Essential Real Estate Terms for Homebuyers and Sellers

Like many industries, the real estate sector can be complex with its own set of unique terminology. Whether you’re a homebuyer or seller, you don’t have to master these terms. However, understanding them can help you make informed decisions and navigate through different processes with clarity. 

Real Estate Agent and Their Role in the Buying and Selling Process

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who works in the real estate sector. They can represent buyers or sellers, guiding them through the process and protecting their interests. A top real estate agent can help with:

  • Market insights
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Paperwork
  • Resources
  • And more. 

Understanding Mortgage Terms

While some people may purchase homes for upfront cash, most use financing. Well, mortgages are the most common financing option. There are many different types of mortgages, including adjustable rate mortgages and fixed rate mortgages. 

So, what are adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) in real estate? In a nutshell, the interest rate fluctuates over the ARM loan term. Contrast this with fixed rate mortgages where the interest rate remains constant. 

A lender will often need an appraisal before approving a mortgage. So, what is a home appraisal? Well, this is an unbiased professional estimation of a property’s value. 

The Importance of a Credit Score

A credit score is essentially a numerical representation of a person’s creditworthiness. Lenders may check a mortgage applicant’s credit report to decide whether they should approve a loan and what the loan terms should be. Another factor they may use is the debt-to-income ratio, which measures the amount of income a person generates compared to their debt. 

Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval

Although the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings. The former is an initial assessment of a person’s financial situation based on their self-reported information. It can be less reliable than the latter, which is a more formal verification process of financial data. 

Proof of Funds 

A seller will usually demand proof of funds when receiving an offer. Providing proof of funds demonstrates your financial capability and strengthens your offer. Examples of this evidence include:

Seller Disclosure and Its Role in the Buying Process

In some locations, it’s the duty of the seller to disclose certain facts about a property that may impact its value. Examples of this information include known defects, previous repairs, or any other material facts that affect the property’s desirability. 

The Importance of a Home Inspection

Buyers should hire a professional to complete a home inspection. Here, a home inspector will check the property’s condition, including its components and structure for defects. This information allows you to make an informed decision and negotiate repairs or price adjustments if needed.

As-Is Properties and Their Implications

Some sellers may sell as-is properties without any guarantees. Here, the buyer assumes all responsibility for the home, including maintenance and repair concerns. 

The Closing Process

The final stage of the transaction is called the closing process. Here, the ownership of the property is transferred between parties.

Understanding Closing Costs

Of course, there are multiple fees associated with the sale of a property called closing costs. Examples of these expenses include lender fees, title fees, and government fees. 

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. By learning common real estate terms, buyers and sellers can make more informed decisions and have a smoother experience.