Acceleration Clause

Condition in a mortgage that could require the balance of the loan to become due immediately, if regular mortgage payments are not made or for a breach of other conditions of the mortgage.


An offeree’s consent to enter into a contract and be bound by the terms of the offer.

Accrued Interest

Interest earned on a security but not yet paid to the holder.

Additional principal payment

A payment by a borrower of more than the scheduled principal amount due in order to reduce the remaining balance on the loan.

Adjustable Mortgage Loan

Any mortgage that does not have a fixed interest rate and a fixed payment for the term of the loan, or does not amortize to zero at the end of the set term, when required payments are made on time.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically according to the movement in a pre-selected index.

Adjustment period

The period that elapses between the adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).


A payment plan, which enables the borrower to reduce his debt gradually through monthly payments of principal.

Amortization schedule

A timetable for payment of a mortgage loan. An amortization schedule shows the amount of each payment applied to interest and principal and shows the remaining balance after each payment is made.

Amortization term

The amount of time required to amortize the mortgage loan. The amortization term is expressed as a number of months.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The cost of a mortgage stated as a simple annual percentage of the loan amount: includes the base interest rate, primary mortgage insurance, plus upfront costs such as points, various closing costs, and prepaid interest.


A form used to apply for a mortgage loan and to record pertinent information concerning a prospective borrower and the proposed security.


A professional opinion of the market value of a property.

Appraised value

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


A person qualified by education, training, and experience to estimate the value of real property and personal property.


An increase in the value of a house due to changes in market conditions or other causes.

Assessed Value

The valuation placed upon property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation.

Assumable Loan

These loans may be passed on from a seller of a home to the buyer. The buyer “assumes” all outstanding payments.

Assumption clause

A provision in an assumable mortgage that allows a buyer to assume responsibility for the mortgage from the seller. The loan does not need to be paid in full by the original borrower upon sale or transfer of the property.

Balloon Payment Mortgage

It is a mortgage which does not fully amortize over the term of the note, thus leaving a balance due at maturity. The final payment is called a balloon payment because of its large size.


A proceeding in a federal court in which a debtor who owes more than his or her assets can relieve the debts by transferring his or her assets to a trustee.

Before-tax income

Income before taxes are deducted.


The person designated to receive the income from a trust, estate, or a deed of trust.


One who receives funds with the expressed or implied intention of repaying the loan in full.

Bridge loan

A form of second trust that is collateralized by the borrower’s present home (which is usually for sale) in a manner that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on a new house before the present home is sold.


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.

Buy down

Money advanced by an individual (borrower, seller, builder, etc.) to reduce monthly payments for a home mortgage either during the entire term or for an initial period of years.


A provision of an ARM limiting how much the interest rate or mortgage payments may increase.

Cash-out refinance

A refinance transaction in which the amount of money received from the new loan exceeds the total of the money needed to repay the existing first mortgage, closing costs, points, and the amount required to satisfy any outstanding subordinate mortgage liens.

Certificate of Veteran Status

A document form completed by the Department of Veteran affairs to establish a veteran’s eligibility for a VA Mortgage.

Chain of Title

The order of documents in which the title has been transferred from the original owner to the present owner.

Change frequency

The frequency (in months) of payment and/or interest rate changes in an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).


The occasion where a sale is finalized; the buyer signs the loan documents.

Closing Costs

Expenses (over and above the price of the property) incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property. Also called “settlement costs.”


An additional borrower on a loan. A co-borrower’s obligation on a loan are the same as all other borrowers.


Someone who signs a credit agreement along with the borrower. The co-signer is legally obligated to assume responsibility for loan repayment if the borrower doesn’t.


An asset (such as a car or a home) that guarantees the repayment of a loan. The borrower risks losing the asset if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the loan contract.

Commitment Letter

A formal offer by a lender stating the terms under which it agrees to loan money to a applicant.

Common areas

Those portions of a building, land, and amenities owned (or managed) by a planned unit development (PUD) or condominium project’s homeowners’ association (or a cooperative project’s cooperative corporation) that are used by all of the unit owners, who share in the common expenses of their operation and maintenance. Common areas include swimming pools, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities, as well as common corridors of buildings, parking areas, means of ingress and egress, etc.

