Definition of the word vocabulary in relation this real estate vocabulary list.


In the realm of real estate development, real estate terms often feel like a complex labyrinth of confusing jargon used by an exclusive club. However, many real estate vocabulary words have simple definitions. From escrow and equity to appraisals and proptech, together, we’ll demystify the terminology that often feels like a foreign language to many. Let’s navigate the intricate world of real estate vocabulary words, empowering you to make informed decisions with confidence.

In this post:


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Is there a real estate dictionary?

Yes, this post serves as your real estate dictionary and guide through real estate terminology.


How to use this glossary of real estate terms

The terms listed below are presented in the way that they are used in the real estate, mortgage, and proptech industries. These definitions do not cover every possible use case of these real estate terms. Additionally, it’s important to remember that state laws may slightly alter the following definitions.

With those precautions out of the way, our real estate glossary showcases the most common words and definitions in the real estate industry. These are real estate vocabulary terms that professionals use. Currently, the number of real estate professionals is increasing, so you’ll want as many advantages as you can get. With some studying, you will sound like a professional, too.


Real estate vocabulary word guide



An attribute-based access control system is a system that grants entry based on characteristics or attributes such as security clearance, time of day, and location.


ADA push button

ADA stands for American Disabilities Act. An ADA push button is a panel that features a wheelchair symbol and is pushed to automatically open a door.


Access control system

This is how a property regulates access. Access control systems include video intercoms, keypads and key readers, smart locks, security turnstiles, elevator controls, gate openers, and more.


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Artificial intelligence. In real estate, AI answers questions, determines the value of properties, helps rent out apartments, and serves as a chatbot to improve the experience on real estate websites.



This is the agreed-upon way that a buyer pays back their loan and accrued interest after a real estate purchase.



This is when the value of a home is assessed by an appraiser. An appraiser determines the value of a property in relation to what it’s worth in the current real estate market. Appraisers are often hired by mortgage lenders or other financial institutions during a real estate transaction.


Appreciation value

This is when a property’s value increases over time due to the ever-changing real estate market. Not every property is guaranteed to appreciate.


Biometric access control

This is a type of access control system that uses biological data as an access credential. For example, fingerprint scanners, eyeball scanners, and voice recognition are examples of biometric access control.


Biophilic design

This refers to architectural building design that incorporates natural elements such as plants, natural light, and water features into building environments to enhance tenants’ well-being and connection to nature.


Bridge loan

This is a short-term, temporary loan that is meant to carry an investor who is between investments. For example, an investor uses a bridge loan when they have purchased a new property but have not yet sold their old property. As a result of their temporary nature, bridge loans can have a high interest rate.



This is the person who conducts negotiations between the buyer and seller. They represent the seller in a real estate transaction and often receive a commission once a property has been sold.



This refers to consolidating the management, operations, or decision-making processes of multiple properties or real estate assets into a single centralized system.


Curb appeal

This real estate term applies to the visual appeal of a property. Properties with high curb appeal are more attractive to buyers and prospective tenants.


Conventional mortgage

This is a typical mortgage at a fixed interest rate set for 15 or 30 years.


Cloud-based technology

This refers to property technology that utilizes cloud-based software. Cloud-based software stores data in the cloud, eliminating the need for onsite data storage. Furthermore, data in the cloud can be accessed from other devices that connect to the cloud. For example, this is how a property manager can use their cell phone to access user credentials for their building’s cloud-based access control system.



These are the conditions and requirements that all parties associated in a real estate transaction must meet before a contract is legally binding.



This is when a property loses value. Furthermore, while this is often because of the property itself, such as a lack of maintenance, it also happens as a result of changes in the neighborhood and local area.



This is when a third party holds funds during a real estate transaction until all requirements from the concerned parties have been met. Escrow is used for secure transactions that follow all of the rules of a contracted agreement.


Escrow as defined in our real estate vocabulary guide.



This is the portion of a property’s value that an investor owns when the property in question is calculated at market value.


Green building

This is when a building has officially met all modern sustainability requirements and reduced its environmental impact. Many different companies offer green building certifications, such as LEED and EnergyStar, which makes a property more attractive to buyers and prospective tenants.


IP intercom

An IP (internet protocol) intercom is designed to transmit audio and video signals between two parties. IP intercoms connect to the internet in order to transfer larger quantities of complex data that isn’t possible with analog-based systems.


Mandatory access control

This type of access control system restricts access to a property according to a user’s authorization. Users with higher authorization will be able to access spaces on a property that a user with lower authorization cannot.


Multifamily REITS

An REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) is a company that purchases and manages a portfolio of residential properties, such as apartment buildings, and generates income through renting out these properties to tenants.


Learn how to invest in multifamily real estate:



This stands for net operating income. This is a property’s total income after subtracting the expenses to operate the property. Knowing your NOI can be helpful when determining your property’s profitability point.



Short for property technology. This includes technology and other innovations that improve transparency, efficiency, and sustainability in the real estate industry. An example of proptech is our very own ButterflyMX video intercom for multifamily and commercial properties.


Predictive analytics

In real estate, predictive analytics are used to make highly informed decisions in the realm of real estate development. Predictive analytics are commonly used by AI software. Analytics include historical data, archival records, and machine learning.


Real estate cycle

This is the real estate market’s cyclical nature. The cycle is defined by four stages: recovery, expansion, hyper-supply, and recession.


Real estate syndication

Real estate syndication is an investment strategy where multiple investors pool their financial resources to invest in larger real estate projects. Syndications are typically managed by someone known as a sponsor or real estate syndicator.


Real estate waterfall

This is a distribution structure that is used in real estate investments where the profits are distributed sequentially according to predefined tiers or levels. Certain investors (e.g., sponsors or preferred equity holders) are at the top of the waterfall in accordance to how much capital they invested to begin with. Other investors who are less involved are at the lower tier of the waterfall structure.



This is when you add new features and technology to old systems. For example, it’s considered retrofitting when you add a keypad to your old intercom system.


RFID technology

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It’s commonly used in proptech products such as access control systems. RFID devices use radio waves to transmit information, such as access credentials. For example, a vehicle reading access control system at a gated parking facility will scan a user’s RFID windshield tag that has been placed on their car and automatically open the gate for them.



This stands for return on investment. It refers to the point in an investment when you finally make a profit.


Video intercom

This is an intercom system that transmits video signals between a base station and a substation. A modern video intercom such as the one that we offer is cloud-based, and users answer calls for video chat directly from their mobile devices.


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Disclaimer: This real estate vocabulary guide is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Nothing contained on our site constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by ButterflyMX or any third-party service provider.

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Nick Manzolillo

I'm a Rhode Island-based writer fascinated with real estate development, the inner workings of the real estate industry, and how real estate and technology blend together.

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