Mortgage Terms And Definitions
Amortization: a payment plan that enables you to reduce your debt gradually through monthly payments. The payment includes principal and interest.
Amount Financed: on the Truth in Lending form, the loan amount less "prepaid finance charges", which are lender fees paid at closing.
Appraisal: a written estimate of a property's current market value prepared by an appraiser.
APR: The Annual Percentage Rate, which must be reported by lenders under Truth in Lending regulations. It is a measure of credit cost to the borrower that takes account of the interest rate, points, and flat dollar charges by the lender. The charges covered by the APR also include mortgage insurance premiums, but not other payments to third parties, such as payments to title insurers or appraisers. The APR is adjusted for the time value of money, so that dollars paid by the borrower up-front carry a heavier weight than dollars paid in the future.
ARM: Adjustable Rate Mortgage; a mortgage loan subject to changes in interest rates; when rates change, ARM monthly payments increase or decrease at intervals determined by the lender; the change in monthly payment amount, however, is usually subject to a cap.
Back End Ratio (debt ratio): a ratio that compares the total of all monthly debt payments (mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance, car loans, and other consumer loans) to gross monthly income.
Balloon Loan or Mortgage: a mortgage that typically offers low rates for an initial period of time (usually 5, 7, or 10) years; after that time period elapses, the balance is due or is refinanced by the borrower.
Cap: a limit, such as one placed on an adjustable rate mortgage, on how much a monthly payment or interest rate can increase or decrease, either at each adjustment period or during the life of the mortgage.
Cash-Out Refinance: refinancing for an amount in excess of the balance on the old loan plus settlement costs. The borrower takes "cash-out" of the transaction. This way of raising cash is usually an alternative to taking out a home equity loan.
Closing: on a home purchase, the process of transferring ownership from the seller to the buyer, the disbursement of funds from the buyer and the lender to the seller, and the execution of all the documents associated with the sale and the loan. On a refinance, there is no transfer of ownership, but the closing includes repayment of the old lender.
Closing Costs: fees for final property transfer that are not included in the price of the property. Typical closing costs include charges for the mortgage loan such as origination fees, discount points, appraisal fee, survey, title insurance, legal fees, real estate professional fees, prepayment of taxes and insurance, and real estate transfer taxes. A common estimate of a Buyer's closing costs is 2 to 4 percent of the purchase price of the home.
Co-Borrowers: one or more persons who have signed the note, and are equally responsible for repaying the loan.
Condominium: a form of ownership in which individuals purchase and own a unit of housing in a multi-unit complex. The owner also shares financial responsibility for common areas.
Conforming Mortgage: a loan eligible for purchase by the two major Federal agencies that buy mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Construction Financing: the method of financing used when a borrower contracts to have a house built, as opposed to purchasing a completed house.
Contingency: a clause in a purchase contract outlining conditions that must be fulfilled before the contract is executed. Both, buyer or seller may include contingencies in a contract, but both parties must accept the contingency.
Credit Report: a report, generated by credit bureaus, that contains the borrower's credit history for the past seven years.
Credit Score: a numerical score, based on an individual's credit history which measures the individual's credit worthiness.
Deed: a document that legally transfers ownership of property from one person to another. The deed is recorded on public record with the property description and the owner's signature.
Default: failure of the borrower to honor the terms of the loan agreement. Lenders (and the law) usually view borrowers delinquent 90 days or more as in default.
Delinquency: a mortgage payment that is more than 30 days late.
Down Payment: the difference between the value of the property and the loan amount, expressed in dollars, or as a percentage of the price. For example, if the house sells for $100,000 and the loan is for $80,000, the down payment is $20,000 or 20%.
Equity: an owner's financial interest in a property; calculated by subtracting the amount still owed on the mortgage loan(s) from the fair market value of the property.
Escrow Account: a separate account into which the lender puts a portion of each monthly mortgage payment; an escrow account provides the funds needed for such expenses as property taxes, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, etc.
FHA: Federal Housing Administration; established in 1934 to advance homeownership opportunities for all Americans; assists homebuyers by providing mortgage insurance to lenders to cover most losses that may occur when a borrower defaults; this encourages lenders to make loans to borrowers who might not qualify for conventional mortgages.