Community property

In some western and southwestern states, a form of ownership under which property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be owned jointly unless acquired as separate property of either spouse.


A abbreviation for comparable properties used for comparative purposes in the appraisal process; facilities of reasonably the same size and location with similar amenities; properties which have been recently sold, which have characteristics similar to property under consideration, thereby indicating the approximate fair market value of the subject property.


The taking of private property for public use by a government unit, against the will of the owner, but with payment of just compensation under the government’s power of eminent domain. Condemnation may also be a determination by a governmental agency that a particular building is unsafe or unfit for use.


Individual ownership of a dwelling unit and an individual interest in the common areas and facilities, which serve the multi-unit project.

Conforming Loan Limit

A mortgage for an amount up to the conforming loan limits set by the federal government. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes the conforming loan limits annually that apply to all conventional mortgages that are delivered to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & FHA including both the general loan limits and the high-cost area loan limits, also referred to as Conforming Plus limits. Currently, for a single-family residence the maximum conforming loan is $417,000 with higher conforming amounts applying to 2-4 unit properties (See loan limits).

Conforming Plus Loan Limit

(Also called high-cost conforming loan limit or a conforming jumbo loan) This is a new class of mortgage that provides higher loan limits for high-cost areas. These new limits are designed to make home ownership more affordable in areas with the highest home prices. Conforming Plus occupies a middle tier between conforming and jumbo mortgage loan limits. Currently, this limit extends beyond the conforming limit up to $729,750 depending on the area (See loan limits).

Construction Loan

A short-term loan for funding the cost of construction. The lender advances funds to the builder as the work progresses.

Construction-to-Permanent Mortgage

A loan that starts out as a short term construction loan and then automatically converts to long term financing upon the completion of the construction

Consumer reporting agency (or bureau)

An organization that prepares reports that are used by lenders to determine a potential borrower’s credit history. The agency obtains data for these reports from a credit repository as well as from other sources.


A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding.


An oral or written agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.


In the construction industry, a contractor is one who contracts to erect buildings or portions of them. There are also contractors for each phase of construction: heating, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, road building, bridge and dam erection, and others.

Conventional Mortgage

Any mortgage that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government.

Cooperative project

A residential or mixed-use building wherein a corporation or trust holds title to the property and sells shares of stock representing the value of a single apartment unit to individuals who, in turn, receive a proprietary lease as evidence of title.

Cost of funds index (COFI)

An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans. It represents the weighted-average cost of savings, borrowings, and advances of the 11th District members of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Credit history

A record of an individual’s open and fully repaid debts. A credit history helps a lender to determine whether a potential borrower has a history of repaying debts in a timely manner.

Credit Report

A report of an individual’s credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender in determining a loan applicant’s creditworthiness.

Credit repository

An organization that gathers, records, updates, and stores financial and public records information about the payment records of individuals who are being considered for credit.


A person to whom money is owed.

Deed of Trust

Like a mortgage, a security instrument whereby real property is given as security for a debt. However, in a deed of trust there are three parties to the instrument: the borrower, the trustee, and the lender, (or beneficiary). In such a transaction, the borrower transfers the legal title for the property to the trustee who holds the property in trust as security for the payment of the debt to the lender or beneficiary. If the borrower pays the debt as agreed, the deed of trust becomes void. If, however, he defaults in the payment of the debt, the trustee may sell the property at a public sale, under the terms of the deed of trust. In most jurisdictions where the deed of trust is in force, the borrower is subject to having his property sold without benefit of legal proceedings. A few States have begun in recent years to treat the deed of trust like a mortgage.


A deed given by a mortgagor to the mortgagee to satisfy a debt and avoid foreclosure. Also called a “voluntary conveyance.”


Failure to make mortgage payments on a timely basis or to comply with other conditions of a mortgage.

Deficiency Judgment

A court order to pay the balance owed on a loan if the proceeds from the sale of the security are insufficient to pay off the loan. Deficiency judgments are not allowed in all states.


A loan in which a payment is overdue but not yet in default.


A sum of money given to bind the sale of real estate, or a sum of money given to ensure payment or an advance of funds in the processing of a loan.


A decline in the value of property; the opposite of “appreciation.”

