Real Estate Glossary Terms Beginning With – U

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Terms Beginning With - U

Property Development & Investment Glossary, Terms & Definitions

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

A division of the United States Department of the Interior responsible for conservation, geological surveys, and mapping of U.S. lands.

U.S. League of Savings Associations

America's Community Bankers was the previous name for a national trade association for savings and loan associations and cooperative banks.


The Uniform Consumer Credit Code is what everyone in the country has to follow. A law made by the federal government to make sure that all credit providers are the same. For example, all loan agreements must now be written in the same way because of the act. When someone takes out a loan, they are legally obligated to pay all fees and charges that are part of the deal.

Ultra vires

Describes what a corporation can and can't do, based on what its articles of incorporation say.

Umbrella partnership REIT (UPREIT)

A business structure in which a publicly traded REIT owns a portion of an operational partnership, which owns all or part of individual property partnerships.

Unbalanced improvement

A change that does not serve the site's highest and best interests. An over-improvement or a deficiency could be the result of this change.


An environment with an unknown number of alternative outcomes, with no substantial knowledge about the relative likelihood of each.


A legal doctrine in which a court refuses to enforce a contract that was grossly unfair or unscrupulous at the time it was signed; a contract that offends the public conscience. According to the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, courts may refuse to enforce an unconscionable rental agreement in its entirety or in part. Unconscionable contracts are explicitly deemed unenforceable by the Uniform Commercial Code.

Under improvement

A development that, due to its inadequate size or cost, is not the highest and best use of the site. Typically, a structure that is less expensive, of lower quality, and smaller than typical neighborhood properties; for example, a single-family home in a zoned area for six-unit dwellings.

Under-floor ducts

Commercial office buildings benefit from the flexibility provided by floor channels for the placement of necessary telephone and electrical lines.

Underground storage tanks (USTS)

A tank and any underground pipes that connect to the tank and have at least 10% of their volume below the ground. These steel tanks were used to store oil and other dangerous substances. Many are leaking, which pollutes the groundwater. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendment Act, and the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act are all laws that have to do with regulating USTs (SARA). The Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs) Trust Fund was set up to pay for cleanups at sites where the owner is unknown, unwilling to respond, or unable to do so.

Underlying financing

A mortgage or trust deed that has priority over subsequent liens on the same property, such as contracts for deed or mortgages. A broker should review the terms of any financing documents affecting the property prior to listing it, paying particular attention to any prepayment penalty clauses.


The individual whose signature appears at the end of a document; the subscriber.


A person who occupies property under an existing tenant, as in a sublease; a subtenant.

Underwater loan

A term indicating that the loan balance is greater than what the property can be sold for. This may be the case if the loan's collateral has depreciated, or if the borrower initially over-collateralized the loan.


1. In insurance, a person who selects risks to be solicited and then assesses the acceptability of those risks. For example, a local title company typically purchases insurance from a larger title company (the underwriter) to cover all or a portion of the liability associated with the policies it originates.

2. As applied to real property securities, a person who has purchased securities from the issuer with the intent to sell or distribute them, or who actually sells or distributes the securities on behalf of the issuer.

For instance, if a syndicator hires a securities firm to sell its limited partnership units, the securities firm is an underwriter. Underwriters may be required to register with their state and/or the Securities and Exchange Commission as underwriters or broker-dealers.

3. A lender employee responsible for reviewing loan applications and making recommendations to the loan committee.

A person or company in charge of coordinating the process of raising funds from investors.


The evaluation of the level of risk associated with a loan. Underwriting a loan encompasses the entire process of preparing the loan's terms, determining the borrower's ability to repay, and then deciding whether to approve the loan.

Undisclosed agency

A situation in which an agent deals with a third party without disclosing their agency. Even if instructed not to disclose the client's name, the agent must still indicate agency status. Otherwise, agents who sign a contract under their own names without disclosing their agency are fully liable for any breach or failure to perform. To avoid liability, brokers must disclose their agency relationship on the contract, making it clear that all parties intended to bind not only the agent but also the principal.

Undistributed taxable income

Income received by a S corporation that is taxed as part of the shareholders' income despite not being distributed to the shareholders. (For more information, see S corporation.)

