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15 May Real Estate Terms: Understanding the Lingo

Selling a home is complicated. And just like anything complicated, residential real estate has its distinctive lingo. Get the inside scoop on 7 of the most important real estate terms you should know from Hermann London, St. Louis’ most experienced and trusted real estate agency.

7 Terms You Should Know When Selling Your Home

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

The single most important step in selling your home is setting the right asking price. A CMA is the estimated sale value of the house. An experienced REALTOR® will help make a listing price based on many factors, including “comps” of similar home sales (see further information about “Comps” below).


A contingency is a specific provision that requires certain things be done before the contract is considered binding. The most common contingencies are:

  • Financing Contingency: Conditions the sale on the buyer successfully obtaining the financing needed to purchase the house.
  • Inspection Contingency: Conditions the sale on the completion of a satisfactory home inspection.

Contingencies can benefit the buyer as well as the seller. If you’re selling your home, talk with your real estate agent about what contingencies make the most sense for you.

Pro Tip: If you’re selling your home and haven’t bought a new house yet, it may be worth adding a seller’s contingency that conditions the sale on your successful purchase of a new home. Talk with your real estate agent for more information.

Inclusions / Exclusions

These are the items listed in an offer or contract as included (or in the case of exclusions, not included) in the sale of your home. Buyers will often request certain fixtures or other personal property be included in your home sale.

Good to Know: Things that are built into or affixed to your home are called “fixtures” — unless covered by a specific “exclusion,” these things are not considered personal property and are sold with the house.

Earnest Money Deposit

If you’re selling your home, you want a bidding war. A bidding war is a situation that occurs when two or more potential buyers are interested in the same property, and bids increase in order to win the home. If there’s a lot of interest in your home, a bidding war puts you in control — and potentially puts a lot more money in your pocket.

Pro Tip: Not every listing will start a bidding war. To increase the chances that your home attracts multiple offers, you have to set the right asking price. Learn more about pricing your home in this related post: “Property Value: How Much Is Your House Worth?


Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. A licensed REALTOR® is a real estate professional who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors. That’s why the term is capitalized (sometimes it appears as REALTOR) — and why you’ll often see it followed by the registered trademark symbol (®). Anyone involved in residential or commercial real estate can be a REALTOR®— agents, brokers, property managers, appraisers and more.

Pro Tip: Sell your home with confidence by working with a REALTOR®. Real estate agents are held to the NAR’s strict Code of Ethics.

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