Real Estate English Vocabulary

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Learning Business English for Real Estate

Real estate English vocabulary is a set of words specific to the property industry.

This is a guide to common English vocabulary used by real estate agents, property managers, valuers, leasing agents, developers and other real estate professionals. Learning this vocabulary will help you to specialize your business English for real estate.

Take the real estate English vocabulary quiz to test your knowledge. Learn the vocabulary. Practice using the vocabulary in context, read the example sentences, and try to answer the example questions as you work your way through the list. You can also download and print the real estate English vocabulary PDF study sheet at the end of this article.

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What is a real estate development anyway?

Take the Real Estate English Vocabulary Quiz to Test your Knowledge

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The A to Z of Real Estate English Vocabulary


A single residence (home) within a larger building containing many similar homes.

I live in apartment 10, there are 15 units in the whole building.

What are the advantages of living in a unit? What are the disadvantages?

Apartment Block/Apartment Building/Apartment Complex/Block of Apartments/Flats/Units

A building containing apartments.

There are many large apartment buildings in the city

Which part of town can you find many apartment buildings?


The initial estimate of the price of a property, based on the current market. Can be provided by a bank for lending purposes or real estate service for selling or buying purposes.

I am thinking of selling my property, but first I want an appraisal so I know how much it is worth.

How can professionals appraise the price of property?


An agreement that is enforceable by law.

Once you sign the contract the conditions are binding so check it carefully.

What is an example of an agreement that is legally binding?


The party buying a property.

The buyer has signed the contract and paid the deposit, once they transfer the remaining funds the transaction will be complete.

In addition to the buyer, what other parties are involved in a property transaction?


Finalizing a deal.

If you just sign the contract we can close the deal.

What can delay closing?

close up of human hand
Let’s close this deal

Closing Costs/Transaction Fees

Fees incurred as part of a sale on top of the purchase price could include real estate fees, taxes, loan set-up fees etc.

The buyer will be responsible for closing costs under the contract.

Can you think of any other closing costs involved with property transactions?

Commercial Property / Commercial Real Estate

Buildings or land used for income-generating purposes. Includes office space as well as industrial property.

The central business district is where you will find a lot of commercial property.

Where can you find commercial property in your city?

Commercial Lease

A lease agreement to use the property for income-generating purposes.

The top floor of this office building property has a commercial lease in place until mid-next year.

What are some examples of businesses that might need a commercial lease?

Comparative market analysis

Report on sale or rental amounts for similar properties in a local market used to estimate sales or lease value of a property.

Can you carry out a comparative market analysis on this property to find out the value of similar property in the area?

Why would someone be interested in a comparative market analysis of their property?


Requirements that must be met for a contract to remain valid. In the case of property transactions, these may include requirements like a professional inspection or the buyer obtaining funding.

The contract includes the condition that the buyer can get a loan to purchase the property, if they cannot, the contract is terminated.

Can you think of some common conditions in real estate transactions or lease agreements?


Legally binding document recording a written agreement between two parties.

Once you sign the lease agreement it is a legally binding contract.

What are some examples of transactions or agreements that require a formal contract?

Completing documentation for business in English
Once the contract is signed it is binding.

Cooling-Off Period

The period in which buyer can withdraw from a contract without penalty.

I am terminating the contract under the cooling-off period provision.

Why do you think cooling-off periods exist?


To fail to repay a mortgage, defaulting can result in the property reverting to the ownership of the mortgagee or lender.

The company has defaulted on its loan and the bank is threatening foreclosure.

What are some outcomes of defaulting on a loan?


An amount paid up-front to guarantee full payment. May be paid to secure a rental or for sale property. Also, the amount initially paid by the buyer in a mortgage.

If you would like to lease this property a deposit equal to four weeks rent is required.

Can you think of a time when you were required to pay a deposit up front to guarantee full payment later?

Developer / Property Developer

An individual that generates income through property by building, subdividing or renovating property.

We need a property developer to help us navigate the subdivision under the cities zoning regulations.

What specific examples of property development can you think of?


One building containing two living separate living units.

Although it is two separate residences, this duplex is on one title so both must be sold together.

What are some of the disadvantages of living in a duplex?


The right to use a property for a specific purpose.

The electric company has an easement on the land which allows them to access the power lines built on the property.

What other reasons can you think of for having an easement?