Undivided interest

The co-ownership interest that entitles the co-owner to joint possession of the entire property with the other co-owners. The undivided interests may be equal, as in a joint tenancy, or they may be unequal, as in a tenancy in common. No owner has rights to any particular portion of the whole. Therefore, each individual owns a fractional share of the entire parcel, not a specific portion. For instance, if Julio owned a nine-tenths undivided interest in a 10-acre parcel of land, he would not own nine acres because all owners with undivided interests have the right to full possession. In other words, the land is not physically divided among the co-owners.

A cotenant cannot transfer or encumber a portion of the property. A co-owner must petition the court for a partition or division of the property in order to acquire the right to a specific portion of the property.

According to their percentage of common interest, condominium owners have a specific undivided interest in the common areas. There is no limit on the number of individuals who may jointly own real property.

Each co-owner has a distinct economic interest in a property. Thus, if part of the parcel is arid and part is fertile, it is unlikely that a court would divide the property into equal geographic areas in a partition action.

The Uniform Land Sales Practices Act regulates the mass marketing of undivided interests in land, which includes the sale of undivided interests. For instance, if a developer sells a 1215 tenancy in common on a large parcel of land, this could be interpreted as an attempt to circumvent the subdivision registration law.

An ownership right to share a property's use and possession with others.

Undue influence

Persuasion strong enough to completely overpower another's free will and prevent that person from acting intelligently and voluntarily, as in a case where a broker guilty of blockbusting has induced someone to sell in fear of a change in the racial character of the community. A close or confidential relationship, such as parent-child, broker-seller, attorney-client, or trustee-beneficiary, is usually required for undue influence. A person who has been unduly influenced to sign a contract has the right to cancel the contract.

Unearned income

Earnings derived from sources besides personal services. This tax category would apply to rents, dividends, and royalties, but not to wages, tips, or commissions.

Unearned increment

An increase in the value of real property caused by factors beyond the property owner's control, such as a favorable rezoning or a favorable population shift in the neighborhood.

Unencumbered property

A legal doctrine in which a court refuses to enforce a contract that was grossly unfair or unscrupulous at the time it was signed; a contract that offends the public conscience. According to the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, courts may refuse to enforce an unconscionable rental agreement in its entirety or in part. Unconscionable contracts are explicitly deemed unenforceable by the Uniform Commercial Code.

Free and clear ownership to the property.

Unenforceable contract

A contract that was valid at the time it was signed, but cannot be proven or enforced by a court. In order for a contract to be unenforceable, it must be invalid or void. Contracts that fail to meet state statutes of frauds or statutes of limitations may be unenforceable because they are not in writing or because the statute of limitations period has expired. Even so, the contract can be used as proof of an existing debt in some circumstances. It is also possible that some government contracts are not enforceable against the government; that is, they can be enforced to the extent that they are permitted by the government.


Lacking moral principles; not following a set of rules for how to act. Most state licensing laws have a code of conduct that real estate agents must follow. If they don't, they can lose their licenses.

Unfair and deceptive practices

In violation of the Federal Trade Commission's regulations are non-deceptive sales practices that are nonetheless unlawful (FTC). A sales practice is unfair if it violates public policy, is immoral, unethical, oppressive, or shady, or if it harms consumers. This concept encompasses practices such as inducing purchases through intimidation and scare tactics, product substitution, and the unlawful refusal to return deposits or refunds.

The FTC has the authority to prohibit unfair and deceptive practices, file complaints and pursue prosecution, issue cease-and-desist orders, and levy fines.

Unfavorable financial leverage

Borrowed funds are used when the cost of borrowing exceeds the rate of return on the assets being financed.

Unfinished office space

Space in a "shell" condition, devoid of dividing walls, ceiling, lighting, air conditioning, and the like. Typically, when leasing unfinished office space, the landlord provides standard office furnishings and/or a construction allowance.

Uniform and model acts

Individual state legislative proposals. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has approved these uniform laws, and many have been adopted by one or more states. Uniform Condominium Act, Uniform Consumer Credit Code, Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act, Uniform Land Sales Practices Act, Uniform Land Transactions Act, Uniform Partnership Act, Uniform Real Estate Time-Share Act, and Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act are a few examples.

