As a REALTOR, we have our own language that we use every day, but for the general consumer that isn't buying or selling real estate often, the terminology can get a little confusing especially when other areas of the country may have a different process or vocabulary. Hopefully, this helps!

Escrow Deposit (aka Good Faith Deposit, Earnest Money Deposit or Escrow Money Deposit, EMD)

An escrow deposit is a sum of money you put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It is typically held by a 3rd party, such as a Title Company, Attorney, or Real Estate Brokerage. It can be held at a different location than the Closing Agent (agents please understand this). The time to place escrow is negotiated between Buyer and Seller and is noted on the first page of our FAR/BAR standardized contracts along with the contact information of where the money is being held.

Closing Agent

The company or person tasked by the Buyer or Seller to prepare all the necessary documentation for closing. Typically a Title Company or Real Estate Attorney. Customs differ in different parts of the state of Florida, but ultimately which party pays and chooses the Closing Agent is a term that can be negotiated. As an example, in Tampa it is custom, but not mandatory that the Seller pay and choose the Closing Agent, but in Sarasota, it is custom, but not mandatory that the Buyer pay and choose the Closing Agent.


Wood Destroying Organisms generally refers to animals or fungi that as the name suggests, can deteriorate wood. Examples include wood-decaying fungi and termites. In Florida, a WDO inspection is often performed by an appropriately licensed professional before purchasing a home, and regular inspections and preventative maintenance are common for homeowners in Tampa.

4-Point Inspection

An inspection of the major components of a home: Electrical, Plumbing, Roof, and HVAC. Normally to obtain competitively priced homeowners insurance, a home will need to pass the insurance company's 4-point guidelines to bind insurance. 


A planned unit development is a community of single-family homes, condos, or townhomes, where typically each homeowner belongs to a homeowners association (HOA).

HOA/COA (Homeowners Association and Condominium Owners Association.

Home Owners Association is a legal entity that governs a subdivision or planned community. Usually run by a board of directors, which is bound by the governing documents of the association. Governing documents consist of Covenants and Restrictions, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Rules. Similar to an HOAs, In COAs, the governing documents consist of a Declaration of Condominium, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations. It's important to note that both HOA and COAs are always evolving, so many times questions are unable to be answered until viewing the current documentation.


Community Development Districts are an alternative to municipal incorporation for managing and financing the infrastructure required to support the development of a community. Basically, it's a way to save a developer money, but also services can be bid out to private companies or provided by the CDD, and residents are not at the mercy of developer-owned enterprises. Homeowners are charged a CDD fee on their property taxes each year. Typically in the Tampa Bay Area, a planned community will either have a lower HOA fee and a CDD fee or a higher HOA fee and no CDD fee.

Closing Date

The Closing Date is a date mutually agreed upon in the Residential Contract For Sale and Purchase.

Close of Escrow

Close of escrow refers to the closing of a property. A property transaction is considered "Closed" when all parties have signed and funded the necessary dollars.

Possession Date

Unless otherwise agreed upon, the possession date is typically the same as the Closing date, and after the Close of Escrow (after all parties have signed, and funded). 

Broom Swept

A somewhat vague definition of the condition a seller is obligated to leave the home for the new owner. Experience tells us what is considered clean, and varies from person to person. Generally, a property needs to be free of any excess personal items and debris, but professional cleaning is not required...though it's usually appreciated and can make the closing process a better experience.

Posted by Shane Vanderson on
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