Mortgage Terminology

The right of the mortgagee (lender) to demand the immediate repayment of the mortgage loan balance upon the default of the mortgagor (borrower), or by using the right vested in the Due-on-Sale Clause.

Fixed Rate Mortgage
A mortgage where the interest rate remains the same through the life of the loan.

The agreement between buyer and seller where the buyer takes over the payments on an existing mortgage from the seller. Assuming a loan can usually save the buyer money since this is an existing mortgage debt, unlike a new mortgage where closing cost and new, probably higher, market-rate interest charges will apply.

An individual in the business of assisting in arranging funding or negotiating contracts for a client but who does not loan the money himself. Brokers usually charge a fee or receive a commission for their services.

Bridge Loan
A second trust that is collateralized by the borrower's present home allowing the proceeds to be used to close on a new house before the present home is sold. Also known as "swing loan."

When the lender and/or the home builder subsidized the mortgage by lowering the interest rate during the first few years of the loan. While the payments are initially low, they will increase when the subsidy expires.

Interest Only
A mortgage option which allows the borrower to pay only the interest portion of their payment for some period of time.

Debt-to-Income Ratio
The ratio of a burrower's monthly payment obligation on long-term debts divided by their gross monthly income.

A written document which shows evidence of a lien on a property by a lender as security that the loan will be repaid.

An abbreviation for total payment meaning principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.


The cancellation or annulment of a mortgage transaction by the borrower. Borrowers on a refinance loan receive a Right to Recission lasting 3 business days.

When a mortgage is written with a monthly payment that is less than required to satisfy the note rate, the unpaid interest is deferred by adding it to the loan balance.

CPA Letter
A letter drafted by a C.P.A., or Certified Public Accountant, which can be used as employment and income verification, typically for self-employed borrowers. Usually these letters state that the C.P.A. has been doing taxes for a borrower, and that they have been employed for 'X' amount of years for 'Y' company, etc...

Appraised Value
An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

Promissory Note
A document in which the borrower promises to pay a stated amount on a specific date. The note normally states the name of the lender, the terms of payment and any interest rate.

An estimate of the value of property, made by a qualified professional called an "appraiser".

This is the repayment of a loan through a schedule of periodic and timely payments.

A professional estimate of value. This is based on most recent sold comparable properties. It is necessary for the Mortgage Lender to determine the amount of money it will loan. This is performed by a qualified professional Appraiser.

Annual percentage rate (A. P. R.)
Is the interest rate reflecting the cost of a mortgage as a yearly rate? This measurement of rates is likely to be a little higher than the stated mortgage note rate or advertised rate on the mortgage. It takes into account points and other mortgage related origination costs. You can find the A.P.R. on the mortgage disclosure document.

Closing Costs
Cost associated with applying and closing for a mortgage, these are the fees on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE )

Borrowers Authorization
A written authorization from the borrower in favor of the lender to gather the necessary information about them.

B/C Loan
A loan with many different possible disqualifying characteristics. These may include larger loan amounts, property type (such as number of units or zoning), or credit problems, etc..

Caps (interest)
Consumer safeguards put in place to limit the amount the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage may change per adjustment period. It is in effect for the life on the mortgage.

Fully Indexed Rate (FIR)
Especially important in ARM's, once the loan has reached the end of the fixed rate period it switches to an adjustable loan. Your interest rate will be calculated either annually or semi-annually by adding the index your loan is tied to (MTA, LIBOR, etc.) and your margin. The margin is specific to each specific loan. For example:

A 6.00% short-term fixed ARM is ending it's fixed period. The loan is tied to the LIBOR index and has a margin of 5.50. If the LIBOR index is at 3.22, your Fully Indexed Rate will be 8.72% at the end of the fixed period.

Due On Sale Clause
a clause in a mortgage contract providing that if the borrower sells or transfers any interest in the property, the lender has the right to accelerate payment and demand the entire unpaid principal balance.

The meeting between all parties to the loan or their agents, where the property and mortgage funds change hands.