Uniform appraisal dataset (UAD)

A standardized form that specifies all required fields for specific evaluation forms and standardized definitions and responses for a key subset of required fields. As of September 1, 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requires the form for all appraisals submitted to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Uniform building code (UBC)

The International Conference of Building Officials' national code, which is mostly used in the western states. It was adopted in part by over 1,000 municipalities across the United States, but it is now being phased out in favor of the International Code Council's codes.

Uniform commercial code (UCC)

A body of law that seeks to codify and standardize across the nation all laws pertaining to commercial transactions, such as conditional sales contracts, pledges, and chattel mortgages. The UCC also covers transactions involving personal property, such as negotiable securities and commercial paper.

Fixtures, which are addressed in Section 9 of the UCC, have the most bearing on real property under the UCC. When a personal property is acquired on credit or pledged as collateral, a security interest is created in the personal property through the execution of a security agreement. Instead of recording the agreement, the creditor files a financing statement with the recorder. If the financing statement has been properly recorded, the creditor may repossess and remove the chattel upon default.

Uniform commercial-industrial appraisal report (UCIAR)

A standard form for commercial and industrial property appraisal reports.

Uniform electronics act (UETA)

A uniform model law suggested by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws that lets documents and signatures be sent by email or fax without having to be attached to a paper document. UETA made rules for electronic signatures and lets a notary public and other authorized officers act electronically, without using a stamp or seal. All parties must agree to do the deal over the Internet.

Uniform land transactions act (ULTA)

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws proposed a uniform model law that covers a wide range of real estate transactions, including sales, conveyances, mortgages, and leases. The law has not yet gained widespread acceptance. One of the more significant financing proposals advocates for the abolition of the current distinctions between mortgages, trust deeds, and contracts for deed.

Uniform limited partnership act (ULPA)

A model legislation that has been passed (in some cases, extensively altered) by every state except Louisiana to govern the formation and operation of limited partnership entities.

Numerous states have adopted, in whole or in part, a model act that establishes the legality of the limited partnership form of ownership and allows real estate to be held in the name of the limited partnership.

Uniform partnership act (UPA)

Adopted in whole or in part by the majority of states, this act establishes the legality of the partnership form of ownership and allows real estate to be held in the name of the partnership.

Uniform residential appraisal report (URAR) (form 1004)

In addition to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, this form has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Farmers Home Administration since May 1, 1987.

Uniform residential landlord and tenant act (URLTA)

Residential leases are regulated by a single law that aims to provide some degree of uniformity in the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act or similar legislation has been adopted by a number of states.

Agreements for renting out a property: If a lease or rental agreement does not specify otherwise, the act treats the tenant as having a periodic tenancy. Any written rental agreement signed by the landlord or tenant is accepted by the other party if they pay rent or accept rent without objecting to it, even if that other party does not sign it. Rental values are determined by the fair market value of the unit if no rent has been agreed upon. Tenants must agree to waive their rights and remedies under the act, authorize anyone to confess judgment on a rental agreement claim, or pay the landlord's attorney fees in order to enter into a rental agreement. It is possible for a rental agreement to limit the landlord's liability for fire, theft, or breakage in the common areas, but the tenant does not have to agree to this limitation. In the event of a legal dispute between a landlord and a tenant, the court has the power to refuse to enforce an agreement, or any portion thereof, that it deems unconscionable.

Property condition: The lessor and lessee must make a joint inventory of the premises and any furnishings or appliances provided by the landlord within five days of the tenant's move-in date. Each party must receive a copy of this document that has been signed in its entirety.

Deposits are required for security. In unfurnished units, the maximum security deposit the landlord can receive is one month's rent; in furnished units, the maximum security deposit is one and one-half months' rent. However, a pet fee of half a month's rent may be required in either a furnished or unfurnished unit. The deposit can be used to cover any unpaid rent or damages to the property when the tenancy ends. The tenant must be given a list of all the damages, and any money left over must be given back to the tenant within the time frame set by the act. If the landlord doesn't return the deposit, the tenant can get the money back, plus damages equal to one and a half times the amount wrongfully kept, plus reasonable attorney fees. No part of the security deposit can be taken out of the last month's rent by the tenant. If a tenant does this, the landlord can get the rent back as if the security deposit hadn't been taken out.

