Glossary

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1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange is a powerful tax-deferment strategy for real estate held as an investment. It allows an investor to sell a property without paying capital gains on the sale.

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A

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession, or “squatter’s rights,” is a legal ruling that transfers property ownership based on continuous occupancy over an extended period of time

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After Repair Value (ARV)

After-repair value, or ARV, is the potential sales price of a home or investment property as determined by the market. Start your investing journey today.

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Amenity

An amenity is a desirable or useful feature or facility within a property structure. Amenities are typically features that are highlighted and pitched to renters when they are looking to rent at a certain complex.

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Amortization

Amortization is the gradual process of an outstanding loan balance dropping over time as the borrower makes monthly payments.

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Appraiser

An appraiser is a trained, licensed professional tasked with evaluating a property to estimate its current fair value in the marketplace.

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Appreciation

Appreciation is the rise in value of an asset over time, typically relating to the value of an entire asset class, such as real estate, stocks, bonds, and currencies.

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APR

The Annual Percentage Rate, or APR, is the yearly amount that must be paid by a borrower in order to maintain and to pay off a loan.

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B

Broker

A broker is a middleman, or matchmaker, who connects a buyer and a seller. In real estate, a broker’s job is to match homebuyers and home sellers, while being paid a commission.

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C

Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditures (CapEx) are investments in long-term, fixed assets—like a new roof or company equipment. Learn more at the BiggerPockets Glossary.

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Capital Gains Tax

When you sell an asset for more than you paid for it, you trigger what is called a capital gains tax—but there are ways to avoid paying this pricey tax.

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Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance allows homeowners to take out a new mortgage and receive additional cash, which can be used for renovations or debt pay-off.

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Closing Costs

Closing costs are payments by both buyers and sellers that occur during a real estate transaction, such as the sale or purchase of a house.

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Consumer Price Index

The Consumer Price Index is a vital economic indicator that measures how much the cost of consumer goods and services increase over a year.

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D

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

The debt-to-income ratio calculates the ratio of monthly debt to gross income. Lenders use this number to understand how much house a buyer can afford.

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Deed

A deed is the document showing proof of ownership for land or property. Learn more about this essential element of the real estate buying and selling process.

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Default

Default is the failure to repay a debt, such as a mortgage. This can lead to eviction and foreclosure and can dramatically affect a borrower’s credit.

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Depreciation

Depreciation is how goods and assets lose value. But that’s not a bad thing—for savvy investors, it’s a tax strategy. Learn more about depreciation here.

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Downturn

An economic downturn happens when a country’s gross domestic product turns stagnant or starts to fall due to decreased consumer confidence. It can lead to a recession.

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Dual Agency

Dual agency is when a real estate agent represents both the buyers and the sellers in a transaction. It's typically a bad idea—here's why.

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E

Earnest Money

When purchasing real estate, earnest money—or a good faith deposit—shows sellers you're serious. Learn more about this step in the home-buying process here.

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Egress

Egress is another word for "a way to get out." When buying real estate or expanding a basement, you'll want to follow local code. Here's what you should know.

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Eminent Domain

The Fifth Amendment grants the federal government the power of eminent domain, which allows it to take private property and convert it to public use.

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Equity

Equity is the difference between the market value of a property and the amount of money that is still owed on the loan. A broad term, equity, at its essence, is about ownership.

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Estate

A word with deep legal origins, “estate” has been consistently defined for centuries while adapting to the needs of the times. In essence, one’s estate is everything they own; it’s everything that belongs to a person.

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Eviction

An economic downturn happens when a country’s gross domestic product turns stagnant or starts to fall due to decreased consumer confidence. It can lead to a recession.

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F

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act prevents housing discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, and a number of other factors and identities. Learn more here.

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Fair Market Value (FMV)

Fair market value determines an asset’s value—like the appropriate purchase price for a house. Learn more about calculating fair market value here.

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FHA Loan

FHA loans are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), meant to boost home ownership among low-to-moderate income individuals.

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Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed-rate mortgage charges a set interest rate that doesn't change during the term of the loan. Learn more about these mortgages here.

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For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner (FSBO) is a real estate transaction where a property owner chooses not to hire a real estate agent and instead sells the property themselves.

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Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a legal process whereby a lender takes ownership of a property from the borrower after the borrower fails to honor their commitment to pay off their loan.

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Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership is when two or more investors purchase a property together. Start your real estate investing journey today with the BiggerPockets Glossary.

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Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac, like Fannie Mae, is a home mortgage company created by the U.S. Congress. It buys and guarantees mortgages through the secondary mortgage market.

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G

Gentrification

Gentrification is a process where a neighborhood undergoes urban development, involving an influx of higher-income residents to an otherwise abandoned or rundown area.

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Ground Lease

A ground lease gives tenants permission to develop a plot of land over the course of the lease. Start your real estate investing journey at BiggerPockets.

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H

Hard Money Loan

What is a hard money loan? We explain how this unique financing option can help your real estate investment strategy at the BiggerPockets Glossary.

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HELOC

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a home loan that uses the equity in your home as collateral. Here’s how they can help you achieve your investment goals.

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Home Inspection

A home inspection is an examination of a home—from the foundation to the roof and many things in between—that is meant to be objective.

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Home Warranty

A home warranty covers the repair and replacement of appliances and home systems, such as water heaters, plumbing, and HVAC.

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Housing Starts

Housing starts is the number of new residential construction projects that begin in a month. Learn more and start your real estate investment journey today.

