Decoding Real Estate Listings - A Short Guide to Lingo and Acronyms

Real estate ads are usually full of acronyms and terms that are unfamiliar to first-time buyers. Here's a cheat sheet to let you in on the lingo.

4B/2B: four bedrooms and two bathrooms

assum fin: assumable financing

bedroom: usually a sleeping area with a window and a closet, but the definition varies in different places

bathroom: There are three types of bathrooms: a full bathroom is a room with a toilet, a sink and a bathtub; a three-quarter bathroom has a toilet, a sink and a shower; a half bathroom or powder room has only a toilet and a sink.

closing costs: the entire package of miscellaneous expenses paid by the buyer and the seller when the real estate deal closes. These costs include the brokerage commission; mortgage-related fees; escrow or attorney's settlement charges; transfer taxes; recording fees; title insurance and so on. Closing costs are generally paid through escrow.

CMA: comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of homes that are comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market but did not sell within the listing period.

contingency: a provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met. One example is a buyer's contractual right to obtain a professional home inspection before purchasing the home.

dk: deck

expansion pot'l: expansion potential means that there's extra space on the lot or the possibility of adding a room or even an upper level, subject to local zoning restrictions.

fab pentrm: fabulous pentroom, a room on top (but under the roof) that has great views

FDR: formal dining room

fixture: anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. Fixtures include installed wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings, landscaping and so on. Fixtures are a frequent subject of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt about who will have ownership of fixtures, get it in writing.

frplc, fplc, FP: fireplace

gar: garage

gard: garden

grmet kit: gourmet kitchen

HDW, HWF, Hdwd: hardwood floors

hi ceils: high ceilings

in-law potential: potential for a separate apartment, subject to local zoning restrictions

large E-2 plan: one of several floor plans available in a specific building

listing: an agreement between a real estate agent and a home owner that allows the agent to market and arrange for the sale of the owner's home. The word " listing" is also used to refer to the for-sale home itself. A home being sold by the owner without a real estate agent isn't a " listing," it’s called a FSBO (for sale by owner).

lo dues: low homeowner's association dues. Do your research to find out just how " low" the dues actually are compared to other dues in the area.

lock box: locked key-holding device affixed to a for-sale home so real estate professionals can gain entry into the home after obtaining permission from the listing agent

lsd pkg: leased parking area; it may come with additional cost

MLS: Multiple Listing Service. An MLS is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate agents. Membership isn't open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listings Web sites. MLSs are local or regional. There is no MLS covering the whole country.

nr bst schls: near the best schools

personal property:movables, such as appliances and furniture

pot'l: potential

pvt: private

pwdr rm: half bathroom or powder room

real property: real estate is legally called “real property”

REALTOR®: a real estate agent or sales associate who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.

title insurance: an insurance policy that protects a lender's or owner's interest in real property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. It's customary for the buyer to pay for the lender's title insurance policy.

upr: upper floor

vw, vu, vws, vus: view(s)