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Real Estate Glossary: Essential Phrases for Home Buyers

Real Estate Glossary: 20 Essential Phrases for Home Buyers

A real estate glossary can be useful for consumers as well as professionals in the real estate industry. When purchasing or selling a property, consumers may come across a variety of terms and phrases that they are unfamiliar with.

A real estate glossary can help consumers understand these terms and make more informed decisions during the buying or selling process. In addition, a real estate glossary can help consumers better understand the various documents and contracts involved in a real estate transaction, such as a mortgage agreement or a sales contract.

Overall, a real estate glossary can be a valuable resource for consumers looking to navigate the complexities of the real estate market.

Staging Staging is the process of preparing a property for sale by making it look attractive to potential buyers. This may involve cleaning, decluttering, and arranging furniture and decor in a way that highlights the property’s best features.

The goal of staging is to make the property more appealing to potential buyers, which may help to increase its value and make it more likely to sell quickly. Staging can be done by a professional staging company, or it may be done by the homeowner themselves. Staging is particularly useful when a property is being sold in a competitive market, as it can help the property stand out from other listings.

Listing agreement A listing agreement is a contract between a seller and a real estate agent specifying the terms of the sale of a property. The listing agreement typically outlines the duties and responsibilities of the real estate agent, such as marketing the property, showing it to potential buyers, and negotiating offers.

The listing agreement also usually includes the length of the agreement, the agent’s commission, and any exclusions or limitations on the agent’s representation of the seller. By signing a listing agreement, the seller is agreeing to work with the real estate agent to sell the property and to pay the agent a commission if the property is sold.

Multiple listing service (MLS) The Multiple Listing Service® is a cooperative system used only by REALTOR® Members of Canada’s real estate boards. It is accessible to any REALTOR® Member who has agreed to represent your interests and share remuneration from the transaction with a cooperating REALTOR® Member.

The MLS® System contains detailed information and numerous search tools, all designed to match people with the properties that fit their exact requirements. is a website operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and ( is operated by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) that displays an abbreviated version of most listings uploaded to the MLS® System.

Contingency: A contingency is a condition that must be met in order for a real estate contract to be legally binding. Contingencies are often included in real estate contracts to protect the buyer or seller in the event that certain circumstances arise. For example, a buyer may include a contingency in their offer to purchase a property stating that the contract is contingent upon the property passing a home inspection.

If the property does not pass the inspection, the buyer may be able to back out of the contract without penalty. Other common contingencies include financing contingencies, which state that the contract is contingent upon the buyer being able to secure a mortgage, and appraisal contingencies, which state that the contract is contingent upon the property being appraised at a certain value.

Escrow: Escrow is a third party that holds funds or documents in a real estate transaction until all conditions of the sale are met. The escrow agent is responsible for ensuring that all terms of the sale are completed before releasing the funds or documents to the appropriate parties. Escrow is often used in real estate transactions to provide a level of security for both the buyer and the seller.

For the buyer, escrow ensures that the funds for the purchase of the property are not released to the seller until the property is transferred to the buyer and any contingencies are satisfied. For the seller, escrow ensures that they receive the purchase price for the property once all terms of the sale have been completed.

Closing costs: Closing costs are fees and expenses associated with the purchase of a property. These costs can include a variety of items, such as attorney fees, title insurance, and property taxes. Closing costs are typically paid by the buyer at the time of closing, which is when the sale of the property is finalized and the title is transferred to the buyer.

The amount of closing costs can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the location of the property, the type of loan being used to finance the purchase, and any discounts or credits that may apply. It is important for buyers to be aware of closing costs and to budget for them when purchasing a property.

Counteroffer: A counteroffer is a revised offer made in response to an initial offer on a property. A counteroffer may be made by the seller in response to an offer to purchase the property, or it may be made by the buyer in response to a counteroffer made by the seller.

A counteroffer typically involves changing the terms of the original offer, such as the price, closing date, or contingencies. The counteroffer may be accepted or rejected by the other party, or a further counteroffer may be made. The negotiation process can continue until both parties reach an agreement or until one party decides to walk away from the deal.

Earnest money deposit: An earnest money deposit is a deposit made by a buyer to show their commitment to purchasing a property. The earnest money deposit is usually a small percentage of the purchase price of the property and is held in escrow until the sale is finalized. If the sale goes through as planned, the earnest money deposit is applied towards the purchase price of the property.

If the sale falls through, the disposition of the earnest money deposit will depend on the terms of the contract and any applicable laws. In some cases, the seller may be entitled to keep the deposit, while in other cases, the deposit may be returned to the buyer. The purpose of an earnest money deposit is to demonstrate the buyer’s good faith and to provide some financial protection to the seller in the event that the sale falls through.

Appraisal: An appraisal is a professional assessment of the value of a property. Appraisals are typically conducted by licensed appraisers who have the knowledge and experience to estimate the value of a property based on various factors, such as the location, condition, size, and features of the property. Appraisals are often used by lenders to determine the value of a property for the purpose of issuing a mortgage.

