Real Estate Terms Canada - Real Estate Terminology Canada - The Realtor Jargon Explained! Housing Terms - real estate terminology canada

Real Estate Terms Canada & Real Estate Terminology Canada - Mike Stewart Vancouver Realtor

Real Estate Terminology Canada – Glossary of Realtor Jargon Explained!

Written by Mike Stewart Realtor & updated January 31, 2024

Jargon in the real estate industry in Canada is filled with specific language and terms that can often be very confusing to those not familiar with this field.

This is especially true in Canada with Realtor jargon, where certain terms and practices may differ from those in other countries. Furthermore, government regulatory bodies for real estate have a distinct fondness for very obscure language regarding quite common things in the field

The following is a comprehensive list of real estate terms commonly used in Canada and their definitions to help you better navigate a real estate transaction in British Columbia or across Canada.

Please do reach out and let us know if any of the housing terms in this glossary are confusing or if you think we should add any terms.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage with an interest rate that may change periodically based on a specified index or market conditions.

Adjusting Date

The date on which adjustments to expenses like property taxes or utilities are made between the buyer and the seller during a real estate transaction.


The relationship between a real estate professional and their client, where the agent represents the interests of the client in a real estate transaction. In BC, the Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services explains this relationship.


The process of gradually paying off a debt (such as a mortgage) over time through regular payments. To better understand how amortization works in real estate, please have a look at our mortgage calculator with 40 year amortizations.

Amortization Period

The length of time agreed upon to pay off a mortgage loan, not to be confused with the mortgage term.

Annual General Meeting AGM

A yearly meeting of strata owners to discuss matters concerning the strata corporation. Also known as an AGM.


A unit within a residential building. It may be a dwelling that is in a building owned by one owner and the occupants rent from that one owner or it can be an individually owned unit that is part of strata condominium development. Typically when used in Canadian real estate apartment is not owned by its occupant and a condo is.


An evaluation of a property’s value, often conducted by a professional appraiser. For more details on this topic, please check out our detailed article on What is an Appraisal?


An accessory right or privilege that is attached to a property, such as an easement or right-of-way.


The final buyer in a presale condo assignment sale, who takes or buys the rights or title of another by assignment.


The transfer of an individual’s rights or property to another person or business.

Assignment Sale

The sale of a property where the buyer is purchasing the right to acquire a property from the original buyer (assignor) before the property is completed. In Canadian real estate, assignments usually refer to when the original purchaser of a presale sells their rights or “assigns” their contract to another person. Sometimes occurs with other types of properties, but is quite rare.


The seller in a presale condo assignment sale, who gives or sells the rights or title of another by assignment.

Assessed Value

The dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for the purposes of measuring applicable taxes. In British Columbia, BC Assessment is the public tax assessor.

Back-Up Offer

An offer made by a potential buyer as a secondary option in case the primary offer falls through.

Balanced Market

A real estate market condition where the number of properties available for sale is roughly equal to the number of potential buyers.

Bank Draft

A payment instrument issued by a bank on behalf of a buyer to guarantee the availability of funds for a specific transaction. Bank drafts are the common and in most cases required way to make deposits for the purchase of existing properties in BC.

Below Grade

See Grade below.

Bidding War

See Multiple Offer Situation below.

Blended Mortgage Payments

Payments that include both the principal and the interest components of a mortgage. To understand how these work, please have a look at our mortgage calculator.

Bridge Financing

A short-term loan that covers the period between the end of one loan and the beginning of another.

British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA)

A professional association representing real estate licensees in BC. Here is a link to the BCREA.

Building Code

Regulations and standards set by local authorities that govern the design and construction of buildings to ensure safety and compliance. Here is a link to the BC and Vancouver Building Code and here is the Canadian Building Code.

Building Envelope

The physical separator between the interior and exterior of a building, including walls, roof, windows, and doors. When there a building becomes a leaky condo, this is when the building envelope fails.

Buyer’s Agent

A real estate agent who represents the interests of the buyer in a real estate transaction.

Buyer’s Market

A market condition characterized by an excess of properties available for sale, resulting in lower prices and more favorable terms for buyers.


Rules and regulations that govern the conduct and use of common areas and facilities within a strata corporation or condominium development. When buying a condo, the purchase will receive the bylaws as part of the document package to do their due diligence during the subject removal period.

