Real Estate Glossary

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Earnest Money Deposit: A sum of money given in advance of a larger amount being expected in the future.  A cash deposit made by the potential home buyer to show that he or she is serious about buying the house.

Easement: A right of way giving persons other than the owner access to or over a property.

ECOA: The 1974 Federal Law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs. 

Economic Life: The period over which a property will yield a return on the investment, over and above the economic or ground rent due the land.

Effective Age: Not to be confused with the actual age of the property, an appraiserís estimate of the physical condition of a building. 

Eminent Domain: The right of the government to take private property for public use by condemnation. The owner must be compensated fully. 

Encroachment: An improvement that intrudes illegally or trespasses on anotherís property. 

Encumbrance: A cloud against clear, free title to the property which does not prevent conveyance, such as unpaid taxes, easements, deed restrictions, mortgage loans, etc.

Enforceable: Ability to cause to take effect; An agreement or contract between persons in which one or other party can legally compel the performance of another or other parties. 

Equal Credit Opportunity Act: The 1974 Federal Law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs. 

Equity: The difference in amount between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage and other liens.

Escheat:The reversion of property to the state in the event the owner thereof dies without leaving a will and has no family to whom the property may pass by lawful descent.

Escrow: An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the earnest money deposit is put into escrow until delivered to the seller when the transaction is closed.

Escrow Account: A third party account that holds money safely and neutrally while a sale is in progress.

Escrow Analysis: An analysis performed by the lender to make sure the correct amount of money for the anticipated expenditures is sufficiently collected.

Escrow Disbursements: The use of escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, and other property expenses as they become due. 

Estate: The total sum of all the real property and personal property owned by a person at the time of death. 

Estoppel: A legal theory under which a person is barred from asserting or denying a fact because of the person's previous acts or words. 

Eviction: The lawful expulsion of an occupant from real property.

Examination of Title: The report on the title of a property from the public records or an abstract of the title. 

Exchange: A means of trading equities in two or more real properties, treated as a single transaction through a single escrow or as a deferred exchange through two or more escrows. 

Exclusive Agency Listing: A written instrument giving one agent the right for a specified time to sell a property, but reserving the right of the owner to sell the property himself without payment of a commission to the agent.

Exclusive Listing: A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time. 

Exclusive: Right to Sell Listing A written agreement between an owner and an agent giving the agent the right to collect a commission if the property is sold by anyone during the term of his agreement.

Execute: To complete, to make, to perform, to do, to follow out.

Executed Contract: A contract that is fully performed.

Execution of Contract: To sign a contract.

Executor: A person named in a will to carry out its terms and administer the estate.

Executor's Deed: A legal deed to real property given by an executor of an estate.

Executory Contract: A contract not yet fully performed.