds of trust.


An estimate of the value of the property. One may have an appraisal to determine the offering price during a sale.


The benefits from home ownership, such as a feature that enhances value.

Air Rights

The right to use or control the space above a property. Air Rights can also be sold, rented or leased to another party.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage 

A loan where the interest rate remains constant over the entire term of the loan.


A written agreement to rent a property or part of a property from the owner.

Interest Rates 

The cost of borrowing money from a lender. Rates change over time and are set by the Federal Reserve.

Half Bath 

A bathroom without a bath or a shower.

Grandfather Clause 

If a new law is passed or an old is changed those people whose activity was legal under the previous law are allowed to continue because of this condition. This law is common with pets; some buildings that do not allow pets now, did in past, therefore, those owners are allowed to keep their pets.

Full Bath 

A bathroom with a bath or a shower.


 An enforcement process in which the lender under a defaulted mortgage takes title to the property for the purposes of selling it to recoup moneys owed under the mortgage.

Floor Plan 

A scale diagram of the arrangement of rooms and their sizes drawn by an architect.

Adjustable Rate 

A loan where the interest rate is not fixed over the term but is allowed to vary according to the change in a specified index.

Abstract of Title 

A historical summary of the recorded instruments and proceedings on the title of a property.

Firm Price

An asking price for a property that is not open for negotiation.


Borrowing money to purchase a property.


 The exterior front wall of a building.

Exclusive Listing 

A contract whereby the owner of a property grants a single broker the right to market the property for sale.

Estate for Life 

The interest of real property that ends with the death of a person.


The word used to describe the collection of all assets of a deceased person. Also, the extent of interest a person has in real property.


A state where consideration, benefits, legal rights, money, documents or other valuables are transferred to another party in advance of that party’s legal claim to them, on the basis that the legal claim will arise at a given point in the future. It is a form of trust.

Duplex Apartment 

An apartment that has two levels.