SALE-LEASEBACK:  A sale and subsequent lease from the buyer back to the seller.  Often, a financing arrangement in which a property owner sells all or part of the property to an investor and then leases it back.  Although the lease actually follows the sale, both are agreed to as part of the same transaction.

SECOND MORTGAGE:  A mortgage that ranks after a first mortgage in priority.  Properties may have two, three, or more mortgages, deeds of trust, or land contracts as liens at the same time.  Legal priority determines the designation first, second, third, etc.

SECONDARY SPACE:  Space that has been previously occupied and becomes available for lease.  Includes both re-let and sublet space.

SECURITY DEPOSIT:  Generally, a deposit of money by a tenant with a landlord to secure performance of a lease.

SEISEN (SEIZEN):  The term originally referred to the completion of feudal investiture by which a tenant was admitted into the field to render services to the lord or proprietor.  Today it has come to mean possession under a legal right (usually a fee interest).

SETBACK:  A distance from a curb, property line, or structure, within which building is prohibited.  Setback requirements are normally provided for by ordinances or building codes.  Provision in zoning ordinance regulating the distance from the lot line to the point where improvements may be constructed.

SETBACK ORDINANCE:  Part of a zoning ordinance that regulates the distance from the lot line to the point where improvements may be constructed.

SIOR:  Society of Industrial and Office Realtors  is an international professional commercial and industrial real estate association based in Washington, D.C.

SITE ANALYSIS:  The study of a specified parcel of land (and the surrounding area) to determine its suitability for a specific use.

SITE DEVELOPMENT:  All improvements made to a site before a building may be constructed, such as grading, utility installation, etc.

SITE PLAN:  A detailed plan, to scale, depicting development of a parcel of land and containing all information required by the zoning ordinance.  (See also Master Plan.)

SLAB:  (1) A concrete floor used as a foundation in homes without a basement.  (2) Any concrete floor, even if an upper story.

SPACE PLAN:  A graphic representation of a tenant’s office space requirements, showing wall and door locations, room sizes, and some furniture layouts.  Also known as the Preliminary Plan.

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT:  Any special charge levied against real property for public improvements (sidewalks, sewers, streetlights, etc.) that directly benefit the assessed property.

SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE:  A lawsuit in which the court compels one of the parties to perform or carry out the provisions of a contract into which they have entered.  Typically used when money damages for breach would not be satisfactory.

SPECULATIVE SPACE:  Any space that has not been leased to a tenant prior to commencing construction on a new building.

STEP-UP LEASE (GRADED LEASE):  A lease calling for set increases in rent at set intervals.

STRAIGHT LEASE (FLAT LEASE):  A lease calling for the same amount of rent to be paid periodically (usually monthly) for the entire term of the lease.

STRIP CENTER:  Any shopping area, generally with common parking, comprised of a row of stores.

SUBCONTRACTOR:  A person, usually a specialist, who is hired by a general contractor to perform a specific task such as an electrical contractor, cement contractor, etc., as part of the overall project; and is normally paid for services provided by the originating general contractor.

SUBDIVISION PLAT / SUBDIVISION MAP:  A detailed drawing, to scale, depicting a division of a parcel of land into two or more lots and containing engineering considerations and other information required.  A map is typically submitted by a sub divider to the proper governmental body for approval in order to establish a subdivision.  When the map is approved and recorded, it becomes the basis for the legal description of the subdivision.

SUBORDINATION AGREEMENT:  You might need a subordination agreement if you refinance your first-loan/mortgage and have more than one.  If you want to refinance your first loan/mortgage and you have other liens or mortgages on your building, you might need a subordination agreement to adjust the lien.

  • Generally, the priority of a lien is determined by its recording date.  (Though some liens, such as property tax liens, have automatic superiority over most prior liens).
  • When there is more than one lien on a property, the priority of liens determines the order in which the liens will be paid if the property is sold in a foreclosure sale.

SURETY:  One who voluntarily binds himself to be obligated for the debt or obligation of another.  A common example is the co-maker of a note.  Surety differs from guarantor or insurance carrier, although the terms are commonly (and mistakenly) used interchangeably.

SURFACE RIGHTS:  The rights (easements) to use the surface of land, including the right to drill or mine through the surface when subsurface rights are involved.

SURVEY:  The measurement of the boundaries of a parcel of land, its area, and sometimes its topography.

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