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Like any industry, real estate has its fare share of lingo. For homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, these terms can be confusing. We’ve assembled and defined commonly used words in this new home buying glossary. If you’re still stumped by a term you don’t see here, feel free to contact an Empire sales representative or your real estate agent.


Amenities are shared spaces such as gyms, pools and playgrounds often part of a master-planned community. They are built new, and can also include schools, sports facilities or walking trails that residents can enjoy.

Architectural Review Committee

In most communities, there is an architectural review committee to ensure that real estate development happens efficiently and that communities are attractive places to live. The architectural review committee typically defines things like the size, look and feel of homes and how many of the same homes can be built on each street.


Closing on a home is the last step in taking ownership. Your builder determines the closing date. It is the day when you handle paperwork and pay closing costs. It’s also the day you get your keys!


Traditionally done through drawings called renderings, elevations are visualizations of a home, building or community created by an artist based on architectural blueprints, finishing options (like brick color) and landscape plans. They’re created to give everyone—from the construction team to a homebuyer—a feel for the finished product.

Features and Finishes

Usually grouped together, features are objects that are literally fixed (or attached) in the home, like flooring, lights, toilets, etc. and finishes are typically how the home is decorated and painted. Builders will provide a features sheet document to help homebuyers understand what’s included in their new home.

Floor Plans

Floor plans are layouts of rooms, floors and other environments created to show the size of spaces, like bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, as well as the location of doors, windows, staircases, balconies, etc. Sometimes builders will show floor plans with furniture to help homebuyers visualize how they might best use the space.


Sometimes called move-in ready or spec by new homebuilders, inventory homes are houses that have already been constructed and are ready to sell and generally have quicker closing periods. Often, inventory homes become available because it’s more efficient and practical to build a home during a specific phase of construction.


A homesite is a piece of land on which a home is constructed. When you purchase a new house, you’re buying both the homesite and the house that will be constructed on it. Homesite sizes and locations vary depending on availability and the scale of construction.


A masterplan is a developer’s comprehensive design vision for a completed community that integrates everything from the style and construction of homes, to things like streets, paths, green space, parks, commercial areas, etc. A masterplan offers homebuyers the “big picture”—a chance to see how the community may evolve.


Mixed-use is a term used to describe a real estate development that combines residential, commercial and institutional areas. A community that offers homes for sale, a retail storefront for lease and business offices is a typical example of mixed-use development.


Often, developers will plan, sell and execute the construction of residential communities in phases. In communities where a large number of homes will ultimately become available, phasing allows builders to get homebuyers into their new homes in a realistic timeframe.

Homebuyer Orientation

Before you take possession of your new home, your builder will guide you through a comprehensive inspection and teach you how to operate the home’s ventilation, plumbing, and heating systems. This is also an opportunity for the homeowner to look for deficiencies that need to be fixed before they take possession. This process is one of the many ways Empire protects homeowners who buy from us.

For more homebuyer resources, click here.


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