Glossary


Accrued Interest - Interest which has been incurred but not paid.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) - A mortgage in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically based on a pre-selected index. Subject to certain limitations, the rate and payments on an ARM loan rise and fall with the market.

Adjustment Interval or Adjustment Period - The length of time between rate adjustments on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).

Agreement of Sale - Contract signed by buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

Amortization - The process of paying off a mortgage in regular increments.

Amortization Schedule - A monthly repayment schedule outlining how a loan will be paid off in fixed payments combining principal and interest.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) - A calculation that expresses the total cost of a mortgage loan as a yearly rate (according to a federally mandated procedure). The APR calculation takes into account monthly interest payments, mortgage insurance, points, and certain fees paid at origination.

Application - An initial statement of personal and financial information required to approve a loan provided by the borrower and necessary to intitiate the approval process for a loan.

Application Fee - Fee charged by lender to cover the initial costs of processing a loan application.

Appraisal - A written estimate of a property's current market value, based on recent sales information for similar properties, the condition of the property, and the neighborhood's impact on future property value.

Appraisal Fee - A fee charged by a licensed, certified appraiser to provide an appraisal.

APR - See Annual Percentage Rate.

ARM - See Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Assessment - A local tax levied against a property for a specific purpose, such as road or sidewalk construction or sewer or street light installation.

Asset Documentation - Documents that verify the existence of the borrower’s assets.

Assumability - A loan feature that allows the loan to be transferred from the seller to the purchaser of a home with the same terms and conditions, subject to lender approval.

Balloon Mortgage - A short-term, fixed-rate loan with low payments for a set number of years and a large balloon payment of the remainder of the principal and interest due at the end of the term.

Bankruptcy - Proclamation by a court of an individual's (or organization's) state of insolvency, or inability to pay debts.

Bearer - The legal owner of a piece of property.

Bi-weekly Mortgage - A payment plan under which the borrower pays one half of a monthly payment every two weeks.

Bona Fide - In good faith.

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

Buy-Down - A situation in which the seller contributes money, allowing the lender to give the buyer a lower rate and payment, usually in exchange for an increase in sales price.

Buyer's Market - Market conditions that favor buyers. With more sellers than buyers in the market, buyers have ample choice of properties and may be able to negotiate lower prices.

Caps - Limits on changes in ARM interest rates or monthly payments, either in an adjustment period or over the life of the loan.

Caps (Interest) - Consumer safeguards which limit the amount the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage can change in an adjustment interval and/or over the life of the loan.

Caps (Payment) - Consumer safeguards which limit the amount monthly payments on an adjustable rate mortgage may change. Since they do not limit the amount of interest the lender is earning, payment caps may cause negative amortization.

Cash Out - A refinance for more than the balance of the current mortgage. The excess money taken out reduces the borrower's equity.

Cashier's Check (or Bank Check) - A check whose payment is guaranteed because it was paid for in advance and is drawn on the bank's account instead of the customer's.

CC&Rs - See Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

Ceiling (Life Cap) - The maximum allowable interest rate of an adjustable rate mortgage over the life of the loan.

Chain of Title - The chronological order of conveyance of a property from the original owner to the present owner.

Clear Title - A marketable title, free of clouds and disputes.

Closing (or Settlement) - Meeting between the buyer, seller, and lender or their agents, at which property and funds legally change hands.

Closing Agent - Neutral third party appointed to act as a custodian for documents and funds during the transfer of property from seller to buyer. Depending on local law and custom, this could be an attorney, escrow agent, or title company.

Closing Costs - Costs associated with the closing of the loan (e.g. title costs, loan fees, discount fees, inspection fees, appraisals, etc.).

Closing/Settlement Statement - A form prepared by the closing agent that itemizes the closing costs associated with purchasing or refinancing a home. Also see HUD-1.

Cloud on Title - An outstanding claim or encumbrance that, if valid, would affect or impair the owner's title.

Combined Loan - To-Value (CLTV) - The percentage of the property value borrowed through a combination of more than one loan (for example, first mortgage and home equity line of credit). Mathematically, the combined loan and line of credit amounts divided by property value equals Combined Loan-To-Value Ratio.

COFI - See Cost of Funds Index.

