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A-FRAME SIGN – A temporary and/or portable sign constructed usually with two (2) sides attached at the top allowing the sign to stand in an upright position, with a side profile resembling the letter “A”. (Also referred to as a “Sidewalk” or “Sandwich” Sign).

A-Frame SignA-Frame Sign -2
(Typical “A-Frame” or” Sandwich Signs”)


ABATEMENT – A reduction or decrease, usually in rent or additional rent. An abatement might occur when a Tenant performs work for the Landlord’s benefit and the Landlord grants the Tenant an “abatement of rent” so the Tenant can recover their out-of-pocket expenses.

ABATEMENT OF NUISANCE The ending, extinction or termination of a nuisance.

ABOVE GROUND STORAGE TANK (AST) A storage container, typically steel or a composite material (i.e., Fiberglass), in which 100 percent of its total volume is located above the ground. Typical AST’s usually hold liquids although sometimes they may contain gases.

Typical Above Ground Storage Tank
(Typical AST’s)


ABSTRACT OF TITLE It is a history, or summary, of all transactions (conveyances, mortgages, liens, etc) affecting a particular tract of land. It does not guarantee title.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE - A clause in a contract by which the time for payment of a debt is advanced, usually making the obligation immediately due and payable, because of the breach of some condition, such as failure to pay an installment when due.

ACCELERATED RENT – A clause within a lease contract that basically states that in the event on a default, that the remaining rent scheduled within the contract, be immediately due and payable. One of the worst clauses to have in any lease and a clause to be avoided at all costs, since it only benefits a landlord.

ACCELERATION LANE – A short stretch of roadway that allows a vehicle to accelerate to highway speed in order to safely enter the existing traffic flow.

ACCEPTANCE – A positive response to an offer.

ACCESS - The right to enter and leave a tract of land from a public way. Oftentimes, it’s the right to enter and leave over the lands of another.

ACCESSORY USE - The use of land or a building that is subordinate or incidental to the principal use allowed on a lot by the zoning law (i.e., a garage an “accessory use” to a single-family residence and customarily found on a single-family parcel.

ACCRETION - An addition to land from natural causes. The slow buildup of lands caused by natural forces such as the ocean, rivers, wind or flow of water.

ACCRUED DEPRECIATION - The difference between the cost of replacement new as of the date of the appraisal and the current appraised value.

ACCRUED INTEREST – Interest that has been earned but not due and payable.

ACCRUED ITEMS OF EXPENSE - Incurred expenses, which are not yet payable.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT - A declaration made by a person to a notary public, or other public official authorized to take acknowledgements, that the instrument was executed by them and that it is their free and voluntary act.

ACQUISITION – An act or process by which a person procures property.

ACRE - A measure of land equaling 43,560 square feet. Although almost always illustrated as a perfect square, it rarely occurs that way in real life.

Acre illustration_01Acre illustartation_02


ACRE FOOT - A term used in measuring the volume of water, equal to the quantity of water required to cover one acre; one foot in depth (43,560 cubic feet).

ACTION – The institution of legal proceedings. 2) Under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act; any project or physical activity that is directly undertaken, funded, or approved by a state or local agency that may affect the environment. Actions include planning and policy-making activities and the adoption of rules and regulations that may affect the environment.

ACTION FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE – A court order to compel a defaulting party to comply with the provisions of a contract.

ACTIVITY GENERATOR – A use (Shopping Center, Major Retailer, School, Commercial Office Building, Sports Stadium, Hospital, etc. ) that draws a large number of people to a particular area.

ACTUAL NOTICE - Knowledge of a fact or occurrence acquired directly through information received or personal experience. See also, "notice" and "constructive notice".

AD VALOREM – Latin for: “According to valuation”. Ad Valorem taxes on a property are based on the Assessed Value of the property.

ADA – AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT – Passed by Congress in 1990, the ADA is a Federal civil rights law. It gives Federal civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, employment, transportation, and telecommunications. ( )

ADDENDA – Additional material added to a document.