First Mortgage: the mortgage with first priority if the loan is not paid.
Fixed-Rate Mortgage: a mortgage with payments that remain the same throughout the life of the loan because the interest rate and other terms are fixed and do not change.
Flood Insurance: insurance that protects homeowners against losses from a flood; if a home is located in a flood plain.
Freddie Mac: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; a federally chartered corporation that purchases residential mortgages, securitizes them, and sells them to investors; this provides lenders with funds for new homebuyers. Also known as a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE).
Good Faith Estimate: an estimate of all closing fees including pre-paid and escrow items as well as lender charges; must be given to the borrower within three days after submission of a loan application.
Gross Income: money earned before taxes and other deductions. Sometimes it may include income from self-employment, rental property, alimony, child support, public assistance payments, and retirement benefits.
Home Equity Loan: a loan backed by the value of a home (real estate). If the borrower defaults or does not pay the loan, the lender has some rights to the property. The borrower can usually claim a home equity loan as a tax deduction.
Home Inspection: an examination of the structure and mechanical systems to determine a home's quality, soundness and safety; makes the potential homebuyer aware of any repairs that may be needed. The homebuyer generally pays inspection fees.
Homeowner's Insurance: an insurance policy, also called hazard insurance, that combines protection against damage to a dwelling and its contents including fire, storms or other damages with protection against claims of negligence or inappropriate action that result in someone's injury or property damage.
HUD: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; established in 1965, HUD works to create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans; it does this by addressing housing needs, improving and developing American communities, and enforcing fair housing laws.
HUD1 Statement: also known as a "closing statement" it itemizes all closing costs; must be given to the borrower at or before closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points, and escrow amounts.
Index: the measure of interest rate changes that the lender uses to decide how much the interest rate of an ARM will change over time.
Interest Rate: the amount of interest charged on a monthly loan payment, expressed as a percentage.
Joint Tenancy (with Rights of Survivorship): two or more owners share equal ownership and rights to the property. If a joint owner dies, his or her share of the property passes to the other owners, without probate. In joint tenancy, ownership of the property cannot be willed to someone who is not a joint owner.
Judgment: a legal decision; when requiring debt repayment, a judgment may include a property lien that secures the creditor's claim by providing a collateral source.
Jumbo Loan: or non-conforming loan, is a loan that exceeds Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's loan limits. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans are referred to as conforming loans.
Late Payment Charges: the penalty the homeowner must pay when a mortgage payment is made after the due date grace period.
Lease: a written agreement between a property owner and a tenant (resident) that stipulates the payment and conditions under which the tenant may occupy a home or apartment and states a specified period of time.
Lien: a legal claim against property that must be satisfied when the property is sold. A claim against a property; wherein the value of the property is used as security in repayment of a debt. Examples include a mechanic's lien, which might be for the unpaid cost of building supplies, or a tax lien for unpaid property taxes. A lien is a defect on the title and needs to be settled before transfer of ownership.
Lien Release: is a written report of the settlement of a lien and is recorded in the public record as evidence of payment.
Life Cap: a limit on the range interest rates can increase or decrease over the life of an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).
Loan to Value (LTV) Ratio: a percentage calculated by dividing the amount borrowed by the price or appraised value of the home to be purchased; the higher the LTV, the less cash a borrower is required to pay as down payment.
Lock-In: since interest rates can change frequently, many lenders offer an interest rate lock-in that guarantees a specific interest rate if the loan is closed within a specific time.
Lock-In Period: the length of time that the lender has guaranteed a specific interest rate to a borrower.
Margin: the number of percentage points the lender adds to the index rate to calculate the ARM interest rate at each adjustment.
Market Value: the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for a home. An appraised value is an estimate of the current fair market value.
Mortgage: a security agreement between the lender and the buyer which places a lien on the property that secures the promise to repay the loan. Therefore, the property is used as collateral for the loan. The mortgage gives the lender the right to collect payment on the loan and to foreclose if the loan obligations are not met.
