Property Preservation Glossary: Terms and Definitions for Professionals in the Industry

Welcome to the comprehensive glossary of property preservation and mortgage field services terminology. In this guide, you’ll find a property preservation glossary of key terms and concepts related to the management, maintenance, and inspection of properties, particularly those in foreclosure or acquired by financial institutions. 

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to the industry, this glossary will serve as a valuable resource to help you navigate the complex world of property preservation, ensuring that you’re well-equipped to handle the various tasks and responsibilities involved in maintaining and managing properties.

From understanding the intricacies of securing and winterizing vacant properties to grasping the nuances of conveyance conditions and HUD regulations, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed in the property preservation and mortgage field services industry.

Adjuster Scope 

A comprehensive and meticulous assessment conducted by an insurance adjuster (estimator) that focuses on specific damages included within the coverage of an insurance policy. The adjuster scope not only identifies the extent and nature of the damages sustained by a property or asset but also provides a thorough estimation of the repair costs. This evaluation is crucial in the claims process, as it helps insurance companies determine the appropriate compensation for the policyholder and ensures a fair and accurate settlement for the damages incurred.

Adverse Occupants

Individuals occupying a HUD-owned or custodial property without legal rights to be there, often referred to as squatters or unauthorized tenants. Adverse occupants can present various challenges for property preservation professionals, including potential safety concerns, unauthorized alterations to the property, and complications in the eviction process. In some cases, adverse occupants may also cause damage to the property, further complicating the preservation and conveyance process. It is essential for property preservation professionals to be aware of the presence of adverse occupants and to follow appropriate legal procedures when addressing such situations.


The process by which real property or a mortgage note secured by real property is transferred to HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Properties and mortgage notes can be acquired from a variety of sources, such as foreclosures, mortgage defaults, or government programs. Acquisition is a critical step in the property preservation process, as it ensures that the ownership and management of the property are transferred to HUD, enabling them to oversee the necessary maintenance, repair, and eventual sale or disposition of the property.

Broken Window 

A damaged glass pane that either has a visible opening, permitting entry or exposure to external elements, or is severely cracked, presenting a safety hazard. Examples of such hazards include a window with a crack dividing a single pane into multiple pieces, which may cause the glass to break or fall. Broken windows pose risks to the security and integrity of a property, as well as potential harm to occupants or visitors. Addressing broken windows promptly is essential for property preservation professionals to ensure safety and maintain the property’s condition.

Broker Price Opinion (BPO)

An estimate of a residential property’s likely selling price, also known as a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), involves analyzing the selling prices of comparable properties in the area. This helps determine a property’s fair market value, considering factors such as size, age, location, and features. A CMA is typically conducted by real estate agents or appraisers to guide pricing decisions for sellers or to inform buyers about the market conditions. It’s essential to note that a CMA is not a formal appraisal, but a valuable tool for gauging the potential value of a property in the current market.

Cash for Keys

This situation is known as “Cash for Keys,” a strategy employed by banks or servicers to incentivize occupants of a property, often in foreclosure, to vacate by a specific date. The occupant receives a cash payment in exchange for handing over the keys and leaving the property in a clean and undamaged condition. This arrangement can be beneficial for both parties, as the bank or servicer avoids a lengthy eviction process, potential property damage, and additional costs, while the occupant receives financial assistance to help with relocation expenses, reducing the stress associated with eviction or foreclosure.

Convey Condition or Conveyance Condition

The criteria a property must meet to be considered ready for conveyance, meaning it must be undamaged by any surchargeable event, such as earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, or fire. Many properties you will work on are HUD guaranteed loans. The Department of HUD requires a property to be in conveyance condition before allowing the mortgagee (lender) to transfer the property to them for reimbursement as per HUD’s mortgage guarantee program. For a property to be in convey condition, the house and any outbuildings (garage, shed) must be secured with locksets coded to the proper key codes determined by the bank you are working with, all windows must either have all glass reglazed or be properly boarded (more on correct bank boarding techniques later), all exterior debris and health hazards must be removed (see definition of health hazards later in this section), any damages to the property which can cause future damage must be repaired, grass must be cut if it is grass cutting season, the house must be properly winterized (if in season), there can be no safety hazards, and there can be no known code violations. This is one of the most confusing areas of the entire business. It is recommended that you spend some time researching the Department of HUD’s website for additional information about this crucial term.

Cracked Window 

A glass pane with minor imperfections that doesn’t pose a risk or compromise its integrity is considered to be structurally sound or stable. Examples of such imperfections may include small scratches, chips, or edge defects that do not affect the overall strength and performance of the glass. Despite the presence of these flaws, the pane remains functional, providing protection from weather elements, maintaining energy efficiency, and offering security. It is crucial to monitor these imperfections to ensure they do not progress into more severe damage, potentially leading to glass breakage, safety hazards, or the need for replacement.


