Real Estate Alphabet Soup

Most buyers, and a good many sellers, are somewhat annoyed by the ‘jargon’ used by we real estate practitioners in the course of communicating. Frankly, it can even be annoying to us, as the deeper the government is involved in the industry, the more acronyms appear. I thought I would share this glossary in hopes of making it just a little bit easier to understand, the next time you run across some of these. It is by no means complete, feel free to suggest some others you’d like added to this!

ABR Accredited Buyer Representative – a designation used for agents who have completed the coursework, met requirements and paid fees
BPO Broker Price Opinion – commonly used to determine buyout offers for relocation buyers, or pricing for short sales. Usually a bit more structured than a CMA (see below) but not as rigorous as an appraisal
CAR Colorado Association of REALTORS® – state trade association for Realtors®
CMA Comparative, or Competitive Market Analysis – term used to describe the analysis performed by an agent to help determine the asking price of a property, or inform a buyer on the kind of offer to write. Less rigorous than a BPO or an appraisal.
CRS Certified Residential Specialist – a designation used for agents who have completed the coursework and otherwise met requirements and paid fees
COE Certificate of Eligibility – for buyers using VA (Veterans Administration) loans, a document required to establish they are indeed eligible for the program
E&O Errors and Omissions (insurance) – this is a type of insurance required by most state licensing bodies, for almost any kind of license (real estate included)
Fannie Mae A quasi government agency (GSE, see below) that buys mortgages to free capital of mortgage lenders
FHA Federal Housing Administration – a government guaranteed loan program to promote home ownership, especially for those without a big down payment
FHFA Federal Housing Finance Authority – the oversight agency over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Freddie Mac A quasi government agency (GSE, see below) that buys mortgages to free capital of mortgage lenders
GRI Graduate of the  Realtor Institute – a designation for agents who have completed the required coursework
GSE Government Sponsored Enterprise – this seems like an oxymoron to me, but it is a term used to describe essentially private companies formed by the government. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are both GSE’s
HAMP Home Affordable Modification Program – a program devised to allow eligible homeowners to modify the terms of their mortgage to avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes
HUD Housing and Urban Development – cabinet level US government agency responsible for housing matters, but ‘HUD Homes’ is also a term to describe foreclosure properties that are owned by HUD
IDX Internet Data eXchange – a data sharing arrangement that allows data from the Realtor® MLS systems to be accessed by the public, through any number of Internet sites, such as or
ILC Improvement Location Certificate – this is a sort of ‘mini- survey’ that is used to make sure there are no improvements (like a house, fence, storage shed, etc) encroaching on a property
LTV Loan To Value – lender term used to describe the percentage of the loan amount to the value of the property
MLS Multiple Listing Service – computer system used by Realtors® to advertise properties to other Realtors®
NAR National Association of REALTORS® – national trade association for Realtors®
O&E Ownership and Encumbrance (report) – this is a report that is given by a title company that states in preliminary terms, the condition of title on a property
REO Real Estate Owned – a fancy acronym for bank owned (foreclosure) property
VA Veterans Administration – used to describe loans guaranteed by the Veterans Adminisitration
VOE Verification Of Employment – lender term for the actual verification of a borrowers employment status

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