Real Estate Lingo

If you’re currently shopping for a home, then you’ve probably ran across a couple of words or abbreviations that were a little confusing to you. All of the real estate verbiage can be a little hard to keep track of – but you’ve come to the right place!

Check out some of the common real estate vocabulary below, and their simple definitions.

  • AMC (Appraisal Management Company) – This is a company that worked independently from a lender. Once notified by a lender, they will order a home appraisal.
  • Appraisal: This is an impartial opinion of the value of a home, prepared by a licensed and certified appraiser. They come to the conclusion based on data about comparable homes in the area, as well as their own walk-through of the home.
  • Back-End Ratio: This is one of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender will analyze to determine a borrower’s eligibility for a home loan. This ratio compares the borrower’s monthly debt payments to gross income.
  • Closing: A meeting which ownership of a home is transferred from seller to buyer. This usually includes the buyer, seller, real estate agents, and the lender. (psst..and us!).
  • CD (Closing Disclosure): This document is sent to the buyer three days before closing. The document lists all terms of the loan – the amount, interested rate, monthly payment, mortgage insurance, monthly escrow amount, and closing costs.
  • Contingencies: These are written into a home purchase contract that protect the buyer if any issues come up with financing, home inspections, etc.
  • Earnest Money: A security deposit made to the seller of the buyer’s intent to purchase.
  • In Escrow: This period of time takes place after a buyer has made an offer on a home and the seller has accepted. During this (may take 30 days or longer) the home is inspected and appraised, and the title searched for liens.
  • Tax Lien: This is the government’s legal claim against property when the homeowner fails to pay a tax debt.
  • Title Insurance: This protects the buyer and lender if any person or entity steps forward with a claim that was attached to the property before the seller transferred legal ownership of the property. (psstt..hey – we do this!).

These are just some of the few real estate vocabs you might run across along your home purchasing journey. But this list is a great jumping off point to gain the confidence you need to keep on shopping!

For more real estate guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Big Techs Solving Affordable Housing?

Amazon – one of the biggest tech companies in the United States – has announced to commit more than $2 billion to create and provide affordable housing at three of its main employment cities: Seattle, Arlington, and Nashville.

Tech companies have been blamed for creating housing problems where they’re located; with big tech companies, come surging home prices. Amazon’s goal is to aid in reducing this housing issue.

With Amazon’s $2 billion promise, also comes plans to invest in the areas for the next five years.

Where exactly is Amazon’s donation going? Their commitment will go toward low-cost loans to aid in building affordable housing. Amazon also plans to offer grants to public agencies and minority-led housing organizations.

Looking for more real estate news? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Employee Spotlight – Reana Garcia

We have a new Alliance Employee Spotlight in the house – Reana Garcia!

Reana Garcia is Alliance’s Escrow Officer for our Meridian, Idaho branch. Reana facilitates the completion of real estate transactions as an unbiased third party, ensures all details with contract and loan instructions are adhered to, meets with sellers and buyers to obtain the final signatures once a file is ‘ready’, processes the transaction to its finality, and works with other departments such as title and funding in order to complete everything.

With 22 years of escrow experience and 9.5 of those years with Alliance – having Reana on your team is the way to go!

Of Alliance’s Core Values, “Teamwork” is Reana’s favorite. She explains, “You can’t provide any of the other values if you don’t work together to accomplish them. Our Meridian branch (and all of the Treasure Valley) do extremely well with working together to make sure our clients are taken care of as well as taking care of each other.”

When asked whom she admires, Reana thinks of her daughter. She continues, “I raised my daughter in hard times, and she’s proven how resilient and tough she can be. She’s got my spunk, and I know she’ll always keep improving in her life.”

Outside of work, Reana loves to spend time with her family and dog! She also schedules time to follow her passion – fitness. Reana explains, “I love to work out and build strength and endurance. I like to push myself physically to accomplish goals. I am competitive, so I like to join races and competitions that further push me.”

Reana’s favorite quote, “Without struggle there is no progress,” comes from Fedrick Douglass. To Reana, this quote means, “to embrace the struggle if you want to progress and succeed in life.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Reana a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s Meridian office on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Reana looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Reana Garcia
Escrow Officer – Alliance Title Meridian, ID Branch

The Process for Purchasing a Foreclosed Home

You’ve been searching for homes, and you’ve been seeing foreclosed homes for sale – what does this mean, and how do you purchase one?

Let’s look at the quick facts:

Simple Definition

Sadly, foreclosed homes are seized and put up for sale by the bank that gave the original owner a loan. The home is now owned by the bank.


This is the first stage in the process before officially declaring a home foreclosed. The original owner has been given legal notice that the process has begun; the only way to avoid the final stage is to sell the property before the mortgage holder takes ownership of it.

If you’re wanting to purchase a home in pre-foreclosure, it usually means approaching the owner and offering to buy it outright. It’s especially important that you remember that the original owner might be running on many emotions – so it’s critical to be understanding.