ADDITIONAL RENT – A common term usually referring to monies paid over and above Base Rent (such as Taxes, Common Area Charges, Insurance, Advertising Fees, etc.)

ADDENDUM - A document containing any additions or changes to the original negotiated lease. This document is always attached to the signed lease, and made part of the lease. Items addressed in an addendum supersede the item being replaced in the lease.

ADD-ON FACTOR – The areas of a structure that are common to all tenants in the building (i.e. elevators, stairs, common restrooms, walkways, corridors, storage rooms, electrical rooms, janitorial closets, lobbies etc). Also sometimes referred to as; a loss factor, common area factor or core factor.

Add-On Factor


ADJACENT – Lying near to but not necessarily in actual contact with.

ADJOINING – Contiguous, attaching, in actual contact with.

ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM) – A mortgage in which interest rates change at specified adjustment periods based upon current financing index.

ADMINISTRATIVE BODY - Administrative bodies are created by local governments to undertake tasks such as reviewing applications for site plans, subdivisions, and/or special use permits. 

ADT (AVERAGE DAILY TRAFFIC) – The average amount of traffic using a particular roadway over a 24 hour period of time. These studies are usually done by local transportation departments for the purposes of determining a roadways service level.

ADVERSE POSSESSION - Possession of real property which is actual, hostile, open, notorious, exclusive, uninterrupted and continuous for a period stipulated by state law. Possessor usually has some claim or color of title, but does not have good record title.

ADVISORY OPINION - A report, or opinions, by a court or local administrative body that advises on its interpretation or constitutionality of an issue, but does not in it self, solve it.

AFFIDAVIT - A statement or declaration reduced to writing and sworn to or affirmed before some officer who has authority to administer an oath or affirmation.

AFFIRM - To confirm, to ratify and to verify.

AFTER-ACQUIRED TITLE - Real property rights which are acquired by the seller of the property after title to the property has been conveyed. A Quit Claim Deed does not convey after-acquired title, but a Warranty Deed, Special Warranty Deed or Bargain and Sale Deed does.

AFTER HOURS USAGE – The additional hours a Tenant remains open beyond the normal operating hours of a shopping center or building. Typically, these tenants pay an additional agreed upon fee for these services.

AGE OF MAJORITY - The age at which a person is no longer considered a minor and is entitled to handle his or her own affairs. Although it is 18 years of age in 47 states in the US, in Alabama and Nebraska it is 19 and 21 years of age in Mississippi and the District of Columbia.  

AGENCY – 1). An administrative unit of government. 2). A legal relationship whereby one person, called the agent, is employed by another (called the principal) to do certain acts in dealing with a third party on behalf of the principal (In a Broker, Landlord, Tenant transaction; the Broker would be considered the “Agency”).

AGENT - Any person, partnership, association, or corporation authorized or employed by another (called the principal), to act for, on behalf of, and subject to the control of the Principal.

AGGREGATE – In construction, it refers to a large category of crushed stone, sand, gravel, etc. meant to reinforce or add strength to the composite material (i.e. the crushed stone that is added to asphalt).

AGGRIEVED PARTY – A person who had their rights denied or infringed upon by another.

AGREEMENT OF SALE – A written agreement between a buyer and seller in which the buyer agrees to buy a certain property and the seller agrees to sell upon the terms and conditions set forth therein.

AHRI (Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute) - A non-profit, trade organization representing the manufacturers of heating, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment. ( )

AIA (The American Institute of Architects) - A professional organization of registered architects. ( )

AIR CHANGE - The amount of air required to completely replace the existing air in a room or building.

AIR DIFFUSER – An air distribution outlet or grille designed to direct airflow.

Air Diffuser, Grill, Register Air Diffuser, Grill, Register
(Typical Air Diffusers)


AIR DUCT – A pipe, tube or other manufactured channel designed to move air.

