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Foreclosure Real Estate Terms

Welcome to the news and resource center where the ilFLS provides everything that the foreclosure investor needs to become successful in an ever expanding always improving list. Also get latest news from the local Chicago Area foreclosure and real estate market that affects you, the investor...

Real Estate Glossary

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Acceleration Clause

A provision in a mortgage note that gives a lender the right to demand repayment of the entire balance of the loan under certain conditions, such as the failure to make timely payments or a transfer of the property.

Additional Principal Payment

An amount paid by a borrower of more than the scheduled principal amount due. This type of payment reduces the remaining balance and shortens the term of the loan. Also called a "principal curtailment."

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage that permits the lender to periodically adjust the interest rate on the basis of changes in a specified index.

Adjustment Date

The date on which the interest rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Adjustment Period

For an adjustable rate mortgage, the time period between interest rate change dates, as stated in the mortgage note.

Affordability Analysis

An estimation of a borrower's ability to afford the purchase of a home and/or the payment on a loan. An affordability analysis may consider income, liabilities, the type of mortgage, the loan amount, purchase price, the expected closing costs, and other factors.


The gradual reduction of the mortgage debt through regularly scheduled payments over the term of the loan.

Amortization Schedule

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


To repay a mortgage with regular payments that cover both principal and interest.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The measure of the cost of credit stated as a yearly rate; includes such items as the stated interest rate, plus certain charges.


An amount paid yearly or at other regular intervals, often at a guaranteed minimum amount. Also, a type of insurance policy in which the policy holder makes payments for a fixed period or until a stated age, and then receives annuity payments from the insurance company.


A written estimate or opinion of a property's value prepared by a qualified appraiser.


An increase in the value of an item (e.g., the increase in the market value of real estate).

Assessed Value

Typically the value placed on property for the purpose of taxation.


A public official who establishes the value of a property for taxation purposes.


Anything of monetary value that is owned by a person or company. Assets include real property, personal property, stocks, mutual funds, etc.

Assignment of Mortgage

A document evidencing the transfer of ownership of a mortgage from one person to another.

Assumable Mortgage

A mortgage loan that can be taken over (assumed) by the buyer when a home is sold. An assumption of a mortgage is a transaction in which the buyer of real property takes over the seller's existing mortgage; the seller remains liable unless released by the lender from the obligation. If the mortgage contains a due-on-sale clause, the loan may not be assumed without the lender's consent.

Assumption Fee

A fee a lender charges a buyer who will assume the seller's existing mortgage.

Automated Underwriting

An automated process performed by a technology application that streamlines the processing of loan applications and provides a recommendation to the lender to approve the loan or refer it for manual underwriting.


A feature of the home or property that serves as a benefit to the buyer but that is not necessary to its use; may be natural (like location, Woods, water) or man-made (like a swimming pool or garden).


Balance Sheet

A financial statement that shows assets, liabilities, and net worth as of a specific date.

Balloon Mortgage

A mortgage in which the borrower's monthly payments are amortized over a longer period than the actual term of the mortgage. As a result, at the end of the loan term, the borrower must pay off the remaining balance with a single lump sum payment or refinance the loan.

Balloon Payment

The final lump sum payment that is made at the maturity date of a balloon mortgage.


A legal proceeding that allows debtors to eliminate or restructure debts when they have financial difficulties.

Before-Tax Income

Income before taxes are deducted. Also known as "gross income."

Biweekly Payment Mortgage

A mortgage with payments due every two weeks (instead of monthly).

Bona fide

In good faith, without fraud.

Bridge Loan

A short-term loan secured by the borrower's current home (which is usually for sale) that allows the proceeds to be used for building or closing on a new house before the current home is sold. Also known as a "swing loan."


An individual or firm that acts as an agent between providers and users of products or services, such as a mortgage broker or real estate broker.
  • See also "Mortgage Broker"

  • Building Code

    Local regulations that set forth the standards and requirements for the construction, maintenance and occupancy of buildings. The codes are designed to provide for the safety, health and welfare of the public.


    An arrangement whereby the property developer or another third party provides an interest subsidy to reduce the borrower's monthly payments typically in the early years of the loan.