Foreclosure Auction

If the original owner was not able to sell the home during the pre-foreclosure stage, it will probably go up for sale in a foreclosure auction. Usually these are very fast, so there might not be much time to research the property beforehand.

Bank Owned Property or Real Estate Owned (REO)

When the home has been passed to this stage, patience is important. The bank’s eventual goal is to sell it to make back the unpaid loan amount. Many things need to happen first before a potential buyer can enter this purchasing arena – so if you’re looking to buy quickly, this is probably not for you.

Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Foreclosed Home


  • Lower prices
  • Title is cleared from the bank


  • Not much time for research – banks usually sell “as-is”, which might mean more repairs within the home
  • Depending on the state, the original homeowner can have up to 12 months to reclaim ownership of their home, which would leave your process of buying the home halted

Purchasing a foreclosed home is not for the faint of heart – and if you’re interested or in the process of doing so, it’s important that you have the right real estate agent to help you through the legal jargon.

For more real estate guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Down Payments: How Much is Enough?

If you’re trying to enter the real estate arena, then you know just how difficult it can be to save for a down payment. After all – you’ve been told that the more you put down, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

But how much is “enough”? What price is attainable for you? Being a first-time homebuyer has its challenges, but it also has many programs to help you jump through those hoops.

Check out our tips for down payments below:

First, what is a down payment?

Down payments are the cash you pay upfront when making a large purchase – in this scenario, that purchase is your home. A 10% down payment on a $300,000 home would be $30,000.

This payment is your contribution toward the purchase and ownership of the home; however, the lender provides the rest of the money (that you did not put towards the home) to buy the property.

How much?

Here’s the honest truth: putting down at least 20% on a home will greatly increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage at a nice rate, and you’ll avoid the mortgage insurance. So a 20% down payment on that $300,000 home we mentioned earlier would be $60,000.

Take a deep breath – that’s a lot of money! If you have the means to do so, then please do so! However, for most people, putting 20% down is a lot more difficult. Fortunately, there are programs that can help you!

There are a variety of mortgages, and they all require different down payments. You just have to find the best one for you!

VA Loans: Usually do not require a down payment. These are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and are only for current and veteran military service members and eligible surviving spouses.

USDA Loans: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program handles these. They also have no down payment requirement. USDA loans are for rural and suburban home buyers who meet the program’s income limits, among other requirements.

FHA Loans: Handled by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans range, but require as little as 3.5% down. Going back to the $300,000 home example, a 3.5% down payment would be $10,500.


Your lender will also offer you better mortgage loan rates if you do your work and your research. Your credit history matters, as well as comparing lenders! Pstt…we’ve got some tips for you on a previous Mortgage Shopping guide.

The Facts

Like we mentioned before, the more you’re able to put down, the better (financially-speaking) you will be. You usually receive a better interest rate, lower fees, more equity in your home faster, and a lower monthly mortgage payment.

If you have the time and the means, save for that 20% down payment.

However, that might not be the case for everyone. Check out the various loans we mentioned above and see if any of them match your needs and what you’re able to contribute towards.

Finding the right down payment amount for you takes some work:

  • Use a mortgage calculator and play around with different down payment options to see how it affects the monthly mortgage amount
  • Set a budget and stick to it

For more real estate guides and tips, check out Alliance’s Blog.

Employee Spotlight – Vicki Slekar

Let’s give a hip, hip, hooray for our newest Employee Spotlight, Vicki Slekar!

Vicki Slekar is Alliance’s Escrow Assistant for our Meridian, Idaho branch. Vicki handles refinances, resale transactions, returns packages to lenders, and organizes files for funding and recording. Vicki has always enjoyed helping make homeowners’ dreams come true and handing them their keys. Vicki illustrates, “The look of joy in their eyes makes it all worth it.”

Vicki has been with us for the past year and a half – and we’re so lucky to have her over 20 years of escrow experience while she lived in Arizona!

Of Alliance’s Core Values, “Teamwork” is Vicki’s favorite. She explains, “I love working with people who are passionate about what they do. When your team is committed to working towards a common goal and helping each other meet it – that’s amazing!”

When asked whom she admires, Vicki thinks of her sister. She continues, “My sister, Catalina, is someone I completely admire. When my brother needed a kidney transplant, she stepped up to save his life. I praise her each and every day for that. Even now, she gives to everyone and anyone that is in need. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.”

Outside of the office, Vicki enjoys exploring Idaho with her husband. They love hiking, biking, and enjoying the beautiful state that they moved to five years ago.

Vicki doesn’t have a favorite quote – but rather, a favorite reminder she believes in telling the special people in her life whenever possible: “I love you!” she continues, “we never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Vicki a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s Meridian office on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Vicki looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Vicki Slekar
Escrow Assistant – Alliance Title’s Meridian ID Branch

Real Estate Tip of the Week: 2021 Design Trends

Homeowners and homebuyers are always looking to the next big thing – so home design and trends are constantly changing.

