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Real Estate Glossary

This glossary was created by a team of real estate professionals. It contains terms regarding real estate buying and selling, home finance, home improvement, as well as legal terms. For your convenience, the glossary is searchable alphabetically.


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

balloon mortgage
A mortgage where the final payment is considerably larger than the preceding payments.

balloon payment
A large final payment due at the end of a loan, typically a home or car loan, to pay off the amount your monthly payments didn't cover. Many states prohibit balloon payments in loans for goods or services that are primarily for personal, family or household use, or require the lender to let you refinance the balloon payment before forcing collection

bill of sale
A written instrument given to pass title to personal property

blanket mortgage
One mortgage on a number of parcels of real property

The illegal practice of inducing panic selling in a neighborhood by making representations of the entry, or prospective entry, of members of a minority group

(1) A written agreement purchased from a bonding company that guarantees a person will properly carry out a specific act, such as managing funds, showing up in court, providing good title to a piece of real estate or completing a construction project. If the person who purchased the bond fails at his or her task, the bonding company will pay the aggrieved party an amount up to the value of the bond. (2) An interest-bearing document issued by a government or company as evidence of a debt. A bond provides pre-determined payments at a set date to the bond holder. Bonds may be "registered" bonds, which provide payment to the bond holder whose name is recorded with the issuer and appears on the bond certificate, or "bearer" bonds, which provide payments to whomever holds the bond in-hand. Mortgage interest rates are closely related to long term bond interest rates.

bonus to selling agent (BTSA)
Compensation, above and beyond the sales commission, offered to the real estate agent who brings the buyer to the transaction. A BTSA is used to provide an extra incentive for real estate agents to show a particular listing. Often the bonus is tied to closing within a certain time period or the property selling for a certain price. A buyer's agent should not consider the BTSA a factor in any negotiations between buyer and seller. Realistically, most BTSA's tend to disappear during initial negotiations, eventhough they should never be considered as negotiable after they have been offered. Any bonus to selling agent should be contained in a written agreement between the seller and listing broker. The BTSA is technically offered by the listing broker, not the seller, and thus should not be a subject of negotiation

breach of contract

Failure, without legal excuse, of one of the parties to a contract to perform according to the contract


For a commission or fee, bringing together parties interested in buying, selling, exchanging, or leasing real property

An acronym for: Bonus to selling agent

building line
A line fixed at a certain distance from the front and/or sides of a lot beyond which no structure can project. Property set back.

bundle of rights
Ownership in real property implies a group of rights, such as the right of occupancy, use and enjoyment, the right to sell in whole or in part, the right to control the use, the right to bequeath, the right to lease any or all of the rights, the right to the benefits derived by occupancy and use of the property, etc

buy down
A cash payment, usually measured in points, to a lender in order to reduce the interest rate a borrower must pay

buyer's broker
A licensee who has declared to represent only the buyer in a transaction, regardless of whether compensation is paid by the buyer or the listing broker through a commission split. Some brokers conduct their business by representing buyers only