    Buydown Account

    An account in which funds are held so that they can be applied as part of the monthly mortgage payment as each payment comes due during the period that an interest rate buydown plan is in effect.


    A person who has been approved to receive a loan and is then obligated to repay it and any additional fees according to the loan terms.



    For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limitation on the amount the interest rate or mortgage payments may increase or decrease.
  • See also "Lifetime Payment Cap," "Lifetime Rate Cap," "Periodic Payment Cap," and "Periodic Rate Cap"

  • Cash-out Refinance

    A refinance transaction in which the borrower receives additional funds over and above the amount needed to repay the existing mortgage, closing costs, points, and any subordinate liens.

    Certificate of Deposit

    A document issued by a bank or other financial institution that is evidence of a deposit, with the issuer's promise to return the deposit plus earnings at a specified interest rate within a specified time period.

    Certificate of Eligibility

    A document issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) certifying a veteran's eligibility for a VA-guaranteed mortgage loan.

    Chain of Title

    The history of all of the documents that have transferred title to a parcel of real property, starting with the earliest existing document and ending with the most recent.

    Change Orders

    A change in the original construction plans ordered by the property owner or general contractor.

    Clear Title

    Ownership that is free of liens, defects, or other legal encumbrances.


    The process of completing a financial transaction. For mortgage loans, the process of signing mortgage documents, disbursing funds, and, if applicable, transferring ownership of the property. In some jurisdictions, closing is referred to as "escrow," a process by which a buyer and seller deliver legal documents to a third party who completes the transaction in accordance with their instructions.
  • Also see "Settlement"

  • Closing Agent

    The person or entity that coordinates the various closing activities, including the preparation and recordation of closing documents and the disbursement of funds. (May be referred to as an escrow agent or settlement agent in some jurisdictions.) Typically the closing is conducted by title companies, escrow companies or attorneys.

    Closing Costs

    The fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. Money paid by a buyer (and/or seller or other third party, if applicable) to effect the closing of a mortgage loan, generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney's fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance.

    Closing Date

    The date on which the sale of a property is to be finalized and a loan transaction completed. Often, a real estate sales professional coordinates the setting of this date with the buyer, the seller, the closing agent, and the lender.

    Closing Statement

  • See "HUD-1 Settlement Statement"

  • Co-borrower

    Any borrower other than the first borrower whose name appears on the application and mortgage note, even when that person owns the property jointly with the first borrower and shares liability for the note.


    An asset that is pledged as security for a loan. The borrower risks losing the asset if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the loan agreement.


    The efforts a lender takes to collect past due payments.


    The fee charged for services performed, usually based on a percentage of the price of the items sold (such as the fee a real estate agent earns on the sale of a house).

    Commitment Letter

    A binding offer by a lender to loan money at a future date subject to the borrower's compliance with stated conditions.

    Common Areas

    Those portions of a building, land, or improvements and amenities owned 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.


    An abbreviation for "comparable properties," which are used as a comparison in determining the current value of a property that is being appraised.


    A real estate project in which each unit owner holds title to an individual unit in a building, and an undivided interest in the common areas.

    Construction Loan

    A loan for financing the cost of construction or improvements to a property; the lender disburses payments to the builder at periodic intervals during construction.


    A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a home inspection contingency; the sales contract is not binding unless and until the purchaser has the home inspected.

    Conventional Mortgage

    A mortgage loan that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government or one of its agencies, such as FHA, VA or RHS. Contrast with "Government Mortgage."

    Conversion Option

    A provision of some adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans that allows the borrower to change the ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage at specified times after loan origination.

    Convertible ARM

    An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that allows the borrower to convert the loan to a fixed-rate mortgage under specified conditions.

    Cooperative (Co-op) Project

    A project in which a corporation holds title to a residential property and sells shares to individual buyers, who then receive a proprietary lease as their title.

    Cost of Funds Index (COFI)

    An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans. It is based on the weighted monthly average cost of deposits, advances, and other borrowings of members of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

    Credit Bureau

    An independent agency that gathers and maintains information on the debts and repayment records of individuals and businesses.

    Credit History

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

    Credit Life Insurance

    A type of insurance that pays off a specific amount of debt or a specified credit account if the borrower dies while the policy is in force.

