Mortgage Dictionary

 

While shopping for a mortgage, you probably have discovered that mortgage lending has a language all its own.

For example, you’ve probably heard about “points”, “margins”, and “prepayment penalties. “Should you look for an “assumption?” What are “acceleration clauses?”

This new terminology can be quite confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Here’s an alphabetically arranged list of terms that might help you through the process.


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Acceleration Clause

Allows the lender to speed up the rate at which your loan comes due or even to demand immediate payment of the entire outstanding balance of the loan should you default on you loan.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically, based on a pre-selected index. Also sometimes known as the renegotiable rate mortgage, the variable rate mortgage or the Canadian rollover mortgage.

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.

Amortization

Means loan payment by equal periodic payments calculated to pay off the debt at the end of a fixed period, including accrued interest on the outstanding balance.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

An interest rate reflecting the cost of a mortgage as a yearly rate. This rate is likely to be higher than the stated note rate or advertised rate on the mortgage, because it takes into account points and other credit costs. The APR allows homebuyers to compare different types of mortgages based on the annual cost for each loan.

Appraisal

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

Assumption

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 costs and new, possibly higher, market-rate interest charge will apply.

Balloon (Payment) Mortgage

Usually a short-term fixed-rate loan which involves small payments for a certain period of time and one large payment for the remaining amount of the principal at a time specified in the contract.

Broker

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.

Buydown

When the lender and/or the home builder subsidizes 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.

Caps (Interest)

Consumer safeguards which limit the amount the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage may change per year and/or the life of the loan.

Caps (Payment)

Consumer safeguards which limit the amount monthly payments on an adjustable rate mortgage may change.

Closing

The meeting between the buyer, seller and lender or their agents, where the property and funds legally change hands. Also called settlement.

Closing Costs

Can include an origination fee, discount points, appraisal fee, title search and insurance, survey, taxes, deed recording fee, credit report charge and other costs assessed at settlement.

Commitment

An agreement, often in writing, between a lender and a borrower to loan money at a future date subject to the completion of paperwork or compliance with stated conditions.

Construction Loan

A short term interim loan for financing the cost of construction. The lender advances funds to the builder at periodic intervals as the work progresses.

Conventional Loan

A mortgage not insured by FHA or guaranteed by the VA or Farmers Home Administration (FmHA).

Debt Ratio

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower’s monthly payment obligation on long-term debts is divided by his or her net effective income (FHA/VA loans) or gross monthly income (Conventional loans).

Deed of Trust

In many states, this document is used in place of a mortgage to secure the payment of a note.

Default

Failure to meet legal obligations in a contract, specifically, failure to make the monthly payments on a mortgage.

Delinquency

Failure to make payments on time. This can lead to foreclosure.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

An independent agency of the federal government which guarantees long-term, low- or no-down payment mortgages to eligible veterans.

Discount Points

Prepaid interest assessed at closing by the lender. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount (e.g. two points on a $100,000 mortgage would cost $2,000).

Down Payment

Money paid to make up the difference between the purchase price and mortgage amount. Down payments usually are 10 percent to 20 percent of the sales price on Conventional loans, and no money down up to 5 percent on FHA and VA loans.

Due-On-Sale Clause

A provision in a mortgage or deed of trust that allows the lender to demand immediate payment of the balance of the mortgage if the mortgage holder sells the home.

Earnest Money

Money given by a buyer to a seller as part of the purchase price to bind a transaction or assure payment.

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.

Equity

The difference between the fair market value and current indebtedness, also referred to as the owner’s interest.

Escrow

Refers to a neutral third party who carries out the instructions of both the buyer and seller to handle all the paperwork of settlement or “closing.” Escrow may also refer to an account held by the lender into which the homebuyers pays money for tax or insurance payments.

Fannie Mae

See Federal National Mortgage Association.