How to use the land: The landlord can set rules about how the property is used and who can live there, as long as those rules apply to everyone. Any rule added later that changes the rental agreement in a big way can only be used against the tenant if the tenant signs it. Unless something else is agreed upon, the tenant can only use the space as a place to live. The tenant can't make it hard for the landlord to get into the property without a good reason.

What a landlord has to do: After giving reasonable notice, the landlord can enter the property at reasonable times to check on the unit, make any needed repairs or improvements, provide service, or show the unit to potential buyers or tenants. The only time the landlord can come in without the tenant's permission is in a true emergency.

The landlord is responsible for making any repairs that are needed to keep the place fit for living. This means that he or she must follow local building and housing codes and provide and keep in good working condition all electrical, heating, plumbing, and similar systems, as well as other facilities and appliances (like elevators) that he or she provides. The landlord must also take care of the common areas and provide trash cans and trash cans. The landlord must provide running water, a reasonable amount of hot water, and heat during the required months, unless the building is not required by law to have these things, or if the tenant has full control over the water and heat installations. The tenant could, however, agree in writing to pay for any or all utility services.

These landlord duties don't apply if the tenant can't follow them because of things the landlord can't change. If the property is sold, the landlord is no longer responsible for anything after the sale date, except for returning security deposits. So, the new owner takes on the responsibilities and liabilities of the old landlord.

Tenants are responsible for: The tenant must follow local building and housing code rules that affect health and safety, such as keeping the unit clean and safe to live in and getting rid of trash and garbage. The tenant must use all of the plumbing fixtures, elevators, and other facilities that the landlord provides, as well as the electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, in a reasonable way. The tenant also can't destroy or damage the property on purpose or let anyone else do it. They also can't make it hard for neighbors to enjoy the property in peace.

Getting out of the lease: If the tenant is not maintaining the property in a way that is not in line with the rental agreement, the landlord should tell the tenant what the problem is and tell the tenant that the rental agreement will end in 30 days if the tenant does not make a good-faith effort to fix the problem by the time given in the notice.

If the tenant hasn't paid rent three days after the landlord gives notice, the landlord can end the lease. If the tenant's noncompliance can be fixed by fixing or replacing damaged items, and if the tenant doesn't fix or replace the damaged items within a reasonable amount of time after receiving written notice, the landlord can enter the unit, have the work done, and then charge the tenant. The tenant's belongings are not, however, subject to a lien by the landlord.

If the tenant moves out, the landlord must try to re-rent the unit at a fair price. The tenant has to pay rent until the rental agreement ends or the unit is rented to someone else, whichever comes first. But if the landlord doesn't try to re-rent the unit or if the landlord accepts the abandonment as a return of the property, the rental agreement is over when the landlord finds out about the abandonment.

If the landlord fails to do his job in a big way, the tenant can also end the rental agreement by giving the landlord 30 days' notice of a breach of contract, unless the landlord makes a good-faith effort to fix the problem by the end of that time. The tenant also has the right to sue for damages and obtain a court injunction directing the landlord to correct the breach. If the landlord doesn't follow the rules on purpose, the tenant may also be able to get back reasonable lawyer fees. Whenever a rental agreement is terminated through noncompliance on the landlord's part, the tenant is always entitled to recover the security deposit and any prepaid rent.

If the landlord willfully fails to deliver possession of the unit, the tenant's obligation to pay rent stops until possession is delivered. The tenant may either terminate the rental agreement or sue for performance, and obtain possession, reasonable damages, and attorney fees.

If the landlord negligently fails to supply heat, running water, or some other essential service, the tenant may give written notice of the contract breach to the landlord, and the tenant may then take appropriate measures to obtain the services and deduct the cost from rent pay[1]ments (the so-called rent and deduct statutes), sue for damages based on the decrease in the fair rental value of the unit, or procure substitute housing until the breach is remedied. If substitute housing is obtained, the tenant's obligation for rent ceases during the landlord's period of non-compliance. The cost of such housing may be recovered, not to exceed the amount of periodic rent, along with reasonable attorney fees, if the tenant files suit against the landlord. When the cost of the necessary repairs is small, and the landlord fails to comply within a reasonable time after written notice has been given, the tenant may have the work performed, present an itemized bill to the landlord, and deduct the cost of repairs from the next rent payment.