    Credit Report

    A document provided by a credit reporting agency containing information about an individual's previous mortgage history, bank loans, credit cards, and public records dealing with financial matters.

    Credit Score

    A numerical value that ranks a borrower's credit risk at a given point in time based on a statistical evaluation of information in the individual's credit file that has been proven to be predictive of loan performance.


    A person to whom money is owed.

    Cash reserves:

    A cash amount sometimes required to be held in reserve in addition to the down payment and closing costs; the amount is determined by the lender.

    Certificate of title:

    A document provided by a qualified source (such as a title company) that shows the property legally belongs to the current owner; before the title is transferred at closing, it should be clear and free of all liens or other claims.

    Credit bureau score:

    A number representing the possibility a borrower may default; it is based upon credit history and is used to determine ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. Debt-to-income ratio: a comparison of gross income to housing and non-housing expenses; With the FHA, the-monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 29% of monthly gross income (before taxes) and the mortgage payment combined with non-housing debts should not exceed 41% of income.



    An amount owed to another.

    Debt-to-Income Ratio

    The relationship between a borrower's total monthly debt payments (including proposed housing expenses) and his or her gross monthly income; this calculation is used in determining the mortgage amount that a borrower qualifies for.


    The legal document conveying title to a property (i.e., transferring the ownership of real property from one party to another.)

    Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure

    The transfer of title from a borrower to the lender to satisfy the mortgage debt and avoid foreclosure. Also called a "voluntary conveyance."

    Deed of Trust

    A legal document that conveys title to real estate to a disinterested third party (a "trustee") who holds the title until the borrower has repaid the debt. In some states, this document is used in place of a mortgage.


    The failure to make a scheduled payment or otherwise comply with the terms of a mortgage loan or other contract.


    Failure to make a payment when it is due. The condition of a loan when a scheduled payment has not been received by the due date, but generally used to refer to a loan for which payment is 30 or more days past due.

    Discount Point

    A fee paid by the borrower at closing to reduce the interest rate. A point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

    Down Payment

    The amount of cash a buyer puts toward a purchase.

    Due-on-sale Clause

    A provision in a mortgage that allows the lender to demand repayment in full of the outstanding balance if the property securing the mortgage is sold.


    Earnest Money Deposit

    A deposit submitted with a purchase offer to show that the buyer's offer is being made in "good faith."


    A right to the use of, or access to, land owned by another.

    Employer-Assisted Housing

    A program in which companies assist their employees in purchasing homes by providing assistance with the down payment, closing costs, or monthly payments.


    The intrusion onto another's property without right or permission.


    Any claim on a property, such as a lien, mortgage or easement.

    Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

    A federal law that requires lenders to make credit equally available without regard to the applicant's race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, or marital status; the fact that all or part of the applicant's income is derived from a public assistance program; or the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.


    The owner's interest in a property, calculated as the current fair market value of the property less the amount of existing liens.

    Equitable Right of Redemption

    A right under state law of a defaulted borrower to redeem his or her property up to the date of the mortgage foreclosure sale by paying in full the outstanding mortgage debt.


    An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the deposit by a borrower with the lender of funds to pay taxes and insurance premiums when they become due, or the deposit of funds or documents with an attorney or escrow agent to be disbursed upon the closing of a sale of real estate.

    Escrow Account

    An account that a mortgage servicer establishes on behalf of a borrower to pay taxes, insurance premiums, or other charges when they are due. Sometimes referred to as an "impound" or "reserve" account.

    Escrow Analysis

    The accounting that a mortgage servicer performs to determine the appropriate balances for the escrow account, compute the borrower's monthly escrow payments, and determine whether any shortages, surpluses or deficiencies exist in the account.


    The legal act of removing someone from real property.

    Exclusive Listing

    A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time.


    A person named in a will and approved by a probate court to administer the deposition of an estate in accordance with the instructions of the will.

    EEM-Energy Efficient Mortgage;

    An FHA program that helps homebuyers save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to a new or existing home as part of the home purchase


    Fair Credit Reporting Act

    A consumer protection law that regulates the disclosure of consumer credit reports by credit reporting agencies and specifies procedures for challenging errors on a credit record.

