Real Estate Glossary



  • Cap - A limit, such as that placed on an adjustable rate mortgage, on how much a monthly payment or interest rate can increase or decrease.
  • Cash Reserve - A cash amount sometimes required to be held in reserve in addition to the down payment and closing costs; the amount is determined by the lender.
  • Certificate of Title - A document provided by a qualified source (such as a title company) that shows the property legally belongs to the current owner; before the title is transferred at closing, it should be clear and free of all liens or other claims.
  • Chain of Title - The official record that details the ownership history of a piece of property.
  • Clear Title - A title that is free of liens or legal questions as to ownership of property.
  • Closing - Also known as settlement, this is the time at which the property is formally sold and transferred from the seller to the buyer; it is at this time that the borrower takes on the loan obligation, pays all closing costs, and receives title from the seller.
  • Closing Costs - Customary costs above and beyond the sale price of the property that must be paid to cover the transfer of ownership at closing; these costs generally vary by geographic location and are typically detailed to the borrower after submission of a loan application.
  • Cloud (on title) - An outstanding claim or encumbrance which adversely affects the marketability of title.
  • Commission - An amount, usually a percentage of the property sales price, that is collected by a real estate professional as a fee for negotiating the transaction.
  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) - An estimate of the value of a property based on an analysis of sales of properties with similar characteristics.
  • Condemnation - The taking or private property for public use by a government unit, against the will of the owner, but with payment of just compensation under the government's power of eminent domain.
  • Condominium - A form of ownership in which individuals purchase and own a unit of housing in a multi-unit complex; the owner also shares financial responsibility for common areas.
  • Contingency - A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding.
  • Contractor - In the construction industry, a contractor is one who contracts to erect buildings or portions of them. There are also contractors for each phase of construction: heating, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, road building, bridge and dam erection, and others.
  • Conventional Loan - A private sector loan, one that is not guaranteed or insured by the U.S. government.
  • Cooperative (Co-op) - Residents purchase stock in a cooperative corporation that owns a structure; each stockholder is then entitled to live in a specific unit of the structure and is responsible for paying a portion of the loan.
  • Covenant - A clause in a mortgage that obligates or restricts the borrower and that, if violated, can result in foreclosure.
  • Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) - Rules and regulations for a development, such as acceptable landscaping or improvements that can be made to individual units.
  • Crawl Space - The space between the ground and the first floor of a home, usually no higher than four feet.
  • Credit Bureau Score - A number representing the possibility a borrower may default; it is based upon credit history and is used to determine ability to qualify for a mortgage loan.
  • Credit History - History of an individual's debt payment; lenders use this information to gouge a potential borrower's ability to repay a loan.
  • Credit Report - A record that lists all past and present debts and the timeliness of their repayment; it documents an individual's credit history.