If the dwelling unit is damaged or destroyed by fire or other casualty to such extent that enjoyment of the premises is impaired, the tenant may immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing of the intention to terminate the rental agreement as of the day of vacating. In cases where portions of the dwelling are still habitable, the tenant may vacate the damaged part of the dwelling and any liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the decrease in the fair rental value of the unit.

If the landlord illegally excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes tenant services, the tenant has the right to either recover possession or terminate the rental agreement. The tenant may also recover reasonable damages and attorney fees.

A landlord is prohibited from increasing the rent or decreasing the services of a tenant who has made a complaint to the landlord or to a governmental agency, or who has joined a tenant's union.

Exemptions: The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act would not, however, usually apply in the following situations:

  • A person occupying property under a contract for deed
  • Residence at a public or private institution for the purpose of receiving education, counseling, healthcare, or a similar service
  • Occupancy by a member of a fraternal organization in a structure operated for the benefit of the organization
  • Transient occupancy in a hotel or motel
  • Occupancy by an employee of the landlord, when the employee's right to occupy is conditional upon his or her employment
  • Occupancy by an owner of a condominium unit or holder of a proprietary lease in a cooperative
  • Agricultural leases
  • Rental of mobile-home lots, unless the landlord also furnishes the mobile home

Uniform settlement statement

The standard RESPA form, called HUD-1, must be given to the borrower, lender, and seller at or before settlement by the settlement agent in a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act-covered transaction. The copy must be kept by the lender for at least two years.

Uniform simultaneous death act

A statute adopted by the majority of states to address the situation in which two joint tenants perish in a common disaster. In essence, the statute stipulates that the deceased parties were co-tenants with equal shares. Typical expressions are as follows:

When there is insufficient evidence that two joint tenants died other than simultaneously, the property shall be divided 50/50 as if each had survived. If there are more than two joint tenants and they all pass away, the property shall be divided in proportion to the number of joint tenants.

Obviously, if there are multiple joint tenants and all but one die in the same disaster, the statute does not apply, and the surviving joint tenant continues to own the entire property, now as a tenant in severalty.

Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)

The Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation develops rules that govern the appraisal process and reporting of valuations. These regulations and criteria must be followed by appraisers by law.

In response to congressional criticism that the appraisal industry lacked uniform standards, an ad hoc committee composed of representatives from several appraisal associations developed ten standards in 1987, which are now updated annually. The Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation oversees the development and communication of appraisals and analyses, and the majority of state appraiser regulatory bodies have adopted the standards.

Uniform vendor and purchaser risk act

A law that has been adopted in many states to determine who bears the risk of loss if property is damaged or destroyed before legal title passes to the vendee under a contract for sale. Unless otherwise specified in the purchase agreement, the risk of loss does not pass from vendor to vendee until either legal title or possession is transferred to the vendee. Once title or possession passes to the vendee, the vendee must pay the full purchase price if the property is destroyed or taken by eminent domain without the vendor's fault. Unfortunately, the act does not address what the parties do after a loss when the vendee chooses not to rescind and instead insists on the vendor rebuilding and specifically performing the contract obligations. 


A term used in tax assessment practice to describe assessed values that have the same relationship to market value and, therefore, imply the equalization of tax burdens.

Unilateral contract

A contract in which one party makes a promise to do something, but the other party doesn't promise to do anything in return. One person makes a promise in exchange for another person doing something. That person doesn't have to keep the promise unless the other person does. One example is an open listing contract, in which the seller agrees to pay a commission to the first broker who brings a ready, willing, and able buyer. The promise to perform is not enough to make a contract; the promisee must actually do what was asked of them. Keep in mind that a unilateral contract only has one promise, while a bilateral contract has promises on both sides.

