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A movable plate in a fireplace that allows smoke and fumes to travel up the chimney's flue.

Days on the market
The period of time a property is listed for sale prior to being sold or taken off the market.

Deadbolt lock
A lock that requires a key to open from the outside and a turn button from the inside.

Any amount one person owes to another.

Debt assumption letter
The formal transfer of debt from one party to another, backed by a contract of assumption signed by both parties.  Also known as assignment of debt.

Debt-to-Income Ratio
A comparison of gross income to housing and non-housing expenses; With the FHA, the-monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 29% of monthly gross income (before taxes) and the mortgage payment combined with non-housing debts should not exceed 41% of income.

One who owes a debt.

A deceased person.


A roofless, floored area that adjoins a house.

Decorating allowance

An amount of money to be applied toward negotiated decorating changes.  This money is supplied by the seller and held in escrow for the buyer.

A probate court decree which determines how the estate of a decedent shall be distributed.

Written document by which an estate or interest in real property is transferred from one person to another. The person who transfers the interest is called the grantor. The one who acquires the interest is called the grantee. Examples of deeds are grant deeds, administrators' deeds, executors' deeds, quitclaim deeds, etc. The deed to use depends on the language of the deed, the legal capacity of the grantor and other circumstances.

A written document by which the title to land is conveyed as security for the repayment of a loan or other obligation. It is a form of mortgage. The landowner or debtor is called the trustor. The party to whom the legal title is conveyed (and who may be called on to conduct a sale thereof if the loan is not paid) is the trustee. The lender is the beneficiary. When the loan is paid off, the trustee is asked by the beneficiary to issue a "recon" or reconveyance. This reconveyance corresponds to the release that the holder of a mortgage executes when the mortgage is paid off.

Limitations in the deed to a property that dictate certain uses that may or not be made of the property.

To avoid foreclosure ("in lieu" of foreclosure), a deed is given to the lender to fulfill the obligation to repay the debt; this process doesn't allow the borrower to remain in the house but helps avoid the costs, time, and effort associated with foreclosure.

Deep-seal floor drain
A drain used to dispose of water from the basement floor to a sewer line.

The inability to pay monthly mortgage payments in a timely manner or to otherwise meet the mortgage terms such as making monthly mortgage payments.

Deferred maintenance
Any repair or maintenance of a piece of property that has been postponed, resulting in a decline in property value.

A blemish, imperfection or deficiency. A defective title is one that is irregular and faulty.

(1) Title to a negotiable instrument obtained by fraud; (2) Title to real property which lacks some of the elements necessary to transfer good title.

Failure of a borrower to make timely mortgage payments under a loan agreement.

Delinquent mortgage
A mortgage that involves a borrower who is behind on payments.  If the borrower cannot bring the payments up to date within a specified number of days the lender may begin foreclosure proceedings.

A note having no date for repayment, but due on demand of the lender.

Density test
An analysis of soil to determine if the surface can support the foundation of a house.

Small rectangular blocks that project from a building.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
An independent agency of the federal government which guarantees long-term, low or no down payment mortgages to eligible veterans.

Funds provided by the buyer with an offer to purchase property.  Also referred to as "earnest money".

The decline in value of a piece of property.

The exact location of a piece of real property stated in terms of lot, block, tract, part lot, metes and bounds, recorded instruments, or US Government survey (sectionalized). This is also referred to as legal description of property.

Dimension plans
Plans which show the layout of a house but are less detailed than full blueprints.

Dimensional lumber
Single pieces of lumber sawed to standard dimensions.

A light switch that controls the brightness of one or more lights.

To create a slight dent with a light blow of a hammer when driving a nail.

Dip tube
An extension of the water supply line into a storage tank.

Disability insurance
An insurance policy that protects the policy holders ability to produce income.

A statement to a potential buyer listing information relevant to a piece of property, such as the presence of radon or lead paint.

Discount points
Normally paid at closing and generally calculated to be equivalent to 1% of the total loan amount, discount points are paid to reduce the interest rate on a loan.

Distressed property
Property that is in poor physical or financial condition.

Document needs list
A list of documents required by a lender from a potential borrower submitting a loan application.  Documents requested can range from paycheck stubs to bank statements.

Documentation Preparation Fee
A fee charged by lenders, brokers and/or settlement agents to prepare the necessary documents for closing.

Domed ceiling
A hemispherical ceiling that projects upward without support.

A persons primary or permanent home.

A window set upright in a sloping roof.

Double-hung window
A window that consists of two sashes that slide up and down.

Dovetail joints
Joints that lock two pieces of wood together with meshed teeth.

A length of wood that is round in profile and made of hardwood.

Dowel plug
A short piece of a wooden dowel typically fitted into a counterbored hole to hide the head of a screw.

Down payment
The difference between the purchase price and the portion financed by a mortgage lender.

A vertical gutter that empties water from the roof to the ground.

Drain auger
Also called a snake.  A long, coiled-wire tool that you can unwind and push into a drain line to free a clog.

Drain flange
The round metal trim that fits into the hole at the bottom of a sink or bathtub.

Drain valve
A valve used to drain a water storage tank in order to perform maintenance or replacement.

A system of gutters and drainpipes that carry water away from the foundation of a house.

Part of a home's plumbing system that carries waste to the sewer or septic system.

A payment made to contractors, subcontractors, home builders or suppliers from the proceeds of a construction loan.

Drip caps
Angled strips of metal flashing that are designed to protect the eaves from water damage.

Drip loop
A loop in the service conductor that minimizes the chance of water penetration.

Dropped ceiling
A flat ceiling built lower than the original ceiling.

Dry rot
A fungal decay that causes wood to become brittle and crumble.

A construction material composed of gypsum or plaster wrapped in paper and produced in large sheets that can be nailed to wall studs.

Dual agency
A relationship in which a real estate agent or broker represents both parties (the buyer and the seller) in a transaction.  (Not recommended by many attorneys)

Dual agent
An agent who represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction.

A rigid metal or flexible insulated tube designed to deliver air to and from a furnace or other air-handling unit.

A system of large tubes, pipes or channels designed to deliver air to and from a furnace or other air-handling unit.

Due on Sale clause
Standard language in a mortgage that states the loan must be repaid upon sale.

A structure that consists of two (2) separate family units.

Duplex receptacle
An electrical outlet that accepts two lighting or appliance plugs.

Dutch colonial style
A design that features a barn-like gambrel roof, a ground-level front porch and dormers.