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Glossary

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A

Abstract (of Title)  

A historical summary of all the recorded transactions that affect the title to the property. An attorney will review an abstract of title to determine if there are any problems affecting the title to the property. All such problems must be cleared before the buyer can be issued a clear and insurable title.

     
Abutting  

Bordering upon or next to; the joining or touching of adjoining land; sharing a common boundary.

     

Acceleration Clause

 

A loan provision giving the lender the power to declare all sums owing lender immediately due and payable upon the violation of a specific loan provision, such as the sale of the property, or the failure to make loan payments on time.

     
Acceptance  

An offeree’s consent to enter into a contract and be bound by the terms of the offer. In a real estate transaction an offer is made from the buyer to the seller. If the seller accepts the offer within the prescribed time limit, it becomes a binding contract. In this case Acceptance is documented by the Seller signing and delivering the signed document.

     

Acknowledgment

 

Formal declaration before Notary Public which one has signed a document. Required before recording real estate legal documents, such as a mortgage.

     
Acre  

A measure of land equal to 43,560 square feet.

     
Additional Principal Payment  

A payment by a borrower of more than the scheduled principal amount due in order to reduce the remaining balance on the loan.

     

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

 

Also known as a variable rate mortgage. The interest rate on these mortgages changes periodically.

     

Adjusted Basis

 

The adjusted basis figure is the value used to determine capital gains when you sell real property. The original cost of a property plus the value of any capital expenditures for improvements to the property minus any depreciation taken.

     
Adjustment Period  

The length of time for which the interest rate is fixed on an adjustable. If the adjustment period is six months, then the interest rate will remain fixed for six months, after which time it will adjust.

     
Affordability Analysis   A detailed analysis to determine whether you can afford the purchase of a home. An affordability analysis takes into consideration your income, liabilities, and available funds, along with the type of mortgage you plan to use, the area where you want to purchase a home, and the closing costs that you might expect to pay.
     
Agreement of Sale   A written signed agreement between the seller and the purchaser in which the purchaser agrees to buy certain real estate and the seller agrees to sell upon terms of the agreement. Also known as contract of purchase, purchase agreement, offer and acceptance, earnest money contract or sales agreement.
     
Amenity  

A feature of real property that enhances its attractiveness and increases the occupant’s or user’s satisfaction, although the feature is not essential to the property’s use. Natural amenities include a pleasant or desirable location near water, scenic views of the surrounding area, etc. Human-made amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, community buildings, and other recreational facilities.

     
Amortization  

A gradual paying off of a debt by periodic installments which pay principal and interest.

     
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)  

The effective rate of interest for a loan per year. This rate is typically higher than the note rate because it takes into account closing costs. This is one way to compare loan programs offered by different lenders.

     
Application  

A form used to apply for a mortgage loan and to record pertinent information concerning a prospective mortgagor and the proposed security.

     

Appraisal

  An opinion or estimate of the value of a property at a given date.
     
Appreciation   An increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or for other reasons, such as additions and renovations. Opposite of depreciation.
     
Arm's length transaction  

A transaction among parties each of who acts in his or her own best interest.
Example: A transaction between a father and his son would NOT be an Arm's length transaction.

     
Assessed Value  

The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation.

     

Assessment

 

The process of placing a value on property for the strict purpose of taxation. May also refer to a levy against property for a special purpose, such as a sidewalk, street or sewer assessment.

     

Assessor

 

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

     

Assignment

 

The transfer of a mortgage from one person to another.

     
Asset  

Anything with a dollar value that you own. Banks consider your assets when determining how much you can borrow.

     
Assumable Mortgage  

A mortgage loan which allows a new home buyer to take over the obligation of making loan payments with no change in the terms of the loan. Assumable loans do not have a due-on-sale clause. The lender has to be notified and agree to the assumption. The lender may require the buyer to qualify for the loan and may charge an assumption fee. The seller should obtain a written release from the lender stating clearly that he/she is no longer liable to make mortgage payments.
See also "Subject To."

     
Attorney In Fact  

One who is authorized to act for another under a power of attorney which may be general or limited in scope.

     

B

Back-end ratio, or debt ratio  

The amount you pay in monthly debt (car payments, credit cards, student loans, etc.) divided by your gross monthly income.

     
Balloon (Payment) Mortgage  

Usually a short-term fixed-rate loan which involves small payments for a certain period of time and one large payment for the remaining amount of the principal at a time specified in the contract.