Cap Rate

Short for Capitalization Rate, it is a measure used to evaluate the potential return on an investment property based on its net operating income.

Capital Gain

The increase in the value of an asset, such as real estate, over its original purchase price.

Capital Gains Tax

The taxes payable on capital gains.


These are items in a property that are not fixed to the property (see fixtures). Examples of chattels are things like furniture, clothes, dishes, etc. One exception is that in BC appliances are almost always included in a property sale. Do check with a local outside expert outside BC as there is variation to this rule across the provinces.


See Comparative Market Analysis.

Closed Mortgage

A mortgage that cannot be fully paid off, renegotiated, or refinanced before its term’s end without penalties. (See Fixed-Rate Mortgage or Fixed Rate Mortgage)

Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees and expenses incurred during the final stages of a real estate transaction. Paid by buyers and sellers, they include Property Transfer Tax, legal fees, title insurance, and inspection costs. In BC, they typically range from 1.5% to 4% of the property’s purchase price, varying based on property value and location.


An asset that a borrower offers as a way for a lender to secure the loan.

Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS)

A type of financial instrument that pools together commercial real estate loans and sells them to investors.

Common Areas

Shared spaces in a condominium or strata development that are owned collectively by all the owners, such as hallways, elevators, and recreational facilities.

Common Property

Areas of a strata development owned collectively by all the strata owners and maintained by the strata corporation. Examples of this are pools, parkades, lobbies, hallways, elevators, etc.

Commercial Property

Real estate intended for business purposes, including office buildings, warehouses, and retail spaces.

Comparative Market Analysis or CMA

An analysis conducted by a real estate agent to determine the value of a property based on comparable recent sales in the area. Here is more information on Comparative Market Analysis

Compound Interest

Interest calculated on both the initial principal and any accrued interest, resulting in exponential growth over time.

Conditional Offer

An offer to purchase property that is dependent on specified conditions being met, such as getting a mortgage or approving a home inspection or strata documents. Also referred to as subject offers, which is short for subject condition offers. Check out our page on subject offers.

Condominium or Condo

A type of real estate ownership where individual units are privately owned, and common areas are shared by all unit owners.

Condo Fees

See Strata Fees below

Conventional Mortgage

A mortgage loan that is not insured or guaranteed by Canada Mortgage House Corporation (CMHC) or another mortgage insurer that has a down payment of more than 20%.

Contingency Reserve Fund (CRF)

A fund set up by a strata corporation to cover unforeseen expenses and repairs to common property. The Strata Property Act in BC sets out the requirements for Contingency Reserve Funds for strata councils in BC.

Contract of Purchase and Sale

A legal document outlining the terms and conditions of a real estate transaction also referred to as an offer. Here is more information on the Contract of Purchase and Sale BC including an example. Also referred to as an offer – see below.


A professional who handles the legal transfer of property ownership from seller to buyer. Typically in BC this would be a notary or a real estate lawyer.


The legal process of transferring property ownership from one party to another. Typically in BC a notary or a real estate lawyer make this happen working with the Land Titles Office.

Coop/Cooperative Ownership

Cooperative ownership refers to a type of property ownership where each owner holds a stake in a company or cooperative entity that owns a property with multiple housing units. Each shareholder is allocated a specific unit to reside in.


A new offer made in response to a previous offer, modifying some of the terms. In BC, when a buyer or seller receives an offer they are not satisfied with, they can work with their Realtor to address specific sections to create a counter offer. By scratching out and initialing changes, they convey their negotiation preferences for the property purchase and send the revised offer back to the other party. This is a counter offer in practice.

Court-Ordered Sale

A sale of property ordered by a court to satisfy a judgment or legal claim. Often associated with foreclosures in BC.

Curb Appeal

The attractiveness of a property from the street view, which can influence potential buyers’ first impressions.

Debt Service Ratio

The ratio of debt payments to the disposable income of an individual or firm, used to assess affordability in obtaining a mortgage.


A legal document that transfers ownership of real property from one party to another.


A decrease in the value of a property over time due to factors such as wear and tear or changing market conditions.


A sum of money given in advance of a larger amount being expected in the future, typically provided by the buyer as a sign of good faith when making an offer on a property.

