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5 top real estate terms you should know

When buying or selling real estate, some of the terms used by real estate agents and others may be confusing. Here are several important terms to consider before listing your home or making an offer.

CV

Cyrus Vanover

9/7/2022 · 3 min read

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Key Takeaways

  • HOAs may establish and enforce community rules.

  • Mortgages have interest rates that are fixed or variable.

  • Costs associated with buying real estate are usually 2–5% of the purchase price.

  • A seller may list a home for sale without making any guarantees about its condition.

Buying a home can seem like a daunting process. Here are 5 top real estate terms to know.

1. Homeowners association

A homeowners association (HOA) is an organization that may establish and oversee certain community rules and needs. Typically, elected homeowners in the community run their own HOAs. A few things that an HOA may take care of include:

  • Enforcing parking rules

  • Lawn care and landscaping

  • Maintaining common areas

  • Some home maintenance issues

  • Determining what kind of pets are allowed

Typically, when a person purchases a home in a community with an HOA, they'll become an HOA member. Members pay regular HOA fees that go toward maintenance and other things.

2. Fixed-rate mortgage

Banks, credit unions, and other private lenders offer fixed-rate mortgages. As the name implies, these loans have interest rates that remain the same throughout the life of the loan. The interest rate is locked in when the loan is created and is based on current market conditions, your credit score, and other factors.

Fixed-rate mortgages are repaid with fixed regular payments. Many people prefer the predictability and simplicity of these loans, which helps to simplify budgeting.

3. Adjustable-rate mortgage

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are offered by banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. They offer fixed interest rates for an introductory period, which may be up to 10 years depending on the lender. After that, the interest rate can vary based on the market and other factors, which may cause your monthly payments to fluctuate.

ARMs are attractive options for some home buyers because the introductory interest rate may be lower than the rate for fixed-rate mortgages. It’s important to consider that the interest rate may increase when it becomes variable, though. Variation could result in the borrower paying substantially more in interest over the life of the loan.

4. As-is

“As-is” typically means the seller won't make warranties or guarantees about the condition of the property they’re selling. A seller may also use the term to indicate to potential buyers that they won't negotiate any repairs before closing.

5. Closing costs

When someone buys real estate, there may be costs involved in the transaction. Typically, these costs are paid at closing, and can be 2–5% of the purchase price.

Closing costs may consist of a variety of different fees. Some go to lenders, while others go to businesses or local governments. Closing costs will vary depending on your lender and other factors. Typical closing costs you may encounter can include:

  • Notary fee

  • Escrow fee

  • Attorney fee

  • Appraisal fee

  • Recording fee

  • Credit report fee

  • Mortgage origination fee

Sometimes, closing costs are negotiated before closing. Although home buyers usually pay these fees, some buyers may ask that the sellers pay part or all of the costs.

This content is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, or insurance advice. Opendoor always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

CV

Cyrus VanoverAuthor

Cyrus Vanover is a finance and real estate writer who specializes in making complex topics easy to understand. He is also the author of "Earn a Debt-Free College Degree." Based in the mountains of Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, listening to 80s music, and reading books on military history in his spare time.

JG

Jena GreeneEditor

Jena Greene is the Managing Editor at Opendoor. She covers real estate, personal finance, money management, and market best practices. Jena is passionate about empowering people to find their dream homes and making the home-buying process a delightful one.