Couple Receiving Keys to New Home From Realtor Anita Newhouse July 17, 2018

The Urban (Acres) Dictionary of Real Estate Terms and Roles

We’re guessing many of you have heard of Urban Dictionary. Well, this is something different, but we couldn’t resist making the connection. When Urban Acres launched itself in 2016 the idea was to provide buyers and sellers with the very best experience — one that goes far beyond helping someone buy or sell a home. We believe our mission is to share our decades of experience by helping to educate our clients about the real estate process and the deep bench of partners and professionals it takes to complete a purchase or sale from conception to closing.  Some of you real estate veterans might be familiar with all of the roles listed below, but others may be very new to this adventure. We believe that no matter what stage you’re at in the buying or selling process, the more knowledge you have, the better questions you can ask, and the more confidence you will have in your decision making.

With that in mind, here’s a brief dive into the types of people/roles you may encounter in your buying or selling process. And yes, we’ve injected a bit of our own Urban Acres humor into the definitions—because the truth is, buying or selling a home should be exciting, not intimidating. 

Real Estate Agents

The people you think have an easy job of just sticking signs in the ground until you realize how, overnight, they’ve become your most trusted sidekick, counselor, gatekeeper, and negotiator during one of the most pivotal moments of your life. Real estate agents are licensed to negotiate and arrange real estate sales. The individual works for a real estate broker and can negotiate and arrange property showings, lists properties, and writes listing agreements and purchase contracts. Real estate agents will help you find houses that fit both your wish list and financial needs. 

Loan Officers

The people who carry a calculator and know how to use it. Loan officers are the people who determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage loan. Their job is to determine whether or not you would be able to pay back a home loan. Home buyers provide financial information to the loan officers so they can analyze their credit score and advise them on how to either fix or improve it. A loan officer can help grant a loan pre-approval which helps support that you are a serious buyer.  Note: there is often a fee associated with getting pre-approval.

Mortgage Lenders

The people at the bank or credit union who you hope have a generous spirit the day you first meet. A mortgage lender is a financial institution that loans you the money to help you purchase real estate. Mortgage lenders rely on the judgment of the loan officer to make sure you are able to pay back the loan. If you fail to fully compensate mortgage lenders for the loan they can take measure to seize and resell your home.

Mortgage and Loan Servicers

The people who will be sending you mail (or email) for the next ten to fifteen to thirty years. Yes, your mortgage servicer is the company that sends you your mortgage statements. Your servicer also handles the day-to-day tasks for managing your loan. Your loan servicer typically processes your loan payments, responds to borrower inquiries, keeps track of principal and interest paid, and manages your escrow account (if you have one). The loan servicer may initiate foreclosure under certain circumstances. Your servicer may or may not be the same company that originally gave you your loan. Once the mortgage loan is completed it can be sold, but federal law requires both agencies to notify you of the change with contact information.

Home Inspectors

The people who are going to find the socks you lost behind the dryer five years ago. A home inspector is not employed by anyone but you. Hiring a home inspector allows you to have an experienced third-party check out the structural integrity, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and all other major components of the home you’ve chosen to buy. A home inspector will conduct a report and thoroughly review the findings with you and your real estate agent. If there are significant issues with the home we recommend that you consult with your Realtor to discuss how to ask for those issues to be fixed, or whether you should cancel your contract. 

Home Appraisers

The people you think you need your home to look really, really good for, but who, in actuality, just want to count your bedrooms. A home appraiser is someone who is hired to determine the overall value of a home. Home appraisers can use three methods to determine the worth of the structure: market value, which is the comparison of other similar homes; cost, which is the overall cost of the build and improvements; and income, which is the estimated rental income the property could produce.

Insurance Agents

The people you hope you only have to call before you buy or sell the home. An insurance agent is the person you will contact to put your homeowners’ insurance in place. If you are trying to secure a mortgage, your lender is highly likely to require this type of insurance. That’s because the lender wants to be sure that its own financial investment in your home is protected should it be damaged or destroyed by a fire or certain other disasters/risks.

Real Estate Attorneys

The people who give you reams of paper in small point type with indecipherable words like bifurcation and Amicus Curiae. In Iowa, the signed purchase agreement is sent to an attorney and/or title company to begin the title search and all other work related to preparing a property for transfer and changing the title to the new owners. The attorney generates a preliminary title opinion that later is finalized and used by the real estate agents and the buyer’s lender to ensure the title is clean. Occasionally, attorneys may be consulted on contracts or may be present at closing.


At Urban Acres, we want to make the home buying and selling process easy for you. From beginning to end, we are here to support you. Our team of experienced agents has spent decades building relationships with trusted lenders, appraisers, developers, inspectors, and stagers that will help make the home buying and selling process as streamlined as possible. If you want to learn more about the process or connect with some of our trusted partners, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We are here to help!