Real Estate Dictionary



MERGER
The combining of two or more entities (businesses) into one surviving entity.
MERGER OF TITLE
A lesser interest in real property being merged (absorbed) into a greater interest. For example: A lessee purchases the property being leased. The interest as a lessee is merged into the interest as an owner, thus ending the leasehold interest.
MERIDIAN
A circle or semicircle around the Earth in a North and South direction, always touching or passing through the poles. Used as a guide in surveying, being placed twenty-four miles apart and running from a base line.
MESNE
Intermediate, intervening.
MESNE ASSIGNMENT
Assignment from A to B to C to D would be described as passing from A by "mesne assignments" to D.
METAL LATH
A heavy coarse screen or slit sheet of metal which is used as a base upon which plaster is spread.
METAL VALLEY
See: Flashing.
METAMORPHIC ROCK
One of the three major types of rock. A rock formed by metamorphosis (change) caused by heat and/or pressure.
METER
(1) A metric unit of measurement, equal to 39.37 inches. (2) A device for measuring the use of public utilities, such as electricity, gas, etc.
METES AND BOUNDS
Description of land by boundary lines, with their terminal points and angles. Originally metes referred to distance, bounds to direction; modernly, the words have no individual meaning of practical significance.
METROPOLITAN AREA
A major city and surrounding area. The extent of the surrounding area is usually determined by the extent of the influence of the city (commuters for work, shopping, etc.), on the surrounding area.
METROPOLITAN SHOPPING CENTER
See: Regional Shopping Center.
MEZZANINE
(1) A partial floor between two floors (usually between the first and second). (2) The partial balcony of a theater between the orchestra floor and first balcony.
MICRORELIEF
Minor surface changes, such as channels, dunes, or low hummocks, rather than hills or mountains. The term is used by farm appraisers.
MILE
A linear measurement equal to 5280 feet on land and 6076 feet across water (nautical mile). See also: Knot (2).
MILKING
See: Equity Skimming.
MILL
Equal to one tenth of a cent. Used in expressing a tax rate. Ten mills would be the same as ten dollars per thousand.
MILL CONSTRUCTION
A type of construction specifically to retard fire. Relies on heavy timbers instead of normal size lumber, extensive use of brick, masonry, and other fire resistant materials.
MILLWORK
Parts of a building produced in a mill, such as doors, window sashes, etc. Differs from cabinet work, which is the work of a finish carpenter, done at a construction site, or precision work done by a cabinet maker, on or away from the construction site.
MINER'S INCH
An indefinite measure of a flow of liquid. Generally agreed to be 1/40th or 1/50th of a cubic foot per second, but which fraction is used depends on area of the country.
MINERAL RIGHTS
The ownership of the minerals (coal, gold, iron, etc.) under the ground, with or without ownership of the surface of the land. See also: Subsurface Rights.
MINERAL WOOL
A fibrous material produced by the action of steam on molten rock, under pressure, and used as an insulating material. (Also called rock wool).
MINERALS
In real estate terms, those minerals of value which may be taken by mining, such as coal, iron, copper, gold, silver, etc. Mineral rights, as well as oil rights, may be sold or leased separately from the land itself.
MINIMUM LOT
The smallest allowable lot size for development, as stipulated by local zoning laws.
MINIMUM RENTAL
A fixed rental in a lease which contains some formula for a possibly higher rental, such as a percentage lease, overrides, etc.
MINING LEASE
A right to extract (mine) minerals (coal, silver, etc.). See also: Oil and Gas Lease; Profit a Prendre.
MINOR
Any person under the age of 18, or under age 21 with regard to alcoholic beverages.
MINUTE
See: Degree (1).
MIRROR IMAGE RULE
A term used to describe acceptance of certain types of contracts, such as contracts involving real estate. The term means that the offer must be unequivocally accepted to create the contract. If you looked at the offer and the acceptance, they would be the "mirror image" of each other.
MISNOMER
A wrong name or mistake in name.
MISPLACED IMPROVEMENTS
An appraisal term indicating an improvement on land which is not the highest and best use.
MISREPRESENTATION
A statement or conduct by a person which represents to another a fact which is not true. A seller, broker, or builder may have a duty to disclose certain defects in property to a buyer or tenant. Failure to disclose is also misrepresentation. The misrepresentation may be deliberate (known to be wrong), negligent (should have known), or innocent (reasonably believed to be true). Depending on the facts and extent of misrepresentation, there may be a suit for damages, recision of a contract, punitive action against the broker (loss of license), etc.
