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- Caveat emptor A legal principle derived from Latin than means "let the buyer beware."
- Ceiling height The standard height of a ceiling is eight feet.
- Central air conditioning A device that generates cold air through an outside unit that is connected to ductwork inside the house.
- Central business district The area of a city where most large businesses are located.
- Certificate of Deposit (CD) A document which shows that the bearer has a specified amount of money on deposit with a bank, stock-brokerage firm or other financial institution.
- Certificate of deposit index An index based on the interest rates on six-month CDs. It used to determine the interest rate for some adjustable-rate mortgages.
- Certificate of eligibility A document issued by the Veterans Administration that verifies the eligibility of a veteran for a loan program.
- Certificate of occupancy A document which states that a home or other building has met all building codes and is suitable for habitation.
- Certificate of sale A document issued at a judicial sale, which entitles the buyer to receive a deed after court confirmation of the purchase of the property.
- Certificate of title A written opinion on the status of a piece of property based on an examination of the public record.
- Chain of title The official record that details the ownership history of a piece of property.
- Chair railing Decorative trim installed on a wall about 32 inches above the floor, which protects against scuffs from furniture.
- Change order A modification of the construction contract to authorize a change in the work, an adjustment in the amount of the contract or a change in the contract time. The owner, architect and contractor must sign the change.
- Change frequency The adjustment schedule on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
- Chattel Personal property such as furniture, clothing or a car.
- Chattel mortgage A lien on personal property used as collateral for a loan.
- Chimney back The back wall or lining of a fireplace or furnace chimney.
- Chimney flue The passage inside a chimney that channels smoke and heat to the outside.
- Chimney pot A short pipe at the top of a chimney that increases ventilation to the fireplace and reduces smoke.
- Cinder block A block made of ash and cement that is used in construction.
- Cinder fill Cinders used below a basement or around a foundation to promote drainage.
- Circuit breaker An electric fuse that activates or deactivates a circuit.
- Cistern A tank used to store rainwater.
- Classified property tax A tax that varies in rate depending on the use of the property.
- Clear title A property that does not have liens, defects or other legal encumbrances.
- Closing The final procedure in which documents are signed and recorded, and the property is transferred.
- Closing costs Expenses incidental to the sale of real estate, including loan, title and appraisal fees.
- Closing statement A document which details the final financial settlement between a buyer and seller and the costs paid by each party.
- Cloud on title An invalid encumbrance on real property.
- Cluster development A method of squeezing more homes into less space.
- Codicil A change to a will that adds or subtracts provisions or clarifies portions of the document.
- Co-housing Individual housing units that are clustered around a common building where residents share cooking and other activities.
- Coign The cornerstone of a building that differs in shape or color from the rest of the wall.
- Co-insurance Coverage that involves the use of two or more insurers..
- Collar beam The structural element that connects roof rafters.
- Collateral security Additional security that a borrower supplies to obtain a loan.
- Collection The series of steps a lender takes to bring a delinquent mortgage up to date.
- Collusion The action of two or more people to break the law.
- Colonia Unincorporated communities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Column A slender upright structure that consists of a base, a round or square shaft and a capital.
- Column footing The support base for a load-bearing column. The footing is usually made of reinforced concrete.
- Co-maker A person who signs a promissory note with the borrower and assumes responsibility for the loan.
- Combination door An outer door with interchangeable screen and glass panels.
- Combination window A window with interchangeable screen and glass panels.
- Commercial bank A financial institution that provides a broad range of services, from checking and savings accounts to business loans and credit cards.
- Commercial property An area that is zoned for businesses.
- Commingling The mixing of money held in trust with other funds.
- Commission The negotiable percentage of the sales price of a home that is paid to the agents of the buyer and seller.
- Commitment A promise by a lender to make a loan with specific terms for a specified period.
- Commitment fee The fee a lender charges for promising to make a loan.
- Common area An area inside a housing development that is owned by all residents.
- Common-area assessments Fees paid by the owners of a condominium project or planned-unit development to maintain, repair, improve or operate common areas.
