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  • Writer's pictureThe Experienced Appraiser

Real Estate Terminology

Updated: Feb 5

Accessory Dwelling Unit - Habitable living unit added to, created within, or detached from a primary one-unit single family dwelling, which together constitutes a single interest in real estate and consisting of a separate additional living unit, including kitchen, sleeping, and bathroom facilities.

Air Barrier - Elements that control air leakage into and out of the building envelope.

Appraisal Flag - An issue that is revealed during the appraisal process, usually related something that will impact the health or safety of the occupants or a physical condition issue that threatens the security of the building itself.

Blower Door Test - Energy test performed on a house by placing a large, calibrated fan into an exterior doorway, reducing the air pressure within the home, and then identifying where air flows into the home.

Building Envelope - The entire building from basement to roof.

Bracketing - The concept of comparing a superior and inferior attribute. For example if a home has a living area of 2000 sf, an appraiser will typically either find another comp that is 2000 sf or will find at least one larger and and least one smaller home to "bracket" the living area.

Carbon Footprint - The greenhouse gas emissions caused by an event, product, organization or person.

Condemnation - The taking of private property through the eminent domain power of the government.

Conformity to the Neighborhood - The concept that a property or attribute should be reasonably similar to other competing properties in the neighborhood. For example a home with a "mother in law" configuration may not be typical for the community. On the other hand if there are several very similar MIL configurations in the immediate community and/or sub market, then it may be conforming.

Congruent Living Area - Space that has materials and finishes that "feel" like the rest of the home. Areas do not have have significant differences in materials, finishes, flooring, etc

Data Plate - Paper document located on the interior of the property that contains specific information about the unit and it's manufacture

Deed Restrictions - A private agreement that restricts the use of real estate in some way and is listed in the deed.

Easement - Interest in land owned by another person, consisting of the right to use or control the land, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose.

Encroachment - An interference with or intrusion onto another's property.

Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) - Mortgages which are offered from HUD which consider the energy costs of the house, and allow the borrower to extend debt to income ratios.

Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs) - Mortgages that finance energy upgrades of an existing home into the mortgage loan by considering monthly energy savings.

Energy Star - An international rating system for evaluation of homes for energy efficiency. Certified Energy Star Raters are RESNET approved raters.

Excess Land - Land that is not needed to serve or support an existing improvement. Excess land may have the potential to be sold separately.

External Influence - A condition that has either positive or negative impact on the subject home, such as being located under the flight path of an airport. Close proximity to an active rail road line is another example.

Fascia - The board or band of wood that is located directly under a roof edge.

Fee Simple - Absolute ownership unencumbered by any other interest or estate.

GLA - Gross Living Area - The space that is primary living space, usually expressed in square footage. A living room that is 20' x 20' represents 400 sf GLA.

Ground Rent - Rent paid for the right to use and occupy the land.

Home Energy Rating System (HERS) - Measurement of a property's energy efficiency. Energy Star Certified Raters primarily uses this measurement. The lower the score, the more efficient the home is.

HOC - The Home Ownership Center is the HUD/FHA contact interface point for appraisers and industry professionals. The branch that services Florida is located in Atlanta. Their web site can be accessed by clicking here.

HUD - US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Their web site can be accessed by clicking here.

HUD Certification Label - A 2 inch by 4 inch aluminum plate permanently attached to manufactured housing (exterior).

Intracoastal Waterway - The areas of inland water including inlets, brackish and salt water rivers, bays, and canals that provide boating access that is protected from the ocean.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) - Internationally recognized green building certification system, providing 3rd party verification that a building or neighborhood was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions, indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources as well as sensitivity to their impacts.

Leasehold - Right to hold or use property for a fixed period of time at a given price, without transfer of ownership, on the bases of a lease contract.

Market Reaction - The appraiser will determine adjustments for market reaction to specific attributes and apply them in the grid. A kitchen that cost $30k to have installed may have a market reaction of much more or much less. The appraiser strives to determine how much money the typical buyer may be willing to pay for a home with a new kitchen vs one with a superior or inferior kitchen.

Minimum Property Requirements (MPR) - General requirements that all homes insured by FHA be safe, sound, and secure.

Minimum Property Standards (MPS) - Regulatory requirements relating to the safety, soundness, and security of new construction.

Modular Housing - Constructed according to state and local codes off site and transported to a lot, assembled by a contractor into a finished home. Quality can vary but materials are the same as found in comparable quality conventional housing.

Overhead Electric Power Transmission Lines - Electric lines that supply power from power generation stations to Local Distribution Lines

Pre-Listing Appraisal - Prior to listing a property for sale the seller or the seller's agent hires an independent appraiser to develop a value for the home, and to evaluate any potential appraisal or condition issues.

Probate - Authentication of a will

Pressure Release Valve - Water heater safety feature for releasing pressure and avoiding catastrophic blow outs.

R Value - Measure of the efficiency of insulation (thermal resistance). The lower the rating, the the less resistance. The higher the rating, the better the insulating properties.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) - The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute's rating system for performance. The lower the SEER rating, the less efficient.

Soffit - The underside of a roof overhang.

Sub Market - A separate and distinct sub-section of the market as a whole. For example 55+ condos may not directly compete with other non age restricted condo projects, thus they are in a different sub market. Another example would be homes that have direct ocean access private dockage vs homes without.

Surplus Land - Land that is not needed to support the existing improvement but cannot be separated from the property and sold off.

U Factor - Measure of the thermal conductivity in windows. The lower the rating, the better the insulation properties.

Unites States Green Building Council (USGBC) - The organization that confers LEED designations in the USA

Wood Rot / Dry Rot - Wood that has been degraded. This is one of the most common issues found in home appraisals.

Zero Net Energy - A property that uses zero energy from offsite sources.


We are local appraisers living and working in Palm Beach County. If you are in need of an independent and unbiased assessment of your home's value, contact us today for fast and friendly service.

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