Discount Points

See Points.

Documentary Stamps

A State tax, in the forms of stamps, required on deeds and mortgages when real estate title passes from one owner to another. The amount of stamps required varies with each State.

Down Payment

The part of the purchase price, which the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage

Due-on-sale provision

A provision in a mortgage that allows the lender to demand repayment in full if the borrower sells the property that serves as security for the mortgage.

Earnest Money

The deposit money given to the seller or his agent by the potential buyer upon the signing of the agreement of sale to show that he is serious about buying the house. If the sale goes through, the earnest money is applied against the down payment. If the sale does not go through, the earnest money may be forfeited or lost unless the binder or offer to purchase expressly provides that it is refundable.

Easement Rights

A right-of-way granted to a person or company authorizing access to or over the owner’s land. An electric company obtaining a right-of-way across private property is a common example.

Effective age

An appraiser’s estimate of the physical condition of a building. The actual age of a building may be shorter or longer than its effective age.

Effective gross income

Normal annual income including overtime that is regular or guaranteed. The income may be from more than one source. Salary is generally the principal source, but other income may qualify if it is significant and stable.

Eminent domain

The right of a government to take private property for public use upon payment of its fair market value. Eminent domain is the basis for condemnation proceedings.


An obstruction, building, or part of a building that intrudes beyond a legal boundary onto neighboring private or public land, or a building extending beyond the building line.


A legal right or interest in land that affects a good or clear title, and diminishes the land’s value. It can take numerous forms, such as zoning ordinances, easement rights, claims, mortgages, liens, charges, a pending legal action, unpaid taxes, or restrictive covenants. An encumbrance does not legally prevent transfer of the property to another. A title search is all that is usually done to reveal the existence of such encumbrances, and it is up to the buyer to determine whether he wants to purchase with the encumbrance, or what can be done to remove it.


A person who signs ownership interest over to another party. Contrast with co-maker.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

A federal law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs.


The difference between the market value of a property and the homeowner’s outstanding mortgage balance.

Equity Loan

A loan based on the borrower’s equity in his or her home.

Escrow account

The account in which a mortgage servicer holds the borrower’s escrow payments prior to paying property expenses, such as property taxes and hazard insurance.

Escrow collections

Funds collected by the servicer and set aside in an escrow account to pay the borrower’s property taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard insurance.

Escrow payment

The portion of a mortgagor’s monthly payment that is held by the servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, and other items as they become due.


The ownership interest of an individual in real property. The sum total of all the real property and personal property owned by an individual at time of death.


The lawful expulsion of an occupant from real property.

Examination of title

The report on the title of a property from the public records or an abstract of the title.


A person named in a will to administer an estate

Fair Credit Reporting Act

A consumer protection law that regulates the disclosure of consumer credit reports by consumer/credit reporting agencies and establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on one’s credit record.

Fair Market Value

The highest price that a buyer, willing but not compelled to buy would pay, and the lowest a seller, willing but not compelled to sell, would accept.

Fannie Mae

(Federal National Mortgage Association, FNMA). A government-sponsored corporation, owned solely by private investors, created to provide support to the secondary market for FHA and VA mortgages and conventional mortgages.


(Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Provides insurance of accounts for institutions whose deposits were formerly covered by the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation. (FSLIC).

Fee simple

The greatest possible interest a person can have in real estate.

Fee simple estate

An unconditional, unlimited estate of inheritance that represents the greatest estate and most extensive interest in land that can be enjoyed. It is of perpetual duration. When the real estate is in a condominium project, the unit owner is the exclusive owner only of the air space within his or her portion of the building (the unit) and is an owner in common with respect to the land and other common portions of the property.


(Federal Housing Administration). A division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA’s main activity is the insuring of residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. It sets standards for construction and underwriting. FHA neither lends money, nor plans, nor constructs housing.

FHA Loan

Government loans are loans that are guaranteed or purchased by government organizations. Two of the most popular Government Loans are the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


(Federal Housing Finance Board). It oversees the credit functions of the twelve regional Federal Home Loan Banks.


(Federal Home Loan Bank Board). A regulatory and supervisory agency for federally charted savings institutions, which oversees the operations of the FSLIC and FHLMC. This agency was abolished by the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989. (See FIRREA.)


(Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Freddie Mac). A private corporation authorized by Congress, which became an independent, stockholder-owned government corporation with the passage of FIRREA. FHLMC promotes the flow of funds into the housing markets by purchasing conventional mortgages in the secondary market and selling securities backed by those mortgages in the capital market.

Fico Score

Credit scoring which is a formula for credit risk assessment that is believed to be highly predictive of future payment risk.

Finance Charge

The total dollar amount your loan will cost you. It includes all interest payments for the life of the loan, any interest paid at closing, your origination fee and any other charges paid to the lender and/or broker. Appraisal, credit report and title search fees are not included in the finance charge calculation.

First Mortgage

The mortgage that has first claim in the event of default.

Fixed installment

The monthly payment due on a mortgage loan.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

(FRM) A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

Flood insurance

Insurance that compensates for physical property damage resulting from flooding. It is required for properties located in federally designated flood areas.


(Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae). A government-sponsored corporation, owned solely by private investors, created to provide support to the secondary market for FHA and VA mortgages and conventional mortgages.


The process by which a mortgage property may be sold when a mortgage is in default.

Freddie Mac

(Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, FHLMC). A private corporation authorized by Congress, which became an independent, stockholder-owned government corporation with the passage of FIRREA. FHLMC promotes the flow of funds into the housing markets by purchasing conventional mortgages in the secondary market and selling securities backed by those mortgages in the capital market.

Fully amortized ARM

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a monthly payment that is sufficient to amortize the remaining balance, at the interest accrual rate, over the amortization term.

Fully Indexed Accrual Rate

The interest (accrual) rate resulting from the index at closing (or at another point in the loan) plus the lender’s full spread, rounded as prescribed in the loan documents (often to the nearest 1/8th of 1%).

General Warranty Deed

A deed which conveys not only all the grantor’s interests in and title to the property to the grantee, but also warrants that if the title is defective or has a “cloud” on it (such as mortgage claims, tax liens, title claims, judgments, or mechanic’s liens against it) the grantee may hold the grantor liable.

Good Faith Estimate

An estimate of charges, which a borrower is likely to incur in connection with a loan closing.

Government Loans FHA / VA

Government loans are loans that are guaranteed or purchased by government organizations. Two of the most popular Government Loans are the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Graduated Payment Mortgage

(GPM) A mortgage where the payments are scheduled to increase, usually annually, for a set number of years, and then level off. GPM can be used with either a fixed or adjustable interest rate, and usually has a 30-year term.


That party in the deed who is the buyer or recipient.


That party in the deed who is the seller or giver.

Gross Monthly Income

The total amount the borrower earns per month, not counting any taxes or expenses. Often used in calculations to determine whether a borrower qualifies for a particular loan.

Hazard Insurance

Insurance to protect the homeowner and the lender against physical damage to a property from fire, wind, vandalism, or other hazards.

HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

It is a loan set up as a line of credit for some maximum draw, rather than for a fixed dollar amount taken as a one time lump sum. HELOCs have a draw period, during which the borrower can use the line, and a repayment period during which it must be repaid. Draw periods are usually 5 to 15 years, during which the borrower is only required to pay interest and my re-draw any amounts paid back. Repayment periods are usually 10 to 20 years, during which the borrower must make payments to principal equal to the balance at the end of the draw period divided by the number of months in the repayment period. The exact terms will vary depending on the lender.

Homeowner’s Insurance

An insurance policy that combines liability coverage and hazard insurance.


(Department of Housing and Urban Development). A cabinet department responsible for the implementation and administration of government housing and urban development programs.

Income property

Real estate developed or improved to produce income.


(Also called “Rate Index”). A regularly published rate, independent of the lending institution, that measures the prevailing cost of funds, and is used periodically with the margin to set AML accrual rates.


An increase in the amount of money or credit available in relation to the amount of goods or services available, which causes an increase in the general price level of goods and services. Over time, inflation reduces the purchasing power of a dollar, making it worth less.

Initial Borrower Interest Rate

The rate on which the borrower’s first payment is calculated.

Initial Borrower Payment Rate

The annual interest rate used to calculate the borrower’s initial cash payment.