Obstruction or obstacle related to the use or transfer of land (such as a mortgage or easement over the property) is usually registered on the property title.

The electric company holds an easement over the property, this encumbrance will lower the value of the property.

What other words have a similar meaning to encumbrance?


Structure or building which extends into someone else’s land.

Your fence is encroaching on my land.

What are some solutions to encroachment?

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Equity is how much of your home you own based on how much of your home loan you have repaid. Equity can increase or decrease with changing value of property.

The property was recently valued at $100,000, I still owe $20,000 on the property loan, so I have $80,000 equity in the property.

How could equity be affected by an increase in property prices? For example if the property above was re-valued at $200,000?


A third-party account to legally hold money while a real estate transaction is settled.

The funds will be held in escrow until the property settles.

What is the purpose of an escrow account?


Items in a building that are not part of the structure of a building and not affixed to the walls or floor. Fittings are generally excluded from sale or lease agreements. For example, curtains, free standing appliances, mirrors etc.

The following fittings are included as part of the sale…

What fittings would you leave behind if you moved?


A property in poor condition that will require work to restore to an acceptable or liveable level.

I bought a fixer-upper in a great neighborhood, I plan to renovate it and sell it for a profit.

What are some of the risks when buying a fixer-upper?


Items in a building that are not part of a buildings structure but that are affixed to the walls or floor and generally expected for inclusion in property sale or lease agreements. For example, light fixtures , air-conditioning units, plugs and sockets etc.

All fixtures will remain in the property and have been set out in the contract.

What fixtures would you take with you if you moved?


To buy a fixer-upper and renovate it to sell at a profit.

I have flipped four houses and am currently renovating a fifth.

What are some of the risks people who flip houses might face?


If a mortgagor defaults on their loan, the mortgagee may take possession of the property the loan was used to purchase under the loan agreement. The lender can then sell the property to recoup the loss.

The bank foreclosed on the mortgage and the owner was forced to vacate.

What steps should a mortgagor take to make sure the lender does not foreclose on their home.

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Including furniture.

Is this apartment leased furnished or unfurnished

When is it better to lease a furnished property, and when is it better to lease an unfurnished property?

High Rise / A High Rise

Adjective or noun to describe a building with many stories.

See also Skyscraper.

“I wish I lived in a high rise apartment complex.”

“I live in a high rise, it’s great!”

What are some of the advantages to living in a high rise?

Industrial Property / Industrial Real Estate

A type of commercial property. Buildings and land used in for production, manufacturing, assembly, warehousing, research, storage, and distribution.

This city has a lot of industrial properties out near the city limit.

Would you like live near industrial real estate? Why or why not?


Process of visiting a property for sale to evaluate it. General inspections are made by prospective buyers and tenants. Professional inspections (for example building inspections) may be used in some transactions.

Before making an offer to purchase the property would like to have an inspection.

Have you ever had a property inspection?


Annualized fee for borrowing money charged as a percentage of the outstanding loan.

I wanted to buy a second hand car using a loan from the car dealer but when I saw how much interest they were charging I decided to buy a bike instead.

How much interest does you bank charge for different lending products? Credit cards? Business loans? Home loans?

Landlord / Lessor

A person who leases or lets a property to another.

My landlord is really awesome, whenever there is a problem she takes care of it immediately.

Have you ever rented a property from a landlord? Was it good experience? Why or why not?


The written agreement in which where a person pays a recurring payment known as rent in return for the use of a property.

The lease is for six months, after that we can renegotiate the agreement.

What sort of details would you expect to find written in a lease?

Leasee / Tenant / Renter

A person who holds the lease of a property.

My tenants are terrible, they don’t look after the property well and sometimes they pay the rent late.

What type of people make the best tenants?


A home being marketed for sale or for rent by a real estate agent. i.e. the property is listed on a website or other publication.

We have several listings in the area which you might be interested in.

What information should be included in a property listing?

road people sign computer


A home loan agreement with a bank secured against the property being purchased. If the loan is not repaid ownership of the property is transferred to the holder of the mortgage (the mortgagee) who may sell it to recoup the loan.

The house I wanted cost $100,000, I had $30,000 in savings so I took out a mortgage with the bank. I borrowed the remaining $70,000 and will pay this amount, plus interest back over the next fifteen years.