MISSION ARCHITECTURE
A Spanish style of architecture resembling those features of California missions.
MISTAKE
An unintentional, non-negligent error or misunderstanding. A mistake may be of the facts (mistake of fact) or their legal effect (mistake of law).
MITER
To cut two pieces (usually wood) at an angle, to form a joint.
MOBIL HOME
Originally, a trailer pulled behind a car or truck cab. Now includes large homes which are not truly mobil but are constructed in the same manner as trailers, as opposed to conventional on-site construction.
MOBILE HOME PARK
Originally, a trailer park, having electrical hookups, and water. Modernly, a park-like area having facilities such as complete plumbing and utilities, a recreation center, security guards at the entrance, and mobil homes which are usually attached to foundations and are permanent structures.
MODEL HOME
A home, often decorated, which is shown by a builder to prospective buyers of homes yet to be built. An identical home to the model is then constructed on a lot in the subdivision. The model home is generally sold last.
MODERNIZATION
To make changes to the interior or exterior of a structure for the purpose of reflecting developments of function or design which were not available at the time of the original construction.
MODIFICATION
Any change made to a document.
MODULAR HOUSE
See: Prefabricated House.
MOISTURE BARRIER
Insulating materials used to prevent the build up of moisture (condensation) in walls and other parts of a building.
MOLDING
Long, narrow strips of wood or synthetic material, used as a finish piece to cover the crack between the meeting of a wall with a floor or ceiling. Also used for decoration only.
MONEY MARKET
A general term referring to the availability of money for short or long term loans.
MONEY MARKET MUTUAL FUNDS
Funds which invest in the "Money Market", a variety of interest bearing securities such as treasury bills and bank certificates of deposit. None is invested directly into real property or real property securities.
MONOLITHIC SLAB
A concrete slab foundation where the slab and supporting beams are poured together. See: Floating Slab.
MONTH TO MONTH TENANCY
A tenancy where no written lease is involved, rent being paid monthly. Some obligations as to notice of moving or eviction may exist by statute.
MONTHLY ADVANCE REVERSE MORTGAGE
A mortgage under which the borrower receives monthly payments which are repaid in a lump sum, either at a specified time, when the borrower sells the property, or when the borrower dies. See also: Reverse Mortgage.
MONTHLY FIXED INSTALLMENT
A monthly payment of principal and interest not subject to change.
MONUMENT
A visible, permanent object, marked by a surveyor, to indicate the boundaries of land. May be artificial, such as a post, or natural, such as a tree or large stone.
MORATORIUM
A period of suspension of legal rights or remedies. In real estate terms, most commonly used by governmental agencies (usually local) to suspend construction in certain areas until studies are completed to determine the best use for the land involved.
MORTAR
A material used in masonry work as the "glue" holding stones or bricks together. It is composed of lime, cement, sand, and water, and hardens when it dries.
MORTGAGE
(1) To hypothecate as security, real property for the payment of a debt. The borrower (mortgagor) retains possession and use of the property. (2) The instrument by which real estate is hypothecated as security for the repayment of a loan.
MORTGAGE BANKER
A company providing mortgage financing with its own funds rather than simply bringing together lender and borrower, as does a mortgage broker. Although the mortgage banker uses its own funds, these funds are generally borrowed and the financing is either short term or, if long term, the mortgages are sold to investors (many times insurance companies) within a short time.
MORTGAGE BONDS
Bonds issued by corporations, which offer first mortgages on real property of the corporation as security for the payment of the bonds.
MORTGAGE BROKER
One who, for a fee, brings together a borrower and lender, and handles the necessary applications for the borrower to obtain a loan against real property by giving a mortgage or deed of trust as security. Also called a loan broker.
MORTGAGE CLAUSE
See: Loss Payable Clause.
MORTGAGE COMPANY
A company authorized to arrange real estate loans, charging a fee for this service.
MORTGAGE CREDIT CERTIFICATE PROGRAM (MCC)
A federal program authorized by the Tax Reform Act of 1984. The program allows a tax credit to a home buyer of a portion of the amount that would be paid in income tax. This enables a lender to raise the borrower's income when attempting to qualify the buyer for a home purchase.
MORTGAGE DISCOUNT
See: Discount Points.
M & M LIEN
See: Mechanic's Lien.
M ROOF
A roof constructed of two double pitched roofs, forming a shape similar to the letter M. Utilizes shorter rafters, making construction easier, and allows a lower overall height.