- Common-interest development A project composed of individually owned units that share usage and financial responsibility for common areas.
- Common law A body of laws based on custom, usage and rulings by courts in various jurisdictions.
- Community property Property accumulated through the joint efforts of husband and wife. It is a classification of property peculiar to certain states.
- Community Reinvestment Act A federal law that encourages financial institutions to loan money in the neighborhoods where minority depositors live.
- Commute The distance and time it takes a person to reach the workplace.
- Comparables Properties used as comparisons to determine the value of a certain property.
- Comparative market analysis An estimate of the value of a property based on an analysis of sales of properties with similar characteristics.
- Competent A term for a buyer who is legally fit to enter into a sales contract.
- Compound interest The interest paid on the principal balance in a mortgage and on the accrued and unpaid interest of the loan.
- Concrete tilt-up The process of pouring concrete into forms on the ground, allowing the forms to harden and then raising the material to a vertical position to form walls.
- Condemnation The process the government uses to take private property for public use without the consent of the owner.
- Conditional commitment A promise by a lender to make a loan if the borrower meets certain conditions.
- Condominium Individual units in a building or development in which owners hold title to the interior space while common areas such as parking lots, community rooms and recreational areas are owned by all the residents.
- Condominium conversion The change in title from a single owner of an entire project or building to multiple owners of individual units.
- Conduit A metal pipe that houses electrical wiring.
- Consent judgment A binding written agreement between two parties to have a judgment entered and recorded.
- Conservator A court-appointed guardian.
- Consideration Anything that is legal, has value and induces a person to enter into a contract.
- Construction budget The funding that an owner arranges for the construction of a project.
- Construction documents Drawings and specifications from an architect that provide detailed requirements for the construction of a project.
- Construction loan Short-term loans a lender makes for the construction of homes and buildings. The lender disburses the funds in stages.
- Construction to permanent loan The conversion of a construction loan to a longer-term traditional mortgage after construction has been completed.
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) A nationwide, nonprofit organization that helps consumers get out of debt and improve their credit profile. National headquarters: 8701 Georgia Avenue., Suite 507, Silver Springs, MD 20910. Phone: (800) 388-2227.
- Contemporary style A design that features streamlined shapes, large unadorned windows and industrial materials.
- Contiguous lots Pieces of property that are adjoined.
- Contingency A condition specified in a purchase contract, such as a satisfactory home inspection.
- Contingency listing A property listing with a special condition attached.
- Contingent fee A fee that must be paid if a certain event occurs.
- Contract An agreement between two or more parties that creates or modifies an existing relationship.
- Contract for deed A contract in which the seller agrees to defer all or part of the purchase price for a specified period of time.
- Contract to purchase A contract the buyer initiates which details the purchase price and conditions of the transaction and is accepted by the seller. Also known as an agreement of sale.
- Contractor The individual who contracts for the construction of a home or project.
- Contractual lien A voluntary obligation such as a mortgage or trust deed.
- Controlled growth Any restrictions imposed on the amount or type of new development in an area.
- Conventional loan A long-term loan a lender makes for the purchase of a home.
- Convertible adjustable-rate mortgage A mortgage which starts as an adjustable-rate loan, but allows the borrower to convert the loan to a fixed-rate mortgage during a specified period of time.
- Conveyance The transfer of title of property.
- Conveyance tax A tax imposed on the transfer of real property.
- Cooperating broker A real estate broker who finds a buyer for a property that another broker has listed.
- Cooperative corporation A business trust that holds the title to a cooperative residential building and grants occupancy rights to shareholders in the corporation.
- Cooperative mortgages Any loans related to a cooperative residential project.
- Cooperative project A project in which a corporation holds title and sells shares representing individual units to buyers who then receive a proprietary lease as their title.
- Cornice A horizontal molding that projects from the top of a structure or wall.
- Corporate relocation An arrangement by which employers pay to transfer and move employees.
- Co-signer A second party who signs a promissory note and takes responsibility for the debt.
