Common Real Estate Terms

The following are commonly used real estate terms:

In real estate, A is for...

Agreement of Purchase and Sale

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) finalizes the terms and conditions of the home sale, and it is the culmination of negotiations between the buyer and the seller. This is a binding legal contract that obligates a buyer to buy and a seller to sell a product or service.



A real estate broker is a professional with a real estate broker license who helps you buy, sell, and transfer property. They use their expertise and knowledge of the real estate industry to assist clients with paperwork, decision-making and legal compliance.


The business or establishment of a broker.

Buyer's agency agreement

A buyer's agency agreement is a contract between a home buyer and a real estate agent that defines how the two agree to work together.

Buyer's agent

A buyer's agent is committed to representing you. Both agents can set up house tours, but unlike the listing agent who represents the seller, a buyer's agent protects the buyer's interests during the crucial negotiating and closing process.


Caveat Emptor: A Latin expression meaning, "Let the buyer beware". Because the onus of examining the goods or property being purchased is on the buyer, the buyer is therefore at risk.

Chattel: Personal property that is tangible and moveable.

Commission: Monies paid to a brokerage upon the sale or lease of property, as a percentage or flat fee of the amount involved.

Contract: A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more capable persons. The agreement says that in return for a lawful and genuinely intended act a certain value will be placed. (Please see the Real Estate Council of Ontario's guidelines for oral/written agreements under REBBA 2002/TRESA).

Covenant: An agreement contained in a deed and creating an obligation. It may be positive, stipulating the performance of some act, or it may be negative and restrictive, forbidding other acts.

Creditor: A person to whom a debt is owed by another person usually called a debtor.

D is for...

Date of Completion: The date specified in the agreement of purchase and sale, when the buyer is to deliver the balance of money due, and the seller delivers a duly executed deed and vacant possession of the property.

Deed: A document in writing, duly executed and delivered, that conveys title or an interest in real property.

Deposit: The payment of money or other valuable consideration as pledge for fulfillment of the contract.

E is for...

Exclusive Listing: A document giving the sole right to offer a described piece of property for sale, according to the terms of the agency agreement.

F is for...

Foreclosure: Court actions taken by a mortgagee, when default occurs on a mortgage, causing forfeiture of the property.

I is for...

Intestate: A person who dies without a will or leaves one which is defective in form.

L is for...

Lease: A contract between landlord and tenant for the occupation or use of the landlord's property by the tenant for a specified time and for a specified consideration.

Lien: A right, given to a creditor and creating an interest in the real property until the debt is discharged.

Listing: An agreement between a property owner and a brokerage authorizing the brokerage to offer the owner's real property for sale or lease.

Listing agent: A listing agent represents the seller in a real estate transaction. This agent's job is to help the seller find a buyer quickly and sell their home for the best price possible. The listing agent, who is often called the "seller's agent," earns a "commission" for arranging the sale. This fee usually comes out of the seller's proceeds when the transaction is complete. The listing agent shares the commission with the buyer's agent.

Listing agreement: A listing agreement is a contract under which a property owner (as principal) authorizes a real estate broker (as agent) to find a buyer for the property on the owner's terms. In exchange for this service, the owner pays a commission.

M is for...

Mortgage: The conveyance of property to a creditor as security for payment of a debt, i.e., the lender or creditor.

Mortgagee: The one to whom property is conveyed as security for the payment of a debt, i.e., the lender or creditor.

Mortgagor: The one who makes the mortgage, i.e., the borrower or debtor.

Multiple Listing: An arrangement among brokerages, usually real estate board members, whereby each broker presents his listings to the other members, who may negotiate the transaction.

P is for...

Power of Attorney: Delegated written authority to a person allowing that person to act on the behalf of another person.

Principal: The employer of a sales representative or broker who gives the sales representative or broker the authority to do some act for him or her. In real estate, usually the owner of a property.

R is for...

Real Estate: Real Estate includes real property, leasehold and business whether with or without premises, fixtures, stock-in-trade, goods, or chattels in connection with the operations of the business.

REALTOR®: A registered word which may only be used by an active member of a real estate board or association affiliated with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

REBBA: The Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA) was the legislation that real estate salespersons, brokers, and brokerages followed until December 1st, 2023, when REBBA was replaced by the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA).

S is for...

Salesperson: An employee of a broker authorized to trade in real estate (as defined within the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA)). Also, can be referred to as a Sales Representative.

Staging: the activity or practice of styling and furnishing a property for sale in such a way as to enhance its attractiveness to potential buyers.

T is for...

TRESA: Enforced by RECO, the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA) is the legislation that real estate salespersons, brokers, and brokerages must follow. TRESA replaced REBBA, going into force on December 1st, 2023.