MADE-LAND
Artificially formed land, either by filling or dredging.
MAGISTRATE
Any civil public officer. Most commonly used to designate an inferior judicial officer, such as a justice of the peace, police justice, etc.
MAGISTRATE'S COURT
Court having jurisdiction over minor matters (small claims), and usually not a court of record.
MAGNESITE FLOORING
A synthetic floor, floated approximately 1 1/2 inches thick, over a concrete floor. Composed of powdered magnesite, magnesium- chloride solution and fillers. Also used for outside steps in areas where cold is not severe.
MAH
See: Multifamily Affordable Housing
MAI
A designation conferred by the Appraisal Institute upon member appraisers who are qualified to appraise all types of property as well as give real estate investment advice. See also: RM; SRA; SREA; SRPA.
MAIN
A large conduit or pipe, carrying electricity, sewage, gas, etc., to or from branch lines.
MAIN CIRCUIT
The principal circuit which feeds electric current into smaller circuits (branches) for distribution where needed.
MAINTENANCE
Keeping a property in condition to efficiently serve its intended purpose.
MAINTENANCE FEE
As applied to condominiums and planned developments, the amount charged each unit owner to maintain the common area. Usually a monthly fee paid as part of the budget.
MAINTENANCE RESERVE
Money reserved to cover anticipated maintenance costs.
MAJORITY
The age at which a person is no longer a minor, and is legally entitled to contract and enjoy civic rights, such as voting.
MAKER
One who executes (signs) as the maker (borrower) of a note.
MALL
(1) A shaded walkway or promenade. Modernly, the pedestrian area of a shopping center. May be open or enclosed. (2) A strip between two travelways; may be landscaped or paved. Also called a median strip.
MANAGEMENT
See: Property Management.
MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT
See: Property Management Agreement.
MANAGEMENT FEE
The amount paid for property management or the estimated value of such management if owner managed or the building is not yet built.
MANDAMUS
Latin for "we command". A writ issued by a superior court ordering an inferior court, corporation, or individual, to do or refrain from doing specific acts. The main importance to real estate is that it is a writ commanding a governmental body to do something, such as issue a building permit.
MANSARD ROOF
A four sided roof, each side having two separate slopes of different degree; the lower slope is at a much steeper angle than the upper slope.
MANTEL
(1) The lintel of a fireplace opening, constructed by a post and lintel method. May be of stone, a heavy beam, or other material of strength. (2) A decorative shelf above a fireplace opening, not load- bearing.
MANUFACTURED HOME
A structure built in a factory and assembled at the site. The term is also used to describe a mobile home. See also: Stick Built Home. A manufactured home is built using more metal and less wood and brick than a stick built home. Manufactured homes are less expensive than comparable stick built structures.
MANUFACTURED LOT
A lot upon which construction of a building may begin. Having all off-site improvements and approvals of government agencies.
MAPS AND PLATS
See: Plat.
MARBLE
A hard, single or multicolored limestone. In construction, used in place of tile in more expensive structures.
MARGIN
In an adjustable rate loan, the difference between the index rate and the interest rate of the loan. Example: The borrower's interest rate is 2 points (percent) over the prime rate. The 2 points is called the margin.
MARGIN OF SECURITY
See: Equity (2).
MARGINAL
An investment not considered strong. One which barely supports itself.
MARGINAL LAND
(1) Any income producing land which barely covers expenses. (2) Land which is clearly not the best for an intended purpose, but may be adequate.
MARINA
A small harbor or basin, having docks, supplies, and maintenance services for boats.
MARK
An "X" or other symbol used by one who cannot write his or her name. Modernly not used often and laws as to the validity of using a mark should be checked.
MARKET DATA APPROACH
Appraising the value of a property by comparing the price of similar properties (comparables) recently sold. The degree of similarity (physical characteristics and locations) of the properties and the circumstances of the sale (time and terms) are the important considerations.
MARKET PRICE
The price a property brings in a given market. Commonly used interchangeably with market value, although not truly the same. See also: Market Value.
MARKET RENT
See: Economic Rent.
MARKET VALUE
The highest price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller accept, both being fully informed, and the property exposed for a reasonable period of time. The market value may be different from the price a property can actually be sold for at a given time.
MARKET VALUE APPROACH
See: Market Data Approach.
MARKETABILITY
Salability. The probability of selling property at a specific time, price and terms.
