Terms & Definitions

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 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.


Broker: 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.

Brokerage: 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).

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 (Real Estate Business and Brokers Act).

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.

S is for. . . .

Salesperson: An employee of a broker authorized to trade in real estate (as defined within the Ontario Real Estate Business Brokers Act). 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.

This information is provided by the London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS®. The information herein is believed to be accurate and timely, but no warranty as such is expressed or implied.