What are short sales, escrow and earnest money?

american real estate wordsSomething’s been bothering me lately – short sales. That, and escrow. Ever since going through real estate college and becoming a real estate agent, on a regular basis I encounter new vocabulary, but these ones are special. They’re American.

I like words, always have. I like small words and short sentences. Often words make sense. The sentences they’re in give away their meanings. Real estate words are different, it seems. They are what they are and like learning a foreign language (like Mandarin) you either know it or you don’t, and if you don’t, you can’t really guess.

With Canadians buying up so much real estate in the USA, I’ve found that there are a number of words that they use that we don’t, and that we use that they don’t. I’ve recently added these to my vocabulary, thought I’d share.

Bedroom with a bath: In Canada we say “en suite“. We can’t expect Americans to speak much French.

BPO (Broker Price Opinion): A comparative market analysis to tell the bank what the realtor thinks the home’s market value is, versus appraised value. In Canada, we say CMA (comparative Market Analysis).

Disposals: In Canada, we say garburator, but I understand they are outlawed in many municipalities.

Earnest money: A deposit applied towards a purchase. We say deposit

Escrow: In Canada, we use attorney closings, but Americans use title company closings. A title company is a neutral third party that handles the paperwork and money between two parties. It Canada we say closing, they say escrow.

Homeowner association: is often used in much the same way we use “condo association”. It means the property has a governing board, which oversees the community, and there’s a fee associated with it.

Short sale: Before the bank forecloses on a property, the homeowner still owns the home. They’re said to be ‘upside down’ because maybe they paid $400,000 and now the home is worth $200,000. They need to sell the home, but they have to sell short of what they owe. When a prospective buyer puts in an offer, that offer has to be satisfy the bank, which is going to take a loss.

Single-family home, single-level: Americans don’t have bungalows.

I’m sure there are a lot of other words we don’t have in common. I’ll be adding to the list, eh?

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