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Glossary of Real Estate Terms
This glossary consists of definitions of words used in the text of this site. When you come across a word underlined in blue, click on it to obtain its definition. Definitions will be added for many more real estate terms as we grow. Any words or terms you'd like to see described, just Let Us Know.

AGENCY - (1) A business or service that is authorized to act in its' client(s) best interest, based on the clients wishes. (2) A relationship in which one party represents or acts for another.  (Also see agent.)


AGENT - A real estate agent is a person that has taken courses required by the state, passed the required exam and met the state's qualifications to obtain a license to work under the supervision of a real estate Broker. To maintain an active real estate license, the agent must stay current with continuing education as required by the state.

APPRAISER - A person that estimates the value and marketability of a property is known as a real estate appraiser. Real estate appraisers are typically hired by lenders to inspect a property and provide an unbiased estimate of value for any property that the lender is considering as collateral for a mortgage.

ASSET MANAGERS - Asset managers manage real estate assets for property owners. Real estate asset managers are often employed by lenders to manage foreclosed or distressed properties, and, if necessary, coordinate the sale of the property.

BROKER - A real estate Broker is a real estate agent that has exceeded the experience and educational requirements of an agent, passed the required Broker's exam and met the state's qualifications to obtain a license to handle real estate transactions without supervision. A Broker may also employ agents that work under his/her supervision.

A Broker is authorized to set up "escrow" accounts to handle the funds of buyers and sellers in a transaction, provided that the Broker has obtained a Broker's Bond. To maintain an active real estate license, the agent must stay current with continuing education as required by the state and maintain his/her bond.

BROKER'S BOND - A bond that is purchased by a real estate broker in order to legally handle and/or escrow the funds of buyers and sellers. In the event that a broker mishandles funds, the bond acts as a form of insurance to protect the parties that have a claim to those funds. Currently, a five thousand dollar broker's bond is mandated by the state.

BUYER'S AGENT or BUYER'S BROKER - A buyer's agent or broker that has agreed to represent the interests of the buyer in a real estate transaction.

" The broker owes the buyer undivided loyalty, utmost care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability. The broker must put the buyer's interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client, the buyer."

- From the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate of Real Estate Broker's and Salesmen's Mandatory Agency Disclosure on Agency Relationship.

Click Here to see an example of this form in Adobe® PDF Format. 

DUAL AGENCY - In Massachusetts, an individual real estate agent may elect to represent both a seller and a buyer on the same property, which is known as "dual agency".

In addition, a real estate agency (and it's broker or manager) is in "dual agency" when a buyer's agent and a seller's agent in the same agency represent their clients on the same property.

According to the state, "dual agency" "cannot satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience to lawful instructions which is required of an exclusive seller or buyer agent." "Written consent to dual agency must be obtained by the real estate agent prior to the execution of an offer to purchase a specific property."

- quotes are from the Massachusetts "Mandatory Agency Disclosure", revised July 1, 2005. For further information, refer to the disclosure form.

DESIGNATED AGENCY - In Massachusetts, a real estate agent can be designated by another real estate agent (typically an office manager or broker) to represent either a buyer or seller on the same property, provided that the buyer or seller expressly agrees to such designation.

The "designated" real estate agent is then the agent for either the buyer or seller, who becomes their client. The designated agent owes the buyer or seller undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability, provided, however, that the agent must disclose known material defects in the real estate.

The agent must put their client's interests first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client. In situations where the appointing agent designates another agent to represent the seller and an agent to represent the buyer then the appointing agent becomes a dual agent and cannot satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience to lawful instructions which is required of an exclusive seller or buyer agent.

The dual agent does not represent either the buyer or the seller solely, only the designated agents represent their client's interest. The written consent for designated agency must contain the information provided for in the regulations of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespeople.

A sample designated agency consent is available at the Board's website at: www.mass.gov/dpl/re.

FACILITATOR - When a real estate agent or broker assists a buyer and seller together on the same property and does not represent or advocate for either party, that agent is acting as a facilitator.

FNMA - See Fannie Mae.

FANNIE MAE - (also known as FNMA) is the Federal National Mortgage Association. Fannie Mae is the largest holder of residential mortgages in America. Fannie Mae purchases packages of mortgages from many banks and mortgage companies, thus replenishing the supply of available cash that lenders have on hand to lend to other homebuyers.

As the largest mortgage lender in America, Fannie Mae's guidelines for mortgage eligibility set the standard for loans that are resold on the secondary loan market.

FIRST MORTGAGE - A first mortgage is the primary, and typically the largest, mortgage on a property.