    Fair Market Value

    The price at which property would be transferred between a willing buyer and willing seller, each of whom has a reasonable knowledge of all pertinent facts and is not under any compulsion to buy or sell.

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

    An agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that insures mortgages and loans made by private lenders.

    FHA-Insured Loan

    A loan that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    First Mortgage

    A mortgage that is the primary lien against a property.

    First Time Home Buyer

    A person with no ownership interest in a principal residence during the three-year period preceding the purchase of the security property.

    Fixed-Period Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

    An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that offers a fixed rate for an initial period, typically three to ten years, and then adjusts every six months, annually, or at another specified period, for the remainder of the term.

    Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM)

    A mortgage loan in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term.

    Flood Certification Fee

    A fee charged by independent mapping firms to identify properties located in areas designated as flood zones.

    Flood Insurance

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


    The legal process by which a property that is mortgaged as security for a loan may be sold and the proceeds of the sale applied to the mortgage debt. A foreclosure occurs when the loan becomes delinquent because payments have not been made or when the borrower is in default for a reason other than the failure to make timely mortgage payments.


    The loss of money, property, rights, or privileges due to a breach of a legal obligation.

    Fully Amortized Mortgage

    A mortgage in which the monthly payments are designed to retire the obligation at the end of the mortgage term.

    Fannie Mae-Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA);

    A federally-chartered enterprise owned by private stockholders that purchases residential mortgages and converts them into securities for sale to investors; by purchasing mortgages, Fannie Mae supplies funds that lenders may loan to potential homebuyers.

    Freddie Mac-Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLM);

    A federally-chartered corporation that purchases residential mortgages, securitizes them, and sells them to investors; this provides lenders With funds for new homebuyers.



    A grantor is the person who is making the conveyance on a recorded document. This would include a person who is selling a home, mortgaging property, making a lien against a property etc. Grantee

    A grantee is the person who a document is being made in favor of. This would include a person who is purchasing a home, a person or financial institution who is loaning money, or a person who a lien is being placed against etc. Gross Rent Multiplier

    Gross Rent Multiplier is the ratio of the price of a piece of a real estate investment to its annual rental income after expenses such as property taxes, insurance, and even utilities for vacation rental properties. Other expenses could include the cost of hiring a property management company. To sum up Gross Rent Multiplier it is the number of years the property would take to pay for itself in net received rent. For the investor, a higher GRM (perhaps over 20) is a poorer opportunity, whereas a lower one (perhaps under 15) is better General Contractor

    A person who oversees a home improvement or construction project and handles various aspects such as scheduling workers and ordering supplies.

    Good Faith Estimate (GFE)

    A form required by the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA) that discloses an estimate of the amount or range of charges, for specific settlement services the borrower is likely to incur in connection with the mortgage transaction.

    Government Mortgage

    A mortgage loan that is insured or guaranteed by a federal government entity such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the Rural Housing Service (RHS).

    Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)

    A government-owned corporation within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that guarantees securities backed by mortgages that are insured or guaranteed by other government agencies. Popularly known as Ginnie Mae.

    Ground Rent

    Payment for the use of land when title to a property is held as a leasehold estate (that is, the borrower does not actually own the property, but has a long-term lease on it).

    Growing-Equity Mortgage (GEM)

    A fixed-rate mortgage in which the monthly payments increase according to an agreed-upon schedule, with the extra funds applied to reduce the loan balance and loan term.

    Ginnie Mae-Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA);

    A government-owned corporation overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ginnie Mae pools FHA-insured and VA-guaranteed loans to back securities for private investment; as With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the investment income provides funding that may then be lent to eligible borrowers by lenders.


    Hazard Insurance

    Insurance coverage that compensates for physical damage to a property from fire, wind, vandalism, or other covered hazards or natural disasters.

    Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)

    A special type of mortgage-developed and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that enables older home owners to convert the equity they have in their homes into cash, using a variety of payment options to address their specific financial needs. Sometimes called a reverse mortgage.

    Home Equity Line of Credit

    A type of revolving loan, that enables a home owner to obtain multiple advances of the loan proceeds at his or her own discretion, up to an amount that represents a specified percentage of the borrower's equity in the property.

    Home Inspection

    An examination of the construction, condition and internal systems of a home prior to purchase; satisfactory home inspection may be a condition of purchase.