- Counteroffer A response to an offer.
- Corner bead A reinforcement placed in the corner where two walls intersect.
- Corner influence The effect on the value of a property because it is situated on a corner or near a corner.
- Corrective work Necessary or desired repairs to remedy problems uncovered by a home or specialized inspection.
- Cost-plus contract A construction contract that determines the builder's profit based on a percentage of the cost of labor and materials.
- Cottage A small, one-story house.
- Covenant A legal assurance or promise in a deed or other document, or implied by the law.
- Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) Rules and regulations for a development, such as acceptable landscaping or improvements that can be made to individual units.
- Craftsman style An architectural style that evolved as part of the Arts and Craft movement near the turn of the century.
- Crawl space The space between the ground and the first floor of a home, usually no higher than four feet.
- Creative financing Innovative home-financing arrangements that help sell a property.
- Credit The money a lender extends to a buyer for a commitment to repay the loan within a certain time frame.
- Credit history A record of an individual's current and past debt payments.
- Creditor An individual or institution to whom a debt is owed.
- Credit life insurance Insurance that pays off a mortgage in the event of the borrower's death.
- Credit rating The degree of credit worthiness assigned to a person based on credit history and financial status.
- Credit report A credit bureau report that shows a loan applicant's history of payments made on previous debts. Several companies issue credit reports, but the three largest are Trans Union Corp., Equifax and Experian (formerly TRW ).
- Credit repository Large companies that gather financial and credit information from various sources about individuals who have applied for credit.
- Credit union Nonprofit cooperative organizations that provide banking and financial services, including mortgages, home improvement loans and home equity loans, to their members.
- Cross-bridging The strengthening of a structure by bracing cross members between beams.
- Cul de sac A street or alley that is closed at one end.
- Cupola A dome-like structure that sits on top of a roof.
- Curable defect A deficiency in a property that is easy or inexpensive to fix, such as chipping paint.
- Curb appeal The first impression of a house as seen from the street.
- Curtain wall An exterior wall that encloses a yard or other area but does not provide any structural support to a home.
- Custom builder A builder who constructs a home or building based on plans created by the owner.
- Custom home A structure designed by an architect hired by the owner.
- Call option A clause in a loan agreement that allows a lender to ask for the balance at any time.
- Can lights Cylindrical chambers with bulbs recessed into the ceiling.
- Cancellation clause A clause that details the conditions under which each party may terminate the agreement.
- Cantilever A projecting structure supported on one end, such as a balcony.
- Cap A limit on the amount the interest rate or monthly payment can increase in an adjustable-rate mortgage.
- Cape Cod style A wood-frame or shingled house with a steep roof and several windows projecting from the second floor.
- Capital Money used to create income, such as funds invested in rental property.
- Capital expenditure The cost of making improvements on a property.
- Capital gains Profits an investor makes from the sale of real estate or investments.
- Capital gains tax A tax placed on the profits from the sale of real estate or investments.
- Capital improvement Any improvement that extends the life or increases the value of a piece of property.
- Capitalization A mathematical formula that investors use to compute the value of a property based on net income.
- Capitalization rate The percentage rate of return estimated from the net income of a piece of property.
- Caravan A group of real estate agents who tour a house that has been recently listed for sale.
- Carport A roof that covers a driveway or other parking area.
- Casement window A window hinged on its sides to allow it to swing open vertically.
- Cash flow The amount of cash a rental property investor receives after deducting operating expenses and loan payments from gross income.
- Cashier's check A check the bank draws on itself rather than on a depositor's account.
- Cash-out refinance The refinancing of a mortgage in which the money received from the new loan is greater than the amount due on the old loan. The borrower can use the extra funds in any manner.
- Cathedral ceiling A high open ceiling formed by finishing exposed roof rafters.
- Caulk An acrylic or silicon sealant used to fill cracks, crevices and holes in a home.
- Cavedium A courtyard or atrium.
- Caveat A formal notice, that asks a court to suspend action until the party which filed the challenge can be heard.