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I

Inflation

Inflation is the steady increase in the average prices of goods and services over time. Inflation reduces a currency’s purchasing power.

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Ingress

Ingress provides legal access for a landlocked real estate owner through a private road or driveway. Learn more about ingress and land use agreements.

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Interest

Interest rates determine how much it costs to borrow money, like when buying a house, or how much return you’ll receive on an investment.

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Intestate

When someone dies intestate, it means that they passed without leaving a valid will. As a result, their estate goes into a process called intestate succession.

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J

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is one type of property ownership, which gives two parties equal rights. Learn more about joint tenancy here.

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Jumbo Loan

A jumbo loan is a special mortgage that finances real estate that is too expensive for a conventional conforming loan. They are also called non-conforming loans.

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L

Landlord

A landlord is a person or organization that leases real estate they own to another individual or organization in exchange for rent. Learn more about landlords here.

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Lease

A lease is a legal agreement between a landlord and a renter allowing the renter to use a property for a specific period of time in exchange for rent payments.

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Lender

Lenders are people or companies that allow you to borrow money with the promise that it will be repaid. Repayment includes principal and interest, and may include monthly payments or a lump sum payment.

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Leverage

Real estate leverage is when you use debt to buy investment properties, expand your potential return on investment and increase your net worth.

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Lien

A lien is a financial claim on a property that gives creditors legal rights — such as allowing a bank to foreclose on or sell a house.

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M

Mortgage

A mortgage is a loan used to buy a house or other real estate. In other words, it’s a fancy term for “home loan.”

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Mortgage Broker

A mortgage broker serves as a middleman between homebuyers and lenders. They can shop different lenders to find borrowers the best rate and loan terms.

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N

Net Worth

Net worth, also known as personal capital, is like your personal balance sheet. It’s all the assets you own less the debts you owe—acting as a snapshot of your personal wealth.

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Note

A note creates a financial obligation between a creditor and an investor, typically in the form of a loan. Learn about smart note investment strategies here.

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O

Offer

An offer is a proposal to buy or sell property for a set price, most commonly used during the home-buying process. Learn more about how offers work here.

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P

PITI

PITI refers to essential elements of your mortgage payment: principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Learn more about PITI payments at BiggerPockets.

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Pre-Approval Letter

A pre-approval letter includes documentation stating exactly how much mortgage a homebuyer has been conditionally approved to borrow. Learn more here.

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Probate

Probate is a court procedure that administers a deceased person’s will. Real estate investors can search probate property to find below-market deals.

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Property Manager

Property managers are individuals or companies that are hired to manage a rental property. They handle day-to-day operations, find tenants and collect rent.

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Q

Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is a quick way to transfer property to a new owner. Many times, these transfers don’t involve

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R

Real Estate

Real estate encompasses land and property, plus any associated structures or resources, which investors can buy, sell, and rent to increase their income.

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Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent arranges real estate transactions by connecting people selling real estate with people interested in buying real estate.

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Recession

A recession is a period of decreasing economic activity that can negatively affect the financial markets.

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Refinance Rate

The refinance rate is the APR for a mortgage refinance, such as a cash-out refinance. You can save money if it’s better than your current rate.

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Rent To Own Homes (RTO)

Rent-to-own homes allow renters to buy the property they live in at a later date. Before the purchase, they make regular payments and manage home maintenance.

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Return On Investment (ROI)

Return on investment, or ROI, measures how much net profit is made on an investment, displayed as a percentage of the cost of that investment.

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Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage helps homeowners convert equity into income. Learn how this type of mortgage could help you at the BiggerPockets Glossary.

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S

Security Deposit

Landlords require a security deposit before move-in to act as a guarantee against property damages—but most security deposits are refundable.

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Short Sale

A short sale is the sale of a property currently underwater on its mortgage, and typically is initiated as an alternative to foreclosure. Learn more here.

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Squatter

A squatter occupies real estate without having a proper legal claim. Most of the time, squatters can’t be removed—they must instead be evicted. Here’s how.

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Sublease

A sublease is when a tenant rents a property to another tenant. In most cities, real estate investors can decide whether they want to permit subletting.

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Syndicate

Syndicates are partnerships between people or companies to handle large transactions — like real estate purchases. Learn more about real estate syndicates here.

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T

Tax Lien

Find out more about Tax Liens and how they work on the BiggerPockets Glossary. Read the full definition here!

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Tenants By Entirety

Tenants by entirety (TBE) is an important concept to understand if you plan to buy real estate—regardless of whether you're an investor or first-time buyer.

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Timeshare

A timeshare is an agreement in which many individuals share the costs of a property.

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Title

A title defines who owns a real estate property. Here’s what you need to know about property titles — including how title searches and insurance work.

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Title Insurance

Title insurance protects either a lender or a homebuyer from claims against a home’s title, such as liens or encumbrances. Learn more here.

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U

Under Contract

If a home is listed as "under contract," that means the owners have accepted an offer. But it's not sold yet! Learn more at the BiggerPockets glossary.

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Underwriter

A mortgage underwriter decides whether your mortgage loan application gets approved, suspended or denied. Learn more and start your investing journey here.

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Unsecured Loan

An unsecured loan is a loan that does not require collateral, such as real estate. These loans typically have higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms.

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W

Warranty Deed

A warranty deed guarantees the personal ownership of property, and is an essential protection against foreclosure. Learn more at the BiggerPockets Glossary.

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