Initial interest rate

The original interest rate of the mortgage at the time of closing.


The regular periodic payment that a borrower agrees to make to a lender.

Installment loan

Borrowed money that is repaid in equal payments, known as installments. A furniture loan is often paid for as an installment loan.

Insurable title

A property title that a title insurance company agrees to insure against defects and disputes.


A contract that provides compensation for specific losses in exchange for a periodic payment. An individual contract is known as an insurance policy, and the periodic payment is known as an insurance premium.

Insurance binder

A document that states that insurance is temporarily in effect. Because the coverage will expire by a specified date, a permanent policy must be obtained before the expiration date.

Insured mortgage

A mortgage that is protected by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or by private mortgage insurance (MI). If the borrower defaults on the loan, the insurer must pay the lender the lesser of the loss incurred or the insured amount


The fee charged for borrowing money.

Interest accrual rate

The percentage rate at which interest accrues on the mortgage. In most cases, it is also the rate used to calculate the monthly payments, although it is not used for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with payment change limitations.

Interest Rate

The percentage of an amount of money, which is paid for its use for a specified time.

Interest Rate Cap

A provision of an ARM limiting how much interest rates may increase per adjustment period.

Interest rate ceiling

For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the maximum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.

Interest rate floor

For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the minimum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.

Interest-Only Mortgage

It is a loan in which, for a set term, the borrower is only required to pay the interest on the principal balance. At the end of the interest-only term the loan may have a balloon payoff or may simply convert to a fully amortized loan for the reminder of the loan term. If the borrower exercises the interest-only option every month during the interest-only period, the payment will not include any repayment of principal. The result is that the loan balance will remain unchanged at the end of the interest-only period.

Investment property

A property that is not occupied by the owner.

Joint tenancy

A form of co-ownership that gives each tenant equal interest and equal rights in the property, including the right of survivorship.


A decision made by a court of law. In judgments that require the repayment of a debt, the court may place a lien against the debtor’s real property as collateral for the judgment’s creditor.

Judgment lien

A lien on the property of a debtor resulting from the decree of a court.

Judicial foreclosure

A type of foreclosure proceeding used in some states that is handled as a civil lawsuit and conducted entirely under the auspices of a court.

Jumbo Loans

Jumbo, or non-conforming, is a term used to describe a loan that does not conform to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. The typical Jumbo loan exceeds the maximum loan limits of conforming and conforming plus loans. The threshold for determining a loan to be a Jumbo loan varies depending on state and sometimes counties.

Late charge

The penalty a borrower must pay when a payment is made a stated number of days (usually 15) after the due date.


A written agreement between the property owner and a tenant that stipulates the conditions under which the tenant may possess the real estate for a specified period of time and rent.

Leasehold estate

A way of holding title to a property wherein the mortgagor does not actually own the property but rather has a recorded long-term lease on it.

Legal description

A property description, recognized by law that is sufficient to locate and identify the property without oral testimony.


An institution that makes loans to borrowers on real estate.


A person’s financial obligations. Liabilities include long-term and short-term debt, as well as any other amounts that are owed to others.


A legal claim against a property that must be paid when the property is sold.

Lifetime Cap

A provision of an ARM that limits the total increase in interest rates over the life of the loan.

Lifetime payment cap

For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease over the life of the mortgage.

Line of credit

An agreement by a commercial bank or other financial institution to extend credit up to a certain amount for a certain time to a specified borrower.

Liquid asset

A cash asset or an asset that is easily converted into cash.


A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.

Loan -To-Value

(LTV). The loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is the original loan amount divided by the lower of the sales price or the appraised value.

Loan Commitment

Formal offer by a lender stating the terms under which it agrees to loan money to an applicant.

Loan origination

The process by which a mortgage lender brings into existence a mortgage secured by real property.

Loan Servicing

The collection of mortgage payments from borrowers and related responsibilities of a loan servicer.


The period, expressed in days, during which a lender will guarantee a rate.

Lock-in period

The time period during which the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower.


(Also called “Spread”). The amount the lender adds to the index to determine the Fully Indexed Accrual Rate.

Marketable Title

A title that is free and clear of objectionable liens, clouds, or other title defects. A title which enables an owner to sell his property freely to others and which others will accept without objection.


