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SAFING - Fire stop material placed in the spaces between the floor slab and curtain walls in multi-story construction.

SAFING OFF - Installation of fire safety insulation around floor perimeters, between floor slab and spandrel panels. Insulation helps retain integrity of fire resistance ratings.

SALES CONTRACT - A contract by which buyer and seller agree to the terms of a sale.

SALE-LEASEBACK - A sale of real property where the seller retains occupancy by leasing the property from the buyer.

SATISFACTION - Payment of a debt or other obligation.

SBCCI (Southern Building Code Congress International) - A nonprofit organization that publishes the Standard Building Code.

SCOPING - A process under the State Quality Environmental Review Act by which the lead agency identifies the potentially significant adverse impacts related to the proposed use and how they are to be addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This defines the scope of issues to be addressed in the draft EIS, including the content and level of detail of the analysis, the range of alternatives, the mitigation measures needed, as well as issues that do not need to be studied. Scoping provides a project sponsor with guidance on matters that must be considered and provides an opportunity for early participation by involved agencies and the public in the review of the proposal.

SCREENING - The act of placing landscape features, such as trees, bushes, shrubs, or man-made screens, such as fences or berms, to reduce the impact of development on nearby properties.

SEAL - An impression made to attest the execution of an instrument, e.g., Notary Seal, Corporate Seal.

SECOND MORTGAGE – A second mortgage typically refers to a secured loan (or mortgage) that is subordinate to another loan against the same property.

SECOND TRUST (MORTGAGE) – A junior, or secondary trust, placed on a property after the first trust is already established.

SECONDARY FINANCING - A loan secured by Mortgage of Deed of Trust, which is recorded after the first Mortgage or Deed of Trust.

SECONDARY MORTGAGE MARKET - Financial institutions which purchase promissory notes, secured by mortgages or deeds of trust, from their original lenders.

SECURED PARTY - The party holding a security interest. Usually refers to the mortgage, a conditional seller, the pledgee, etc.

SECURITY AGREEMENT - An agreement between a secured party and a debtor, which creates a security interest.

SECURITY DEPOSIT - The amount of money, usually placed in escrow, by tenant to insure a landlord that all obligations of the lease will be met, and space will not be damaged beyond normal “Wear and Tear”.

SECURITY INTEREST - A term designating the interest of the creditor in the property of the debtor in all types of credit transactions. It thus replaces such terms as the following; Chattel mortgage; pledge; trust receipt; chattel trust; equipment trust; conditional sale; inventory sale; inventory lien; etc.

SECTION - A parcel of land approximately one-mile square, containing 640 acres, which is located within a township, as established by U.S. Government Survey.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) - A rating that denotes the efficiency of air conditioning equipment. It is the amount of cooling your equipment delivers for every dollar spent on electricity. It is the ratio of cooling delivered by a system, measured in BTU's, to the dollar cost of the electricity to run the system, as measured in watt-hours. This ratio is determined using specified federal test procedures. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit. The more efficient the unit, the lower the operating cost.

SEPARATE PROPERTY - Property which is owned by a husband or wife but which is not community property; property acquired by either spouse prior to marriage or by gift or devise after marriage.

SEPTIC TANK - An underground tank, in which sewage from a building is reduced to liquid by bacterial action and eventually drained off.

SEQRA - The State Environmental Quality Review Act requires local legislatures and land use agencies to consider, avoid, and mitigate significant environmental impacts of the projects that they approve, the plans or regulations they adopt, and the projects they undertake directly.

SERVICE ROAD - A secondary roadway that runs parallel to or adjacent to a highway. Also referred to as a Frontage Road (Which See).

SERVICING - Supervising and administering a loan after it has been made. This involves such things as collecting the payments, keeping accounting records, computing the interest and principal, foreclosing on defaulting loans, etc.

SETBACK – The minimum distance in a zoning ordinance that must be maintained between a proposed structure or improvement and the property line.