What can we expect for 2021? Houzz, a home-design website, has already made predictions as to what buyers and owners will be on the hunt for in terms of purchasing or updating. If you want to be the real estate agent these home seekers go for, then this list below should help you out.

Check out five of Houzz’s predictions here:

Multi-Zone Kitchen

Kitchens usually have three work zones between the fridge, sink, and range. However, more homeowners are adding additional work points, which Houzz refers to as a “work trapezoid.” These areas might help with baking, prepping and chopping, or other designated areas like snacks, drinks, or supplies.

Sconce Lighting

Sconce lighting is traditionally known as a bracket mounted on the wall that is used to hold a source of light. Homeowners are wanting to apply “swing-arm” sconce fixtures. Houzz notes that these type of lighting elements help add a bit of shimmer from metal finishes and helps break up walls of cabinets or tile.

Updating Bathroom Design

Bathrooms are now becoming the space in the room for evoking a “relaxing vibe” to help reduce stress. Some updates have been adding steam showers, aromatherapy shower heads, and elements to hold beverages.

Home Offices and Nooks

Obviously with the pandemic and most employees working from home, homeowners are requesting home offices where there will be an efficient space for work.

Video Conference-Worthy Backgrounds

In addition to requiring office spaces, some homeowners are also wanting an aesthetically pleasing background for all of the new video meetings. Whether that’s a built-in bookcase, a reading nook, or a pop of color, this new design trend is all about making things look pretty.

What home design trends are you most looking forward to in 2021?

For more real estate tips, check out Alliance’s Blog.

Leading with Social Media

Prospecting doesn’t have to be difficult! Generating leads can be fun, especially if you utilize social media. Globally, the average time a person spends per day on social media is 2 hours and 24 minutes* – and that’s plenty of time for you to personalize your business.

  • KEEP IT BALANCED: Your social media pages should be a balance of life, interests, and real estate. Show them listings, behind-the-scenes, and hobbies!
  • HIT REPLY: Engage, engage, engage! Don’t let a comment or message go unnoticed. Ask your followers questions that will get them to interact with your page.
  • HIGHLIGHT REVIEWS: Thank previous clients and showcase your achievements by highlighting your reviews! Design a story reel that displays your reviews that were submitted through Zillow, Google, Yelp, etc.!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Updating Tech to Reach Clients

As you all know, COVID has made a direct impact on how we all conduct business. It became imperative – essentially overnight – to have technology that would easily help the consumer continue business with you.

It’s almost been 10 months of change, so why not take a look and see what consumers are still needing, and how we can keep adapting – digital-wise, that is.

Moxtra, a firm that offers digital solutions, recently surveyed 1,500 small businesses and customers. Their findings showcase just how important “digital resilience” is, not only during the pandemic, but in today’s digital age in general.

Here are their findings:

  • Consumers want digital connections from small businesses. 84% of those surveyed said they’d consider seeking an alternative provider if digital capabilities were lacking.
    • Think: communication access to employees (email, social media messaging, chat box, etc.), mobile-friendly website, user-friendly websites, etc.
  • Consumers love small businesses (66% said the pandemic has made them more likely to use local business in the future), but if technology doesn’t remain a top priority, it can be a problem for clients to support them.
  • For small businesses, it may be difficult to create a seamless transition to a digital-friendly platform.

Understanding that technology is important to bridge between business and consumer isn’t the problem, but rather, making sure the transition has been, and will be, seamless for companies and clients. Technology is a necessity for both employee and consumer alike.

How has your company evolved through the pandemic?

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance’s Blog.

Community Spotlight – Eagle, Idaho

Eagle – known as the quaint suburb, nestled in the Boise, Idaho foothills – is a wonderful community where you can find plenty of golf courses, parks, hiking trails, spas, and a cute little Saturday Farmer’s Market.

Only a 5-minute drive from Heritage Park, you’ll find our welcoming Alliance Eagle branch! Our Eagle team shares approximately 72 years of combined title and escrow knowledge – which affords clients an accurate and efficient customer experience!

Our Eagle office prides themselves on working together to make every real estate transaction a pleasant experience. Communication, accuracy, and efficiency are their core beliefs in delivering superior service. Responding quickly with accurate information is one of the many ways the team assists customers close their home purchase or sale.

With Eagle being the smaller city that it is, our Eagle team loves to volunteer in the local community. Every year, they continue to grow their contribution to the companywide food drive, ‘Closing the Hunger Gap.’ They collect non-perishable food items and funds to help end hunger!

The Alliance Eagle branch is very adventurous – if they’re not in the office, they’re mountain biking, skiing, camping, four wheeling, or hunting!

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Ada County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Eagle location would be delighted to help make your next transaction a success! Give a shout out on their Alliance Eagle Facebook page!

Alliance Title Eagle, Idaho
462 E Shore Dr STE 160, Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 287-5154