There’s so much to know about home appraisals, I could fill a book! A home appraisal is conducted during the buying process by an independent company. It determines the worth or value of a property and is also used to determine how much a lender is willing to give to buy a particular property.

Here are 26 appraisal terms that you should know if you’re thinking about buying a home:


Any feature of a property that increases its value or desirability. These might include natural amenities such as location or proximity to mountains.

Buffer Zone

A segment of land between two municipal zones which acts as a shield and to keep one zone from encroaching on the other.


A term used by appraisers to describe properties which are similar to a subject property in size, condition, location and amenities.

Debt Equity Ratio

The ratio of the amount a mortgagor still owes on a property to the amount of equity they have in the home.


The difference between the fair-market value of a property and the amount an owner owes on any mortgages or loans secured by the property.

Fannie Mae

A private, shareholder-owned company that works to make sure mortgage money is available for people to purchase homes. It was created by Congress in 1938.

Ginnie Mae

A corporation created in 1968 within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to serve low-to moderate-income home buyers.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A type of mortgage loan that allows the borrower to draw cash against the equity in his or her home.

Independent Appraisal

An estimation of value by a certified appraiser with no vested interest in the value of the property.

Joint Tenancy

When two or more parties own a piece of property together. Each of the owners has an equal share.

Keep Improving

Even after buying a home, improvements made are factored into the value. Additions can increase property value or usability.

Liquid Asset

An asset that can be quickly converted into cash at little or no cost.


A statement by one party in a transaction that is incorrect or misleading. Some misrepresentations are deemed intentional and thus may be fraudulent.

Non-conforming Use

The use of land for purposes contrary to municipal zoning. This can occur when zoning changes after a property was already being used in a certain capacity.

Occupancy Rate

The percentage of properties in a specific area that are occupied.


The amount owed on a mortgage that doesn’t include interest or other fees.

Quitclaim Deed

A legal document which transfers property ownership.

Rate Lock

A lender’s guarantee of an interest rate for a set period of time.


A map of a piece of property which includes the legal boundaries, improvements or features of the land.

Truth in Lending

A federal law which requires full lender disclosure to borrowers of all terms, conditions and costs of a mortgage.

Under-Improved Land

A piece of land which hasn’t been developed to the full extent of its potential.

Vacancy Rate

The percentage of vacant properties in a specific area.

Walk-Through Inspection

A process where an appraiser examines a property in preparation for estimating its value.

X Is for Examination of Title

The report on a property’s title from the public records or an abstract of the title.

Your Realtor

A real estate agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS.


An area within a municipality that conforms to certain guidelines regarding property usage in the zone.

Reviewing an appraisal report can be easier than you think if you’re equipped with the right terminology. You can also learn more at our ABC’s of Appraisals page on the Quicken Loans website.


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