    Homeowner's Insurance

    A broad form of insurance coverage that combines hazard insurance with personal liability protection and other coverage.

    Homeowner's Warranty (HOW)

    Insurance offered by a seller that covers certain home repairs and fixtures for a specified period of time.

    Homeowners' Association

    An organization of homeowners residing within a particular area whose principal purpose is to ensure the provision and maintenance of community facilities and services for the common benefit of the residents.

    Housing Expense Ratio

    The percentage of a borrower's gross monthly income that is devoted to housing costs.

    HUD-1 Settlement Statement

    A document that lists all closing costs on a real estate purchase or refinance transaction. Also known as the "closing statement" or "settlement sheet."


    Homebuyer Education Learning Program; an educational program from the FHA that counsels people about the homebuying process; HELP covers topics like budgeting, finding a home, getting a loan, and home maintenance; in most cases, completion of the program may entitle the homebuyer to a reduced initial FHA mortgage insurance premium-from 2.25% to 1.75% of the home purchase price.


    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; established in 1965, HUD works to create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans; it does this by addressing housing needs, improving and developing American communities, and enforcing fair housing laws.


    Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning; a home's heating and cooling system.


    Income Property

    Real estate developed or purchased to produce income, such as a rental unit.


    A number used to compute the interest rate for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). The index is generally a published number or percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on U.S. Treasury bills. A margin is added to the index to determine the interest rate that will be charged on the ARM. This interest rate is subject to any caps on the maximum or minimum interest rate that may be charged on the mortgage, stated in the note.

    Initial Interest Rate

    The original interest rate for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Sometimes known as the "start rate."


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

    Installment Debt

    A loan that is repaid in accordance with a schedule of payments for a specified term (such as an automobile loan).


    The fee charged for borrowing money, usually expressed as an annual percentage of the principal.

    Interest Accrual Rate

    The percentage rate at which interest accumulates or increases on a mortgage loan.

    Interest Rate Cap

    For an adjustable-rate mortgage, a limitation on the amount the interest rate can change per adjustment or over the lifetime of the loan, as stated in the note.

    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.

    Investment Property

    A property purchased to generate rental income, tax benefits, or profitable resale rather than to serve as the borrower's primary residence. Contrast with "second home."


    The number of dollars in circulation exceeds the amount of goods and services available for purchase; inflation results in a decrease in the dollar's value.


    Judgment Lien

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

    Jumbo Loan

    A loan that exceeds the mortgage amount eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Also called "nonconforming loan."

    Junior Mortgage

    A loan that is subordinate to the primary loan or first-lien mortgage loan, such as a second or third mortgage.


    A legal decision; when requiring debt repayment, a judgment may include a property lien that secures the creditor's claim by providing a collateral source.



    Late Charge

    A penalty imposed by the lender when a borrower fails to make a scheduled payment on time.

    Lease-Purchase Option

    An option sometimes used by sellers to rent a property to a consumer, who has the option to buy the home within a specified period of time. Typically, part of each rental payment is put aside for the purpose of accumulating funds to pay the down payment and closing costs.


    A person's debts and other financial obligations.

    Liability Insurance

    Insurance coverage that protects property owners against claims of negligence, personal injury or property damage to another party.


    An index used to determine interest rate changes for certain ARM plans, based on the average interest rate at which international banks lend to or borrow funds from the London Interbank Market.


    A legal encumbrance or claim on property as security for a debt.

    Lifetime Cap

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

    Liquid Asset

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

    Loan Origination

    The process by which a lender makes a loan which may include taking a loan application, processing and underwriting the application, and closing the loan.

    Loan Origination Fee

    A fee to cover some of the administrative costs of processing a loan. It is often expressed in points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.

    Loan-To-Value (LTV) Ratio

    The relationship between the loan amount and the value of the property (the lower of appraised value or sales price), expressed as a percentage of the property's value. For example, a $100,000 home with an $80,000 mortgage has an LTV of 80 percent.


    An agreement in which the lender agrees to "lock-in" the borrower's interest rate for a set period of time before closing.


    Money borrowed that is usually repaid with interest.