SETBACK LINES - Lines on a plot plan, site plan or survey that delineates how close to the edges of a property a structure may be built. Setback lines are defined in building codes, deed restrictions, and zoning regulations. (Also known as a Building Line).

SETBACK ORDINANCE - An ordinance prohibiting the construction of a building or structure between the curb and the setback line.

SET POINT - The temperature to which a thermostat is set for desired comfort level.

SETTLEMENT AGENT – A person or entity coordinating and conducting the closing of a loan and the transference of real property.

SEVERALTY OWNERSHIP - Owned by one person only. Sole ownership.

SHADOWING - An undesirable condition where the joint finish shows through the surface decoration.

SHAFT WALL - Fire-resistant wall that isolates the elevator, stairwell and vertical mechanical chase in high-rise construction. This wall must withstand the fluctuating (positive and negative) air-pressure loads created by elevators or air distribution systems.

SHEAR - Force that tends to slide or rupture one part of a body from another part of the body or from attached objects.

SHEATHING - Plywood, gypsum, wood fiber, expanded plastic or composition boards encasing walls, ceilings, floors and roofs of framed buildings. May be structural or non-structural, thermal-insulating or non-insulating, fire-resistant or combustible.

SHEETROCK - Leading brand of gypsum panel for interior wall and ceiling surfaces, developed and improved by United States Gypsum Company. There is only one SHEETROCK brand Gypsum Panel.

SHERIFF'S DEED - Deed given by court order in connection with sale of property to satisfy a judgment.

SHOPPING CENTER – A group of commercial retail establishments designed, built and managed as a single unit and usually providing on-site parking.

SHOPPING CENTER IDENTIFICATION SIGN – A pole sign, monument sign or flat sign that is used to identify a shopping center’s tenants consisting of two (2) or more stores.

SHORING - Temporary member placed to support part of a building during construction, repair or alteration; also may support the walls of an excavation.

SIDEWALK/SANDWICH SIGN - A light weight sign that is joined at the top to create an “A” shape and is intended to be portable and temporary in nature. (Commonly referred to as an “A-Frame” Sign)

(Typical “Sandwich” or “A-Frame” signs)

SIGN – A publicly displayed or posted notice, board, or other device bearing letters, symbols and/or designs to convey a designation, name, direction, information, instruction, warning, advertisement, or other message.

SIGNAGE - Usually refers to signs collectively, as in a sign system designed for a single use or purpose.

SIGN FACE – The area of a sign that contains all lettering, wording and accompanying designs and symbols, together with the background on which they are displayed but that excludes any of the sign's supporting framework and bracing.

SIGN REGULATION - Local laws that regulate the erection and maintenance of signs and outdoor advertising with respect to their size, color, appearance, movement, illumination, and placement on structures or location on its ground.

SILL - Horizontal member at the bottom of door or window frames to provide support and closure.

SILL PLATE A horizontal member laid directly on a sub-floor or foundation to which the framework of a building is erected.

SINGLE FLOOR TENANT - A tenant that occupies the entire floor of a multi-story building

SITE PLAN – A plan - prepared to scale - showing with accurate dimensions the boundaries of a site; including the location of all buildings, improvements and features of the project.

SLAB – A concrete slab is a horizontal, usually steel reinforced structural element typically between 4” and 8” thick, most often used to construct floors in commercial buildings, thinner slabs are also used in exterior paving and walkways.


SNIPE SIGN – A sign for which a permit has not been issued which is attached to public utility poles, fences, trees, construction barricades, etc.

(Typical Snipe Signs)

SOFFIT – The underside of an architectural element common to the eve of a roof.

SOILS ENGINEER – A licensed professional that analyzes soil types, conditions and bearing capacities.

SOLE PLATE - The bottom horizontal member of a frame wall also known as a Sill Plate.

SOUTHERN BUILDING CODE CONGRESS INTERNATIONAL (SBCCI) - A nonprofit organization that publishes the Standard Building Code.

SPEC SPACE - This is office space that is built out prior to being leased to a particular tenant. The space is considered speculative in nature.

