Real Estate Definitions
Earnest money: A deposit made of a portion of the purchase price by the buyer to demonstrate his or her serious intent to purchase the property, usually accompanied by an agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the sale.
Easement: The permanent or temporary right to use the property of another for a specific purpose -- e.g. for access over the property, putting up utility lines, etc.
Egress: The right to leave or exit over a piece of property.
Eminent domain: The right of the government to take over private property for public purposes upon payment of its fair market value.
Encroachment: A physical, illegal intrusion onto another's adjoining property; examples are a structure, driveway, fence.
Encumbrance: Any claim against the fee simple title to a property, such as a lien, mortgage, or easement.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): A 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 owner's financial interest in a property, over and above any indebtedness for that property; or the difference between the fair market value of the property, and the amount still owed on its mortgage.
Equity Sharing: A form of joint ownership between an owner/occupant and an owner/investor, whereby the owner/investor receives depreciation deductions as his portion of interest in the property, and the owner/occupant receives some of the tax write-offs for interest and taxes, as well as part of his monthly payment being applied against his rent. If the property were sold, the co-owners would also divide the profit.
Escheat: Property that reverts to state ownership when an individual dies without a will and without heirs.
Escrow: A deed, contract, or something of value deposited with a disinterested third party, to be delivered upon the performance of certain conditions by the parties involved; e.g., an attorney or escrow agent taking custody of funds and documents upon the closing of a sale of real estate.
Escrow account: An account established by an escrow agent to hold funds for the agent's principal until the consummation of the transaction.
Escrow instructions: A document that outlines the duties of the escrow agent and the obligations of the parties involved in an escrow transaction.
Escrow payment; also "impounds" or "reserves" in some states: The portion of a mortgagor's monthly payment that is retained by the escrow agent to cover the costs of taxes, hazard or mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other costs incurred in the course of the transaction.
Estate: An individual's possessions and property, relevant particularly at the time of death.
Eviction: The legally directed removal of an occupant from real property.
Exclusive listing, or Exclusive agency listing, or Exclusive right-to-sell listing: A written contract giving a licensed real estate broker the exclusive right to sell a property for a designated period of time, on terms stated by the owner, for a fee, while also reserving the owner's right to sell the property himself, without paying anyone a commission.
Executor: A person named in a will, or in the absence of such designation, appointed by the probate court, to administer an estate and carry out its terms.
Extended Mortgage: A mortgage in which the due date of payment is extended, and is usually charged at a higher interest rate than the original mortgage.