They may also be used by buyers or sellers to determine a fair price for a property, or by individuals or companies looking to buy or sell a property for investment purposes. An appraisal can be an important tool for ensuring that a property is fairly priced and for helping to protect the interests of all parties involved in a real estate transaction.

Commission: A commission is a fee paid to a real estate agent for their services. In the real estate industry, commissions are typically based on a percentage of the sale price of a property. For example, if an agent helps to sell a property for $500,000 and their commission is 6%, they will receive $30,000 as their fee.

Commission amounts can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the agent’s experience, the location of the property, and the overall state of the real estate market. Commission is typically paid by the seller of the property, although in some cases, it may be split between the seller and the buyer.

Title search: A title search is a thorough examination of a property’s ownership history. A title search is typically conducted by a title company or an attorney and is used to determine the legal owner of a property, as well as to identify any liens, encumbrances, or other claims that may be attached to the property.

A title search is an important step in the process of buying or selling a property, as it helps to ensure that the property is being transferred to the buyer with clear title. A title search may also be used to resolve any disputes over ownership or to uncover any potential issues that may affect the value of the property.

Title insurance: Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects the owner and lender of a property from losses resulting from defects in the title to the property. It helps to ensure that the owner of a property has good and clear title to the property, and that there are no outstanding claims or encumbrances on the property.

Title insurance is typically required by lenders as a condition of providing a mortgage loan. It is usually purchased by the buyer of a property, although it can also be purchased by the seller or obtained by either party as a separate policy. The cost of title insurance is based on the value of the property and is usually a one-time fee paid at closing.

Home inspection: A home inspection is a thorough examination of the condition of a house. It is typically performed by a professional home inspector who evaluates the condition of the home’s structure, systems, and components. The purpose of a home inspection is to identify any major defects or problems with the property and to provide the buyer with a better understanding of the overall condition of the home.

During a home inspection, the inspector will typically look at the roof, foundation, walls, floors, windows, doors, electrical system, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and appliances. They may also check for pests and other potential hazards. The inspector will prepare a report detailing their findings and recommendations for any necessary repairs or maintenance.

A home inspection is usually conducted before the sale of a home, but it can also be done for other purposes, such as after a natural disaster or when a homeowner is planning to make major renovations. It is important to note that a home inspection is not a guarantee that the property is free of defects, but it can help the buyer to make an informed decision about whether to purchase the home.

Mortgage: A mortgage is a loan used to finance the purchase of a property. The loan is secured by the property itself, meaning that the lender can seize the property if the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Mortgages are typically offered by banks and other financial institutions, and are often used by individuals to buy homes.

There are various types of mortgages available, including fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, and government-insured mortgages. The terms of a mortgage, including the interest rate, length of loan, and required down payment, will depend on the borrower’s creditworthiness and the lender’s policies.

Pre-approval: A process in which a lender determines how much money a borrower is qualified to borrow.
“Down payment A payment made by the buyer at the time of purchase, typically a percentage of the total purchase price.

Equity: Equity refers to the ownership interest that an individual has in an asset, such as a home or a business. In the context of real estate, equity refers to the difference between the value of a property and the amount of money that is still owed on the mortgage or other loans secured by the property. For example, if a homeowner has a mortgage balance of $200,000 and the current market value of the home is $300,000, the homeowner has $100,000 in equity in the property.

Equity can also refer to the ownership interest that an individual has in a business. This can be calculated by subtracting the amount of debt that the business has from the value of its assets. For example, if a business has assets worth $500,000 and debt of $200,000, the business has $300,000 in equity.

Equity can be a useful tool for borrowing money or raising capital, as it represents the value that an individual or business has built up in an asset. It can also be used as collateral to secure a loan or other financing.

Foreclosure: Foreclosure is a legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has defaulted on their payments. It typically occurs when a homeowner has failed to make their mortgage payments and the lender has exhausted other options for collecting the debt.

The foreclosure process begins when the lender sends the borrower a notice of default, which gives the borrower a specific period of time to pay the overdue amount or to come to an agreement with the lender to avoid foreclosure. If the borrower is unable to bring the loan current or reach a satisfactory agreement with the lender, the lender may begin the process of selling the property in order to recoup the remaining balance of the loan.

Foreclosure can have significant consequences for the borrower, including the loss of their home and damage to their credit rating. It can also have an impact on the value of other homes in the neighborhood, as a large number of foreclosures can lead to a decline in property values.

Short sale: A short sale is a real estate transaction in which the proceeds from the sale of a property are less than the amount owed on the mortgage. A short sale may occur when a homeowner is unable to make their mortgage payments and is facing the possibility of foreclosure. In a short sale, the lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed on the mortgage in order to facilitate the sale of the property.

The lender may agree to a short sale in order to avoid the cost and time involved in the foreclosure process. Short sales can be complex and may require the involvement of multiple parties, including the homeowner, the lender, and a real estate agent.

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Arsh Syed, a real estate agent in Toronto, offers services to help property owners buy, sell, or rent their homes and manage the transaction.

He aims to establish relationships and provide exceptional service to improve the housing crisis in Toronto. By hiring him, property owners can reduce risks, save time, and save money.

For more information about his services, you can visit or contact (416) 844-2217.

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