Before the act is done, a promise is just an offer from one person to another. When the act is done, this one-sided offer and the act itself create a one-sided contract. The broker doesn't promise to do anything, like advertising, or to do it. The broker can sign a one-sided contract and bind the seller only if he or she actually brings a buyer to the table. (Many standard exclusive-right-to-sell listings are now written as two-way contracts in which the broker agrees to make reasonable efforts to find a buyer and the seller agrees to pay a commission if the property is sold by the broker, the seller, or anyone else.)

A newspaper ad offering a reward for the return of a lost dog is a classic example of a unilateral contract. The person who gets the reward money doesn't have to look for the dog, but if they do find the dog and bring it back, the person who gave the reward money owes the money. Through multiple listing services (MLS), listing agents offer to work with and pay participating brokers, but none of them are required to find a buyer who is ready, willing, and able to buy. A unilateral contract is also an option, in which the seller agrees to sell for a certain amount of time and on certain terms, as long as the buyer follows through and pays the option price.

An obligation made by one party that is conditional on the performance of another party, although the second party is under no duty to perform.

Unimproved capital value

the market worth of an unimproved piece of land.

Unimproved property

Land devoid of structures, improvements, streets, and so on. All disclosure statements promoting subdivided land must clearly state that the property is unimproved.

Land that hasn't been improved in any way.

Unincorporated association

A gathering of individuals for religious, scientific, fraternal, or recreational purposes. Unless they explicitly assume liability in writing, members of such associations are not personally liable for debts incurred in the acquisition or leasing of real property used by the association. Typically, the association does not hold title to its own property; any title is held by a trustee. When dealing with unincorporated associations, such as churches, it is crucial that the broker verify that the individual representing the association has the authority to convey title to the property. The majority of condo associations are unincorporated.

The Internal Revenue Code permits condominium management associations and residential real estate management associations to elect tax-exempt status. However, this tax-exempt status only protects the association from tax on its exempt-function income, such as membership dues, fees, and assessments collected from member/owners of residential units in the particular condominium or subdivision in question. For example, the association is taxed at corporate rates on any net income that is not from exempt functions, but is not eligible for the corporate surtax exemption granted to regular domestic corporations.


A unit in a building that is normally owned under a strata (or company) title.

Commonly, the individual units in a condominium, as opposed to the common areas. Typically, a unit consists of the non-load-bearing walls and partitions within the perimeter walls of a condominium, the inner decorated or furnished surfaces of all walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, or panels along the perimeters, and all original fixtures. The specific condominium declaration must be consulted for the unit's precise definition.

In a limited company, a prorated portion of ownership. A solitary residence.

Unit value

Value or price based on a unit of measurement, like $20 per square foot, $200 per front foot, and so on.

Unit-in-place method

A method of estimating replacement costs in which an appraiser estimates the cost of building components separately, developing a unit cost for each component and including overhead and profit allocation estimates as well as direct labor and materials cost, and then adds all costs together to reach total cost and thus replacement cost.

A method of calculating replacement cost; also known as the segregated cost method, which uses prices for various building components, as installed, based on specific units of use, such as square footage or cubic feet. These costs include labor, overhead expenses, and profit. Insulation may cost $0.07 per square foot, drywall may cost $1.50 per square yard, and painting may cost $0.08 per square foot, etc. Multiplying the total in-place cost of each unit (unit value) by the total number of units in the building yields the total replacement cost for the entire structure. Examples of building components include the roof, the floor, the concrete, the electrical, the plumbing, and the parking area.

Unity (joint tenancy)

A meeting of specific requirements. In accordance with the rules of common law, the formation of a joint tenancy requires four unities: interest, title, time, and possession. In other words, the tenants must have one and the same equal interest; the interests must stem from the same conveyance instrument from the same grantor; they must begin at the same time; and the property must be held by one and the same undivided possession.

In many states, however, a property owner can transfer the property to himself or herself and another person as joint tenants, thus altering the common law rule requiring unity of title. The only unity in a tenancy in common is possession.

Universal agent

A person to whom a principal assigned the authority to act in place of the principal in all subjects that can be delegated.

A general agent is someone who is authorized to act on behalf of another person. An attorney-in-fact under a general power of attorney, for example.

