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Back-end ratio

A calculation used by lenders to compare a borrower's total debt to their gross monthly income.

Back-to-back escrow
An arrangement by a property owner to oversee the sale of one property and the purchase of another at the same time.

Back title letter
A letter that a title insurance company gives to an attorney who then examines the title for insurance purposes.

Soil used to solidify the foundation of a structure.

The area behind and above a countertop.  Widely used in kitchens as these assist in preventing water from splashing onto the wallboard.

Backup offer
A secondary bid for a property that the seller may accept if the first offer fails.

A device used as a heat shield to deflect the byproducts of combustion.

Balance sheet
A statement providing the assets, liabilities and net worth of an individual.

Ball cock
A type of inlet valve assembly inside a toilet tank that, when opened automatically, fills the tank with water.

Ball cock assembly
The toilet tank mechanism that controls flushing.

Balloon Mortgage
a mortgage that typically offers low rates for an initial period of time (usually 5, 7, or 10) years; after that time period elapses, the balance is due or is refinanced by the borrower.

Balloon payment
The final lump sum payment due at the end of a balloon mortgage.

Balloon-frame construction
Framing used in two-story homes where studs extend from the ground to the ceiling of the second floor.

Intermediate vertical support for a stair railing.

Railing held up by a set of posts on a porch or stairway.

a federal law Whereby a person's assets are turned over to a trustee and used to pay off outstanding debts; this usually occurs when someone owes more than they have the ability to repay.

Bargain sale
The sale of property for less than market value.

Base loan amount
The loan amount upon which payments are based.  If the borrower chooses to finance closing costs or other fees these costs will be added to the base loan amount and payments adjusted to reflect the larger loan balance.

A board or molding found at the bottom of an interior wall.

Baseboard electric heat
Heating units installed in the floor controlled by a central thermostat.

The area of a home below ground level.

Basis point
A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.  For example, the difference between a home loan at 5.25 percent and one at 5.37 percent is 12 basis points.

A narrow piece of material used on the outside of a house to cover joints in walls.

The opening between two columns or walls that forms a space.

Bay window
A window that projects outward in a curve.

Bearing wall
A wall that supports its own weight in addition to other parts of a structure.

Before-tax income
Total income before any taxes are deducted.

Personal property given to a person through a will.

An improvement that increases property value as opposed to repairs that maintain the value.

A home with two (2) levels.

Bi-metal coil
Part of a mechanical thermostat
consisting of two (2) different types of metal which expand and contract at two different rates according to changes in room temperature.

Bid out
The process that contractors use to estimate the cost of construction.

Bidding war
Offers from multiple buyers for a piece of property.

Bill of sale
A legal document transferring ownership of personal property.

A report detailing the condition of a property's title.  Usually issued by a title insurance company to provide guidelines for issuing a title insurance policy.

Biweekly mortgage
A mortgage that requires payments every two weeks and helps repay the loan over a shorter term.

Blanket insurance policy
An insurance policy covering more than one person or piece of property.

Blanket mortgage or Trust DEED
A mortgage or trust deed that covers more than one lot or parcel of real property, and often an entire subdivision. As individual lots are sold, a partial reconveyance from the blanket mortgage is ordinarily obtained. (very rare)

Blighted area
A neighborhood that has deteriorated.

Blind nailing
Nails driven into a wall and concealed with putty.

The illegal practice of inducing homeowners to sell their properties by making representations regarding the entry of a particular race into the neighborhood.

Blue-ribbon condition
A house maintained close to its original condition. Also called mint condition.

A very detailed plan for a home or other property structure.

Board of equalization
A state board responsible for ensuring local property taxes are assessed in a uniform manner.

Bona fide
A legal term referring to actions or persons that are honest and in good faith.

An instrument that insures one party against loss by acts or defaults of another party.

One who buys property in good faith, for fair value, and without notice of any adverse claim or right of third parties.

Bonus room
A room with no specifically designated function
unlike a living room, bedroom, or kitchen.

Book value
The value of a property based on its cost plus any additions, minus depreciation.

A piece of sheet metal that connects a heating or cooling duct and a vent.

Boring test
An analysis of soil where holes are bored into the ground and samples removed.

A section of a city that has authority over local matters.

Sand, gravel, or other material used for grading.

Borrow pit
The hole at a construction site that has been excavated.

A street lined with trees or constructed with a landscaped median.

The dividing line between two adjacent properties.

Braced framing
A construction method in two-story homes where the frame is reinforced with posts & braces.

The technique used to reinforce a structure.

Branch circuit
An electrical circuit with its own circuit breaker in the service panel.

Breach of contract
The failure to perform provisions of a contract without a legal excuse.

Breach of covenant
The failure to obey a legal agreement.

Breach of warranty
A seller's inability to pass clear title to a buyer.

Break-even point
The point in which the owner's rental income matches expenses and debt.

A roofed passageway with open sides.

Building material made from clay molded into oblong blocks and fired in a kiln.

Brick veneer
A brick facade on a wall or fireplace.

Bridge loan
A short-term loan for borrowers who need more time to find permanent financing.

Anyone who acts as a go-between between a buyer and seller.  For example, a real estate broker is licensed to handle property transactions and negotiate between a buyer and seller.  A mortgage broker acts as a go-between with the lender and the borrower.

The act of bringing together two or more parties in exchange for a fee or commission.  Common brokerage companies include real estate brokerage and mortgage brokers.

Broom clean
The ideal condition of a building when it is turned over to a new owner or tenant.

A vintage row house constructed of red sandstone.

Buffer strip
A parcel of land that separates two or more properties.

The feasibility of constructing a home or other structure on a piece of land.

Builder upgrades
Extra features or higher quality finishing materials offered by home builders.

Building and loan association
An organization that raises money to helps its members purchase real estate or construct a building.

Building code
based on agreed upon safety standards within a specific area, a building code is a regulation that determines the design, construction, and materials used in building.

An agreement between an owner or lessee and a building contractor, setting forth terms relative to the construction of a proposed structure.

Building inspector
A government employee who is responsible for enforcing the local building codes and ensuring the work is correctly performed by the builder.

Building line or setback
Guidelines that limit how close an owner can build to the street or an adjacent property.

Building moratorium
A halt on home construction to slow the rate of development.

Building paper
A thick, water-resistant paper that serves as insulation.

Building permit
A permit issued by a local government agency that allows the construction or renovation of a house.

Building restrictions
Regulations that limit the manner in which property can be used.

Appliances or other items that are framed into a home or permanently attached.

A retaining wall designed to hold back water from the ocean or other body of water.

Bundle of rights
The various interests or rights an owner has in a property.

A small one-story house or cottage.

The way in which two boards meet so that the ends touch in a continuous line.

Butterfly roof
A roof formed by two gables that dip in the middle to resemble the wings of a butterfly.

A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer, third party, or some combination of these, causing the lender to reduce the interest rate during the early years of a loan. The buydown is usually for the first one to five years of the loan.

Buydown mortgage
A home loan program where the lender receives a premium as an enticement to reduce the interest rate during the early years of the mortgage.

Buyer's agent
An agent representing a buyer in a home purchase, either as a single agent or as an exclusive buyer's broker.

Buyer's broker
A real estate broker who exclusively represents the buyer's interests in a transaction and whose commission is paid either by the buyer or through the seller or listing broker at closing.

Buyer's market
A slow real estate market in which buyers have the advantage.

Buyer's remorse
An emotion felt by first-time homebuyers after signing a sales contract or closing the purchase of a house.

Rules and regulations that a homeowners association or corporation adopts to govern activities.