     
Bankruptcy  

The financial inability to pay one's debts when due. The debtor surrenders his assets to the bankruptcy court. An individual typically files for Chapter 7 (all debts wiped out) or Chapter 13 (establishes a payment plan to pay off debts). A bankruptcy stays on an individual's credit report for seven years.

     
Beneficiary  

The person who receives or is to receive the benefits resulting from certain acts.

Example : The lender is named as the beneficiary on a mortgage loan.
     
Betterment  

An improvement that increases property value as distinguished from repairs or replacements that simply maintain value.

     

Bill of Sale

  A written document that transfers title to personal property.
     
Biweekly Mortgage   A mortgage which requires half the normal monthly payment every two weeks. Over the course of the year, twenty-six half payments are made which is equivalent to thirteen full mortgage payments. As a result of this extra payment the loan amortizes much faster than a loan with normal monthly payments
     
Blanket Mortgage   A mortgage covering more than one piece of property. This type of mortgage is often used by developers when developing subdivisions.
     
Bond  

1. A debt instrument in the capital markets. The U.S. government, corporations and municipalities use bonds to raise money. Bonds can also be backed by mortgages. The best known bond is the 30-yr. treasury bond issued by the U.S. government.

2. A sum of money given to a court to guarantee against a loss. For example if there is a lien on a property, the owner may remove the lien by posting a bond.

     

Borrower (mortgagor, trustor)

 

One who applies for a loan secured by real estate and is responsible for repaying the loan (mortgage).

     
Breach   To break or violate an agreement.
     

Bridge Loan

 

An interim loan typically used when the buyer is unable to sell his/her house but needs money to close the transaction on the house he/she is buying. The bridge loan is made on the buyer's current residence to finance the buyer's new residence. The loan is paid off when the buyer's current residence is sold.

     
Broker  

See Real Estate Broker or Mortgage Broker.

     

Building Code

 

Local regulations that control design, construction, and materials used in construction. Building codes are based on safety and health standards.

     
Building Line or Setback  

Distances from the ends and/or sides of the lot beyond which construction may not extend. The building line may be established by a filed plat of subdivision, by restrictive covenants in deeds or leases, by building codes, or by zoning ordinances.

     

Buydown

 

Obtaining a lower interest rate (buying down the rate) by paying additional points to the lender. The lower rate may apply for the full duration of the loan or for just the first few years. A buydown may be used to qualify a borrower who would otherwise not qualify since a buydown results in lower payments.

     
Buyer's Broker   An agent hired by a buyer to locate a property for purchase. The broker represents the buyer and negotiates with the seller's broker for the best possible deal for the buyer.
     

Buyer's Market

  Market conditions that favor the buyer. I.e., a market in which there are more sellers than buyers. As a result, a buyer has an excess supply of homes from which to choose and can negotiate a lower price. A buyer's market may be caused by an economic slump or overbuilding.
     

C

Call Option  

A clause in the mortgage that gives the lender the right to "call" the mortgage due and payable at the end of a given length of time, for whatever reason.

     
Capital Expenditure   The cost of an improvement made either to extend the life of a property or to increase its value.
     
Capital Gains   When you sell a capital asset at a profit, such as real estate, the difference between the amount you sell it for and your basis, which is usually what you paid for it, is a capital gain
     
Capital Improvement   Any item, structure or addition that is a permanent improvement to the property.
     
Caps (interest)  

Limits on the amount that the interest rate on an ARM can change per year and/or during the life of the loan. Payment caps limit the amount that monthly payments for an ARM may change.

     
Cash Flow  

The amount of cash derived over a certain period of time from an income-producing property. The cash flow should be large enough to pay the expenses of the income producing property (mortgage payment, maintenance, utilities, etc.).

     

Caveat Emptor

 

A legal term meaning "let the buyer beware", and that the property is being bought in an 'as is' condition.

     

CC&R's - Covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

  The basic rules establishing the rights and obligations of owners of real property within a condominium, townhouse, PUD, subdivision or other tract of land. An association is organized for the purpose of operating and maintaining property commonly owned by the individual owners. The association is normally made up of property owners.
     
Certificate of Eligibility  

The document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs to those who qualify for a VA loan which may be used to buy a house with zero down. Certificates of eligibility may be obtained by sending the form DD-214 to the local VA office along with VA form 1880.

     
Certificate of Occupancy   Document issued by a local governmental agency that states a property meets the local building standards for occupancy and is in compliance with public health and building codes. This document is normally required by a lender prior to closing the loan.
     
Certificate of Reasonable Value (CRV)   An appraisal performed by a VA approved appraiser which establishes the property's current market value. This value establishes the ceiling on the maximum VA mortgage loan principal.
     

