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Glossary of Mortgage Terms

Here's your go-to guide for understanding the loan lingo associated with your mortgage.

Learning the language will be helpful when weighing your home loan options.

A lot of moving parts make up your mortgage experience. We want you to be confident as you move forward, so we've compiled this list of common terms associated with home loans.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

Mortgage in which the rate of interest is adjusted at regular intervals based on a standard rate index. Most ARMs have a cap on how much the rate may increase.


Amortization

The process through which the mortgage debt is altered, usually declining, as payments are made to the lender. "Negative-amortization" occurs when monthly payments are too small to cover either the principal or interest reductions.


Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The rate of interest to be paid on a loan projected life; sometimes referred to as the "true" rate of interest.


Appraisal

A professional evaluation of the value of a home or other piece of property. It is often required by the lender.


Balloon Mortgage

A real estate loan in which some portion of the debt will remain unpaid at the end of the term of the loan. A balloon will usually result in a single large payment due when the loan ends.


Cap

A limit on how much a mortgage interest rate may increase or decrease for an adjustable-rate mortgage.


Debt-To-Income Ratio

A ratio used by lending institutions to determine whether a person is qualified for a mortgage. Debt-to-income is the total amount of debt, including credit cards and other loans, divided by the total gross monthly income.


Default

Failure to pay the mortgage payments over a specified period of time.


Discount Points

A percentage of the mortgage paid to the lender to lower the interest rate on a loan. One point equals one percent of the mortgage.


Equity

The difference between the market value of a house and the amount still owed on the mortgage.


Escrow

Money and documents deposited in a trust account to be held by one party for another. Often used by brokers to hold deposit money prior to closing. Also used by lenders to hold money for taxes and insurance on a home.


Loan-To-Value Ratio (LTV)

The amount of the loan divided by the purchase price of the house. If a refinance, the loan is divided by appraised value.


Margin

A set number of percentage points a lender adds to the index to determine the interest rate for an ARM.


Mortgage Insurance (MI)

Insurance designed to cover the lender should the borrower default on the loan. Depending on the lender, this may be required by the lender.


PITI

PITI stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance - the components of the monthly housing expense. Principal is the portion of the monthly payment that is used to reduce the loan balance. Interest is the fee charged for borrowing money. Taxes refer to the property taxes paid by the homeowner. Insurance refers to homeowner's insurance, purchased by the borrower and required by the lender, to protect the property against loss from fire and other hazards. Taxes and Insurance that are included in the monthly monthly mortgage payment are held in an Escrow account by the lender who then pays the full amount when they come due.

Points

An interest fee charged by the lender. One point is equal to one percent of the mortgage. The use of points allow the borrower to buy up or down his/her permanent interest rate.

Prepayment Penalty

A fee imposed on a borrower who pays off a mortgage before it is due.

Pre-Qualification

A process by which a potential homebuyer qualifies for a home mortgage before making an offer on a house. A lending institution agrees to make a loan in a specified amount to the person it has pre-qualified.

Principal

The amount of the loan.


Second Mortgage

An additional mortgage on a property. It often carries a shorter term and a higher interest rate than the original mortgage.


Title Company

A company that searches for titles and insurance claims. Your loan will close at a title company.


Truth In Lending Act

A federal law that requires lenders to reveal all the terms of the mortgage.

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