The date on which the principal balance of a loan, bond, or other financial instrument becomes due and payable.

Merged credit report

A credit report that contains information from three credit repositories. When the report is created, the information is compared for duplicate entries. Any duplicates are combined to provide a summary of a your credit.


A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for a payment of a debt.

Mortgage Banker

A company that originates mortgages exclusively for resale in the secondary market.

Mortgage Broker

A company that for a fee matches borrowers with lenders.

Mortgage Commitment

A written notice from the bank or other lending institution saying it will advance mortgage funds in a specified amount to enable a buyer to purchase a house.

Mortgage Insurance Premium

The payment made by a borrower to the lender for transmittal to HUD to help defray the cost of the FHA mortgage insurance program and to provide a reserve fund to protect lenders against loss in insured mortgage transactions.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP). The fee paid to FHA or a private insurer for mortgage insurance.

Mortgage Note

A written agreement to repay a loan. The agreement is secured by a mortgage, serves as proof of indebtedness, and states the manner in which it shall be paid. The note states the actual amount of the debt that the mortgage secures and renders the mortgagor personally responsible for repayment.


The lender in a mortgage agreement.


The borrower in a mortgage agreement.

Multidwelling units

Properties that provide separate housing units for more than one family, although they secure only a single mortgage.

Multifamily mortgage

A residential mortgage on a dwelling that is designed to house more than four families, such as a high-rise apartment complex.

Negative Amortization

(Also called “Deferred Interest”). If the payments are too small to cover the interest due on a loan, the remaining interest owed is added to the outstanding loan balance, causing negative amortization.

Net cash flow

The income that remains for an investment property after the monthly operating income is reduced by the monthly housing expense, which includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) for the mortgage, homeowners’ association dues, leasehold payments, and subordinate financing payments.

Net Effective Income

Gross income less federal income tax.

Net Worth

The value of all assets, including cash, less total liabilities.

No cash-out refinance

A refinance transaction in which the new mortgage amount is limited to the sum of the remaining balance of the existing first mortgage, closing costs (including prepaid items), points and non recurring costs but does not pay any other debt or provide borrower with any cash in hand.

Non-liquid asset

An asset that cannot easily be converted into cash.


A legal document that obligates a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.

Note rate

The interest rate stated on a mortgage note.

Notice of Default

A formal written notice to a borrower that a default has occurred and that legal action may be taken.

Original principal balance

The total amount of principal owed on a mortgage before any payments are made.

Origination Fee

A fee paid to a lender for processing a loan Application.


(The Office of Thrift Supervision). Charters federal thrifts, serves as the primary federal examiner and regulator of federal and state-chartered savings associations, and administers laws governing savings and loan holding companies.

Owner financing

A property purchase transaction in which the property seller provides all or part of the financing.

Owner Occupied

“Owner Occupied” means the property is the owner’s primary residence.

Payment Adjustment Period

The length of time (typically a year) between changes to the AML borrower’s P&I payment.

Payment Buy down

Payment buy downs occur when a third party, typically a builder, pays part of the initial P&I payments for a year or two, so that the borrower has smaller payments and can qualify for the loan.

Payment Cap

A limit on the amount the payment can be changed at the end of each Payment Adjustment Period.

Payment Discount

In a payment discount, the lender reduces the first year’s interest rate to make the mortgagor more attractive to borrowers.

Periodic payment cap

A limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease during any one-adjustment period.

Periodic rate cap

A limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period, regardless of how high or low the index might be.

Personal property

Any property that is not real property.


Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance are components of a mortgage payment.

Planned Unit Development (PUD)

A project or subdivision that includes common property that is owned and maintained by a homeowners’ association for the benefit and use of the individual PUD unit owners.


A map or chart of a lot, subdivision or community drawn by a surveyor showing boundary lines, buildings, improvements on the land, and easements.


A one-time charge by the lender to increase the yield of the loan; a point is 1 percent of the amount of the mortgage.

Power of attorney

A legal document that authorizes another person to act on one’s behalf. A power of attorney can grant complete authority or can be limited to certain acts and/or certain periods of time.


The process of determining how much money a prospective homebuyer will be eligible to borrow before application.