What are some of the benefits of using a mortgage to buy property? What are some of the risks?

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage with an interest rate that cannot be changed by the lender for an agreed period of time.

I took out a fixed rate mortgage when interest rates were very low because I was worried they might increase.

What are the advantages of a fixed rate mortgage? What are the risks?

Adjustable Rate / Variable Mortgage

This interest rate can be changed at nominated intervals by the lender.

I decided to take out an adjustable rate mortgage because I believe mortgage rates will fall over the next few years and I wanted to benefit from that change.

What are the advantages of an adjustable rate mortgage? What are the risks?

Mortgage Broker

A person who negotiates home loan agreements between lenders and borrowers in return for commission.

My mortgage broker is great, she shopped around and found us the lowest interest rates available.

Have you used a mortgaged broker before? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a broker?


The mortgagee is the lender and holds the mortgage.

If you don’t make the agreed repayment, the mortgagee can foreclose on the property.

What institutions can act as mortgagees?

Mortgagor / Borrower

The mortgagor is the borrower and must make agreed loan repayments to the mortgagee to avoid defaulting on the mortgage.

The mortgagor missed several payments and eventually the the bank foreclosed on the property.

What are some risks involved in being a mortgagor?

Mortgage Insurance

Insurance premium paid to insure against defaulting on a loan. It is an extra fee paid by the mortgagor to the mortgagee if they don’t have a large enough deposit.

If we save up a 20% deposit, we won’t have to pay mortgage insurance and that will save us a lot over the course of the loan.

Who does mortgage insurance benefit?

crop businessman giving contract to woman to sign


This is the initial price offered by a prospective buyer to the seller. A seller may accept the offer, reject it, or counter with a different offer.

Would you accept an offer below the asking price?

Have you ever made an offer less than the asking price?

Office Space

Space available within a building for business purposes.

The business is expanding and will require 100m2 of new office space next month.

Which part of the city do you usually find office space for rent?

Owner / Property Owner

A person or entity that owns a building or land.

The property owner decide sell the building.

What are the advantages of owning property? What are the disadvantages?

Pre-approval / Pre-approved

Before buying a home, a buyer can obtain a pre-approval letter from a bank, which provides an estimate on how much the bank will lend that person. This letter will help determine what the buyer can afford.

I would like to offer the full asking price for the property, I have been pre-approved for finance by my bank.

If you were selling a house would you want buyers that had been preapproved for a loan, or buyer that still needed to get finance?


The principal is the initial amount of money borrowed to purchase a home. Paying off the principal allows a buyer to build equity in a home. Principal is combined with interest to determine the monthly mortgage payment.

If I make larger weekly repayments than I can pay down the principal faster and save money on interest.

On average, how many years does it take people to pay back the principal on a home loan?

Property Manager

A real estate professional who looks after a property for an owner in return for an agreed fee. They may be required to market the property for lease as well as look after upkeep and collect rent.

I don’t live in the city and I don’t want to deal with marketing, leasing or maintaining the property so I engaged a property manager.

What are the advantages of using a property manager? What are the disadvantages?


To restore a building.

I bought a fixer upper so I could renovate it and flip it for a profit.

Would you enjoy renovating an old house?

Real Estate Agent / Real Estate Broker / Realtor

A professional with a real estate license who handles property transactions. they are often responsible for listing properties, marketing property, engaging prospective purchaser or tenants, negotiating agreements and handling paperwork. They are often paid on commission, a percentage of the transaction value.

Real estate broker is sometimes used to denote professional licensed to own a brokerage or agency and have other agents work for them.

The real estate agent selling this block of units is really helpful!

What a the advantages of using a real estate agent to help with property transactions? What are the disadvantages?

Buyer’s Agent

Advocates for a property buyer.

I am interested in buying a property overseas so I have engaged a buyers agent who knows the local market and prices to help me buy the right property at the right price.

 In your experience, is it usual for people to use a buyers agent when purchasing property?

cheerful couple hugging and unpacking carton boxes

Seller’s Agent / Listing Agent

Advocates for a property seller.

I don’t want to handle the sale of my property by myself so I have engaged a sellers agent, they know the market and the strategies to get the most money for my home.

 Would you use a seller’s agent to sell you home?

Dual Agency

One agent representing both buyer and seller.

Dual agency could be problematic due to conflicts of interest.