Agents who are authorized to conduct all legal activities on behalf of their principals.

Universal design

Universal design is the practice of creating products and environments that are usable by as many people as possible without adaptation or specialized design.


The whole population of information from which sample is chosen in statistics.

Unjust enrichment

The conditions under which a person has received and retained money or property that, according to fairness and justice, belongs to another. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover such funds or property.

Unlawful detainer action

A legal proceeding that allows for the eviction of a tenant who has violated the terms of the lease; a summary proceeding to recover possession of the property.


The item was purchased with cash.

Unleveraged program

A limited partnership that invests in a property that is debt-free or has a mortgage of less than 50%.

Unlevered cash flows

The anticipated flow of NOIs and the anticipated net selling profits (NSP). Before deducting the percentage of the cash flows that must be sent to the lender to service or repay the loan, this shows the property's income-producing ability.

Unmarketable title

A title to property that has major flaws, like unreported encroachments, building code violations, easements, or a dower that hasn't been paid. Until a quiet title suit is brought, it is usually not possible to sell a title that was gained through adverse possession.

In some cases, a title insurance company might insure a title even though there are some small claims to the title. The title can then be insured, but it can't be sold. This can cause problems if a title examiner later objects to the title and stops the property from being sold again. Since there has been no real loss, the coverage from the original title insurance policy does not apply.

Unpaid mortgage principal

The loan's outstanding balance.

Unrealized gain

The difference between the present market value and the cost of an item that has not yet been sold.

Unreasonably withheld consent

Numerous legal documents, including leases and contracts for deed, contain a transfer clause stating that the property may only be transferred with the owner's consent, "which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld." There is no adequate definition of unreasonableness. For instance, a lessor could reasonably refuse to transfer a lease to a new tenant whose business would directly compete with another tenant in the same shopping centre complex (i.e., poor tenant mix).

In the context of a contract for deed, it would be unreasonable for the vendor to refuse an assignment or demand a share of the profits when the assignee is an equal or better credit risk than the assignor-vendor.

To avoid lawsuits, it is preferable to include criteria for reasonable consent within the transfer clause.

Unrecorded deed

A valid deed between the grantor, grantee, and anyone with knowledge of the property's ownership. A wild deed is distinct from an unrecorded deed ( one not properly recorded).

Unregistered mortgage

The property's title does not show that it is unregistered.


A debt instrument, such as a debenture, that is only supported by the debtor's promise to pay.

Unsystematic risk

The difference in portfolio returns that can be avoided by owning stocks and other investments with returns that are not completely correlated. As a result of being exposed to microeconomic risk factors, the following are the outcomes.

Up-front financing costs

Loan origination costs, discount points, appraisal fees, and survey fees are all expenses incurred by the property owner in order to get mortgage financing. For tax purposes, these costs on a rental property investment are amortized throughout the term of the loan.


The property that the taxpayer buys as a replacement in a Section 1031 tax-deferred exchange; usually, the taxpayer trades up.


A road or path that goes from one level to the next at an angle or slope. It is often used to get people or vehicles from the ground level to the floor level of a dock-high building.


A reclassification of a property's zoning from a lower to a higher use.


Changes to the property's layout or improvements made after it was bought but before the closing date, such as adding appliances, carpeting, or fixing the roof. The costs of making such changes would be paid for by the buyer.

Upset date

A date specified in a contract that specifies when a building must be occupied or when the buyer has the option to terminate the agreement.

Upset price

A minimum price set by a court in a judicial foreclosure, below which the property cannot be sold at a public auction by a court-appointed commissioner. This is the lowest price the court will accept for the property after having it appraised. At the time of foreclosure, the upset price shouldn't be more than what the house is worth on the market. Sometimes the upset price is so high that no one bids, and the whole process leading up to the public auction has to start all over again. Because of the time and money it takes and costs, many lawyers set up nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings through a power of sale in the mortgage instrument.

Upside down

A financial situation in which there is not enough equity in the property to pay the outstanding liens. Also called a "underwater mortgage."