Collateral - Assets that secure a loan. (In the case of a mortgage, real property serves as collateral.)

Commission - Money paid to a real estate agent or broker in a sales transaction.

Commitment - A formal offer by a lender to a borrower to make a loan under certain terms or conditions.

Condominium - A form of property ownership in which the homeowner holds title to an individual dwelling unit and an interest in common areas and facilities of a multi-unit project.

Conforming Loan - A mortgage loan eligible for purchase by the two federally sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Contingency - A condition which must be satisfied before a contract is legally binding--before a sale can close.

Contract Of Sale - The agreement between the buyer and seller on the purchase price, terms, and conditions of a sale.

Conventional Loan - A mortgage not insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the VA.

Convertible ARMs - ARMs with the option of conversion to a fixed rate loan during a given time period.

Conveyance - The transfer of a deed, lease, or mortgage.

Cost of Funds Index (COFI) - A common index used in adjustable rate loans based on the weighted-average interest rate paid for deposits by savings institutions that are members of the 11th Federal Home Loan Bank District.

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) - A document that defines the use, requirements and restrictions of a condominium or Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Credit Report - A report detailing the credit history of a prospective borrower, used by lenders to help determine creditworthiness.

Debt-To-Income Ratio - A figure, expressed as a ratio, that compares the amount of recurring debt payments a borrower is obligated to make to the amount of their income.

Deed - Legal document by which title to a property is transferred from one owner to another. The deed contains a description of the property and is signed, witnessed, and delivered to the buyer at closing.

Deed Of Trust - Document creating a lien on a property as security for the payment of a debt. In some states, a mortgage is used instead.

Default - Failure to meet legal obligations in a contract, including failure to make payments on a loan. A mortgage is generally considered to be in default when a payment is 30 days past due.

Delinquency - Failure to make required payments on time.

Deposit - Cash paid to the seller when a formal sales contract is signed.

Depreciation - Decline in property value.

Document Review - A process by which the lender reviews documents necessary to fund a loan.

Down Payment - In a home purchase, the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage amount.

Earnest Money - Deposit made by a buyer toward the down payment as evidence of good faith when the purchase agreement is signed.

ECOA - See Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Encumbrance - A legal right or interest in a property that affects title and may lessen the property value.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) - Federal law requiring 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 current market value of a property and the outstanding mortgage balance.

Equity Loan - A loan based on the borrower's equity in his or her home.

Escrow - Neutral third party appointed to act as a custodian for documents and funds during the transfer of property from seller to buyer or in the course of refinancing property.

Escrow Account - Account held by lender containing funds collected in conjunction with monthly mortgage payments. Also known as impounds, the funds in this account are held in trust by the lender on behalf of the borrower, and are used to pay expenses such as property taxes and homeowner's insurance.

Escrow Officer - See Closing Agent.

Estimated Settlement (or Closing) Statement - A document provided by the closing agent, prior to loan closing, estimating all costs and indicating the final sum the buyer will be required to bring to the closing.

Expense-To-Income Ratio - Also known as Back-End Ratio and Debt-to-Income Ratio. The figure derived by dividing all borrower's monthly financial obligations by his/her gross monthly income.

Fannie Mae (FNMA) - Corporation created by Congress that buys and sells residential mortgages. Fannie Mae provides funds for one in seven mortgages.

Farmer's Home Administration(FmHA) - An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides financing for purchasers of homes and farms in small towns and rural areas.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) - Government agency, division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which insures residential mortgage loans made by private lenders and sets standards for underwriting mortgage loans.

Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) - See Fannie Mae.

Federal Reserve - Central bank of the United States and major regulatory agency for many commercial banks.

Fee Simple - Absolute ownership of real property.

FHA - See Federal Housing Administration.

FHA Loan - Mortgage loan insured by the FHA for low to middle income borrowers, open to all qualified home purchasers.

FICO Score - A credit evaluation score developed by Fair, Isaac, and Co., used by lenders as one factor in making a loan decision. Some methods of improving a score are to establish and maintain a payment history on credit accounts, keep public records (bankruptcies, judgments, etc.) and collection accounts to a minimum, pay down loans, keep credit cards well below their limits, avoid late payments, and limit applying for new credit.

First Mortgage - The primary lien against a property.