What problems could dual agency cause?

Commercial Agent

A real estate agent who specializes in commercial property.

We have a commercial agent looking after the lease of the office building.

What are some of the differences between a commercial agent and a residential agent?

Residential Property / Residential Real Estate

Buildings and land for people to live in.

This part of the city is mostly residential properties, it is a combination of houses and apartments.

Which part of the city do you find the most residential properties?

Retail Property

Buildings and land used for selling goods to consumers.

The cities main walking street has hundreds of retail properties. You can find restaurants, shops, and other vendors.

Where is the largest concentration of retail property in your city?

Retail Lease

A lease of business premises where the permitted use is for retail activities.

I want to open a book store so I need a retail lease in a busy urban area.

What kind of businesses might require a retail lease?


An area of low population density is often associated with agriculture (farming).

I was sick of the big city life so I moved to a tiny rural village of just 1000 people.

What kind of businesses might require a retail lease?

Real Estate

Property consisting of land or buildings.

I am interested in learning more real estate vocabulary to help me in the property industry.

 How many examples of types of real estate can you think of?

Refinancing / Restructuring

Paying your existing mortgage with a new mortgage agreement to take advantage of new conditions such as low interest rates or high property values.

Interest rates are very low so I refinanced my home loan and now I have lower repayments.

 How often should people refinance their home loan?

an agent showing documents to his client


A recurring payment paid in return for the use of a property.

I pay my rent every two weeks to the property manager who collects it for the land lord.

 What the advantages of renting property? What are the disadvantages?

Seller / Vendor

The party selling a property.

The vendor sold his apartment for $50,000 above the listed price.

 What information should a vendor research before selling their property?


The point at which a property is transferred to the purchaser.

We have signed the contract but the settlement is in thirty days which will give us time to organize finance, moving and clean the property.

 What specific things need to be organised before a property settlement?

Settlement Period

The period between when a contract and signed and when the property settles.

I have asked the seller for a 60 day settlement period as I have a lot to organize before I am ready to take possession of the property.

 What are the advantages of a short settlement period? What are the disadvantages?

Sky Scraper

An extremely tall high rise. Often used to describe buildings taller than 100 meters.

Helen works on the 50th floor of a skyscraper.

 What famous sky scrapers do you know?


A single level in a building.

This house is two storeys high. The kitchen and living area are on the ground floor and the bedrooms are on the second storey.

 How many storeys is your house or apartment building?

Subdividing / Subdivision

Dividing land into smaller blocks for sale or development.

Robin purchased a large block which she subdivided into 5 smaller blocks and sold.

 What so you need to consider when subdividing property?


Large mixed-residential areas outside urban areas. Suburban areas feature low-density and medium-density housing like houses, townhouses, and low-rise apartments.

Amenities like schools, hospitals, retail areas, and public transport are common in suburban areas. Commercial or industrial real estate are less common in suburban areas.

After years of living in a high-rise apartment in the middle of town, Michelle decided to move to a house with a big yard in a suburban area.

What the advantages of living in a suburban area? What are the disadvantages?

Terraced house / Townhouse / Townhome

Townhouses are a style of residential buildings that share one to two walls with adjacent properties but have their own entrances.

Would you prefer to live in an apartment or a townhouse? Why?

wood light city art


Densely populated inner-city area. Characterized by, medium to high-density residential, commercial and retail property with access to amenities, facilities, and civic infrastructure.

After years of living in a small rural village, Michael decided he wanted the convenience and excitement of living in a busy urban environment.

Would you prefer to live in an urban area or a suburban area? Why?


A report on how much a property is worth based on third-party professional evaluation. May be done by a bank to assess value for the purposes of loaning money or the state to assess taxes and rates.

Why do real estate professionals need to know about zoning?


A type of industrial property comprised of large buildings where materials or manufactured goods may be stored.

There are a lot of warehouses in the industrial area of the city.

What companies need to lease warehouses?


Methods of urban planning where areas of a region are divided into areas where different conditions apply to the types of buildings and development permitted. Examples of zones could include, high density residential, rural, industrial, special use etc.

The city zoning plan says that you can build high-rise office buildings in the central business district.

Why do real estate professionals need to know about zoning?

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Download Real Estate English Vocabulary PDF Study Sheet to Practice Offline

Real Estate English Vocabulary PDF Study Sheet


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