As with all forms of the law, real estate documents and transactions come with their own terms and vocabulary. For the average real estate buyer or seller, these terms may be unfamiliar, as they are used differently in real estate legal documents than they are in other contexts. If you come across any terms in your real estate documents that you don’t recognize, it is important to discuss these with your real estate lawyer.
Here are 8 common terms we have frequently discussed with our clients during real estate transactions:
- Real estate broker: A real estate broker has passed the state broker’s exam and completed a minimum number of real estate transactions. A broker can act as a seller’s agent, a buyer’s agent, or both.
- REALTOR®: When you see this term in all caps with a registered trademark symbol, you can be confident that your real estate professional is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and will abide by a strict Code of Ethics in all their real estate dealings.
- Foreclosure: This legal process can occur if a property owner does not make their mortgage payments or meet their mortgage agreement for 90 days or more. The lender generally assumes control of the property, and the former owner must forfeit all their rights to the property.
- Probate sale: If someone passes away without a legal will, their property will be dealt with in probate court. Generally, the estate attorney tasks a real estate agent with selling the property, and this complicated process can take more time than conventional sales.
- Short sale: A short sale may allow someone to avoid foreclosure on their property. The property is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage, and the seller may pay the difference to the lender.
- Trust sale: If someone passes away and their assets are held in a living trust, the home may need to be sold by the trustee. The rules for disclosure may be different as the trustee has never occupied the property for sale.
- Property deed: This is the legal document prepared by your real estate lawyer that transfers the property title to a new owner at a real estate closing. This legal document describes the property and the specific real estate transaction that is occurring.
- Property title: While the deed is a physical document, the property title is more of a concept representing who legally owns a property.
Your real estate lawyer wants to ensure success in your real estate transactions, so don’t hesitate to discuss the definition and implications of any unfamiliar terms or vocabulary.