SPACE PLAN - A drawing representing the tenant’s build-out requirements within the designated space (also referred to as a "Floor Plan").

SPACE PLANNER – A company or individual construct detailed drawings for the design of a tenant’s space.

SPAN- Distance between supports, usually a beam or joist.

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT - Legal charge against real property by a public authority to pay the cost of public improvements such as street lights, sidewalks, streets improvements, etc.

SPECIAL EXCEPTION PERMIT - See "Special Use Permit."

SPECIAL PROTECTION - Extended coverage provided to the insured party under a title insurance policy in the form of a written endorsement for which there is an extra charge. An endorsement increases the risk assumed by the company by "insuring over" existing or potential defects in title. Examples: Form 100, mechanics lien protection, mineral protection or deletion of printed exceptions.

SPECIAL USE PERMIT – A written exemption from zoning laws that allows a property to be used under certain conditions (also called a conditional use permit, special exception permit and/or a special permit).

SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED - A deed in which the grantor warrants or guarantees the title only against defects arising during his ownership of the property and not against defects existing before the time of his ownership. A deed wherein the grantor warrants that he is conveying the title to the property "as good as he got it."

SPECIFIC LIENS - Liens, which attach to only a certain specific parcel of land or piece of property.

SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE - An action to compel performance of an agreement, e.g., for the sale of land. A remedy which the court will grant, in certain cases, compelling the defendant to perform or carry out the terms of a valid, existing agreement or contract.

SPOT ZONING - The often frowned-upon rezoning of a single parcel of property or of a small area that allows it to be used differently than the surrounding properties. 

SQUARE FOOT – A measurement consisting of an area one foot high by one foot long.

SQUARE FOOT SYMBOL - A symbol for square foot, square feet, and "per square foot" commonly used in architecture, real estate and interior space plans. It is a simple square with a vertical line bisecting it. It is also occasionally written as a square with a slash through it.

The square Foot Symbol


STATUTE OF FRAUDS – A State law, which provides that certain contracts must be in writing in order to be enforceable at law. Examples: Real property lease for more that one year; agent's authorization to sell real estate.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS - A law that sets the maximum amount of time in which a lawsuit or claim can be filed.

STATUTORY WARRANTY DEED - A short form warranty deed authorized by statute, which warrants by inference that the seller is the undisputed owner and has the right to convey the property and that will defend the title if necessary. This type of deed protects the purchaser in that the conveyor covenants to defend all claims against the property. If he fails to do so, the new owner can defend claims and sue the former owner.

STILE – The vertical mill work piece of a door or window sash.



STOP -Strip of wood fastened to the jambs and head of a door or window frame against which the door or window closes.

STORAGE CONTAINERS - A temporary structure used to store construction equipment, tools, equipment and furnishings.

STOREFRONT – The face of a building fronting on a street and/or having public access.

STRINGER - Heavy horizontal timber that supports the other members of staircase (the Steps and Risers).

STRIP MALL – An amateur’s description of a small shopping center (usually a small strip center). Although there are Malls and there are Strip Centers, to the best of our knowledge, no one has yet to assemble a large number of Gentlemen’s Clubs under one roof.

STUCCO – Traditional stucco is often called Portland cement plaster and is a centuries-old material. Stucco usually consists of sand, Portland cement and water and is a hard, dense, thick, non-insulating material. There are also specialty stuccos that use synthetic materials but usually offer no significant insulation properties.

STUD - Vertical load-bearing or non-load bearing framing member.

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER - An engineer that is licensed to design the structural systems for a building.

SUBCONTRACTOR - A contractor, usually a specialty contractor, such as electrical or plumbing, that is under subcontract to the general contractor.

SUBDIVIDE – To divide, usually with local governmental approval, a larger property into smaller lots.

SUBDIVISION - Any number of lots or plots broken down out of a large piece that has an organized map plan or plat to define it.