Detached Home

Also known as a single family home or house. This is a house designed for one family, Typically a house with a yard separating it from surrounding houses.


The entity or individual responsible for planning, financing, and constructing a real estate development.

Direction Regarding Presentation of Offers (DRPO)

The Direction Regarding Presentation of Offers (DRPO) is a document that allows a seller to wait to look at offers on their property in BC.

Disclosure of Remuneration

A document that discloses the amount a realtor will be paid when representing a buyer in a real estate transaction. To learn more, check out our page on Disclosure of Remuneration for BC Realtors.

Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services (DORTS)

A document provided by a real estate agents in British Columbia to a potential client, disclosing the nature of their representation. Check out our page on Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services.

Document Package

See strata documents below.

Down Payment

The portion of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage. This is distinct from the Deposit.

Double Ending

See below.

Dual Agency

A situation in which a real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. Limited Dual Agency is banned in British Columbia in almost all instance. Also referred to as “Double Ending”.


A building divided into two separate living units, each with its own entrance.


An unauthorized intrusion onto someone else’s property.


A claim or liability on a property, such as a mortgage or a lien, that affects its marketability.


The difference between the market value of a property and the claims held against it, such as a mortgage or other loan.

Exclusive Listing Contract

A contract between a property owner and a real estate agent, granting the agent the exclusive right to market and sell the property for a specified period. This type of listing contract is distinct from a multiple listing contract as an exclusive listing does not go on MLS or Exclusive listing contracts are often used for the sale of presale condo assignments when the developer does not allow an MLS listing as part of their marketing restrictions.

Expiration of the Offer

The time and date that a contract of purchase and sale is no longer open for acceptance by the other party in the negotiation.

Face Sealed Wall System

A type of exterior cladding system that provides a waterproof barrier to protect a building’s envelope. This was a popular building envelope system in Canada from 1981 forward. In southern BC, buildings with failed face sealed wall systems are often referred to as “leaky condos”. After 1999, face sealed wall systems were replaced by the rainscreen system.

Fee Simple

See Freehold below.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage or Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan. (see Closed Mortgage)


An item of property so attached to the real property that it may not be removed without damaging the property.


This is when an investor buys a property, renovates it and sells it for a profit.


The legal process by which a lender takes control of a property and sells it to recover outstanding debt when the borrower defaults on mortgage payments. Often associated with a court ordered sale.


Freehold or Fee Simple refers to a type of property ownership where the owner has complete control and use of the land and any structures on it, although this is subject to any existing Crown rights, local regulations, and restrictions in place at the time of ownership. Houses in BC are typically freehold or fee simple.

Fiduciary Duty

The legal and ethical obligation of a real estate agent to act in the best interests of their client. See Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services (DORTS) above.


The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, a government agency that combats money laundering and terrorist financing. Check out our page on what is Fintrac and real estate.

First Time Home Buyer

A buyer who has not purchased a property before.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage with a set interest rate that remains constant throughout the loan term.

Forced Air Heating

Forced air heating is a system that uses a furnace to heat air, then a blower fan pushes the heated air through ductwork, distributing it to various rooms via vents. It rapidly warms the space, providing consistent temperatures throughout a building. Commonly fueled by gas, oil, or electricity.

Foreign Buyers Tax

A tax on non-Canadian buyers who do not have the correct residency permit. BC and Ontario have foreign buyer taxes. The BC Foreign Buyers Tax is 20% of the purchase price of a property and applies to most of the province.

Foreign Buyers Ban

Canada’s Federal Government has banned non-Canadians and those not holding the correct residence visas from buying property in this country and is scheduled to end on December 31, 2024. Here is more on Canada’s Foreign Buyers Ban.

Form B

A strata corporation form that provides important information about the strata lot, including any outstanding fees or special assessments. A Form B in BC may also have parking stall and locker numbers and how these are associated with a strata lot in the complex. This document is typically given to a condo buyer during their due diligence period.

Form K

A strata corporation form that provides important information about the rental status of a strata lot.

GDS (Gross Debt Service)

The percentage of the borrower’s gross monthly income that is needed to cover all required monthly housing costs especially a buyers monthly mortgage payment.


The term “ground level grade” refers to the average height of the finished ground at the middle points of all building walls. However, if a wall is both parallel to and within five feet of a sidewalk, the height of the sidewalk closest to the wall’s midpoint is considered the ground elevation.