FORECLOSURE - The process by which a lender acquires real estate secured by a mortgage that the borrower has not repaid according to the terms of the mortgage is known as foreclosure.

FREDDIE MAC - (also known as FHLMC) is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Freddie Mac is the second largest holder of residential mortgages in America. (Fannie Mae is the largest.) Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae purchase packages of mortgages from many banks and mortgage companies, thus replenishing the supply of available cash that lenders have on hand to lend to other homebuyers.

FSBO - For Sale By Owner.

JUMBO MORTGAGE - A jumbo mortgage is a loan that is larger than loans that Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac will buy on the secondary market. As a result, jumbo mortgages rates are often higher than loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will purchase.

LISTING - Another name for a property that is "listed" for sale with a real estate agency.

LISTING AGENT or LISTING BROKER - The agent or broker that establishes the business relationship with the seller of a property and is typically responsible for the details of marketing and overseeing the sale is known as the "listing agent".

LISTING AGENCY - The real estate agency that the "listing agent" is affiliated with is known as the "listing agency".

MORTGAGE - A mortgage is a loan that is secured by a borrower's real estate. In the event that the loan is not repaid as promised, the lender may begin the legal process of seizing and selling the real estate to repay the loan. (That process is known as foreclosure.)

MLS - Multiple Listing Service.

MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE - A database of property for sale that is used by members of the Realtor organization to promote properties for sale to agents that might have buyers looking for properties.  Also known as "MLS".

REALTOR - A real estate agent or broker that is a member of the National Association of Realtors is known as a Realtor.  Realtors must adhere to the Realtor's Code Of Ethics in dealing with the public and each other. Click here to view the Realtor's Code Of Ethics.

REPRESENTED - A buyer or seller that has engaged an agent to represent their interests in a real estate transaction. A represented buyer's or seller's agent should give advice to their client to maximize the client's position in the transaction, protect the client's interests and keep the client's motivation and/or financial information confidential if it might lessen their client's negotiating position in any way.

SECONDARY LOAN MARKET - Most lenders resell their loans to other institutions (known as investors) after closing in order raise additional money to lend to other borrowers. The "secondary market" is the name for the institutions that purchase those mortgages.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the largest purchasers of mortgages on the secondary market. Therefore, they set the standards of eligibility for loans that will be sold on the secondary market.

SECOND MORTGAGE - A second mortgage is a loan that is taken against a property in addition to the first mortgage. Because there are additional risks to the lender of a second mortgage, the rate is often higher than the rate on a first mortgage.

SELLER'S AGENT or SELLER'S BROKER - A seller's agent or broker is an agent that has agreed to represent the interests of the seller in a real estate transaction, typically by listing the seller's home for sale. "The broker, and its' subagents, represent the seller. 

They owe the seller undivided loyalty, utmost care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability. They must put the seller's interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client, the seller."

- From the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate of Real Estate Broker's and Salesmen's Mandatory Agency Disclosure on Agency Relationship.

Click Here to see an example of this form in Adobe® PDF Format. 

SUBAGENT — A real estate agent that brings a buyer to view or purchase another agent's listing is working for the seller's agent as a "subagent" unless the buyer has specifically contracted that agent to work for the buyer as a buyer's agent.

A "subagent" is legally bound to work to get the best terms and conditions for the seller and must convey information known about the buyer to the seller. Agents in Massachusetts are typically acting as seller's agents or subagents unless the buyer has contracted a buyer's agent or the agent is working as a "facilitator".

SUB AGENCY - "Sub agency" is the term for the legal relationship between brokers that is created when an agent works as a "subagent" (see above).

SINGLE AGENCY - When an entire real estate agency represents either the buyer or the seller of a property, but never both in the same transaction, that agency practices "single agency". Agencies that practice "single agency" never practice "dual agency" or "designated agency".

TRUE BUYER BROKERAGE - This is a term that is typically used among buyer's agents and brokers to refer to buyer's brokers that will not practice "dual agency" or "designated agency".

When a buyer enters into a relationship with a Realtor that practices "true seller's brokerage", the seller is assured that the broker will never act in any way that will conflict with the seller's best interests in the transaction.

TRUE SELLER BROKERAGE - This is a term that is typically used among buyer's agents and brokers to refer to seller's brokers that will not practice "dual agency" or "designated agency". When a buyer enters into a relationship with a Realtor that practices "true buyer brokerage", the buyer is assured that the broker will never act in any way that will conflict with the buyer's best interests in the transaction.

UNREPRESENTED - A buyer or seller that has not engaged the services of an agent to represent him/her in a real estate purchase or sale is "unrepresented". Also see "represented".

 
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