Payment of mortgage loan, or part of it, before due date.

Prime rate

The interest rates that banks charge to their preferred customers. The prime rate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal’s bank survey, is among the most widely used benchmark in setting home equity lines of credit. The Prime Rate is usually adjusted at the same time and in correlation to the adjustments of the Federal Funds Rate.


The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid, also, that part of the monthly payment that reduces the outstanding balance of a mortgage.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Insurance provided by nongovernmental insurers that protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults.

Promissory note

A written promise to repay a specified amount over a specified period of time.

Purchase Agreement

An agreement of sale between a seller and buyer that spells out the complete terms and compensation involved in the transfer of title.

Purchase money transaction

The acquisition of property through the payment of money or its equivalent.

Qualifying Ratios

Guidelines applied by lenders to determine how large a loan to grant a homebuyer.

Quitclaim Deed

A deed, which transfers whatever interest, the maker of the deed may have in the particular parcel of land. A quitclaim deed is often given to clear the title when the grantor’s interest in a property is questionable. By accepting such a deed the buyer assumes all the risks. Such a deed makes no warranties as to the title, but simply transfers to the buyer whatever interest the grantor has.


A radioactive gas found in some homes that in sufficient concentrations could cause health problems.

Rate Caps

(Also called “Interest Rate Caps”). A limit on the amount of which the interest rate charged to the borrower can be changed.

Rate lock

A commitment issued by a lender to a borrower or other mortgage originator guaranteeing a specified interest rate for a specified period of time.

Real Estate Broker

A middleman or agent who buys and sells real estate for a company, firm, or individual on a commission basis. The broker does not have title to the property, but generally represents the owner.

Real Estate Owned

(REO). A term frequently used by lending institution as applied to ownership of real property acquired for investment or as a result of foreclosure.

Real property

Land and appurtenances, including anything of a permanent nature such as structures, trees, minerals, and the interest, benefits, and inherent rights thereof.


A real estate broker or an associate who holds active membership in a local real estate board that is affiliated with the National Association of Realtors.


The cancellation or annulment of a transaction or contract by the operation of a law or by mutual consent.


The public official who keeps records of transactions that affects real property in the area.


The noting in the registrar’s office of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.


The process of the same mortgagor paying off one loan with the proceeds from another loan.

Rehabilitation mortgage

A mortgage created to cover the costs of repairing, improving, and sometimes acquiring an existing property.

Remaining balance

The amount of principal that has not yet been repaid.

Remaining term

The original amortization term minus the number of payments that have been applied.


(Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act). A Federal law that requires lenders to provide home mortgage borrowers with information about known or estimated settlement costs.

Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage enables older homeowners (62+) to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free cash without having to sell the home, give up title, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment. The reverse mortgage is aptly named because the payment stream is “reversed.” Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a regular mortgage, a lender makes payments to the homeowner. Interest is not paid out of your available loan proceeds, but instead compounds over the life of the loan until repayment occurs.

Revolving liability

A credit arrangement, such as a credit card, that allows a customer to borrow against a pre-approved line of credit when purchasing goods and services. The borrower is billed for the amount that is actually borrowed plus any interest due.

Right of first refusal

A provision in an agreement that requires the owner of a property to give another party the first opportunity to purchase or lease the property before he or she offers it for sale or lease to others.

Right of ingress or egress

The right to enter or leave designated premises

Right of survivorship

In joint tenancy, the right of survivors to acquire the interest of a deceased joint tenant.

Sales Agreement

See Purchase Contract.

Second Mortgage

A mortgage that has rights that are subordinate to the rights of the first mortgage holders.

Secondary Mortgage Market

A market that facilitates the buying and selling of existing mortgages.

Seller Credit

(Also called “Seller Contributions”). Seller-provided funds include all transaction cost paid by the seller on behalf of the buyer except the real estate agent’s (or brokers) fee and charges already stated to be seller’s responsibility per the contract


The party who has entered into an agreement with the insured to service a loan.

Settlement Costs

See Closing Costs.

Single Premium

A premium, which provides coverage for more than a year.

Special Assessments

A special tax imposed on property, individual lots or all property in the immediate area, for road construction, sidewalks, sewers, streetlights, etc.