    Loan fraud:

    Purposely giving incorrect information on a loan application in order to better qualify for a loan; may result in civil liability or criminal penalties.

    Loss mitigation:

    A process to avoid foreclosure; the lender tries to help a borrower who has been unable to make loan payments and is in danger of defaulting on his or her loan


    Manufactured Housing

    Homes that are built entirely in a factory in accordance with a federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Manufactured homes may be single- or multi-section and are transported from the factory to a site and installed. Homes that are permanently affixed to a foundation often may be classified as real property under applicable state law, and may be financed with a mortgage. Homes that are not permanently affixed to a foundation generally are classified as personal property, and are financed with a retail installment sales agreement.


    For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the amount that is added to the index to determine the interest rate on each adjustment date, as stated in the note.

    Maturity Date

    The date on which a mortgage loan is scheduled to be paid in full, as stated in the note.

    Merged Credit Report

    A credit report issued by a credit reporting company that combines information from the three major credit repositories.


    Any change to the terms of a mortgage loan, including changes to the interest rate, loan balance, or loan term.

    Money Market Account

    A type of investment in which funds are invested in short term securities.


    A loan to finance the purchase of real estate, for which the borrower pledges the real property as security for the repayment of the loan. The borrower gives the lender a lien on the property as collateral for the loan.

    Mortgage Banker

    A company that specializes in originating real estate loans, and typically uses its own funds or warehouse line of credit to close loans.

    Mortgage Broker

    An individual or firm that brings borrowers and lenders together for the purpose of loan origination. A mortgage broker typically takes loan applications and may process loans, but generally does not use its own funds to close the loan. Mortgage brokers often act as independent contractors and not as an agent of the borrower or lender.

    Mortgage Insurance (MI)

    Insurance that protects lenders against losses caused by a borrower's default on a mortgage loan. MI typically is required if the borrower's down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price.

    Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

    The amount paid by a borrower for mortgage insurance, either to a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or to a private mortgage insurance (PMI) company.

    Mortgage Life Insurance

    A type of insurance that will pay off a mortgage if the borrower dies while the loan is outstanding; a form of credit life insurance.


    The institution or individual to whom a mortgage is given; the lender.


    The owner of real estate who pledges property as security for the repayment of a debt; the borrower.

    Multifamily Mortgage

    A mortgage loan on a building with more than four dwelling units.

    Multifamily Properties

    Typically, buildings with five or more dwelling units.


    Negative Amortization

    An increase in the balance of a loan caused by adding unpaid interest to the loan balance; this occurs when the payment does not cover the interest due.

    Net Worth

    The value of a company or individual's assets, including cash, less total liabilities.

    Nonliquid Asset

    An asset that cannot easily be converted into cash.


    A written promise to pay a specified amount under the agreed upon conditions.

    Note Rate

    The interest rate stated on a mortgage note, or other loan agreement.


    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 to cover the administrative costs of processing a loan application. The origination fee typically is stated in the form of points. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount.

    Owner Financing

    A transaction in which the property seller provides all or part of the financing for the buyer's purchase of the property.

    Owner Occupied Property

    A property that serves as the borrower's primary residence.


    The process of preparing, submitting, and evaluating a loan application; generally includes a credit check, verification of employment, and a property appraisal.


    Partial Payment

    A payment that is less than the scheduled monthly payment on a mortgage loan.

    Payment Change Date

    The date on which a new monthly payment amount takes effect, for example, on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loan.

    Payment Cap

    For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or other variable rate loan, a limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.

    Personal Property

    Any property that is not real property.


    An acronym for the four primary components of a monthly mortgage payment: principle, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).

    PITI Reserves

    A cash amount that a borrower has available after making a down payment and paying closing costs for the purchase of a home. The principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) reserves must equal the amount that the borrower would have to pay for PITI for a predefined number of months.

    Planned Unit Development (PUD)

    A real estate project in which individuals hold title to a residential lot and home while the common facilities are owned and maintained by a homeowners' association for the benefit and use of the individual PUD unit owners.


    An amount equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.

    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.


    A process by which a lender provides a prospective borrower with an indication of how much money he or she will be eligible to borrow when applying for a mortgage loan. This process typically includes a review of the applicant???s credit history and may involve the review and verification of income and assets to close.