Allowing existing practices or conditions to continue even though they may not comply with new regulations for housing.

Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS)

The percentage of the borrower’s gross monthly income that is needed to cover all required monthly housing costs.


The Goods and Services Tax, a federal tax applied to the sale of new properties in Canada.

High Ratio Mortgage

A mortgage that represents a high percentage of the property’s value and often requires mortgage loan insurance from CMHC or other mortgage insurance providers.

Home Buyer Rescission Period (HBPR)

A period of 3 business days during which a home buyer can cancel or rescind a subject free contract of purchase and sale for an existing property in British Columbia by paying the seller a penalty of .025% of the purchase price.

For a more detailed look, please have a look at our detailed article on the Home Buyer Rescission Period. Please note, the HBPR is distinct from the 7 day rescission period for presale condos.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A loan that lets homeowners borrow against their home equity, like a credit card. The house acts as collateral and funds can be drawn, repaid, and redrawn. Typically Home Equity Lines of Credit are interest only loans.

Home Inspection

A limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home by a professional home inspector typically on behalf of a buyer, often in connection with the purchase of a property. After the home inspection, the inspector typically reviews the home inspection report with the buyer to help the buyer better understand the condition of the property.

The inspection report is not typically shared with the seller. Check out our post on What is a Home Inspection.

Home Inspector

A licensed home inspector does a non-invasive inspection of a property on typically behalf of a buyer. Sometimes, a prospective seller may get a home inspection prior to listing the property to sell to give to prospective buyers.

Home Inspection Report

This is the report a home inspector provides after conducting the home inspection. It typically describes the property and the issues and concerns the home inspector has about the property with photos and written descriptions.

Home Price Index (HPI)

The MLS® Housing Price Index (HPI) is a tool that measures real estate prices, offering a more accurate representation of market trends than raw average or median prices. Modeled after the Consumer Price Index, the MLS® HPI tracks housing price changes over time, considering various features of homes sold. Unlike raw averages that can be skewed by extreme sales, the HPI focuses on “typical” homes, defined by specific attributes and features, providing a stable price indicator. This “benchmark” represents average properties in a community, not specific ones.

Holding Company (Hold Co)

A holding company in Canadian real estate is a legal entity, often a corporation, that owns properties and assets for investment purposes. It provides liability protection, potentially favorable tax treatment, and can facilitate estate planning or property management while limiting direct ownership risks.

Housing Expenses

The monthly costs associated with owning a property, including mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills.


The rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services rises over time, eroding purchasing power. Housing investments tend to do well during inflationary times as rents and property prices increase.

Interest Rate

The cost of borrowing money, typically expressed as an annual percentage rate.

Joint Tenants/Joint Tenancy

A type of co-ownership where each tenant owns an equal share of the property, and if one tenant dies, their share automatically passes to the surviving tenant(s). Married couples often have this ownership arrangement in Canada.

Land Titles Office

An office responsible for maintaining land ownership records and public land titles information. Here is a link to the BC Land Titles Office.


The owner of a property who rents or leases it to a tenant or renter.

Land Transfer Tax

Land transfer tax is a government-imposed fee on property buyers when real estate ownership is transferred from one party to another. Calculated based on the property’s purchase price or assessed value, it varies by jurisdiction and may have exemptions or rebates for specific buyer categories, like first-time homeowners. See Property Transfer Tax (PTT) below.


A contract by which one party conveys land, property, services, etc., to another for a specified time, usually in return for a periodic payment. In BC one year leases are quite common. Also referred to a rental agreement for property.


Leasehold refers to a type of property ownership where the owner has the right to utilize the property for a lengthy, but finite period. The owner can only buy the remaining duration of the “lease” from the landlord, who could be a local municipality, a private owner, or Indigenous land.

Legal Description

A detailed description of a property’s boundaries and location, used in legal documents and contracts.


A legal claim against a property by a creditor as security for a debt.

Limited Common Property (LCP)

Limited Common Property (LCP) in British Columbia refers to areas in a strata development designated for the exclusive use of one or more strata lot owners, but are not part of any strata lot. Examples include parking spaces, balconies, or storage lockers. The designation is recorded on the strata plan.