MARKETABLE TITLE
Title which can be readily marketed (sold) to a reasonably prudent purchaser aware of the facts and their legal meaning concerning liens and encumbrances.
MARQUEE
A canopy-like projection over the entrance to a building, but not supported by posts or columns. Most commonly found on theaters and hotels.
MARSH
A grassy area of ground which is always soft and wet. Usually distinguished from a swamp by the absence of trees in the marsh.
MASONRY
Anything constructed of the materials used by a mason, such as brick, stone, cement, adobe, etc; anything constructed by a mason of these materials.
MASONRY WALL
A wall, constructed by a mason, of stone, brick, cement, or similar materials.
MASS APPRAISING
Appraising a whole district or area at the same time, in order to adjust property taxes.
MASSACHUSETTS TRUST
An unincorporated association, not a partnership, doing business through a trustee. The name comes from authorization of such a trust under the laws of the state of Massachusetts.
MASTER ASSOCIATION
In a multi phase condominium or planned unit development project there may be homeowners' associations that are concerned with specific areas of the project. The Master Association oversees these associations and handles matters affecting the entire project.
MASTER FORM INSTRUMENT
See: Fictitious Instrument.
MASTER LEASE
A lease controlling subsequent leases. May cover more property than subsequent leases. For example: "A" leases an office building, containing ten offices, to "B". "B" subsequently leases the ten offices individually. The ten leases from "B" as lessor are controlled by the lease from "A" to "B" (master lease).
MASTER PLAN
A zoning plan for an entire governmental subdivision, such as a city. A comprehensive plan to allow a city to grow in an orderly and sound manner, both economically and ecologically.
MASTER POLICY
An insurance policy to a lender covering property in more than one location. If more than one state is involved, underlying policies may be issued to meet state requirements.
MATCHED BOARDS
See: Tongue and Grove.
MATERIAL FACT
A fact upon which an agreement is based, and without which, said agreement would not be made.
MATERIALMAN
One who supplies construction materials. See also: Mechanic's Lien.
MATURITY
(1) Termination period of a note. For example: A 30 year mortgage has a maturity of 30 years. (2) In sales law, the date a note becomes due.
MEAN
A middle point between two extremes; or an average, having an intermediate value between two extremes or between several successive values of variable quantity, such as mean low tide and mean high tide.
MEAN HIGH WATER MARK
The point on the shore which the average high tide will reach.
MEAN LOW WATER MARK
The point on the shore which the average low tide will reach.
MEANDER
To follow a winding or flexuous course, usually referring to a river or stream.
MEANDER LINES
Lines run in surveying lands which border navigable rivers to determine the sinuosities of the river.
MECHANIC'S & MATERIALMAN'S LIEN
See: Mechanic's Lien.
MECHANIC'S LIEN
A lien created by statute for the purpose of securing priority of payment for the price or value of work performed and materials furnished in construction or repair of improvements to land, and which attaches to the land as well as the improvements.
MECHANIC'S LIEN SURETY BOND
A bond, from a bonding company, indemnifying a title insurer against loss from writing a policy before expiration of the mechanic's lien period.
MEDIAN STRIP
A divider, being a strip of land rather than a fence or barrier, between oncoming lanes of a roadway.
MEETING OF THE MINDS
A legal term meaning the mutual agreement necessary to form a contract. It is not based on what may actually be in the minds of the parties, but rather based on whether the acts of the parties and circumstances of the contract indicate that the parties agree.
MEGALOPOLIS
Modern work describing a heavily populated continuous urban area including many cities.
MERGE
To combine two or more entities, so that one survives, the other or others becoming part of the surviving entity, and losing their identity.
MERGE LINE
An appraisal term. The line which arbitrarily splits a lot which fronts on two parallel streets, so that each portion will have the highest value.
MERGED CREDIT REPORT
A credit history that is compiled from all three of the major credit bureaus and combined into one report.
MORTGAGE INSURANCE
Insurance written by an independent mortgage insurance company (referred to as an +MIC') protecting the mortgage lender against loss incurred by a mortgage default, thus enabling the lender to lend a higher percentage of the sales price. The Federal Government writes this form of insurance through the FHA and the VA.
MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM (MIP)
The amount paid for FHA mortgage insurance. When paid to a private company, it is commonly referred to as Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
MORTGAGE LIFE INSURANCE
A term life insurance policy for the amount of the declining balance of a loan secured by a mortgage or deed of trust. The beneficiary under the policy is the mortgagee. In the event of death (some policies also cover disability) of the insured (mortgagor), the mortgage is paid in full.