    A preliminary assessment by a lender of the amount it will lend to a potential homebuyer. The process of determining how much money a prospective home buyer may be eligible to borrow before he or she applies for a loan.


    Any amount paid to reduce the principal balance of a loan before the scheduled due date.

    Prepayment Penalty

    A fee that a borrower may be required to pay to the lender, in the early years of a mortgage loan, for repaying the loan in full or prepaying a substantial amount to reduce the unpaid principle balance.


    The amount if money owed on a loan, excluding interest. Also, the part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

    Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

    Insurance for conventional mortgage loans that protects the lender from loss in the event of default by the borrower.

    Promissory Note

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

    Purchase and Sale Agreement

    A document that details the price and conditions for a transaction. In connection with the sale of a residential property, the agreement typically would include: information about the property to be sold, sale price, down payment, earnest money deposit, financing, closing date, occupancy date, length of time the offer is valid, and any special contingencies.

    Purchase Money Mortgage

    A mortgage loan that enables a borrower to acquire a property

    Partial Claim:

    A loss mitigation option offered by the FHA that allows a borrower, with help from a lender, to get an interest-free loan from HUD to bring their mortgage payments up to date.


    Private Mortgage Insurance; privately-owned companies that offer standard and special affordable mortgage insurance programs for qualified borrowers with down payments of less than 20% of a purchase price.

    Pre-foreclosure sale:

    Allows a defaulting borrower to sell the mortgaged property to satisfy the loan and avoid foreclosure.


    Qualifying Guidelines

    Criteria used to determine eligibility for a loan.

    Qualifying Ratios

    Calculations that are used in determining the loan amount that a borrower qualifies for, typically a comparison of the borrower's total monthly income to monthly debt payments and other recurring monthly obligations.

    Quality Control

    A system of safeguards to ensure that loans are originated, underwritten and serviced according to the lender's standards and, if applicable, the standards of the investor, governmental agency, or mortgage insurer.


    Rate Caps

    For an adjustable rate mortgage loan, the maximum interest rate that may be charged, either at the time of each adjustment date or over the life of the loan.

    Rate Lock

    An agreement in which a lender "locks in" or guarantees an interest rate for a specified period of time prior to closing.
  • See also "Lock-in"

  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

    A federal law that requires lenders to provide home mortgage borrowers with information about transaction-related costs prior to settlement, as well as information during the life of the loan regarding servicing and escrow accounts. RESPA also, prohibits kickbacks and unearned fees in the mortgage loan business.

    Real Property

    Land and anything permanently affixed thereto including buildings, fences, trees, and minerals.


    The public official who keeps records of transactions that affect real property in the area. Sometimes known as a "Registrar of Deeds" or "County Clerk."


    The filing of a lien or other legal documents in the appropriate public record. Refinance Transaction

    The process of paying off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan using the same property as security.

    Rehabilitation Mortgage

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

    Remaining Term

    The original number of payments due on the loan minus the number of payments that have been applied.

    Repayment Plan

    An arrangement by which a borrower agrees to make additional payments to pay down past due amounts while still making regularly scheduled payments.


    The cancellation or annulment of a transaction or contract by operation of law or by mutual consent. Borrowers may have a right to cancel certain mortgage refinance transactions within three business days after closing, or for up to three years in certain instances.

    Revolving Debt

    Credit that is extended by a creditor under a plan in which (1) the creditor contemplates repeated transactions; (2) the creditor may impose a finance charge from time to time on an outstanding unpaid balance; and (3) the amount of credit that may be extended to the consumer during the term of the plan is generally made available to the extent that any outstanding balance is repaid.

    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.

    Rural Housing Service (RHS)

    An agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which operates a range of programs to help rural communities and individuals by providing loan and grants for housing and community facilities. The agency also works with private lenders to guarantee loans for the purchase or construction of single-family housing.


    Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; a law protecting consumers from abuses during the residential real estate purchase and loan process by requiring lenders to disclose all settlement costs, practices, and relationships



    A transaction in which the buyer leases the property back to the seller for a specified period of time.

    Second Mortgage

    A mortgage that has a lien position subordinate to the first mortgage.