A formal agreement by a real estate agent to represent a seller and their property. Listings can either be exclusive listings or multiple listings. Here are some example of real estate listings.

Listing Contract

A listing contract is a formal agreement between a property owner and a real estate agent or broker. It grants the agent the exclusive right to represent the owner in selling the property, detailing terms like duration, commission, and listing price. This contract ensures both parties understand their responsibilities. Sometimes referred to as a listing agreement. See Multiple Listing Contract and Exclusive Contract.

Listing Agent

A real estate agent who represents the seller in a real estate transaction and is responsible for marketing the property to potential buyers. Sometimes referred to as a Sellers Agent.

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)

The ratio of the mortgage amount to the appraised value of the property, used by lenders to assess the risk of a loan on a property.


A secure container used to store keys to a property, allowing real estate agents to access the property for showings. Lockboxes are not commonly used in Vancouver and the inner suburbs.

Low Ball Offer

An offer to purchase a property that is significantly lower than the asking price.

Maintenance Fees

Regular fees paid by condominium owners to cover the costs of maintaining common areas and amenities. See strata fees below.

Market Value

The most probable price that a property should bring in a competitive and open market.

Maturity Date

The date on which the term of a mortgage or other loan ends, and the remaining balance must be repaid or refinanced.

Material Latent Defect

A hidden defect in a property that could not have been discovered through a reasonable inspection and poses significant risks or expenses.

MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

A database used by real estate brokers to share information about properties for sale, allowing agents to cooperate in the sale process. In Canada, the public face of MLS is

Monthly Payment

The amount paid monthly towards a mortgage, covering principal, interest, taxes, and sometimes, insurance. (see mortgage payment)


A loan used to finance the purchase of real estate, with the property itself serving as collateral for the loan.

Mortgage Funds

This is the money a home buyer borrows from the bank that make up a portion of the purchase price they pay for a property.

Can also refer to investment vehicles that pool capital from investors to finance mortgages. They generate returns through interest and fees paid on these mortgage loans.

Mortgage Lender

A mortgage lender is a financial institution or entity that provides loans to borrowers for real estate purchases. In exchange for lending the money, they receive interest payments and hold a lien on the property, ensuring repayment. If the borrower defaults, the lender can repossess the property through foreclosure.

Mortgage Payment

A mortgage payment is a regular installment paid by a borrower to a lender, typically monthly, towards repaying a home loan. It often comprises principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, ensuring gradual loan reduction and property ownership transfer from the lender to the borrower over the loan’s term.

Mortgage Broker

An individual or firm that acts as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders, helping borrowers find suitable mortgage options.

Mortgage Default Insurance

Insurance that compensates lenders for losses in the event of mortgage default by the borrower, usually required for high-ratio mortgages. CMHC and other bodies provide mortgage insurance in Canada.


The lender in a mortgage agreement, typically a bank or mortgage company.


The borrower in a mortgage agreement who pledges the property as security for the loan.

Mutual End of Tenancy

An agreement between a tenant and a landlord to end a tenancy by mutual consent. Here is more information on the BC Mutual End of Tenancy Document.

Multiple Listing Contract

A contract with a real estate brokerage that allows the property to be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This also give the listing agent the right to market the owners property and present offers to them. Please see our article on the Multiple Listing Contract with an example of the document.

Multiple Offer Situation

A situation in which multiple buyers submit competing offers for the same property. Often referred to as a “Bidding War”.

Negative Cash Flow

A financial situation where the expenses of owning a property exceed the rental income it generates. Many properties in Southern BC when purchased often have negative cash flow due to high purchase prices and relatively low rents.

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)

“NIMBY” (an acronym for “Not In My Back Yard”) refers to individuals or groups opposing new developments or changes in their local area, often while supporting such developments elsewhere. End result is that very little gets built anywhere which is the case across Greater Vancouver and British Columbia. See YIMBY below for the opposite of this.


A formal, legal document that expresses a buyer’s intent to purchase a property, including the proposed terms and conditions. See Contract of Purchase and Sale above.

Oil Tanks

A container used to store oil, often found on older properties, which can present environmental and safety concerns. Oil tanks are common on lots of houses built from the 1920’s to the 1970’sl, but sometimes can be found in older or newer homes lots. It is always advisable to get an oil tank scan when buying a house in BC. Check out our page oil tank Vancouver.