Fixed Rate - An interest rate that does not change during the term of the loan.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage - A mortgage whose interest rate does not change for the life of the loan. Payments are also fixed.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) - See Freddie Mac.

Flood Insurance - A form of hazard insurance that covers improved property damage or loss due to flood.

Floor - The minimum interest rate payable on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Freddie Mac (FHLMC) - Quasi-governmental agency that purchases conventional mortgages from insured depository institutions and HUD-approved mortgage bankers.

Ginnie Mae - See Government National Mortgage Association.

GNMA - See Government National Mortgage Association.

Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA, or Ginnie Mae) - Government agency that provides funds for VA and FHA loans.

Good Faith Estimate - Written estimate of costs the borrower will pay at closing, provided by a lender within three business days of loan application.

Grace Period - Period of time during which a loan payment may be made after its due date without incurring a late penalty.

Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM) - Mortgage in which initial low payments (with potential negative amortization) increase regularly for several years and then level off.

Gross Income - Borrower’s total income before taxes or expenses are deducted.

Gross Monthly Income - Total monthly income before taxes or expenses are deducted. Used in the loan origination process to calculate borrower's ability to make payments on a loan.

Guarantee or Guaranty - A promise by one party to pay a debt or perform an obligation contracted by another in the event of that person's default.

Hazard Insurance - A policy that protects the insured against loss due to fire or certain natural disasters in exchange for a premium paid to the insurer. Also known as Homeowner Insurance or fire insurance.

Home Equity Line Of Credit - A revolving line of credit secured by the equity in the home. Unlike a Home Equity Loan, these funds may be drawn and repaid like a credit card.

Home Equity Loan - An additional mortgage secured by the equity in the home. All funds for this loan are disbursed at closing. (In contrast, see Home Equity Line Of Credit).

Homeowner's Warranty - A type of insurance that covers repairs to specified parts of a house for a specific period of time.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - A U.S. government agency established to implement federal housing and community development programs; oversees the Federal Housing Administration.

Housing Code - Local government ordinance that sets minimum standards of safety and sanitation for existing residential buildings.

Housing Expense-To-Income Ratio - The ratio, expressed as a percentage, that results when dividing a borrower's housing expenses by his/her gross monthly income.

HUD - See Housing and Urban Development.

HUD-1 Settlement Statement - A form mandated by the federal government that itemizes the closing costs associated with purchasing a home. Also see Estimated Settlement Statement.

Impound (or Reserves) - Portion of a borrower's monthly payments held by the lender to pay for taxes, insurance, and other items as they become due.

Impound Account - See Escrow Account.

Index - A published rate used by lenders to calculate interest adjustments on adjustable rate mortgages (Index + Margin = Interest Rate). Common indexes include 1-Year Treasury securities, COFI (Cost Of Funds Index), and Six-Month LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate).

Initial Rate - The interest rate charged during the first interval of an adjustable rate mortgage.

Insolvency - Condition of a person unable to pay debts as they fall due.

Interest - Charge paid for borrowing money.

Interest Rate - The rate, expressed as a percentage, of the outstanding balance used to calculate interest charges.

Interest Rate Cap - A safeguard built into ARMs to prevent drastic changes in interest rates.

Joint Liability - Liability shared among two or more people, each of whom is liable for the full debt.

Joint Tenancy - The ownership of property by two or more persons with the survivor receiving the share of the deceased.

Jumbo Loan - A mortgage with a principal balance that exceeds the amount eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Jumbo loans generally carry a higher interest rate.

Junior Mortgage - A mortgage subordinate or secondary to another mortgage. In the case of a foreclosure, a senior mortgage will be paid first.

Late Charge - Penalty paid by a borrower when a payment is made after the grace period provided by the lender.

Lender - The bank, mortgage company, or mortgage broker offering the loan.

LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate - The interest rate charged among banks for short-term Eurodollar loans, and a common index for adjustable rate mortgages.

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

Lifetime Interest Rate Cap - The highest interest rate that can be charged for an adjustable rate mortgage during the life of the loan.

Loan Servicing - The collection of mortgage payments from borrowers and related responsibilities (such as handling escrows for property tax and insurance, foreclosing on defaulted loans and remitting payments to investors).

Loan Application - Document required by lenders prior to loan approval containing detailed information about the borrower and property.