    Secondary Mortgage Market

    The market in which mortgage loan and mortgage-backed securities are bought and sold.

    Secured Loan

    A loan that is backed by property such as a house, car, jewelry, etc.


    The property that will be given or pledged as collateral for a loan.

    Seller Take-Back

    An agreement in which the seller of a property provides financing to the buyer for the home purchase.
  • See also "Owner Financing"

  • Servicer

    A firm that performs servicing functions, including collecting mortgage payments, paying the borrower's taxes and insurance and generally managing borrower escrow accounts.


    The tasks a lender performs to protect the mortgage investment, including the collection of mortgage payments, escrow administration, and delinquency management.


    The process of completing a loan transaction at which time the mortgage documents are signed and then recorded, funds are disbursed, and the property is transferred to the buyer (if applicable). Also called closing or escrow in different jurisdictions.
  • See also "Closing"

  • Settlement Statement

    A document that lists all closing costs on a real estate purchase or refinance transaction.

    Single-Family Properties

    One- to four-unit properties including detached homes, townhouses, condominiums, and cooperatives, and manufactured homes attached to a permanent foundation and classified as real property under applicable state law.

    Soft Second Loan

    A second mortgage whose payment is forgiven or is deferred until resale of the property.

    Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act

    A federal law that restricts the enforcement of civilian debts against military personnel who may not be able to pay because of active military service.

    Subordinate Financing

    Any mortgage or other lien with lower priority than the first mortgage.


    A precise measurement of a property by a licensed surveyor, showing legal boundaries of a property and the dimensions and location of improvements.

    Sweat Equity

    A borrower's contribution to the down payment for the purchase of a property in the form of labor or services rather than cash.

    Special Forbearance:

    A loss mitigation option where the lender arranges a revised repayment plan for the borrower that may include a temporary reduction or suspension of monthly loan payments.


    Taxes and Insurance

    Funds collected as part of the borrower's monthly payment and held in escrow for the payment of the borrower's state and local property taxes and insurance premiums.

    Termite Inspection

    An inspection to determine whether a property has termite infestation or termite damage. In many parts of the country, a home must be inspected for termites before it can be sold.

    Third-Party Origination

    A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package a mortgage loan.
  • See also "Mortgage Broker"

  • Title

    A legal document evidencing a person's right to or ownership of a property.

    Title Insurance

    Insurance that protects the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against losses arising from defects in the title not listed in the title report or abstract.

    Title Search

    A check of the public records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and to identify any liens or claims against the property.

    Trade Equity

    Real Estate or assets given to the seller as part of the down payment for the property.

    Transfer Tax

    State or local tax payable when title to property 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. It is based on the results of auctions by the U.S. Treasury of Treasury bills and securities.


    A federal law intended to promote the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosure about its terms and costs. Creditors are required to disclose the cost of credit as a dollar amount (the finance charge) and as an annual percentage rate (APR).

    Two- to Four- Family Property

    A residential property that provides living space (dwelling units) for two to four families, although ownership of the structure is evidenced by a single deed; a loan secured by such a property is considered to be a single-family mortgage.

    Title 1:

    An FHA-insured loan that allows a borrower to make non-luxury improvements (like renovations or repairs) to their home; Title I loans less than $7,500 don't require a property lien.

    Townhome/Town House

    Dwelling unit, generally having two or more floors and attached to other similar units via party walls. Town houses are often used in planned unit developments and condominium developments, which provide for clustered or attached housing and common open space.


    A federal law obligating a lender to give full written disclosure of all fees, terms, and conditions associated with the loan initial period and then adjusts to another rate that lasts for the term of the loan.



    In mortgage lending, the process of evaluating a loan application to determine the risk involved for the lender. Underwriting involves an analysis of the borrower's creditworthiness, ability to repay the loan, and the value of the property securing the loan.

    Unsecured Loan

    A loan that is not backed by collateral.


    Veterans Affairs (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

    A federal government agency that provides benefits to veterans and their dependents, including health care, educational assistance, financial assistance, and guaranteed home loans.

    VA Guaranteed Loan

    A mortgage loan that is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).



    A common clause in a sales contract that allows the buyer to examine the property being purchased at a specified time immediately before the closing, for example, within the 24 hours before closing.