Oil Tank Scan

This is the process by which a buyer has an oil tank removal company scan the lot of a house they want to buy to ensure there is no oil tank present on or under the property. Have a look at our page on oil tank scans.

Open House

A period of time during which a property for sale is held open to the public for viewing. Open houses in Canada are typically either Saturday or Sunday 2-4pm. Learn more by checking out our post about open houses.

Open Mortgage

A mortgage that allows the borrower to prepay or pay off the loan at any time without penalty.

Parcel Identifier (PID)

A unique identification number assigned to a property by the land title office.


A Canadian term for an indoor parking area, often found in condominium or apartment buildings. These are often below grade or under ground below the building. Often referred to as a underground parking.

Party Room

A shared space in a condominium or apartment building that residents can use for gatherings or events. Sometimes referred to as the amenity room.


A luxurious apartment typically located on the top floor of a high-rise building.

Permanent Resident

An individual granted the right to live in Canada indefinitely but isn’t a Canadian citizen.

POA (Power of Attorney)

A legal authorization that allows someone to manage another person’s real estate or financial matters on their behalf. There are two types of power of attorney; general power of attorney and enduring power of attorney. Only one of these powers of attorney can be used for real estate sales. Here are more resources on the two types of powers of attorney.

Positive Cash Flow

A financial situation where the rental income from a property exceeds the expenses of owning and maintaining it.

Possession Date

The date on which the buyer takes possession of the property and officially becomes the owner.

Power of Attorney

A legal authorization that allows someone to manage another person’s real estate or financial matters on their behalf. See POA above.

Pre-Approved Mortgage

A lender’s commitment to lend a fixed loan amount to a potential borrower based on a preliminary assessment of their financial situation.

Prepayment Penalty

A fee charged to a borrower who pays off a mortgage loan before it is due.


An initial assessment by a lender of a borrower’s creditworthiness to determine the maximum loan amount they may qualify for.


The sale of a property before it is constructed or completed. In Canada, presales usually refer to the sale of condos, townhouses, or other high density housing in urban or urbanizing areas.


The amount borrowed on a loan, separate from interest.

Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS)

A document that discloses everything a seller knows about a property’s condition, though not always required in all jurisdictions. A seller in BC is not required to provide a PCDS. Please see our page for more detail on the Property Condition Disclosure Statement document.

Property Tax

A local tax imposed on properties, usually based on the assessed value of the property and paid annually by the property owner. Property tax is assessed by BC Assessment and collected by cities, towns, and municipalities in BC. This is distinct from Property Transfer Tax (PTT) in BC.

Property Transfer Tax (PTT)

A provincial tax applied to property transactions in certain regions, including British Columbia.

BC PTT is 1% on the first $200,000, 2% between $200,000 and $2,000,000, 3% on the amount of the fair market value above $2,000,000, and 5% on the fair market value above $3,000,000. Here is more on PTT. See Land Transfer Tax.

Prospective Buyer

A prospective buyer is an individual or entity expressing interest in purchasing a product, property, or service. In real estate, they actively seek, evaluate, and consider properties, but haven’t committed to a purchase. Their intent is gauged through inquiries, property viewings, or negotiations, indicating potential future transactions.

Purchase Agreement

See Contract of Purchase and Sale.


A real estate agent who is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Real Estate Agent

A licensed professional who represents clients in real estate transactions. See Realtor above.

Real Estate Board

An organization that governs and represents real estate agents and brokers in a specific region or area. Here is an example of a real estate board.

Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA)

A British Columbia law that regulates the marketing and sale of real estate presale development projects, providing consumer protection. For more detail on this legislation, please see our page on what is REDMA.

Real Estate Investment

Real estate investment involves purchasing property to generate profit, either through rental income, property appreciation, or both. It can range from buying residential homes to commercial properties or land. Unlike stocks or bonds, it’s a tangible asset that can provide both passive income and capital appreciation over time.

Real Estate Lawyer

A lawyer specializing in real estate law who handles legal aspects of property transactions, such as title searches, contracts, and conveyancing.

Real Estate Licensee

An individual or entity that holds a valid license to conduct real estate activities, such as a real estate agent or broker. See Realtor and Real Estate Agent above.