Urban enterprise zone

A depressed neighborhood, usually within an urban area, in which business enterprises are given tax incentives (reduced property taxes) and exemptions from many governmental restrictions (no rent control) in an attempt to stimulate new business activity, provide jobs, and revitalize the area. Rather than providing direct government subsidies, the emphasis is on removing government financial burdens.

Urban growth

An rise in the intensity with which land resources are used. This may or may not result in a rise in the population of a metropolitan region. Higher capital investment per unit of land employed is often connected with enhanced productivity related with urban economic processes.

Urban Land Institute (ULI)

Project reference files contain lessons learned, development obstacles, and project data; books and other sources of information on urban planning, land use, and real estate development; (including photos and site plans).

Urban renewal

redevelopment, notably in the more run-down areas of cities

A process of upgrading degraded neighborhoods through demolition and redevelopment, rehabilitation, and the installation of new public improvements, or by modernizing existing structures. Urban renewal activities may be supported by a combination of federal and local funds, or by private funds alone.

The FHA 229(d) (3) programme, for instance, insures mortgages for rent-subsidy housing projects in approved urban renewal areas and subsidizes mortgage interest for qualified housing sponsors.

Urban service area

A defined area around a community where the local government intends to offer public services and facilities but urban development is discouraged or forbidden.

Urban sprawl

Unplanned growth of a municipality across a vast geographical area.

Usable area

The portion of an office building that is solely owned by the tenant.

The gross area minus core space on a multitenancy floor. The square footage used for public corridors, stairwells, washrooms, elevators, electrical and janitorial closets, and fan rooms is referred to as core space. The usable area on a single-tenant floor is the gross square footage, excluding the building lobby and all penetrating shafts (that is, ducts, stairwells, and elevators).

Any space on a specific floor that a tenant may use. This region encompasses the space between the perimeter glass line and the demising walls, as well as the column spaces inside that space.

Use clause

A clause in a lease that specifies how the leased space will be utilized.

Use tax

A tax that is paid by the person who buys or imports tangible personal property to sell, use, or consume.

Use value

The subjective value of a property designed to meet the specific needs of the owner but having little or no utility for another owner. Also known as value-in-use, it includes the valuation of a property's amenities.

Useful life

The length of time that a property will benefit the owner's trade or business.

The expected length of time that an asset, such as a building, will remain economically viable for its owner. Because the annual amount of tax depreciation results from a proportional allocation of the building's investment over its useful life, it has traditionally been crucial to determine the correct useful life; the shorter the life, the greater the annual deductions. Currently, the IRS dictates the useful life of both new and used property purchases.

The genuine economic value of a structure in terms of years of usage to the owner, as determined through appraisal for the purpose of selling.

User markets

Owner-occupants and tenants, as well as renters, are all fighting for physical location and space.

Usufructuary right

The right to use, enjoy, and make money from someone else's property, like an easement or profit a prendre.


When you charge a rate of interest that is higher than what the law allows. Some states have set a specific interest limit that is higher than what would be considered usury. Other states have what is called a "floating interest rate," which is usually set each month at a certain percentage above a changing economic indicator like the interest rate on long-term Treasury notes or the Federal Reserve discount rate. In some states, it may be illegal or possible to get out of a loan agreement with a high interest rate. Loan sharking is a crime that can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. It happens when someone charges or gets usurious interest rates on loans. In some states, the penalty for usury is that the lender can't get any interest and has to use all interest money to pay down the loan's principal.

State usury laws don't apply to transactions like VA and FHA transactions. Under the federal Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, the federal government took precedence over state usury limits for conventional residential first mortgage loans related to the federal government, unless a state passes a law that overrides the federal law.

A lender's charge of excessive interest, as defined by state law.


A developed area's basic service system, such as telephone, electricity, water, and gas. Utility easements are typically gross easements that run on, over, or through the property.

Electricity, gas, water, sewage, and telephone are examples of essential services.


A phrase used in economics to describe the ability of an item or service to satisfy a person's desire.

Utility easement

A right-of-way for the purpose of laying the utilities.

Utility room

A date specified in a contract that specifies when a building must be occupied or when the buyer has the option to terminate the agreement.

Utility value

The value that an owner-user places on the way he or she uses a property, which includes the value of any extras that come with it. This is also called "subjective value."

Glossary Index

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