Glossary of Real Estate Terms

Real Estate Terms and Definitions

Homeowners Association (HOA):

A governing body for a condominium or townhome complex.

Governing Documents:

 Legal documents that establish the Homeowners Association, including the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), the Bylaws, and the Articles of Incorporation.

HOA Bylaws:

Rules and regulations set by the Homeowners Association for the community.

Deed Restrictions:

Restrictions imposed on the use of a property that are specified in the property’s deed.

Master Deed (also known as a CC&Rs and Declaration of Covenants):

A legal document that outlines the rules and regulations that govern a condominium or homeowners association (HOA). It sets forth the rights and obligations of the owners and the HOA, and often includes details on the use of common areas, maintenance responsibilities, and restrictions on property modifications. The declaration is recorded with the local government and is legally binding on all owners in the association.


Fees paid by homeowners to the Homeowners Association to cover common expenses, such as maintenance, repairs, and insurance.

Board of Directors:

 The group of homeowners elected by the Homeowners Association to oversee its affairs and make decisions on behalf of the community.

Architectural Review Committee:

A group of homeowners appointed by the Board of Directors to review and approve or deny requests for modifications to homes or landscaping within the community.

Reserve Fund Study:

An evaluation of the Homeowners Association’s reserve fund to determine whether it is adequately funded to cover expected future expenses.

Special Assessment:

A fee charged to homeowners by the Homeowners Association to cover unexpected expenses, such as a major repair or legal settlement.

Fine Policy:

The Homeowners Association’s policy regarding fines for violations of the community’s rules and regulations.


A process used to resolve disputes between homeowners and the Homeowners Association without going to court.

Meeting Minutes:

 Written records of Homeowners Association meetings, including decisions made and actions taken.

Management Company:

A professional management firm hired by the Homeowners Association to handle day-to-day operations, such as collecting assessments and coordinating maintenance and repairs.

Reserve Study:

An analysis of a Homeowners Association’s long-term financial needs, including an assessment of the association’s reserve fund and future funding requirements.

HOA Reserves:

A fund maintained by the Homeowners Association for future expenses, such as major repairs or replacements.

Warrantable Condo:

A condominium that meets the criteria set by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA for mortgage financing.

Non-Warrantable Condo:

A condominium that does not meet the criteria set by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA for mortgage financing.

Fannie Mae:

The Federal National Mortgage Association, a government-sponsored enterprise that provides financial support to the housing market.


Federal Housing Administration, a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides mortgage insurance and regulates housing standards.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development, a government agency responsible for national housing policy and programs.

Freddie Mac:

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a government-sponsored enterprise that provides support to the housing market by purchasing mortgages from banks and other lenders.

Detached Condo:

A standalone unit in a condominium complex, typically with its own private yard or outdoor space.

Attached Condo:

A unit in a condominium complex that shares at least one wall with another unit.


Abbreviation for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides mortgage guarantees for honorably discharged veterans.


Abbreviation for the Federal National Mortgage Association, also known as Fannie Mae, which is a government-sponsored enterprise that provides mortgage financing services.

Recertification :

The process of renewing the certification of a condo complex after a certain period of time has passed, typically every two or three years. During this process, the Homeowners Association must provide updated information about the community, including its financial status, management structure, and compliance with governing documents. Recertification is necessary for a condo complex to remain eligible for certain types of mortgage financing.

Leasing Restrictions:

 Rules and regulations regarding the leasing of units in a condominium development. Leasing restrictions can include limits on the number of units that can be leased, the duration of leases, and the requirements for lease approval. These restrictions are often put in place to ensure that the community remains primarily owner-occupied, which can help to maintain property values.

Seasoning Clause:

 A restriction that requires a unit owner to occupy the unit for a specified time period before they can lease. Seasoning clauses are often included in governing documents to discourage investors from purchasing units solely for rental purposes. This restriction can vary in length from a few months to a year or more.


An exception that allows a loan to proceed even if the condominium development does not meet certain criteria. For example, if a condo complex is not recertified or does not meet a certain percentage of owner occupancy, a lender may require a waiver to approve a loan for a unit in the complex.


The process of developing a condo complex in stages, typically with separate approvals required for each stage. This allows for greater flexibility in the development process, as well as the ability to modify plans or adjust to market conditions. Phasing may also be required by local zoning regulations.