Real Estate Glossary



One who holds real property primarily for sale to customers, merchandise is inventory and gain on sale is treated as ordinary income.


An amount owed to another.


The legal document conveying title to a property.

deed of trust

Some states, like California, do not record mortgages. Instead, they record a deed of trust which is essentially the same thing.


Short for deed in lieu of foreclosure, this conveys title to the lender when the borrower is in default and wants to avoid foreclosure. The lender may or may not cease foreclosure activities if a borrower asks to provide a deed-in-lieu. Regardless of whether the lender accepts the deed-in-lieu, the avoidance and non-repayment of debt will most likely show on a credit history. What a deed-in-lieu may prevent is having the documents preparatory to a foreclosure being recorded and become a matter of public record.


Failure to make the mortgage payment within a specified period of time. For first mortgages or first trust deeds, if a payment has still not been made within 30 days of the due date, the loan is considered to be in default.


Failure to make mortgage payments when mortgage payments are due. For most mortgages, payments are due on the first day of the month. Even though they may not charge a late fee for a number of days, the payment is still considered to be late and the loan delinquent. When a loan payment is more than 30 days late, most lenders report the late payment to one or more credit bureaus.


A sum of money given in advance of a larger amount being expected in the future. Often called in real estate as an earnest money deposit.


A decline in the value of property; the opposite of appreciation. Depreciation is also an accounting term which shows the declining monetary value of an asset and is used as an expense to reduce taxable income. Since this is not a true expense where money is actually paid, lenders will add back depreciation expense for self-employed borrowers and count it as income.

discount points

In the mortgage industry, this term is usually used in only in reference to government loans, meaning FHA and VA loans. Discount points refer to any points paid in addition to the one percent loan origination fee. A point is one percent of the loan amount.

down payment

The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage.

Due-on-Sale Clause

A clause in many mortgages that allows the lender to call the loan due immediately if the property is sold. In general lenders are not very aggressive in enforcing this clause as long as they continue to be paid their monthly payment.

Due-on-Sale Provision

A provision in a mortgage that allows the lender to demand repayment in full if the borrower sells the property that serves as security for the mortgage.