Real Estate Services Act (RESA)

The legislation in British Columbia that governs real estate professionals and regulates the real estate industry. Here is more information on RESA.


The process of obtaining a new mortgage to replace an existing one, often to take advantage of lower interest rates or to access equity in the property.

Rental Agreement

A contract between a landlord and a tenant that outlines the terms

and conditions of the rental arrangement also referred to as a lease. See lease.

Residential Tenancy Act (RTA)

Legislation in British Columbia that governs the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in residential tenancy situations. Here is more information on Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).

Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB)

A government agency in British Columbia that provides information and dispute resolution services for residential tenancy matters.

Residential Real Estate

Residential real estate refers to properties primarily designed for living purposes, encompassing single-family homes, apartments, townhouses, condos, and multi-family units. Unlike commercial or industrial real estate, its primary function is to provide housing, whether for ownership or rental, to individuals and families in various community settings.

Reverse Mortgage

A financial product that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home, with the loan repaid when the property is sold or the homeowner moves out.

Section 49 RTA Ending a Tenancy for A Sale

This is when a buyer of a property requests the seller give vacant possession of a rented property they are buying. The tenant is given 60 days notice for vacant possession by the property from the end of the month in which a seller receives a subject free contract of purchase and sale. Here is more on this.

Seller’s Market

A market condition characterized by a shortage of properties for sale and high demand from buyers, leading to potential price increases.

Selling Agent

A real estate agent who represents the buyer in a real estate transaction.

Shadow Flipping

An unscrupulous and unethical practice where people will buy properties from vulnerable people at below market values and then sell the purchase contract before completion at a profit without the knowledge or consent of the original seller. The provincial government has brought in regulatory changes to stop shadow flipping in 2016. Shadow flips are not presale condo assignments.

Speculation and Vacancy Tax “Spec Tac”

The BC Speculation and Vacancy Tax is a tax levied on owners of vacant residential properties in certain regions of BC to curb property speculation and increase housing supply.


The practice of styling and furnishing a property for sale to enhance its attractiveness to potential buyers. Have a look at our page on home staging with video.

Step Code

An energy efficiency standard in British Columbia that sets requirements for new construction and building retrofits.

Stick Built

A vernacular term used to describe a property that is constructed entirely on-site out of wood, rather than being made of concrete or prefabricated or manufactured elsewhere.


A form of property ownership in which individuals own their strata unit and share ownership of common property with other strata owners.

Strata Council

A group of strata owners in a strata complex elected to manage the affairs of a strata corporation and make decisions on behalf of the owners.

Strata Documents

Records and documents related to the strata corporation and the property, including bylaws, financial statements, a Form B, and meeting minutes.

Strata Fees

Strata fees are regular payments by strata owners to cover the costs of maintaining common areas and services. Also referred to as maintenance fees. Typically paid monthly and are quoted on a per square foot basis per month.

Strata Freehold

A form of ownership where the individual owns their strata unit and a percentage the common property and land on which it is built.

Strata Lot

This is the part of the strata that is owned and controlled by the individual owners. Typically this is the interior space of the owners condo. The strata plan shows the size, outline, and location of the strata lot within the building.

Strata Manager

An individual or management company hired by a strata corporation to manage day-to-day operations and administrative tasks.

Strata Meeting

A gathering of strata owners to discuss and make decisions on matters concerning the strata corporation convened by the strata council.

Strata Meeting Minutes

Written records of discussions and decisions made during strata meetings. Strata meeting minutes are often included in a condo document package given to a buyer for due diligence during a purchase.

Strata Plan

A legal document that shows the layout, boundaries, and surface area (quoted in square meters) of the strata property, limited common property, and common property of a strata development and identifies each strata lot by number.

Strata President

The elected individual who presides over strata council meetings and represents the strata corporation.

Strata Property

Real estate that is part of a strata development and subject to strata ownership and regulations.

Strata Property Act

The legislation in British Columbia that governs strata corporations and the ownership and management of strata properties.

Strata Property Act Standard Bylaws

Default bylaws that apply to strata corporations in British Columbia upon the completion of a building as per the Strata Property Act unless modified by the owners.

Strata Title

A type of ownership in which individuals own a strata unit and share ownership of common property as defined in the strata plan.

Subject Clause

A condition or contingency included in an offer to purchase a property, making the offer conditional on certain factors being met.

