What 15 Terms Should You Know Before You Go?

Many industries have a vocabulary and list of acronyms that roll off “insiders’” tongues and the homebuilding industry is no exception. The entire “dictionary” of words and terms is worth learning before visiting a homebuilder’s new homes; but, let’s start with a few of the basics you  could benefit from knowing about the community before your first onsite visit to a builder’s homesites so you can understand the lingo sales people use that is not-so-familiar to the rest of us!

Builder Liaison or Community Expert
A Builder Liaison is another term for a builder’s online Sales Representative. This is the person that returns emails or calls interested on line shoppers to encourage them to set an appointment at one of their communities.

Common Area
An area in a community that was designed by the developer to be used by all residents of the community. The maintenance of these areas is generally paid for by the home owner's association (HOA).

Corps of Engineer (property)
Corps of engineer property is land that is owned and maintained by the federal government in or around a community. Often, new home communities are located by or against corps of engineer property. Many lakes are surrounded by corps of engineer property, and there are regulations regarding use of this land of which all buyers should be aware of.

Design Center
Many home builders maintain a separate facility where homebuyers go to make their personal selections or upgrades to their home. Any buyer who is buying an unfinished home, either a partially completed speculative home or they are building their new home, will have to make selections such as paint color, carpet color, countertop material, tile color, and cabinet stain color. They will make these selections at the design center.

Entry Monument
Many neighborhoods feature a beautifully landscaped brick, stone or wood monument at the various entry points to the community that displays the name of the community and occasionally the name of the builder and the city and even a community slogan.

Gated Community
Any community that has a protective wall or fence around the entire com m unity and must be entered through a single-entry point that is protected by a gate that can only be opened by the residents, through a keypad or a community guard.

Greenspace is a term that community developers or builders use to describe areas within or around a planned community where the landscape has not been modified to accommodate the community streets or homesites. These areas are often considered an amenity of the community and many residents like the idea of unspoiled green space in their neighborhood. Often, the homesites that border these greenspaces are more desirable than many of the other homesites in the community, and they are more expensive than other lots in the community.

Home Owner’s Association (HOA)
A home owner’s association (HOA) is an organization in a neighborhood or other planned community that creates and enforces rules for that particular community. Everyone who purchases a home in that neighborhood automatically becomes a member of the HOA for that community. They must follow the rules of that community and often are required to pay dues (HOA Dues) for the upkeep or that community, (such as landscaping, com m on area maintenance) and the enforcement of the rules.

Mixed Use
A mixed-use development is a community where the developer plans to allows the space to be used for a variety of purposes. The community will have may have some single-family detached areas, some single and multi-family attached areas, some entertainment areas, some commercial and some cultural areas in the com m unity that are all functionally integrated and connected. This type of community is called a “mixed-use” community.

On Site Sales Counselor
A builder sales representative who offices out of a model home and is responsible for selling the builder’s homes in a particular community. These are the people that most often will greet you as you enter a model home.

Plat Map
A plat map is a map of a community, drawn to scale, that shows the divisions of a particular piece of land. Often home shoppers will see a model of a community showing homesite locations and other community features in the sales office for that particular community.

Plot Plan
A plot plan is a landscape, engineering or architecture diagram which shows buildings, utility runs, roads, other construction, utility layout and other construction of a proposed project or com m unity site. The drawing is done to a defined scale. Often, home builders or master-planned community developers have a plot plan model in the sales center for a particular community.

Pocket Park
Often times developers or builders will create small parks within the boundaries of a community featuring some play equipment, sandboxes, climbing bars or merry-go-rounds for the resident children. These areas will also often have seating or picnic areas.

Spec Home Stages
As a speculative home (spec home) is being built, it goes through different stages of completion, from early stage specs to late-stage specs. An early stage spec would be anything that precedes the framing of the home. Once a home is framed the spec is considered mid- or late -stage. The closer to completion that a spec home becomes, there are fewer modifications that a builder can do to accommodate the buyer’s request.

Up Card (Registration Card, Reg Card)
An information card that the new home sales consultant will ask the home shopper to fill out when they enter the model home. In addition to the shopper’s name and contact information, the card will give the onsite sales representative information about what the home shoppers are looking for in a new home and how much they want to spend. These are sometimes called registration card. The term “up card” came about because these cards were filled out by the shoppers who walked up to the model.

The home buying experience has so many exciting moments to offer and home buyers don’t need to miss out on all of the fun because they are getting tripped up over terms and acronyms they have never heard of. A little understanding of some commonly used terms can go a long way, especially when first-time homebuyers are looking for the perfect community for them!