Loan Application Fee - Fee paid by prospective buyer to lender when applying for a mortgage.

Loan Origination Fee (or Processing Fee) - Fee charged by a lender to originate and process a loan.

Loan-To-Value (LTV) Ratio - The percentage of the property value borrowed (loan amount/property value = loan to value ratio).

Lock (or Lock-in) - A lender's guarantee of an interest rate and related points for a set period of time, usually between loan application and loan closing. Protects borrower against rate increases during that time.

LTV - See Loan-To-Value Ratio.

Margin - The percentage amount added to an index to calculate the new interest rate of an adjustable rate mortgage at each adjustment.

Market Value - The value that a willing seller would accept and a willing buyer would offer given a reasonable time for the seller to market a property.

Monthly Housing Expense - Total monthly expense of mortgage principal and interest, taxes, and insurance.

Mortgage - Document creating a lien on a property as security for the payment of a debt. In some states, a Deed of Trust is used instead.

Mortgage Banker - A lender that originates and funds, then sells and services mortgage loans.

Mortgage Broker - A person or entity that arranges financing for borrowers, but places loans with lenders rather than funding them with the broker's own money.

Mortgage Insurance - Insurance purchased by a borrower to cover the lender's risk of loss. Mortgage Insurance is generally required by lenders when the loan-to-value on a first mortgage is greater than 80% of the value of the property.

MIP, Mortgage Insurance Premium - The monthly, or yearly, payment for mortgage insurance.

Mortgage Loan - A loan for which real estate serves as collateral to provide for repayment in case of default.

Mortgage Note - Legal document obligating a borrower to repay a loan secured by a mortgage.

Mortgagee - The lender in a mortgage loan transaction.

Mortgagor - The borrower in a mortgage loan transaction.

Negative Amortization - Increase in principal balance that occurs when monthly payments are not large enough to pay all interest accrued on a loan, usually caused when payment caps prevent sufficient payment increases. Deferred interest is added to the loan balance, resulting in the borrower owing more than the original amount of the loan.

No Doc Loan - A loan for which neither income, employment, nor assets are stated on application. Borrowers must have a perfect credit history.

No Ratio Loan - This loan program is offered for borrowers who have a strong asset base and perfect credit history; the loan application must be fully completed except for any reference to income.

Note - Legal document stating the terms of a debt and a promise to repay it.

Origination Fee - See Loan Origination Fee.

Owner Financing - A purchase in which the seller provides all or part of the financing.

Payment Cap - Limit on the amount by which a borrower's adjustable rate mortgage payments may increase, regardless of rise in interest rates. May result in negative amortization.

Per Diem Interest - Interest calculated per day. Depending on the day of the month on which closing takes place, borrower pays interest from the date of closing to the end of the month. The first mortgage payment of a loan is generally due on the first of the following month.

Periodic Interest Rate Cap - A limit on the amount that interest rates can change at each adjustment period.

PITI - Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, the components of a monthly mortgage payment; also called Monthly Housing Expenses.

Points (or Discount Points) - Money paid to a lender at closing in exchange for a lower interest rate. Each point is equal to 1% of the loan amount.

Prepayment - Full or partial payment of the principal before the due date. This might occur if the borrower makes extra payments, sells the property, or refinances the existing loan.

Prepayment Penalty - Fee charged by a lender for early payment of debt.

Prime Rate - Lowest commercial interest rate charged by a bank on short-term loans to its most credit-worthy customers. Often used as an index for home equity lines of credit.

Power of Attorney - Legal document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another.

Prepaid Expenses - Taxes, insurance, and assessments paid in advance of due dates.

Prepaid Interest - Interest charged to a borrower at closing to cover interest on the loan between closing and the end of the month in which the loan closes.

Prequalification - The process of estimating how much money a prospective homebuyer will be eligible to borrow prior to application for a loan.

Principal - The amount of debt, not counting interest, left on a loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) - see Mortgage Insurance.

Property Tax - A government tax based on an assessed value of a property.

PUD, Planned Unit Development - A project or subdivision that includes common property that is owned and maintained by a homeowners' association for the benefit and use of all individual PUD unit owners.

Purchase Agreement - Contract signed by buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be purchased.