Farmers Home Administration (FmHA)

Provides financing to farmers and other qualified borrowers who are unable to obtain loans elsewhere.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC)

Also called Freddie Mac, is a quasi-governmental agency that purchases conventional mortgages from insured depository institutions and HUD-approved mortgage bankers.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

A division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Its main activity is the insuring of residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. FHA also sets standards for underwriting mortgages.

Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA)

Also known as Fannie Mae. A tax-paying corporation created by Congress that purchases and sells conventional residential mortgages as well as those insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA. This institution, which provides funds for one in seven mortgages, makes mortgage money more available and more affordable.

FHA Loan

A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration open to all qualified home purchasers. While there are limits to the size of FHA loans, they are generous enough to handle moderate-priced homes almost anywhere in the country.

FHA Mortgage Insurance

Requires a small fee (up to 3 percent of the loan amount) paid at closing or a portion of this fee added to each monthly payment of an FHA loan to insure the loan with FHA. On a 9.5 percent $75,000 30-year fixed-rate FHA loan, this fee would amount to either $2,250 at closing or an extra $31 a month for the life of the loan. In addition, FHA mortgage insurance requires an annual fee of 0.5 percent of the current loan amount, the more years the fee must be paid.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

A mortgage on which the interest rate is set for the term of the loan.

Foreclosure

A legal procedure in which property securing debt is sold by the lender to pay a defaulting borrower’s debt.

Freddie Mac

See Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Ginnie Mae

See Government National Mortgage Association.

Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA)

Also known as Ginnie Mae, provides sources of funds for residential mortgages, insured or guaranteed by FHA or VA.

Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM)

A type of flexible-payment mortgage where the payments increase for a specified period of time and then level off. This type of mortgage has negative amortization built into it.

Gross Monthly Income

The total amount the borrower earns per month, before any taxes or expenses are deducted.

Guarantee

A promise by one party to pay a debt or perform an obligation contracted by another, if the original party fails to pay or perform according to a contract.

Hazard Insurance

A form of insurance in which the insurance company protects the insured from specified losses, such as fire, windstorm and the like.

Housing Expenses-to-Income Ratio

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower’s housing expenses are divided by his/her net effective income (FHA/VA loans) or gross monthly income (Conventional loans).

Impound

That portion of a borrower’s monthly payments held by the lender or servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other items as they become due. Also known as reserves.

Index

A published interest rate against which lenders measure the difference between the current interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage and that earned by other investments (such as one- three-, and five-year U.S. Treasury Security yields, the monthly average interest rate on loans closed by savings and loan institutions, and the monthly average Costs-of-Funds incurred by savings and loans), which is then used to adjust the interest rate on an adjustable mortgage up or down.

Investor

Money source for a lender.

Jumbo Loan

A loan that is larger (more than $333,700) than the limits set by the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Because jumbo loans cannot be funded by these two agencies, they usually carry a higher interest rate.

Lien

A claim upon a piece of property for the payment or satisfaction of a debt or obligation.

Loan-To-Value Ratio

The relationship between the amount of the mortgage loan and the appraised value of the property expressed as a percentage.

Margin

The amount a lender adds to the index on an adjustable rate mortgage to establish the adjusted interest rate.

Market Value

The highest price a buyer would pay and the lowest price a seller would accept on a property. Market value may be different from the price a property could actually be sold for at a given time.

Mortgage Insurance

Money paid to insure the mortgage when the down payment is less than 20 percent. See Private Mortgage Insurance or FHA Mortgage Insurance.

Mortgagee

The lender.

Mortgagor

The borrower or homeowner.

Negative Amortization

Occurs when your monthly payments are not large enough to pay all the interest due on the loan. This unpaid interest is added to the unpaid balance of the loan. The danger of negative amortization is that the homebuyers ends up owing more than the original amount of the loan.

Net Effective Income

The borrower’s gross income minus federal income tax.

Non-Assumption Clause

A statement in a mortgage contract forbidding the assumption of the mortgage without the prior approval of the lender.

