A home’s surroundings can range from a shrub-studded emerald lawn to a native-plant xeriscape. It is a major component of curb appeal.

Landscape architect

A professional who holds a degree in landscape architecture, which involves training in horticulture, landscape design and planning.

Landscape contractor

A professional who carries out the plans of a landscape architect or a landscape designer.

Landscape designer

A landscape designer has training in horticulture and landscape planning, but does not necessarily hold a degree.

Late charge

A fee a lender imposes on a borrower when the borrower does not make a payment on time.

Late payment

A payment a lender receives after the due date has passed.

Latent defect

An invisible problem in a piece of property such as bad wiring, termite damage or lead paint.


A metallic chemical element present in older dwellings, primarily in the form of lead-based paint and lead plumbing. Exposure to lead has been found to be a health risk.


A binding agreement that contains the terms and conditions of a renter’s occupancy.

Lease option

A lease that contains the right to purchase the property for a specific price within a certain time frame.

Leasehold estate

An arrangement in which the borrower does not own a specific piece of property but possesses a long-term lease.

Legal blemish

Blemishes on a piece of property, such as a zoning violation or fraudulent title claim.

Legal description

A specific way of identifying and locating a piece of real estate that is acceptable to a court.


A bank, savings institution or mortgage company that offers home loans.

Letter of intent

A formal statement that the buyer intends to purchase the property for a certain price on a certain date.


The use of a small amount of cash–a 5 percent or 10 percent down payment–to buy a piece of property.


A borrower’s debts and financial obligations.

Liability insurance

A policy that protects owners against any claims of negligence, personal injury or property damage.


A claim laid by one person or company on the property of another as security for money owed.

Life cap

A limit on the amount that a loan rate can move during the term of the mortgage. For example, the rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage that begins at 5 percent and has a lifetime cap of 6 percentage points cannot rise above 11 percent, even if rates on fix

Life-cycle cost analysis

An analysis of a building project’s expected operating, maintenance and replacement costs, calculated by an architect.

Limited partnership

Real estate syndicates and other investment groups use this type of ownership.. A general partner makes the group’s investment decisions, oversees the investment and is principally liable for any losses.


A horizontal piece over a door or window that carries the weight of the structure above it.

Liquid assets

Cash and all other assets that can be converted to cash relatively quickly. Liquid assets can include money in savings and checking accounts, money-market accounts, and most certificates of deposit.

Liquidated damages

When a real estate deal goes awry, one party often is entitled to liquidated damages, a sum of money set out in the purchase contract in that event.


A piece of property placed on the market by a listing agent.

Listing inventories

The known number of houses for sale within a given market.

Live-in partnership

An arrangement in which two unrelated people purchase a home.

Live-work space

An officially designated dwelling in which the occupant conducts a home-based business or enterprise.

Load-bearing wall

A wall that supports not only its own weight, but the weight of other parts of a home. Also called a bearing wall.

Loan -to-value ratio

A technical measure used by lenders to assess the relationship of the loan amount to the value of the property

Loan application

The first step toward submitting a home loan requires the borrower to itemize basic financial information.

Loan application fee

A fee charged by lenders to for making a loan application.

Loan commitment

A promise by a lender or other financial institution to make or insure a loan for a specified amount and on specific terms.

Loan officer

An official representative of a lending institution who is empowered to act on behalf of the lender within certain limits.

Loan origination fee

Most lenders charge borrowers an origination fee–or points–for processing a loan. A point is 1 percent of the total loan amount.

Loan processing fee

A fee charged by some lenders for gathering information to enable the lender to process the loan.

Loan term

The amount of a time set by the lender for a buyer to pay a mortgage. Most conventional loans have 30-year or 15-year terms.


When interest rates are volatile, many borrowers want to “lock in” an interest rate and many lenders will oblige, setting a limit on the amount of time the lock-in is in effect.


A living space not partitioned into rooms or a small space built above a larger room.

Log cabin

Homes constructed of rough-hewn timbers and a standard housing form in the early European settlement of the U.S.

Low density

A low concentration of housing units in a specific area.

Low-ball offer

An offer made to a seller that is substantially below market value. The longer a property stays on the market, the more likely there are to be such offers.

Low-documentation loan

A mortgage that requires only minimal verification of income and assets.

Low-down-payment loan

A home loan that requires the borrower to make only a small down payment before obtaining the financing needed to purchase a house.


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