Rate Lock (or Lock In) - A lender's guarantee of an interest rate and related points for a set period of time, usually between loan application and loan closing. Protects borrower against rate increases during that time.

Real Estate Broker - An agent who represents a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) - Law requiring lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.

Real Property - Land and everything that is permanently affixed to it.

Realtor - Real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Re-Amortize - The function to provide a new payment amount as it relates to a new loan amount or a new interest rate.

Reclamation - The right of the person with title to a property to recover it from the debtor in the event of a bankruptcy.

Reconveyance - The transfer of property back to the owner when a mortgage is fully repaid.

Recording - The act of entering documents concerning title to a property into the public records.

Recording Fee - Money paid to an agent for entering the sale of a property into the public records.

Reduced Doc Loan - This program eliminates the need to verify income. Income stated on the 1003 is used for qualification. Borrowers who receive W2 income are not qualified for this type of loan. Two years of continuous self-employment income or an established or consistent 2 years' source of income is required.

Refinancing - The process of paying off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan secured by the same property.

Repossession (or Foreclosure) - Legal process by which the lender forces the sale of a property because the borrower has not met the mortgage terms.

Rescisssion - The cancellation of a mortgage loan, permitted by law on a refinance transaction when the property is owner occupied.

RESPA - See Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

Sales Agreement - Contract signed by buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

Second Mortgage - A subordinate mortgage made in addition to a first mortgage.

Secondary Mortgage Market - The market into which primary mortgage lenders sell the mortgages to obtain funds to originate more new loans. Includes investors like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Servicing (or Loan Administration) - The collection of mortgage payments from borrowers and related responsibilities (such as handling escrows for property tax and insurance, foreclosing on defaulted loans, and remitting payments to investors).

Settlement (or Closing) - Meeting between the buyer, seller, and closing agent at which property and funds legally change hands.

Settlement Cost (HUD guide) - Booklet published by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides an overview of the lending process, given to consumers after completing their loan applications.

Settlement Costs - See Closing Costs.

Settlement Sheet - The computation of costs payable at closing which determines the seller's net proceeds and the buyer's net payment.

Simple Interest - Interest computed only on the principal balance.

Survey - A measurement of land, prepared by a licensed surveyor, showing a property's boundaries, elevations, improvements, and relationship to surrounding tracts.

Sweat Equity - Value added to a property by improvements made by the owner.

Tax Impound - See Escrow Account.

Tax Lien - Claim against a property for unpaid taxes.

Tax Sale - Public sale of property by a government authority as a result of non-payment of taxes.

Term - The number of years it will take to pay off a loan.

Title - Document which gives evidence of ownership of a property and the rights of ownership and possession of that property.

Title Company - A company that insures title to property.

Title Insurance - Insurance which protects the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against loss due to disputes over ownership of a property.

Title Search - Examination of municipal records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of a property and that no liens or other claims exist against the property.

Transfer Tax - Tax paid when title passes from one owner to another. Not applicable in all jurisdictions.

Trust Account - Account maintained by a broker or escrow company to handle all money collected for clients.

Trustee - Someone given legal responsibility to hold property in the best interest of another.

Truth-In-Lending Act - Federal law requiring written disclosure of the terms of a mortgage by a lender to a prospective borrower within three business days of application.

Underwriting - The process of verifying data and evaluating a loan for approval.

Usury - Interest charged in excess of the legal rate established by law.

VA Loan - Home loan available to veterans with little or no down payment and guaranteed by the U.S. Veteran's Administration.

Variable Rate - Interest rate that changes periodically in relation to an index.

Variable Rate Mortgage - See Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Verification Of Deposit (VOD) - Document signed by the borrower's bank or other financial institution verifying the borrower's account balance and history.

Verification Of Employment (VOE) - Document signed by the borrower's employer verifying the borrower's position and salary.

Waiver - Voluntary relinquishment or surrender of some right or privilege.

Walk-Through - A final inspection of a home to check for problems that may need to be corrected before closing.

Wrap-Around Mortgage - Loan arrangement in which an existing loan is combined with a new loan, resulting in an interest rate somewhere between the old rate and the current market rate.

Zoning Ordinances (or Zoning Regulations) - Local law establishing building codes and usage regulations for properties in a specified area.