In most contexts, when “days” are mentioned without further specification, it generally refers to calendar days. Calendar days include all days of the week, counting weekends and holidays, as opposed to business days, which exclude weekends and public holidays. When interpreting deadlines, contracts, or other time-sensitive matters, it is crucial to understand the distinction between calendar days and business days. Calendar days provide a straightforward method of counting time, as each day on the calendar is considered, whereas business days require a more careful approach, taking into account weekends and holidays that could impact the calculation.

Deteriorated Paint 

A painted surface exhibiting signs of cracking, scaling, chipping, peeling, or loose paint indicates deterioration, often due to aging, weather exposure, or improper application. Such conditions not only affect the aesthetic appeal of the surface but also compromise its protection against elements like moisture, sunlight, and temperature fluctuations. It is essential to address these issues promptly to maintain the integrity and appearance of the painted surface. Remedial steps include removing loose or damaged paint, properly preparing the surface, and applying a high-quality, weather-resistant paint to ensure a long-lasting finish that provides adequate protection to the underlying material.

Defective Service 

When a service or deliverable fails to meet the specified performance standard in the contract, it can lead to penalties, legal action, or termination of the contract. It’s crucial to have clear and measurable performance requirements and monitor performance regularly. Non-performance can be addressed by adjusting standards or providing additional resources, but if it persists, clients may seek remedies such as withholding payment or seeking damages. Addressing non-performance promptly is vital to minimizing its impact on the project’s success.

Electronic Portal 

A secure web-based system used by the Prime Contractor and Subcontractor to transfer report files, photos, and information is a project management or collaboration platform. It facilitates communication and document sharing, including file sharing, task management, messaging, and document control. These systems may also include analytics and reporting tools to help track progress and identify issues. By centralizing project-related information, they can improve collaboration, transparency, and project outcomes.

Emergency Contact Sign 

A visible sign displaying a toll-free, 24-hour phone number for reporting emergencies is a crucial safety feature for any property. It provides a quick and easy way for anyone to report an emergency, such as a fire, medical crisis, or criminal activity, and can help ensure a prompt response from emergency services. The sign should be easily visible and located in a prominent location on the property, such as near the entrance or in a parking lot. Additionally, the phone number displayed should be regularly checked and maintained to ensure it is up-to-date and functional. By providing a clear means of reporting emergencies, the sign can help ensure the safety and security of those on the property.

Existing Property 

A property previously assigned to a former Contractor. These properties have usually been inspected, appraised (or appraisal orders have been placed), and initial property maintenance services have been carried out. These properties may be HUD-owned properties or HUD-custodial properties.


The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a government agency that operates within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its primary mission is to provide mortgage insurance to protect lenders against losses in the event of borrower default. FHA loans are popular with first-time homebuyers and those with low-to-moderate incomes, as they require lower down payments and credit scores than conventional loans. In addition to mortgage insurance, the FHA also offers housing counseling, foreclosure prevention assistance, and loan modification programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The agency plays a crucial role in expanding homeownership opportunities and promoting sustainable homeownership across the United States.

Fire Damage 

Fire or smoke damage can cause significant financial losses, physical damage to the property, and loss of personal belongings. Smoke damage can be particularly difficult to remediate as it can linger and cause health problems. Restoring a property after fire and smoke damage may require extensive renovations, including replacing structural components and systems. Prompt restoration is crucial to minimizing damage and ensuring the safety of the property.

Government Technical Representative (GTR) 

A Government Technical Representative (GTR) is a HUD employee who acts as the Contracting Officer’s representative for technical matters related to a contract. Their role is to ensure that the contractor meets the technical requirements specified in the contract, including ensuring that the work is completed according to industry standards and meets all applicable regulations. The GTR is responsible for monitoring and documenting the progress of the contractor, reviewing and approving technical submittals, and providing technical guidance and support as needed. The GTR also participates in site visits and inspections to ensure that the work is being completed to the required standards. They play a crucial role in ensuring that the project is completed successfully and in accordance with the contract specifications.

Water Intrusion

Water damage is a common problem caused by various sources such as leaking roofs, burst pipes, faulty appliances, and natural disasters. It can cause structural damage, promote mold growth, and compromise the electrical system, leading to financial losses and health hazards. Quick action is necessary to minimize damage, including identifying the source, removing standing water, drying affected areas, and repairing or replacing damaged materials.

Window Boarding 

Window boarding is the process of securing broken or damaged windows temporarily with plywood or other materials to prevent unauthorized entry, protect the property from weather damage, and deter theft and vandalism. It’s used in emergencies until permanent repairs can be made and can also prevent further damage by keeping out debris and animals. Prompt repair of broken or damaged windows is crucial for maintaining the safety and security of the property.


Winterization refers to the procedures performed on a vacant property to protect its plumbing system from freezing temperatures. It involves draining water from the pipes, adding antifreeze to the traps and toilets, and turning off the water supply. This is important because frozen pipes can burst and cause extensive property damage. Winterization is typically performed on properties that are vacant or not in use, such as seasonal homes or vacation rentals. It’s crucial to follow the proper winterization procedures to prevent damage and ensure that the property is ready for use when the temperatures rise. Property owners may consider hiring professionals for these services.