Census Tract
A geographic region whose boundaries are defined by the census bureau based on the number of people who live within the area. Used when determining neighborhood characteristics on appraisals.

Caps (payment)
Consumer safeguards limiting the amount monthly payments on an adjustable rate mortgage may change during the life on the mortgage.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage that is tied to an index that will adjust based on changes in the economy. ARMs commonly come in 2, 3, 5, and 7 year terms. The number of years your ARM is will be the number of years it will be fixed for. These loans are still amortized for the full 30 years.

The difference between what is owed on the property, and what the property could be sold for.

Blanket Mortgage
A mortgage which covers two pieces of real estate under one note.

Accrued Interest:
Interest accumulated on a loan since the last interest payment was made. The interest portion of a mortgage payment is used for the accrued interest in the prior month. For example your February 1st payment will pay for interest accrued in January.

The number of percentage points a lender adds to the index rate to calculate the ARM interest rate at each adjustment.

Assessed Value

The value of real property as determined by a township, city, or county assessor. This figure is used for proprty tax purposes.

Balloon Mortgage:
Any mortgage that has amortized payments due for a specified term but has a lump sum payment due at an earlier stated term. For example a mortgage with payments based on a 30 year term but the loan is due in 20 years. This would mean that the remaining balance on the loan would be due in the 20th year.

Discount Points

A discount point is a percentage of the total loan amount that is paid for a lower interest rate. Example 1 point would be 1% of the loan amount or $1000 dollars on a $100,000 loan.

Cloud on Title
A claim on the title of a property that, if true, will prevent a buyer from getting a clear title.

43,560 Feet = 4,840 square yards.

Borrower (Mortgagor)
One who applies for and receives a loan in the form of a mortgage with the intention of repaying the loan in full.

Biweekly Payment Mortgage
A plan to reduce the debt every two weeks (instead of the standard monthly payment schedule). The 26 (or possibly 27) biweekly payments are each equal to one-half of the monthly payment required if the loan were a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The result for the borrower is a substantial savings in interest.

Closing Costs -
Closing cost are the expenses incurred in association with the mortgage application. These include the lender fees, title charges, recording fees, and any prepaid interests.

The process of evaluating a loan application to determine the risk involved for the lender. Underwriting involves an analysis of the borrower's creditworthiness, their capacity to repay the loan, and the quality of the property itself.

A written agreement between the lender and borrower for a specified period of time in which the lender will hold a specific interest rate, origination and/or discount points.

Gift Letter
A letter or affidavit that indicates that part of a borrower's down payment is supplied by relatives or friends in the form of a gift and that the gift does not have to be repaid

Loan to Value
The percentage ratio that is determined by dividing the loan amount by the value of the property. This percentage is a large factor in determining interest rates.

The common terminology used when speaking of Loan to Value

An agent is a person authorized to represent his/her principle in business dealings with other parties.

Conforming Loan
a mortgage underwritten within the risk assessment guidelines promulgated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thereby eligible to be sold to the two secondary market powerhouses.

Good Faith Estimate (GFE)
An estimate of settlement charges paid by the borrower at closing. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires a Good Faith Estimate of settlement charges be provided to the borrower.

The right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment for a debt or duty

Title Insurance
This is usually divided into two portions: Owner's Insurance and Lender's Insurance. Owner's Insurance covers the purchase price (or refinance value) of the home while the Lender's Insurance covers the loan amount. While the Owner's Insurance is optionable Lender's Insurance is not an option.

Adjustment Date
The date that the interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Adjustment interval
On an adjustable rate mortgage, the time between changes in the interest rate and/or monthly payment, typically one, three or five years depending on the index.

Adjustment Period
The period elapsing between adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Deed of Trust
A recorded security instrument that is used instead of a mortgage in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. A DOT differs from a mortgage in that there is a third party, known as the trustee who holds the title to the property in trust for the lender, otherwise known as the beneficiary. By having the property in trust, the process of foreclosure is somewhat more expedient should the borrower, or trustor, default on the loan.