Subject Free Offer

An offer to purchase a property without any subjects, subject conditions or contingencies.

Subject Removal

The process of satisfying and removing the subjects or subject conditions or contingencies from an offer to purchase, making it a firm contract.


A precise measurement and report of the physical characteristics of a property, including the land, boundaries, and location of buildings.

Tax Assessment

An evaluation of a property’s value for the purpose of calculating property taxes.


The occupancy or possession of a property by a tenant under a rental agreement or lease.


An individual or entity who rents or leases a property from a landlord.

Tenants in Common

Tenants in common is a property co-ownership form where parties hold individual, undivided interests, which can differ in size. Unlike joint tenancy, there’s no “right of survivorship”; upon a co-owner’s death, their share doesn’t automatically transfer to the others but instead passes to their heirs or as dictated by their will.


A legal document evidencing a person’s right to or ownership of a property.

Title Insurance

Insurance that protects the holder from loss sustained by defects in the title.


TLC is an acronym for Tender Loving Care meaning the diligent and caring maintenance and refurbishment efforts undertaken to enhance the property’s condition, appearance, and functionality. This typically involves repairs, renovations, and upkeep aimed at preserving or improving the property’s value and livability.


A type of residential property that shares side walls with neighboring units and often ground level and can have its own front door to the exterior of the building.

Total Debt Service (TDS)

A financial measure that calculates the percentage of a borrower’s gross income needed to cover all monthly debt obligations, including housing costs.

Torrens System

A Torrens Certificate, also known as a certificate of title, bestows undeniable ownership of real property upon the registered titleholder. Serving as the ultimate authority on property ownership, this document eliminates the need for recording deeds due to its legal supremacy. Here is more on this system and how it works in BC.


A residential building or property divided into three separate living units or apartments.

Trust Account

This is a bank account maintained by a real estate brokerage that holds buyers deposits between subject removal or an accepted offer until the deal completes. The trust account is designed to protect the deposits in the even of a brokerage bankruptcy. Please see more on real estate trust accounts here.

Unconditional Release

A document that either ends real estate transaction or a listing contract.


Vancouverism refers to a unique urban planning doctrine that originated in Vancouver, Canada. It advocates for high-density living through slender residential skyscrapers, integrated with public facilities such as parks, squares, and access to the waterfront. This approach encourages walkability, environmental sustainability, and dynamic city life, while harmoniously blending natural and constructed elements.

Variable-Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate can fluctuate over the term of the loan based on market conditions.


A guarantee or promise provided by a builder or seller to the buyer, covering the quality and condition of a property for a specific period after purchase.


This is person who witnesses another persons signature on a contract to ensure that the signer actually signed the document.

Wood Frame Construction

A method of building construction that uses wood as the primary structural material for walls, floors, and roofs.

Yimby (Yes In My Back Yard)

“YIMBY” (an acronym for “Yes In My Back Yard”) refers to individuals or groups advocating for new developments or changes in their local area, supporting urban growth and housing initiatives. As opposed to NIMBY (see above).


The income generated by an investment property, usually expressed as a percentage of the property’s value.


Local government regulations that dictate how land can be used, including restrictions on the type of buildings and activities allowed in specific areas.

Zoning Bylaw

Official rules and regulations set by local governments that define the permitted uses and development requirements for properties within a given zone or area.

Conclusion – Real Estate Terms Canada

Understanding the real estate terminology Canada uses is crucial for anyone involved in the real estate market in Canada, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a professional in the industry.

By familiarizing yourself with this terminology, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of real estate transactions in Canada.

Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding the intricacies of real estate in Canada.

Please note – If there are any Real Estate Terms Canada missing from this or something that is not correct, please let us know.

Real Estate Terms Are Not Totally Common Across Canada

Please note, this glossary of real estate terms is heavily focused on British Columbia and English-speaking Canada’s Common Law system.

Quebec has the Civil System and will have very different terms so please do confirm with a local real estate expert outside BC about these terms.

Sources for Definitions

Please note – Much of the real estate terminology shared above is from our anecdotal experiences as Realtors in BC but also much of it was sourced from our regulators such as BCFSA, REBGV, BCREA & CREA. Furthermore we have also used the CMHC and other government bodies in Canada as sources.