AIR FILTERS – A device designed to remove fine particles from the air.

AIR FLOW - The distribution or movement of air.

AIR INFILTRATION - Air that leaks in and out of a building through cracks in walls, windows, doors, etc.

AIR RIGHTS - The rights to use the air space above the physical surface of the land. In major metropolitan areas, Air Rights have value and can be bought and sold.

AKA – An acronym for "Also Known As".

ALIENATION - The transferring of property to another; the transfer of property and possession of lands, or other things, from one person to another.

ALIENATION CLAUSE – Allows the lender to require the balance of a loan to be paid in full if the collateral is sold or transferred (also known as a “due on sale” clause).

ALLOWANCE - A fixed sum of money to be used for a specific or general purpose.

ALLUVION (ALLUVIUM) - Soil deposited by accretion. Increase of earth on a shore or bank of a river.

ALTA (American Land Title Association) - An Association of title insurance companies, abstractors, and attorneys specializing in real property law, and speaks for the title insurance and abstracting industry and established standard title policies and procedures, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. ( )

ALTA SURVEY - A land survey with stringent requirements as developed by a joint effort between the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. ALTA standards are a nationwide uniform set of standards. Sometimes referred to as "the Cadillac of surveys", the survey is specifically designed to satisfy the needs of lenders, corporations and title companies when dealing with commercial properties.

ALTA/TITLE POLICY (AMERICAN LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION) - A type of title insurance policy issued by title insurance companies which expands the risks normally insured against under the standard type policy to include unrecorded mechanic's liens; unrecorded physical easements; facts a physical survey would show; water and mineral rights; and rights of parties in possession, such as tenants and buyers under unrecorded instruments.

ALTERATION – A modification or conversion of a building that goes beyond normal maintenance and changes its physical appearance or use. Depending upon the scope of work, may require approvals and permits from a local municipality.

AM TRAFFIC – The side of a roadway that has the most intense traffic during the weekday morning commute. Often referred to as the “Going to work side” of a road, it is important to many business that rely on customers that need or want products or services in the morning (i.e., coffee shops, breakfast restaurants, etc.).
(See: PM side of the road)

AMENDMENT - A mutually agreed upon document that modifies changes or adds portions to an already executed lease. Meant to be attached to the original lease; once signed, it becomes part of the lease. All items addressed in a lease amendment supersede the item(s) being replaced in the original lease document.

AMENITIES - Attractive features or services unique to a property such as a coffee shop, health facility, conference rooms, skyline views, covered parking, etc. that contribute to the quality of life for it Tenants.

AMERICAN INSITUTE OF ARCHITECHS (AIA) – a professional organization of registered architects. ( )

AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARDS INSTITUTE (ANSI) - A nonprofit, national technical association that publishes standards covering definitions, test methods, recommended practices and specifications of materials. Formerly known as the American Standards Assn. (ASA) and United States of America Standards Institute (USASI). ( ).

AMERICAN'S WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) – Passed by Congress in 1990, the ADA is a Federal civil rights law. It gives Federal civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, employment, transportation, and telecommunications.

AMORTIZATION - The liquidation, or gradual reduction, of a financial obligation by means of systematic payments over a specific period of time resulting in a zero balance at the end of the term.

AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE - A chart or table, which sets out the amount of the payments (including principal and interest) and the balance on the loan after the payments have been made.

AMORTIZED LOAN - A loan (including interest and principal), to be satisfied by a series of regular payments.

AMP – Is a unit of measurement concerning the flow of electric current. One “amp” is the amount of current produced by one volt acting through a resistance of one ohm.

ANALOGUE STORE – A comparable store or use that has similar and important characteristics to your proposed use (customers, location, goods or services, etc.).

ANIMATED SIGN - A sign that requires a power source to provide the illusion of motion or some kind of action (flashing, changing colors, etc). It usually does not refer to wind actuated signs(flags, banners, etc), time and/or temperature signs, safety warning signs or mechanical devices such as revolving barber poles, or display signs.)

