Our Mortgage Terms can help you better understand the mortgage lending industry!

Mortgage Terms

The mortgage lending industry can be confusing for most people.  With the terminology used in discussing mortgages such as Balloon Payment, Assumption Fee, Equity, and Settlement Costs, most people can become easily confused. Mortgage professionals speak a language of their own. To help take the confusion out of the mortgage lending process, we have come up with a list of some of the commonly used mortgage terms and definitions in plain language.


Additional Principal Payment

A way to reduce the remaining balance on the loan by paying more than the scheduled principal amount due.

Amortization

The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan, both principal and interest, by installments.

Amortization Term

The length of time required to amortize the mortgage loan expressed as a number of months. For example, 360 months is the amortization term for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The cost of credit, expressed as a yearly rate including interest, mortgage insurance, and loan origination fees. This allows the buyer to compare loans. However, APR should not be confused with the actual note rate.

Appraisal

A written analysis prepared by a qualified appraiser that estimates the value of a property.

Appraised Value

An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

Balloon Mortgage

A mortgage with level monthly payments that amortizes over a stated term but also requires that a lump sum payment be paid at the end of an earlier specified term.

Balloon Payment

The final lump sum paid at the maturity date of a balloon mortgage.

Certificate of Eligibility

A document issued by the federal government certifying a veteran’s eligibility for a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage.

Closing

A meeting held to finalize the sale of a property. The buyer signs the mortgage documents and pays closing costs. Also called "settlement."

Closing Cost

These are expenses - over and above the price of the property- that are incurred by buyers and sellers when transferring ownership of a property. Closing costs normally include an origination fee, property taxes, charges for title insurance and escrow costs, appraisal fees, etc. Closing costs will vary according to the area country and the lenders used.

Default

Failure to make mortgage payments on a timely basis or to comply with other requirements of a mortgage.

Delinquency

Failure to make mortgage payments on time.

Down Payment

Part of the purchase price of a property that is paid at closing and not financed with a mortgage.

Equity

The amount of financial interest in a property. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on the mortgage.

Escrow

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 of funds or documents into an escrow account to be disbursed upon the closing of a sale of real estate.

Escrow Payment

The part of a mortgagor’s monthly payment that is held by the servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other items as they become due.

FICO Score

FICO® scores are the most widely used credit score in U.S. mortgage loan underwriting. This 3-digit number, ranging from 300 to 850, is calculated by a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of information that are on your credit report. Higher FICO® scores represent lower credit risks, which typically equate to better loan terms.

Interest

The fee charged for borrowing money.

Late Charge

The penalty a borrower must pay when a payment is made a stated number of days (usually 15) after the due date.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Precentage

The relationship between the principal balance of the mortgage and the appraised value (or sales price if it is lower) of the property. For example, a $100,000 home with an $80,000 mortgage has an LTV of 80 percent.

Note

A legal document that obligates a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.

Origination Fee

A fee paid to a lender for processing a loan application. The origination fee is stated in the form of points. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount.

Points

A point is equal to one percent of the principal amount of your mortgage. For example, if you get a mortgage for $165,000, one point means $1,650 to the lender.  Points usually are collected at closing and may be paid by the borrower or the home seller, or may be split between them.

Principal Balance

The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage not including interest or any other charges.

Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (PITI)

The four components of a monthly mortgage payment. Principal refers to the part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of the mortgage. Interest is the fee charged for borrowing money. Taxes and insurance refer to the monthly cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance, whether these amounts that are paid into an escrow account each month or not.

Priority Approval

The process of determining how much money you will be eligible to borrow before you apply for a loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Mortgage insurance provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders generally require MI for a loan with a loan-to-value (LTV) percentage in excess of 80 percent.

Qualifying Ratios

Calculations used to determine if a borrower can qualify for a mortgage.

Rate Lock

A commitment issued by a lender to a borrower or other mortgage originator guaranteeing a specified interest rate and lender costs for a specified period of time.

Recording

The noting in the registrar’s office of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.

Refinance

Paying off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan using the same property as security.

Servicer

An organization that collects principal and interest payments from borrowers and manages borrowers’ escrow accounts. The servicer often services mortgages that have been purchased by an investor in the secondary mortgage market.

Underwriting

The process of evaluating a loan application to determine the risk involved for the lender. Underwriting involves an analysis of the borrower's creditworthiness and the quality of the property itself.