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Abstract of title

A summary of recorded transactions concerning a particular property.

Acceleration clause

Condition in a mortgage that gives the lender the right to require immediate repayment of the loan balance if regular mortgage payments are not made or for breach of other conditions of the mortgage.

Accrued interest

Interest earned but not yet paid.

Adjustable rate

An interest rate that changes periodically according to an index.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage with an interest rate that adjusts periodically based on a preselected index, causing interest rates and payments to rise and fall with the market.

Adjustment interval

The time between changes in the interest rate and monthly payments on an ARM.

Agent

One that acts for or represents another.

Agreement of sale

Also known as a "sales contract," a written document in which a purchaser agrees to buy property under certain given conditions, and the seller agrees to sell under certain given conditions.

Alternative documentation

A method of documenting a loan file that relies on information the borrower is likely to be able to provide, instead of waiting on verification sent to third parties for confirmation of statements made in the application.

Amortization

A monthly repayment schedule in which a loan is repaid in fixed payments of principal and interest.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

The annual cost of a loan, expressed as a yearly rate. APR takes into account interest, discount points, lender fees and mortgage insurance, so it will be slightly higher than the interest rate on the loan.

Application

Often referred to as a 1003, an initial statement of personal and financial information required to approve your loan.

Application fee

A fee charged by a lender to cover initial costs of processing a loan application, often including charges for property appraisal and a credit report.

Appraisal

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

Appraisal fee

A fee charged by a licensed, certified appraiser to render an opinion of market value as of a specific date.

APR

See Annual Percentage Rate.

ARM

See Adjustable-Rate Mortgage.

ARM assumbility

Some ARM products feature "assumability" to a qualified applicant. The assumability of an ARM loan may make it more attractive to an applicant who envisions selling their home at a later date. By incorporating an assumable mortgage product, they may be able to make their home more attractive to potential buyers.

ARM disclosure

An additional disclosure specific to adjustable-rate mortgages that must be prepared and presented to the consumer within three days of application whenever an adjustable-rate mortgage transaction is contemplated (Note: home equity lines have their own unique disclosure).

ARM handbook

The Consumer Handbook to Adjustable-Rate Mortgages ("CHARM" booklet) must be presented to the consumer within three days of applying for an ARM loan (in addition to the ARM disclosure referenced above).

Amortization re-cast period

Pre-determined period of time (expressed either in a number of months and/or a percent of increase from original principal balance) after which any/all accumulated "negative amortization" (aka "deferred interest") is accounted for in a re-amortization of the loan balance over the remaining term of the mortgage at the then prevailing rate of interest. Amortization is also re-casted at each adjustment even if no negative amortization. Typically, any payment cap that would otherwise factor in is disregarded in the event of re-casting.

Amortization re-cast limitation

Amortization is most often "capped" at 110 or 125 percent of the original principal balance. Re-amortization typically occurs every 60 months and/or at such time as the balance reaches the pre-determined "cap."

Assessment

A local tax levied against properties that have benefited from civil improvements such as road or sidewalk construction, a sewer or street lights.

Asset

Anything of monetary value that a person owns. Assets include real property, personal property and enforceable claims against others (including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds and so on).

Assignment

The transfer of property rights from one person to another.

Assumability

A feature of a loan allowing it to be transferred to the new purchaser of a home. Assumable mortgages can help attract buyers because assumption of a loan requires lower fees and/or qualifying standards than a new loan.

Assumption

Agreement between buyer and seller for the buyer to take over the payments on an existing mortgage.

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B

Balance sheet

A document showing the financial situation-assets, liabilities and net worth of a person at a specific point in time.

Bank check

See cashier's check.

Bankruptcy

Proclamation by a court of an individual's (or organization's) state of insolvency, or inability, to pay debts. Petition may be brought by an individual or his creditors, with a goal of orderly and equitable settlement of obligations.

Basis point

A unit of measure: 1/100th of one percent. For example, the difference between a 9.0 percent loan and a 9.5 percent loan is 50 basis points.

Bearer

The legal owner of a piece of property.