ANCHOR – The most important, sometimes largest, use or uses in a shopping center.

Anchor Store

(Typical Anchor Store Layout in a Shopping Center)


ANCHOR– A metal securing device embedded or driven into masonry, concrete, steel or wood.

ANCHOR BOLT - A heavy threaded bolt embedded in a foundation to secure a sill to foundation wall or bottom plate of exterior wall to concrete floor slab.

ANNUAL BUMPS – Real estate slang that refers to annual increases (per annum) in such items as rent, common area maintenance and/or operating expenses.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR) - All finance charges, interest, points, and other fees computed over the term of the loan. APR must be disclosed to the borrower as a result of the Federal Government's "Truth in Lending" Laws. "Regulation Z" requires that when a real estate loan is made to a person and not for business purposes, the APR must be disclosed.

ANNUAL RENTAL RATE - The cost per square foot that the landlord is quoting or receiving in rent (i.e. $45 per square foot). It is sometimes quoted in annual dollar amounts (i.e., $140,000 per year).

ANNULAR RING NAIL - A deformed shank nail with improved holding qualities specially designed for use with gypsum board.

ANNUITY - A series of assured equal or nearly equal payments to be made over a period of time or it may be a lump sum payment to be made in the future. The installment payments due to the landlord under a lease are an annuity. So are the installment payments due to a lender. In real estate finance, we are most concerned with the first definition.

ANSI  (American National Standards Institute) - A nonprofit, national technical association that publishes standards covering definitions, test methods, recommended practices and specifications of materials. ( )

APPORTIONMENT – An adjustment of the income, expenses or carrying charges of real estate usually computed to the date of closing of title so that the seller pays all expenses to that date. The buyer assumes all expenses commencing the date the deed is conveyed to the buyer.

APPRAISER - The estimation of an opinion of value given on a property. A property appraisal is based on factual information given by a qualified professional appraiser.

APPRAISAL BY INCOME CAPITALAZATION APPROACH An estimate of value by capitalization of productivity and income.

APPRAISAL BY SALE COMPARARISON APPROACH A method of determining the value of a property by using the sale prices of other similar properties (Often referred to as “Comps” - real estate slang for “comparables”).

APPRAISAL BY COST APPROACH An estimate of a properties value derived by assessing parts of a property separately (i.e., the value of the land as vacant, plus the costs of the improvements, minus depreciation).

APPRAISER - One who is trained and educated in the methods of determining the value of property through analysis of various factors which determine said value.

APPROVAL – A formal consent, an affirmative decision, or permission.

APPURTENANCE - Improvements, rights and privileges which are not necessarily a part of actual real property, but which are normally conveyed with the real property, i.e., buildings, rights of way, easements.

APPRECIATION - An increase in the value of a property.

APPROACH SIDE – The side of a roadway that immediately fronts a location.

APPROACH-SIDE VISIBILITY – The ability of a site to become noticed, or visible, to a vehicle’s driver as they approach a location.

APPROVED EQUAL – Materials, products or methods that are accepted as the equivalent of another, as specified in plans or proposals.

ARBS - Arbitrarily assigned numbering systems to quickly identify parcels or tracts of land, which have no other easy means of identification. (i.e., metes and bounds parcels subdivided out of a large tract of land.)

ARCHITECT - A person or organization professionally qualified and duly licensed to perform architectural services.

ARCHITECT OF RECORD - An architect licensed in the jurisdiction that the project is located in. They are the one that prepares, stamps and signs the construction documents and is legally recorded as the architect of record.

ARCHITECT'S RULE – A better bumper sticker saying, than a reference to a three sided ruler with different scales on all sides. Best referred to as an “Architect’s Scale."

ARCHITECT'S SCALE – The preferred name for a three-sided ruler that has six (6) different scales used to measure distances on reduced-scaled surveys, site plans, building plans, etc.