MORTGAGE MODIFICATION
A refinancing plan to help a mortgagor in default. The payment may be reduced if the amount refinanced is lower than the original mortgage amount or the term is extended. A mortgagor may qualify if he/she has recovered from a financial problem and can afford the new payment amount.
MORTGAGE OUT
To finance the total cost of a property or project.
MORTGAGE POLICY (MORTGAGEE'S POLICY)
See: Loan Policy.
MORTGAGE POOL
A group or "pool" of mortgages, an interest in which can be purchased through a securities dealer. Because of market changes in interest rates and points (discounts), early payoffs, and foreclosures, pools have different returns and, therefore, different investment values. The rate of payoffs and foreclosures is called the "speed" of the pool.
MORTGAGE REVENUE BONDS
Bonds sold on a state or local level (tax exempt) to finance real estate sales, construction, or refurbishing. Used in many instances to create affordable housing.
MORTGAGE SAVING (OR SAVINGS) CLAUSE
A clause in the CC&R's (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) which states that a violation of the CC&R's shall not defeat a subsequent mortgage made in good faith and for value.
MORTGAGE SERVICING
Controlling the necessary duties of a mortgagee, such as collecting payments, releasing the lien upon payment in full, foreclosing if in default, and making sure the taxes are paid, insurance is in force, etc. Servicing may be done by the lender or a company acting for the lender, for a servicing fee.
MORTGAGE WAREHOUSING
A system whereby a mortgage company will hold loans which would ordinarily be sold, in order to sell later at a lower discount. These mortgages are used as collateral security with a bank to borrow new money to loan.
MORTGAGE-BACKED CERTIFICATES
See: Mortgage-backed Securities.
MORTGAGE-BACKED SECURITIES
Securities similar to bonds, but having their value based on a pool of mortgages or trust deeds (usually government insured). The rate of return is based on the interest rate of the mortgages, plus early payoffs, which increases the value of any discounts. The price of the securities will vary as comparative (current) interest rates rise and fall. See: Collateralized Mortgage Obligation.
MORTGAGEE
The party lending the money and receiving the mortgage. Some states treat the mortgagee as the "legal" owner, entitled to rents from the property. Other states treat the mortgagee as a secured creditor, the mortgagor being the owner. The latter is the more modern and accepted view.
MORTGAGOR
The party who borrows the money and gives the mortgage.
MORTISE
A rectangular opening, cut in wood or other material, to receive a bar of wood or other material for the purpose of securing the two parts in a mortise joint.
MOTEL
Originally, a building near a major highway to accommodate travelers, offering a place to sleep and park. Over the years, motels have come to offer most of the features of hotels, such as restaurants, recreation, etc.
MULLION
A vertical bar separating panes of a window or panels of a door. Also an upright framing member of panels or wainscoating.
MULTIFAMILY AFFORDABLE HOUSING (TARGETED AFFORDABLE HOUSING)
Multifamily property with a certain percentage of the units set aside for low income families. The rental amount is based on a percentage of the median income of the area, adjusted for family size. Appropriate units meet FNMA's Multifamily Affordable Housing lending requirements.
MULTIFAMILY DWELLING
(1) A building occupied by more than one family. (2) A building designed as a dwelling for more than four families at the same time.
MULTIFAMILY MORTGAGE
A loan secured by a mortgage on a residence consisting of more than four units.
MULTIFAMILY PROPERTY
To meet the FNMA definition it is a residential property of not less than five dwelling units with not more than 20 percent of the net rentable area rented or set aside for rent to non-residential tenants.
MULTIPLE DWELLING
See: Multifamily Dwelling.
MULTIPLE LISTING
An exclusive listing, submitted to all members of an association, so that each may have an opportunity to sell the property.
MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
A town, city, or village, incorporated as a political corporation under state statutes. Would not include a county, or such political divisions as a district.
MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE
See: Ordinance.
MUNIMENTS OF TITLE
Written evidence (documents) which an owner possesses to prove his title to property.
MUNTIN
A horizontal bar, dividing window panes in a window.
MUTUAL SAVINGS BANK
An institution owned by its depositors, as evidenced by certificates of deposit rather than stock. These institutions are active in long term real estate financing, as opposed to commercial banks, which concentrate more on short term loans.
MUTUAL WATER COMPANY
A company in which the owners are the customers. Stock is issued to the users, who are the organizers of the company.