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Mortgage Glossary

Here's a list of terms you might encounter during the mortgage buying process.

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Amortization

The repayment of a loan over time by installments, dealing with how much of your payment goes toward interest and how much is paid toward principal

Annual percentage rate (APR)

The actual interest rate you pay on your mortgage, including fees, points and other costs associated with the loan

Appraisal

A comprehensive report that determines the value of a property based on a number of factors

Closing

The last step in the loan process where documents are signed at a title company or attorney's office

Closing Costs

The fees associated with purchasing a property that are not included in the purchased price, typically origination fees, discount points, appraisal fee, survey, title insurance, legal fees, real estate fees, prepayment of taxes and insurance and real estate transfer taxes

Construction Loan

A short-term loan to finance the construction of a new residence, business or investment property, typically converted to a conventional loan after construction

Conventional Loan

A mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by a government entity such as the Federal Housing Agency (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA)

Credit Report

A detailed report that includes vital information about you and your credit history, compiled through credit reporting agencies

Debit-to-Income Ratio

The ratio of your liabilities (monthly bills and living expenses) versus your gross monthly income

Deed

An official public document that establishes property ownership

Down Payment

A portion of money paid at the beginning of a loan to demonstrate commitment to the purchase

Earnest Money

Money paid to the seller by the buyer as a pledge to complete a real estate transaction

Escrow

A fund administered by a third party and used to pay taxes and insurance for a mortgage transaction

Equity

The value of a property, minus any money owed against it

Fixed-rate Mortgage

A mortgage with a fixed interest rate that will not adjust at any point during the life of the loan

Foreclosure

The process by which a bank or lender sells a property after a borrower fails to meet the repayment terms of the loan

Home Equity Line of Credit

A loan that allows you to borrow money from the equity in your home, based on a certain maximum draw amount

Home Inspection

A limited, non-invasion examination of the condition of home that is completed by a third party prior to selling

Interest

The fee charged by the borrower for the use of the borrowed money

Lien

A legal claim or hold on a piece of property

Market Value

The price a seller can expect to receive for the sale of a property

Origination Fee

A percentage of the mortgage loan charged by the lender for completing the loan process

Points

An up-front fee you pay for obtaining a mortgage; one point equals 1% of the loan value

Pre-Approval

The process through which a borrower evaluates the credit of a potential lender and determines the maximum amount they would be willing to lend

Principal

The unpaid balance on your mortgage loan

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Extra insurance that a lender requires when a buyer obtains a loan for more than 80% of the home's value

Refinance

The act of replacing the existing loan on your property with a new one

Title

The official document that states who owns a piece of real estate property

Title Insurance

Insurance taken out to protect both the borrower and the lender in case of a title dispute

Title Search

Research conducted on a property prior to the sale to make sure there are no existing liens against it

Underwriting

The process a lender uses to determine a borrower's eligibility for a loan

Warranty Deed

Indicates that there are no past liens or disputes against the property and the holder has the right to sell

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