Origination Fee

The fee charged by a lender to procure a mortgage loan; usually computed as a percentage of face value of the loan.

PITI

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Also called monthly housing expense.

Points

See Discount Points

Power of Attorney

A legal document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another.

Prepaids

Expenses necessary to create an escrow account or to adjust the seller’s existing escrow account. Can include taxes, hazard insurance, private mortgage insurance and special assessments.

Prepayment

A privilege in a mortgage permitting the borrower to make payments in advance of their due date.

Prepayment Penalty

Money charged for an early repayment of debt. Prepayment penalties are allowed in some form (but not necessarily imposed) in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Principal

The amount of debt, not counting interest.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

In the event that you do not have a 20 percent down payment, lenders will allow a smaller down payment-as low as 5 percent in some cases. With the smaller down payments loans, however, borrowers are usually required to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance will require an initial premium payment of 1.0 percent to 5.0 percent of your mortgage amount and may require an additional monthly fee depending on your loan’s structure.

Realtor

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

Recision

The cancellation of a contract. With respect to mortgage refinancing, the law that gives the homeowner three days to cancel a contract. In some cases, once it is signed if the transaction uses equity in the home as security.

Recording Fees

Money paid to the lender for recording a home sale with the local authorities, thereby making it part of the public records.

Renegotiable Rate Mortgage (RRM)

A loan in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically. See Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

RESPA is a federal law that allows consumers to review information on known or estimated settlement costs once after application and once prior to or at settlement. The law requires lenders to furnish information after application only.

Reverse Annuity Mortgage (RAM)

A form of mortgage in which the lender makes periodic payments to the borrower using the borrower’s equity in the home as security.

Servicing

All the steps and operations a lender perform to keep a loan in good standing, such as collection of payments, payment of taxes, insurance, property inspections and the like.

Settlement

See Closing.

Settlement Costs

See Closing Costs.

Shared Appreciation Mortgage (SAM)

A mortgage in which a borrower receives a below-market interest rate in return for which a lender (or another investor such as a family member or other partner) receives a portion of the future appreciation in the value of the property. May also apply to mortgages where the borrower shares the monthly principal and interest payments with another party in exchange for a part of the appreciation.

Survey

A measurement of land, prepared by a registered land surveyor, showing the location of the land with reference to known points, its dimensions, and the location and dimensions of any building.

Term Mortgage

See Balloon Payment Mortgage.

Title

A document that gives evidence of an individual’s ownership of property.

Title Insurance

A policy, usually issued by a Title Insurance company, which insures a homebuyer against errors in the title search. The cost of the policy is usually a fraction of the value of the property, and is often borne by the purchaser and/or seller.

Title Search

An examination of municipal records to determine the legal ownership of property. Usually is performed by a title company.

Truth-in-Lending

A federal law requiring disclosure of the Annual Percentage Rate to homebuyers shortly after they apply for the loan.

Underwriting

The decision whether to make a loan to a potential homebuyers based on credit, employment, assets, and other factors and the matching of this risk to an appropriate rate and term or loan amount.

VA Loan

A long-term, low-or no-down payment loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Restricted to individuals qualified by military service or other entitlements.

VA Mortgage Funding Fee

A premium of up to 2 percent (depending on the size of the down payment) paid on a VA-backed loan. On a $75,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with no down payment, this would amount to $1,406 either paid at closing or added to the amount financed.

Variable Rate Mortgage (VRM)

See Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Verification of Deposit (VOD)

A document signed by the borrower’s financial institution verifying the status and balance of his/her financial accounts.

Verification of Employment (VOE)

A document signed by the borrower’s employer verifying his/her position and salary.

Wraparound

Results when an existing assumable loan is combined with a new loan, resulting in an interest rate somewhere between the old rate and the current market rate. The payments are made to a second lender or the previous homeowner, who then forwards the payments to the first lender after taking the additional amount off the top.