Work Order 

A work order is a formal document that provides detailed information about a specific job or task required by a service provider or contractor, commonly used by banks or asset management companies. It includes details such as property location, the type of maintenance, repair or inspection, and specific instructions or requirements. Work orders also provide information about estimated cost, expected completion date, and safety requirements. They are crucial for ensuring efficient and effective completion of tasks while clarifying responsibilities and obligations for all stakeholders involved in the project.

Yard Maintenance 

The process of maintaining the exterior appearance of a property is commonly known as landscaping or groundskeeping. It involves tasks such as planting and maintaining flowers, shrubs, and trees, as well as ensuring that the lawn is mowed and edged regularly. Other tasks may include fertilizing, mulching, watering, and pruning to promote healthy growth and improve the aesthetic appeal of the property. Landscaping also involves removing debris from the yard, such as fallen leaves, branches, or other litter, to keep the property clean and presentable. A well-maintained landscape not only enhances the visual appeal of a property but can also increase its value and curb appeal, making it more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.

Vacant Property

An unoccupied property, commonly known as a vacant property, is a property that does not have an occupant living on the premises. This can occur for various reasons such as foreclosure, eviction, or abandonment by the owner or tenant. Vacant properties can be a significant burden for property owners as they can become targets for vandalism, theft, or squatting. In addition, unoccupied properties can pose safety risks to the surrounding community, especially if they are not maintained or secured properly. Property owners or management companies may take steps to secure vacant properties, such as installing security systems, sealing entrances, or hiring property managers to perform regular inspections and maintenance.

Vacant Property Inspection 

A vacant property inspection is a critical process that assesses the condition of an unoccupied property, identifies maintenance or repair needs, and ensures it is secured and protected. The inspection entails evaluating the property’s structural integrity, plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems, as well as its cleanliness, both inside and outside. Additionally, the inspection may include reviewing the property’s security measures, such as locks, alarms, and surveillance systems, to ensure they are functioning correctly. The inspection report informs property owners or management companies of any necessary repairs, maintenance, or upgrades required to prepare the property for future occupancy or sale. Conducting a thorough inspection of a vacant property helps prevent potential damage or liability issues while ensuring its readiness for the next occupant.


A vendor is a company or individual that provides various services to clients in the property preservation or mortgage field services industry. These services may include property inspections, maintenance, repairs, property management, and other related tasks. Vendors may work directly with clients, such as banks or asset management companies, or as subcontractors for other vendors. The relationship between a vendor and a client may vary depending on the specific services being provided, and may involve the vendor submitting bids or proposals for individual projects or ongoing contracts. Vendors are typically required to meet certain qualifications and adhere to specific industry standards and regulations. As such, clients often rely on vendors to provide quality services and to meet deadlines and other requirements.

Violation Notice 

A violation notice is a formal document issued by a local government agency, such as a code enforcement department, to notify property owners or managers of a violation of local ordinances or regulations. The notice typically identifies the specific violation and outlines the steps that must be taken to correct it. Depending on the severity of the violation, the notice may also include a deadline for correcting the violation and the consequences of noncompliance, such as fines, penalties, or legal action. Property owners or managers who receive a violation notice are responsible for addressing the issue promptly to avoid further penalties and to maintain compliance with local regulations. Failure to comply with the notice may result in additional fines or penalties, or even the closure of the property.

Warranty Deed

A Warranty deed is a legal document that serves as evidence of the transfer of ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. It contains a detailed description of the property being conveyed, the names of the buyer and seller, and the purchase price. In addition, a property deed includes a warranty or guarantee that the seller has the legal right to sell the property and that the property is free from any liens or encumbrances. This warranty ensures that the buyer is protected against any claims made against the property by third parties. Property deeds are typically recorded with the appropriate government agency, such as the county recorder’s office, to provide a public record of ownership and to protect the buyer’s legal rights to the property.


Zoning is a process of regulating land use and development within a local government’s jurisdiction. Zoning ordinances are created by local governments to designate specific areas or parcels of land for certain uses, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural. Zoning regulations also govern the size, height, and placement of buildings, as well as other aspects of property development and maintenance, such as setbacks, parking requirements, landscaping, and signage. These regulations help to promote orderly and sustainable growth, protect property values, and ensure that land use is consistent with community values and priorities. Violations of zoning ordinances may result in fines, penalties, or legal action by the local government.

The property preservation and mortgage field services industry can be complex and challenging, but with the help of this comprehensive property preservation glossary, you can navigate it with ease. By understanding the key terms and concepts involved in property preservation, you’ll be better equipped to perform your duties and responsibilities as a professional in this field. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced veteran, this guide will serve as a valuable resource to help you succeed in your career. So, dive in and start expanding your knowledge today!