Architect’s Scale
(A typical Architect’s Scale)


ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (ARB) – A group of people that review proposed exterior modifications and/or developments to insure “architectural harmony” with the surrounding area, or to protect designated historic districts. Unfortunately, there is no consistency throughout the country on what levels of competency, authority or architectural standards a board may have.

AREA OF DOMINANT INFLUENCE (ADI) – The geographic region covered by a particular television station; also referred to as the station's Designated Marketing Area (DMA).

AREA SEPERATION WALL An engineered partition (Wall) that has been designed to have a 2- to 4-hour fire rating and is intended to slow the spread of fire to adjoining areas.

AREA VARIENCE – An exemption from the zoning ordinance that allows a property to be improved or developed in way that is inconsistent with local zoning laws. Typically required when a building application does not comply with property setbacks, height, lot, or the area requirements of a zoning ordinance.


ARREARS - Items paid after the end of the period for which they are due, such as taxes for last year are paid this year; interest is paid on the loan payment for the month past.

ARTICLE 78 PROCEEDING - Refers to an article of the Civil Practice Law and Rules that allows aggrieved persons to bring an action against a government body or officer. This device allows review of state and local administrative proceedings in court.

AS-BUILT DRAWINGS - Drawings that show a construction project as it was actually built.

“AS-IS” - A clause or statement in a contract that is sometimes used in the description of a property. It means that the property is being transferred with no guarantee or warranty provided by the seller or Lessor and includes any and all physical defects to the site or property.

AS-OF-RIGHT - An “as-of-right use” is a use of land that is permitted as a principal use in a zoning district. In a Commercial/Retail designated retail district, the construction of a general retail building would be an “as-of-right use” of the property.

ASBESTOS – A common fibrous mineral found throughout the world. Due to its flexibility and flame-retardant nature, it has been used for a variety of purposes since ancient times (From ancient Greek meaning “inextinguishable”).  It’s been said that wealthy Persians often amazed their guests by cleaning the cloth by simply exposing it to fire.  However, the use of asbestos became widespread during the industrial revolution .Although having been linked to lung damage since at least 24 AD, the first documented death was recorded in 1906 and problems connected to the mineral continue today. Because of the risk of Mesothelioma (a form of cancer that malignant cells develop in the protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs), its use in decorations, fireproofing and other applications has mostly been banned in the United States. All that said, over 2.5 million tons were mined in 2007 and is still in wide-spread use in China, India and other developing nations.

ASBESTOS ABATEMENT – Many older buildings contain asbestos. Asbestos was a spray-applied flame retardant thermal system insulator. Asbestos can be found in a variety of materials i.e., floor tile, roofing shingles and roofing tar, as insulation inside walls and as pipe wrap to name a few. Depending on how and where asbestos was applied, it might not pose any risk to most users of the building (non-friable). If the fibers cannot become dislodged (friable), they cannot be inhaled and thus the asbestos poses no risk. Removal must be done by a certified asbestos removal company. The space must be sealed off, the air monitored to ensure no friable material has become airborne and the asbestos must be properly disposed of. Production of asbestos was banned in the U.S. in 1978. However, the ban allowed installers to use up remaining stocks up to 1986.

ASKING RENT – The “Sticker price” or the rent as initially quoted by a landlord or broker.

ASPHALT - A dark brown to black, highly viscous, hydrocarbon byproduct made from the residue of petroleum distillation. Commonly used for waterproofing roofs and highways it is soluble when heated over 300 degrees.

ASPHALT PAVING – A very durable material used for paving roads that is made up of stone, sand and a slurry of asphalt.

ASSESSED VALUE (ASSESED VALUATION) - The value of real property estimated for the purpose of computing real property taxes.

ASSESSMENT - The estimated value of property in order for a governmental fee to be imposed such as taxes or area improvements.

