Glossary of
Real Estate Terms

Your guide to common closing terms

American Land Title Association (ALTA)

The national trade association for title insurance agents, underwriters, and abstracters who provide title insurers to both mortgage lenders and home buyers. ALTA provides education, advocacy, and product development to members of the title insurance industry.



An unbiased physical inspection of a property that takes into account its age, condition, location, and features to provide an updated valuation of a home, lot, or other real property. An appraisal is required by mortgage lenders in order to determine the home’s fair market value and ensure it is worth the amount being borrowed.



An appraiser is a highly trained individual who conducts unbiased property appraisals. Appraiser certification requires training, licensure, several years of experience, and ongoing continuing education. Appraisal services are heavily regulated in order to ensure that their findings are reliable and impartial.



An assessment is a valuation conducted by a county or municipal tax authority in order to calculate the property taxes owed on a home or piece of land. Assessed values are generally more stable than appraised value or market value, which can fluctuate based on cosmetic changes or market conditions.


Assessor Parcel Number (APN)

An assessor parcel number, or APN, is a unique number assigned to parcels of land by the tax assessor of a particular jurisdiction for purposes of identification and record-keeping.

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