Special Lien

A lien that binds a specified piece of property, unlike a general lien, which is levied against all one’s assets. It creates a right to retain something of value belonging to another person as compensation for labor, material, or money expended in that person’s behalf. In some localities it is called “particular” lien or “specific” lien.

Special Warranty Deed

A deed in which the grantor conveys title to the grantee and agrees to protect the grantee against title defects or claims asserted by the grantor and those persons whose right to assert a claim against the title arose during the period the grantor held title to the property. In a special warranty deed the grantor guarantees to the grantee that he has done nothing during the time he held title to the property which has, or which might in the future, impair the grantee’s title.


A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor showing the results of measuring the land with its elevations, improvements, boundaries, and its relationship to surrounding tracts of land. A survey is often required by the lender to assure him that a building is actually sited on the land according to its legal description.


As applied to real estate, an enforced charge imposed on persons, property or income, to be used to support the State. The governing body in turn utilizes the funds in the best interest of the general public.

Tax Lien

A claim against real estate for the amount of its unpaid taxes.

Teaser Rate

Similar to a Payment Discount, but implies either an unusually large initial rate discount or an attempt by the lender to lure an otherwise unqualified borrower into the mortgage.

Tenancy by the entirety

A type of joint tenancy of property that provides right of survivorship and is available only to a husband and wife. Contrast with tenancy in common.

Tenancy in common

A type of joint tenancy in a property without right of survivorship. Ownership can be held in equal shares or unequal shares amount two or more people.

Third-party origination

A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package the mortgages it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage market.


As generally used, the rights of ownership and possession of particular property. In real estate usage, title may refer to the instruments or documents by which a right of ownership is established (title documents), or it may refer to the ownership interest one has in the real estate.

Title Company

A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.

Title Insurance

Protects lenders or homeowners against loss of their interest in property due to legal defects in title. Title insurance may be issued to a “mortgagee’s title policy.” Insurance benefits will be paid only to the “named insured” in the title policy, so it is important that an owner purchase an “owner’s title policy”, if he desires the protection of title insurance.

Title Search or Examination

A check of the title records, generally at the local courthouse, to make sure the buyer is purchasing a house from the legal owner and there are no liens, overdue special assessments, or other claims or outstanding restrictive covenants filed in the record, which would adversely affect the marketability or value of title.

Total Debt Ratio

Monthly debt and housing payments divided by gross monthly income. Also known as Back-End Ratio.

Total expense ratio

Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income. The total expense ratio includes monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts.

Transfer of ownership

Any means by which the ownership of a property changes hands. Lenders consider all of the following situations to be a transfer of ownership: the purchase of a property “subject to” the mortgage, the assumption of the mortgage debt by the property purchaser, and any exchange of possession of the property under a land sales contract or any other land trust device. In cases in which an inter vivos revocable trust is the borrower, lenders also consider any transfer of a beneficial interest in the trust to be a transfer of ownership.

Transfer tax

State or local tax payable when title passes from one owner to another.

Treasury index

An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans.


A party who is given legal responsibility to hold property in the best interest of or “for the benefit of” another. The trustee is one placed in a position of responsibility for another, a responsibility enforceable in a court of law.


(TIL). A federal law that requires lenders to fully disclose, in writing, the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the APR and other charges.

Two- to four-family property

A property that consists of a structure that provides living space (dwelling units) for two to four families, although ownership of the structure is evidenced by a single deed.


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


A loan that is not backed by collateral.

USDA Home Loans

These mortgages are offered in rural areas as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA’s mission is to help lower income households obtain home loans at reasonable mortgage rates. USDA home loans offer many advantages, including 100% financing, to eligible borrowers who wish to finance properties that are eligible under the program.

VA Loans

An agency of the federal government that guarantees residential mortgages made to eligible veterans of the military services. The guarantee protects the lender against loss and thus encourages lenders to make mortgages to veterans.


Having the right to use a portion of a fund such as an individual retirement fund.

Wraparound mortgage

A mortgage that includes the remaining balance on an existing first mortgage plus an additional amount requested by the mortgagor. Full payments on both mortgages are made to the wraparound mortgagee, who then forwards the payments on the first mortgage to the first mortgagee.

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