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Common Home-Buying Terms

There are a ton of real estate terms out there, but let’s cover some of the basics:

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

When you work with an agent, you’ll have access to their multiple listing service (MLS), a list of properties for sale gathered by real estate agents and brokers. An MLS gives you the first choice and an upper hand over competing home buyers who only search free websites.

Active vs. Pending

A house listed as active is one that’s on the market and available for you to buy. But you’ll have to think fast because other buyers may already be interested. If you see a house status that’s pending, you’ll need to keep looking. That means a buyer has made an offer and the seller has accepted. They just have a few more real estate hoops to jump through before the sale is final.

Listing Abbreviations

Now let’s decode some common listing abbreviations:

  • BA: Bathroom (for example, “2.5 ba” stands for two full bathrooms and one half bathroom)

  • BD or BR: Bedroom

  • DR: Dining room        

  • FB: Full bathroom (toilet, sink, and shower/bathtub)

  • FP: Fireplace

  • HB: Half bathroom or powder room (only toilet and sink)

  • LR: Living room

  • SQ FT: Square footage

  • HOA FEE: Homeowners association fee (for neighborhood amenities and maintenance)

  • W/D: Washer and dryer

Appraised Value

This is a professional appraiser’s unbiased estimate of a home’s fair market value. Their estimate is based on recent sales of similar homes in the surrounding area called comparables or comps. In a typical mortgage loan process, a lender chooses a licensed appraiser to determine the value of the property you want to buy. This knowledge protects you from a seller who puts a ridiculously inflated price on their home.

Assessed Value

An assessed value is an estimate determined by a local or state government for property tax purposes. Once a value is assigned, the government applies a property tax rate to the assessed value, which you’ll pay for as long as you own the house (womp, womp). A home’s assessed value is usually a different amount than its appraisal, so be careful not to confuse the two.