SUB FLOOR - Rough or structural floor placed directly on the floor joists or beams to which the finished floor is applied. As with resilient flooring, an underlayment may be required between sub floor and finished floor.

SUBJECT TO MORTGAGE - One who takes title to real property subject to a mortgage is not responsible to the holder of the promissory note for the payment of any portion of the amount due. (See Assumption of Mortgage) The original maker of the note is not released from his responsibility to make the payments thereon.

SUBLEASE -- A secondary lease of property given by the lessee under a prior lease to a sublease. Occurs when a tenant re-leases their space during the term of their tenancy. It is generally a three party transaction, The Lessee, the Sub-lessee and the Landlord (who usually reserves the right to approve any proposed sublease).

A common contract that is used in subleasing is the Estopple Agreement or certificate (Which see), which is signed by the Landlord stating that the lease between the Landlord and prime tenant is still in force and that the tenant is not in default of any of the provisions in the lease contract.

SUBORDINATE - To make subject to, or junior to. For example, a prior deed of trust may by written agreement be subordinated in priority to a subsequent junior deed of trust.

SUBORDINATION CLAUSE - Clause in a junior or a second lien permitting retention of priority for prior liens. A subordination clause may also be used in a first deed of trust permitting it to be subordinated to subsequent liens as, for example, the liens of future construction loans.

SUBORDINATE AGREEMENT - An instrument or agreement that makes a loan or mortgage inferior or subordinate to one that was recorded after it.

SUBORDINATION, NON-DISTURBANCE AGREEMENT AND ATTORNMENT AGREEMENT (SNDA) – A three-part agreement with the Landlord’s lending institution that The “subordination” portion permits a lender-mortgagee of the property whose lien is junior or subordinated to the tenant's (usually because the lease was recorded before recording the lien of the mortgage), to become superior to the lien of the lease.

The agreement that protects the tenant is called a “non-disturbance.” A non-disturbance agreement permits the lease to stay in force so long as the tenant is not in default.

However, lenders usually also require or need another agreement along with subordination to ensure that tenants can't walk away from their leases in the event of a property foreclosure. This agreement is called an “atornment,” which is especially necessary in the states that extinguish a lease once the property has been foreclosed (although this is not the rule in the majority of states). The attornment agreement creates a contractual bond between tenant third-party mortgagee, pursuant to which the tenant agrees it will recognize the mortgagee as landlord.

SUBPOENA - A process to cause a witness to appear and give testimony legal or quasi-legal in a proceeding.

SUBROGATION - The substitution of another person in place of the creditor, to whose rights he succeeds in relation to the debt. The doctrine is used very often where one person agrees to stand as surety for the performance of a contract by another person.

SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION - The point when construction is sufficiently complete in accordance with the contract documents, that the owner can occupy or utilize the building or space.

SUBSTRATE - Underlying material to which a finish is applied or by which it is supported.

SUB-SURFACE RIGHT - The ownership or right of use of some portion of the ground underlying the surface of a parcel of land.

SUPERVISION – Watching over the work or tasks of others. Guidance of a construction project in a professional manner. 

SUPPLEMENTARY HEAT - The auxiliary or emergency heat, usually electrical resistance heat, provided at temperatures below a heat pump's balance point.

SURETY - One who guarantees the performance of another; guarantor.

SURRENDER - In leases, it is the cancellation of a lease by mutual consent of lessor or lessee. In bankruptcy, it is an informal term for relinquishment of property by the debtor to the control of the bankruptcy trustee.

SURVEY – 1).The process in which a parcel of property is measured and its exact location and area is determined. 2). A scaled drawing done by a registered land surveyor, civil engineer or architect showing the exact location and dimensions of a property, including all existing improvements, easements, right of ways, etc.

SURVEYOR - A licensed design professional that determines the boundaries and elevations of a property and prepares drawings defining existing site conditions, site boundaries, and sets monuments locating those boundaries.

SYNDICATE - A partnership organized for participation in a real estate venture. Partners may be limited or unlimited in their liability.




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