ASSESSOR - A public official who evaluates property for the purpose of taxation.

ASSIGNEE – The person to whom an agreement or contract is assigned to.

ASSIGNMENT - A transfer of some right, title or interest by one person or entity (assignor) to another (assignee). Assignments of Deed of Trust, leases, options, contracts, and other items are seen in a chain of title. The method or manner by which a right or contract is transferred from one person to another.

ASSIGNMENT OF LEASE - Is the transfer of all responsibilities and liabilities of the lease from one party to another.

ASSIGNOR - One who assigns or transfers property, real or personal to another

ASSIGNS: ASSIGNEES - Those to whom property rights title or interests shall have been transferred.

ASSIGNMENT OF RENTS - Additional security taken usually in connection with a mortgage or deed of trust which pledges any income from rent or leases in addition to the actual property.

ASSUMPTION – Act of taking over a previous borrower’s obligation on a mortgage note.

ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT - An agreement by one party to assume liability for payment of a debt or obligation primarily resting upon another person. Example: A buyer of real property may assume the existing mortgage previously given by the seller.

ASSUMPTION FEE - A lender's charge for changing over and processing new records for a new owner who is assuming an existing loan.

ASSUMPTION OF LEASE – The transference of an existing lease from one party to another, usually through an Assignment Agreement. The party assuming the lease (The Assignee) agrees to abide by the same terms and conditions as originally agreed upon by the Assignor (the party that assigns the lease). 

ASSUMPTION OF MORTGAGE - The taking of title to property by a grantee, wherein he/she assumes liability for payment of an existing note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust against the property; becoming a co-guarantor for the payment of a mortgage or deed of trust note.

ATTACHMENT - A type of lien, permitted only under special circumstances, which is placed against the real estate of a defendant in a pending law suit for money damages. Legal seizure of property to force payment of a debt.

ATTENUATION – The Reduction or dissipation of sound levels.

ATTEST - To affirm that a fact of document is true or genuine; an official act establishing authenticity.

ATTORNEY IN FACT - One who holds a Power of Attorney from another allowing them to execute legal documents such as deeds, mortgages, etc., on behalf of the grantor of the power. Power of Attorney may be limited to a specific act or acts, or it may be a general Power of Attorney.

ATTORNEY'S OPINION - In real estate; the written opinion of an attorney at law regarding the marketability of title to real property based upon an examination of the abstract of title or the records in the County Clerk Recorder's Office.

ATTORNMENT - The turning over of things of value such as money or property to a new owner.

AUDIT - The inspection of records to assure accuracy.

AUTOMATED UNDERWRITING - A computer based method of processing loan applications that enables the lender to process loans quickly, objectively and usually at less cost. Specific programs include those developed by Fannie Mea (Desktop Underwriter) and Freddie Mac (Loan Prospector).

AVERAGE - The number found by dividing the sum of all quantities by the total number of quantities.

AVERAGE DAILY TRAFFIC (ADT) – A 24 hour traffic count covering either both sides, or one side of a roadway.  These studies are usually done by a municipalities Department of Transportation for the purposes of determining a roadways service level (which see).

AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD INCOME - Obtained by dividing the total household income of an area by the total number of households in that area. Because averages can be strongly influenced by extreme values at the top or the bottom of a study area’s data, it is not as good a barometer for understanding the economics of an area as Median Household Income.

AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE - calculated by dividing the number of persons in households by the number of households.

AVERAGE INCOME - A mathematical term representing the middle point of a group of values. An average is obtained by taking the sum of a group of values and dividing by the number of values.

AVULSION – A sudden and perceptible loss or addition to land by action of water, or a sudden change in the bed or a course of a stream.

AWNING - A roof-like cover usually made of fabric positioned over a door or window and attached to a building.

(Typical window awnings)


AWNING SIGN - Any sign or graphic attached, painted on or applied to an awning or awning canopy.

Awning Sign
(Typical Awning Sign)


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