Mortgage Insurance: a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that can occur when a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan; mortgage insurance is required primarily for borrowers with a down payment of less than 20% of the home's purchase price.
Non-Conforming Loan: is a loan that does not meet Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's requirements. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans are referred to as conforming loans. Per diem interest: amount of one days interest.
PITI ( Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance ): the four elements of a monthly mortgage payment; payments of principal and interest go directly towards repaying the loan while the portion that covers taxes and insurance (homeowner's and mortgage, if applicable) goes into an escrow account to cover the fees when they are due.
Power of Attorney: a legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. A power of attorney can grant complete authority or can be limited to certain acts or certain periods of time or both.
Prepayment: any amount paid to reduce the principal balance of a loan before the due date or payment in full of a mortgage. This can occur with the sale of the property, the pay off the loan in full, or a foreclosure. In each case, full payment occurs before the loan has been fully amortized.
Prepayment Penalty: a provision in some loans that charge a fee to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.
Principal: the amount of money borrowed to buy a house or the amount of the loan that has not been paid back to the lender. This does not include the interest paid to borrow that money. The principal balance is the amount owed on a loan at any given time. It is the original loan amount minus the total repayments of principal made.
Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (PITI): the four elements of a monthly mortgage payment; payments of principal and interest go directly towards repaying the loan while the portion that covers taxes and insurance (homeowner's and mortgage, if applicable) goes into an escrow account to cover the fees when they are due.
Processing: The process of compiling the documentation and information about a mortgage transaction, including the credit report, appraisal, verification of employment and assets; that will be analyzed by the underwriter to make a loan determination.
RESPA: Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; a law protecting consumers from abuses during the residential real estate purchase and loan process by requiring lenders to disclose all settlement costs, practices, and relationships.
Rate Cap: a limit on an ARM on how much the interest rate or mortgage payment may change. Rate caps limit how much the interest rates can rise or fall on the adjustment dates and over the life of the loan.
Rate Lock: a commitment by a lender to a borrower guaranteeing a specific interest rate over a period of time at a set cost.
Refinancing: paying off one loan by obtaining another; refinancing is generally done to secure better loan terms (like a lower interest rate).
Reserves: a cash amount sometimes required of the buyer to be held in reserve in addition to the down payment and closing costs; the amount is determined by the lender.
Servicing: the collection of mortgage payments from borrowers and related responsibilities of a loan servicer.
Settlement: another name for closing.
Settlement Statement: a document required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). It is an itemized statement of services and charges relating to the closing of a property transfer. The buyer has the right to examine the settlement statement 1 day before the closing. This is called the HUD 1 Settlement Statement.
Subordinate financing: a second mortgage on the property which is not paid off when a new loan is taken out. The second mortgage lender must allow subordination of the second to the new first mortgage.
Title Company: a company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.
Title Defect: an outstanding claim on a property that limits the ability to sell the property.
Title Insurance: insurance that protects the lender against any claims that arise from arguments about ownership of the property; also available for homebuyers. An insurance policy guaranteeing the accuracy of a title search protecting against errors. Most lenders require the buyer to purchase title insurance protecting the lender against loss in the event of a title defect. This charge is included in the closing costs. A policy that protects the buyer from title defects is known as an owner's policy and requires an additional charge.
Title Search: a check of public records to be sure that the seller is the recognized owner of the real estate and that there are no unsettled liens or other claims against the property.
Transfer Taxes: State and local taxes charged for the transfer of real estate. Usually equal to a percentage of the sales price.
Treasury Index: can be used as the basis for adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) It is based on the results of auctions that the U.S. Treasury holds for its Treasury bills and securities.
Truth-in-Lending: a federal law obligating a lender to give full written disclosure of all fees, terms, and conditions associated with the loan initial period and then adjusts to another rate that lasts for the term of the loan.
Underwriting: the process of analyzing the loan application and documentation to determine if it meets the lender’s loan standards.
Walk Through: the final inspection of a property being sold by the buyer to confirm that any contingencies specified in the purchase agreement such as repairs have been completed, fixture and non-fixture property is in place and confirm the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems are in working order.