Bequest

A gift of personal property by will.

Bill of sale

A document that transfers ownership of goods from one person to another.

Biweekly mortgage

A payment plan under which one pays one-half of a monthly payment every two weeks, saving interest substantially over the life of the loan.

Bona fide

In good faith.

Bond

A document representing a right to certain payments on underlying collateral.

Borrower (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.

Broker

An individual who assists in arranging funding or negotiating contracts for a client, but does not loan money himself.

Buy-down

A situation in which the seller contributes money that allows the lender to give the buyer a lower rate and payment, usually in exchange for an increase in sales price. With a refinance, this could be paid by the borrower.

Buyer's broker

An agent hired by a buyer to locate a property for purchase and to represent the buyer in negotiations with the seller's broker for the best possible deal for the buyer.

Buyer's market

Market conditions that favor buyers. With more sellers than buyers in the market, buyers have ample choice of properties and can negotiate lower prices.

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C

Call option

A provision in the mortgage that gives the mortgagee the right to call the mortgage due and payable at the end of a specified period for whatever reason.

Caps

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

Caps (Payment)

Consumer safeguards may limit the amount monthly payments on an adjustable-rate mortgage may change. Because they do not limit the amount of interest the lender is earning, they may cause negative amortization.

Cash-out

A refinance for more than the balance of the original mortgage, with the extra money is taken out of the equity in the property.

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

The maximum allowable interest rate of an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Certificate of eligibility

Document issued by the Veterans' Administration to qualified veterans that entitles them to VA guaranteed loans. This certificate can be obtained through local VA office by submitting form DD-214 (Separation Papers) and VA form 1880 (request for Certificate of Eligibility).

Certificate of occupancy

Document issued by local government agency stating that a property meets the requirements of health and building codes.

Certificate of reasonable value (CRV)

A property appraisal performed by a VA-approved appraiser that establishes the limit on the principal of the VA loan.

Certificate of title

Written opinion of the status of title to a property, given by an attorney or title company. This certificate does not offer the protection given by title insurance.

Certificate of veteran status

Document given to veterans or reservists who have served 90 days of continuous active duty (including training time) which enables them to obtain lower down payments on certain FHA-insured loans. Obtainable through local VA office by submitting form DD-214 (Separation Paper) with form 26-8261A (request for Certificate of Veteran Status).

Certified check

A check drawn on the issuer's account for funds that have been segregated by the bank, guaranteeing payment.

CFPB

See Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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 costs

Fees incurred in a real estate or mortgage transaction and paid by borrower and/or seller during a mortgage loan closing. These typically include a loan origination fee, discount points, attorney's fees, title insurance, appraisal, survey and any items that must be prepaid, such as taxes and insurance escrow payments. The cost of closing is usually about 3 to 6 percent of the mortgage amount.

Closing statement

A financial disclosure statement that lists the funds received and expected at the closing.

Cloud on title

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

CLTV

See Combined loan-to-value.

COFI

See Cost of funds index.

Collateral

Assets that back a mortgage loan.

Combined loan-to-value (CLTV)

The ratio of the total mortgage liens against the subject property to the lesser of either the appraised value or the sales price.

Commission

Money paid to a real estate agent or broker by the seller (usually 6 to 7 percent of a home's sale price).

Commitment

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

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 under the maximum amount of loans that FNMA and FHLMC are legally allowed to buy. Maximum loan amount varies by county.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

A federal agency that enforces laws that protect consumers of financial products and services such as mortgages, credit cards and deposit accounts.

Contingency

A condition that 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.

Conversion clause

A provision in some ARMs allowing you to change an ARM to a fixed-rate loan, usually after the first adjustment period. The new fixed rate is set at current rates, and there may be a charge for the conversion feature.

Conversion option

Many "short-term" ARM products feature a conversion option. This option allows a consumer, subject to certain restrictions, to convert the loan from an adjustable to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Convertible ARMs

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

Conveyance

The transfer of a deed or possibly a lease or mortgage.

Cost of funds index (COFI)

An index of the weighted-average interest rate paid by savings institutions for sources of funds, usually by members of the 11th Federal Home Loan Bank District.

Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs)

A document defining the use, requirements and restrictions of a property.

Credit report

A report detailing the credit history of a prospective borrower, used when determining creditworthiness.

Credit risk

The possibility that the borrower may default on financial obligations.

CRV

See Certificate of reasonable value.

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D

Debt-to-income ratio

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, that results when a borrower's monthly payment obligation on long-term debts is divided by monthly income.

Deed

A legal document that transfers a property 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

Agreement to pledge property as security for a loan, used in many states in place of a mortgage. In this arrangement, the borrower transfers legal title to a trustee who holds the property in trust as security for the repayment of the debt. The deed of trust becomes void if the debt is repaid, but if the borrower defaults on the loan, the trustee may sell the property to pay the debt.

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 or more days past due.

Deferred interest

Interest added to the balance of a loan when monthly payments are not sufficient to cover it. (See Negative amortization.)

Delinquency

Failure to make payments on time.

Deposit

Cash paid when a formal sales contract is signed. The deposit is usually held by a third party until the sale is complete.

Depreciation

When the value of property declines.

Discount points (or Points)

Money paid to a lender at closing in exchange for lower interest rates. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.

Documentary stamps

A state tax, in the forms of stamps, required on deeds and mortgages when a real estate title passes from one owner to another.

Origination fee

A fee that a lender charges, usually expressed as a percentage of the loan (or points) for evaluating and processing the loan.

Owner financing

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

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P

Payment cap

Limit on the amount by which a borrower's ARM payments may increase, regardless of rise in interest rates. This may result in negative amortization.

Payment cap (ARM)

A pre-determined amount that establishes the maximum by which the payment can increase, irrespective of increases to the interest rate.

Payment change date

Dates upon which the payment amount is subject to change. Products featuring "negative amortization" typically will include a payment change date which differs from the interest rate change date in frequency.

Per diem interest

Interest calculated per day. Depending on the day of the month on which closing takes place, you'll have to pay interest from the date of closing to the end of the month.

Periodic interest cap

An interest cap that restricts how much adjustable-rate mortgage rates may increase or decrease on pre-determined change dates.

Permanent loan

A long-term mortgage of 10 years or more.

PITI

Also called "monthly housing expenses," principal, interest, taxes and insurance are the components of a monthly mortgage payment.

PMI

See Private Mortgage Insurance.

Points (or Discount points)

Interest prepaid to the lender at closing. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. Paying more points at closing generally reduces a loan's interest rate and monthly payments..

Power of attorney

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

Prepaid expenses

Taxes, insurance and assessments paid in advance of their due dates, including at closing.

Prepaid interest

Charged to a borrower at closing to cover interest on the loan between the closing date and the end of that month.

Prepayment

A 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.

Pre-payment penalty

Some ARM loans contain a provision against pre-payment without penalty. Terms of pre-payment penalty clauses vary from product to product, investor to investor, and state to state. Many states and even local municipalities have, or are contemplating, enacting legislation against pre-payment penalties.

Prequalification

The process of determining how much money a prospective homebuyer may borrow, prior to application for a loan.

Primary mortgage market

Includes banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and mortgage bankers who make mortgage loans directly to borrowers. These lenders sometimes sell their mortgages to lenders such as FNMA in the secondary mortgage market.

Prime rate

Lowest commercial interest rate charged by a bank on short-term loans to its most credit-worthy customers.

Principal

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

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Insurance purchased by a buyer on a conventional loan when a down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price to protect the lender against default.

Profit and loss statement

A financial statement showing revenue, expenses and profits over a period of time.

Property tax

A government tax based on the market value of a property.

Purchase agreement

A contract signed by buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions of a home sale.

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Q

Qualifying rate

Adjustable-rate mortgages often employ a "qualifying fate" that differs from the "start rate." The qualifying rate may be a pre-determined percentage of interest (i.e. "8 percent"), expressed as the "highest possible rate of interest at the beginning of the 2nd year", based on the start rate (i.e. "start rate + 2 percent), expressed as the "Fully Indexed Accrual Rate" ("FIAR") or another amount.

