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damper A movable plate in a fireplace that allows smoke and fumes to travel up the chimney’s flue.
days on the market The period of time a property is listed for sale prior to being sold or taken off the market.
deadbolt lock A lock that requires a key to open from the outside and a turn button from the inside.
debt Any amount one person owes to another.
debt assumption letter The formal transfer of debt from one party to another, backed by a contract of assumption signed by both parties. Also known as assignment of debt.
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deck A roofless, floored area that adjoins a house.
decorating allowance An amount of money supplied by the seller and held in escrow for the buyer, to be applied toward negotiated decorating changes.
deed The legal document that transfers ownership of a piece of property.
deed of trust A document that gives a lender the right to foreclose on a piece of property if the borrower defaults on the loan.
deep-seal floor drain A drain used to dispose of water from the basement floor to a sewer line.
default The failure to fulfill a duty or discharge an obligation, such as making monthly mortgage payments.
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deferred maintenance Any repair or maintenance of a piece of property that has been postponed, resulting in a decline in property value.
delinquent mortgage A mortgage that involves a borrower who is behind on payments. If the borrower cannot bring the payments up to date within a specified number of days, the lender may begin foreclosure proceedings.
density test An analysis of soil to determine if the surface can support the foundation of a house.
dentils Small rectangular blocks that project from a building, usually under cornices or along rooflines.
deposit Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase property. Also called earnest money.
depreciation The decline in value of a piece of property.
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design/build A project in which the owner contracts directly with an individual or company to perform design and construction.
designer Unlike architects, designers are limited to drawing blueprints.
digital images Images that are incorporated into house listings to give potential buyers a view of the property.
dimension plans Plans which show the layout of a house but are less detailed than full blueprints.
dimensional lumber Single pieces of lumber sawed to standard  dimensions.
dimmer A light switch that controls the brightness of one or more lights. Most allow a full range of control from full off to full on.
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dimple To create a slight dent with a light blow of a hammer when driving a nail. This technique is typically used when hanging drywall to provide a tiny pocket for receiving drywall compound.
dip tube An extension of the water supply line into a storage tank. This delivers water close to the heat source on the bottom of a water heater.
disability insurance An insurance policy that covers an individual’s ability to produce income.
disclosure A statement to a potential buyer listing information relevant to a piece of property, such as the presence of radon or lead paint.
discount points Fees that a borrower pays when the lender makes the loan, to get a lower interest rate. Lenders offer various rate/point combinations, and borrowers pay points to adjust the interest rate to the market rate. One point equals one percent of the loan amount.
distressed property Property that is in poor physical or financial condition.
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document needs list A list of documents a lender requires from a potential borrower submitting a loan application. The required documents range from paycheck stubs to credit card statements.
documentation preparation A fee charged by the settlement agent (escrow company or attorney) to ready the necessary paperwork for closing.
domed ceiling A hemispherical ceiling that projects upward without support.
domicile A person’s primary or permanent home.
dormer A window set upright in a sloping roof.
double-hung window A window that consists of two sashes that slide up and down.
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dovetail joints Joints that lock two pieces of wood together with meshed teeth.
dowel A length of wood that is round in profile and made of hardwood (round lengths of softwood are called rounds).
dowel plug A short piece of a wooden dowel typically fitted into a counterbored hole to hide the head of a screw.
down payment The difference between purchase price and the portion of the purchase price financed by a lender. Most lenders require that the down payment come from the buyer’s own funds, but may also allow gifts from relatives.
downspout A vertical gutter that empties water from the roof to the ground.
drain auger Also called a snake. A long, coiled-wire tool that you can unwind and push into a drain line to free a clog.
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drain flange The round metal trim that fits into the hole at the bottom of a sink or bathtub. The stopper or pop-up fits into this flange to retain water in the sink or tub.
drain valve A valve used to drain a water storage tank in order to perform maintenance or replacement.
drainage A system of gutters and drainpipes that carry water away from the foundation of a house.
drainpipe Part of a home’s plumbing system that carries waste to the sewer or septic system. Most residential drainpipes are from 1½ to 4 inches in diameter.
draw A payment made to subcontractors or suppliers from a construction loan.
drip caps Angled strips of metal flashing that are designed to protect the eaves from water damage. With an L-shaped profile, they tuck under the first course of shingles and extend down over the fascia.
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drip loop A loop in the service conductor that minimizes the chance of water penetration.
dropped ceiling A flat ceiling built lower than the original ceiling.
dry rot A fungal decay that causes wood to become brittle and crumble.
drywall A construction material composed of gypsum or plaster wrapped in paper and produced in large sheets that can be nailed to wall studs.
dual agency A relationship in which a real estate agent or broker represents both parties in a transaction.
dual agent An agent who represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. Some states require strict disclosure of this arrangement to sumers.
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duct A rigid metal or flexible insulated tube, designed to deliver air to and from a furnace or other air-handling unit.
duct Any kind of pipe or channel that carries water, wiring, or conditioned air through a house.
ductwork A system of large tubes, pipes, or channels (ducts) designed to deliver air to and from a furnace or other air-handling unit.
due-on-sale clause Standard language in a mortgage which states that the loan must be paid when a house is sold.
duplex A structure that consists of two separate family units.
duplex receptacle An electrical outlet that accepts two lighting or appliance plugs.
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Dutch colonial style A design that features a barn-like gambrel roof, a ground-level front porch, and dormers.