An underwriter is an individual or party that measures or quantifies another party’s level of risk in investment or business engagement in exchange for a fee. Underwriting is a service required across many different industries and sectors, from mortgage issuances to insurance policies to initial public offerings. 

In the case of a mortgage issuance, an underwriter is tasked with measuring the level of risk a financial institution assumes in agreeing to lend money to a borrower, based on the borrower’s creditworthiness and current ability to repay his or her debts.

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Underwriting is the process of evaluating the future performance of a property. Similar to an insurance underwriter, in the context of commercial real estate,

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Unearned Income

Unearned income is generally from passive sources of income and those other than employment (i.e., wages or self-employment). It is called passive income because the recipient of the income doesn’t have to be materially involved in the income source. Some examples of unearned income include interest from savings, bonds, and CDs. Appreciation and dividends from stocks, inheritance, royalties are also forms of unearned income. Unearned income is taxed differently than earned income. It is not subject to payroll taxes or employment taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. Additionally, long-term capital gains (a form of unearned income) is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.

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Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is a measure of the population in the labor force that is without a job as a percentage of the labor force as a whole. Considered a lagging indicator, the unemployment rate will rise or fall in response to improvements or deteriorations in economic conditions. When the economic outlook turns bleak, unemployment may rise. When an economy is growing at a steady rate as a result of consumer and business confidence, the unemployment rate will tend to fall.

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A labor union is an organization formed to protect the rights of workers in specific industries. Labor unions unite workers of similar trades to obtain leverage in negotiations with employers over wages, hours, benefits and other working conditions. Unions function like democracies in that leaders and officers are elected by peers to make decisions that are beneficial to the union as a whole.

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United Nations

Formed in 1945, the United Nations is an international organization aimed at promoting political and economic cooperation among its members. The UN was formed following World War II as a vehicle aimed to ease international tensions, foster human rights and minimize risk of international conflict.

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The USDA or United States Department of Agriculture is a federal government program responsible for the management of food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and nutrition. Many Americans know the program for overseeing food safety. The USDA was founded in 1862, a time when 50% of Americans lived on farms.

In addition to food safety, the USDA is broad-reaching and provides services in the following areas:

- Hi-speed Internet access to rural areas
- Disaster assistance to farmers, ranchers, and rural residents
- Soil, water, and other natural resource conservation to landowners
- Wildfire prevention
- Agricultural research and statistics
- Nutrition in foods

It is also responsible for welfare programs such as food assistance for women, infants and children (WIC), and food stamps.

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Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

As stated in the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, any income derived from a business activity that is not related to the tax-exempt purpose of the organization is subject to taxation. An exempt organization must file a Form 990-T if unrelated business income exceeds $1,000.

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Unsecured Loan

An unsecured loan is one that does not require collateral. Rather than being backed by a physical asset, the loan is only backed by the borrower’s creditworthiness. Because banks are taking on higher risks with an unsecured loan, they charge higher interest rates. These higher interest rates help to offset some of the loan losses that the bank will inevitably experience.

To receive the best-unsecured loan interest rates, borrowers must have a high credit score. Those with lower credit scores can still receive an unsecured loan but may need a cosigner, who will be responsible for the loan if the primary borrower is unable to make payments. Examples of unsecured loans include credit cards, student loans, and personal loans.

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Unsystematic Risk

The risk attributed to the assets of a single industry or company. Commonly referred to as “specific risk”, unsystematic risk is not correlated to the performance of the overall market. Examples of unsystematic risk include new competition, regulatory changes, fraudulent behavior by a company’s senior management, and union strikes.

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An Umbrella Partnership Real Estate Investment Trust (UPREIT) is a partnership formed between the owner of appreciated real estate and a

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Useable Square Footage

Useable square footage is the space that is actually occupied by a tenant, typically equal to the size of the tenant’s suite, without deductions for columns or other

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Utility Economics

Utility is a measure of how much satisfaction or use a consumer receives from a good or service. As you might imagine, there isn’t really a way to put a number on satisfaction or use, since both are fairly subjective. However, that doesn’t stop economists from trying to do so.

For example, let’s say you buy a car with a sunroof. Your friend buys the same exact car without a sunroof but pays $500 less. Economists will say that you received $500 of utility from the more expensive car. In other words, you received a specific amount of satisfaction for the additional cost.

Another form of utility is a company that provides a public service such as electricity or water.

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