Qualifying ratio

A comparison of a borrower's expenses (housing or total debt) to his income.

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R

Real Estate Agent

A real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Real estate broker

An agent representing a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act

A law that governs acceptable practices and fees in real estate transactions.

Real property

Land and everything that is permanently affixed to it.

Reclamation

The right of the person with title to a property to recover it from the debtor in case 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 public records.

Recording fee

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

Refinancing

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

Rent with option to buy

See Lease-purchase mortgage loan.

Repossession (or foreclosure)

Legal process by which the lender forces the sale of a property because the borrower has not met the mortgage terms.

Rescission

The cancellation of a contract, permitted by law within three days of signing a mortgage not used to purchase a home.

Reserves

See Impound.

RESPA

See Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

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S

Sale agreement

A contract signed by buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

Satisfaction

The payment of a debt that satisfies an obligation.

Secondary mortgage market

The market into which primary mortgage lenders sell the mortgages they make to obtain funds to originate more new loans. This includes investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Second mortgage

A subordinate mortgage made in addition to a first mortgage.

Seller's broker

An agent hired by a seller to represent him/her in negotiations to sell property.

Seller's market

Market conditions that favor sellers. With more buyers than sellers in the market, sellers have the negotiating power as demand exceeds supply.

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)

A meeting between the buyer, seller and lender (or their agents) where property and funds legally change hands.

Settlement cost (HUD guide)

A booklet given to consumers after applying for a loan that provides an overview of the lending process.

Settlement costs

See Closing costs.

Settlement sheet (HUD-1)

The computation of costs payable at closing that determines the seller's net proceeds and the buyer's net payment.

Simple interest

Interest that is computed only on the principal balance.

Start rate

A pre-determined rate of interest that will be applied to the loan until the date of the first interest rate change.

Subsidized second mortgage

Alternative financing option for low- and moderate-income households that also includes a down payment and a first mortgage, with funds for the second mortgage provided by city, county or state housing agencies, foundations or nonprofit corporations. Payment on the second mortgage is often deferred and carries low interest rates (if any). Part of the debt may be forgiven for each year the family remains in the home.

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.

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T

Tax impound

Money paid to and held by a lender for annual tax payments. See Impound Account.

Tax lien

Claim against a property for unpaid taxes.

Tax sale

Public sale of property by a government authority as a result of nonpayment of taxes.

Term

The number of years until a loan is due to be paid in full.

Title

A document that gives evidence of ownership of a property, as well as rights of ownership and possession.

Title company

A company that insures the title to a property.

Title insurance

Insurance that protects the lender (lender's policy) or buyer (owner's policy) against loss due to disputes over property ownership.

Title search

Examination of municipal records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of a property and that there are no liens other claims against the property.

Transfer tax

Tax paid when a title passes from one owner to another.

Trust account

An 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

A federal law requiring written disclosure of the terms of a mortgage (including APR and other charges) by a lender to a borrower after application.

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U

Underwriting

The process of verifying data and evaluating a loan application. The underwriter gives the final loan approval.

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V

VA Loan

A home loan available to veterans with little or no down payment and guaranteed by the U.S. Veterans' Administration.

Variable rate mortgage

See Adjustable-rate mortgage.

Variable rate

An interest rate that changes periodically in relation to an index.

Verification of deposit (VOD)

A document signed by the borrower's bank or other financial institution that verifies the borrower's account balance and history.

Verification of employment (VOE)

A document signed by the borrower's employer that verifies the borrower's position and salary.

VOD

See Verification of deposit.

VOE

See Verification of employment.

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W-Z

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.

Warehouse fee

Mortgage firms often borrow funds from a warehouse lender on a short-term basis in order to originate loans that will later be sold to investors in the secondary mortgage market. Lenders may charge a warehouse fee to cover an expense charged by the warehouse lender.

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Zoning ordinances

Local laws that establish building codes and usage regulations for properties in a specified area. This creation of districts specifies different types of property uses, such as commercial or residential.

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