Certificate of Title

 

An opinion rendered by an attorney as to the status of title to a property, according to the public records. This certificate does not the same level of protection as title insurance.

     
Certificate of Veteran Status  

The document given to veterans or reservists who have served 90 days of continuous active duty (including training time). This document enables veterans to obtain lower down payments on certain FHA-insured loans.

     
Chain of Title  

The chronological order of conveyance of a parcel of land from the original owner to the present owner. Community Title Company has chain of title information for all Grundy County properties back to 1850.

     

Chattel

 

Personal property.

     
Clear Title  

A marketable title, free of clouds and disputed interests. Most lenders require a clear title prior to closing.

     
Closing  

The final meeting between the buyer, seller and lender (or their agents) at which the property and funds legally change hands.

     

Closing Costs

 

Expenses incurred by the buyer and seller in a real estate or mortgage transaction. There are two types of costs: recurring and non-recurring.

Non-recurring costs are one time transactional costs which include

  • Discount and origination points
  • Lender fees: underwriting, processing, document preparations, flood certificate, tax service, wire transfer, courier, etc
  • Abstracting fees
  • Escrow, attorney or closing agent fees
  • Recording fees
  • Inspection and appraisal fees
  • Real estate brokerage commissions

Recurring fees are costs associated with owning the property and they recur month after month. These costs may include hazard insurance, interest, property taxes, mortgage insurance (PMI), and association fees. A pro-rated amount of these fees may have to be paid at closing including

  • Pre-paid interest - interest charges from the date of closing to the end of the month
  • Property taxes if due
  • Hazard insurance, fire insurance or homeowners insurance has to be paid for one year
  • Mortgage insurance (PMI) may be required if the loan amount is more than 80 percent of the value of the property.
     
Closing Statement – HUD1  

A detailed written summary of the financial settlement of a real estate transaction, showing all charges and credits made, all cash received and paid.

     

Cloud on Title

 

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

     

COFI

 

A monthly cost-of-funds index (COFI) reflecting the average interest rate paid by 11th Federal Home Loan Bank District savings institutions for savings and checking accounts. The 11th district covers Arizona, California and Nevada. The index is published on the last day of the month and reflects the cost of funds for the prior month. This rate is used by lenders to determine the index rate for some of their variable rate loan products.

     

Collateral

 

An asset (such as a car or a home) that guarantees the repayment of a loan. The borrower risks losing the asset if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the loan contract.

     
Collection   The efforts used to bring a delinquent mortgage current and to file the necessary notices to proceed with foreclosure when necessary.
     
Co-Signer  

A person who signs a promissory note along with the borrower. A co-signer's signature guarantees that the loan will be repaid, because the borrower and the co-maker are equally responsible for the repayment. See endorser.

     

Commission

  The fee charged by a broker or agent for negotiating a real estate or loan transaction. A commission is generally a percentage of the price of the property or loan.
     
Commitment  

A written document provided by a lender to agreeing to make a loan on specific terms to a borrower or builder.

     
Common Area Assessments  

Levies against individual unit owners in a condominium or planned unit development (PUD) project for additional capital to defray homeowners' association costs and expenses and to repair, replace, maintain, improve, or operate the common areas of the project.

     

Common Areas

 

Those portions of a building, land, and amenities owned (or managed) 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.

     
Common Law   An unwritten body of law based on general custom in England and used to an extent in the United States.
     

Comparables

 

An abbreviation for "comparable properties"; used for comparative purposes in the appraisal process. Comparables are properties like the property under consideration; they have reasonably the same size, location, and amenities and have recently been sold. Comparables help the appraiser determine the approximate fair market value of the subject property.

     
Compound Interest  

Interest paid on the original principal balance and on the accrued and unpaid interest.

     
Comps, Comparables   Comparable properties; properties in close proximity which have sold recently and are about the same size with similar amenities, used to determine the value of a property by comparison.
     

Condemnation

 

The determination that a building is not fit for use or is dangerous and must be destroyed; the taking of private property for a public purpose through an exercise of the right of eminent domain.

     
Conditional Commitment  

A written document provided by a lender agreeing to make a loan provided certain conditions are met prior to closing.

     

Conditional Sales Contract (Land Contract)

 

A real estate sales contract in which the seller (vendor) agrees to convey title to the buyer (vendee) after certain conditions have been met and transfer is not required within one year.(installment selling arrangement whereby the buyer may use and occupy land, but no deed is given by seller until the sales price has been paid in full).

     
Condominium  

A real estate project in which each unit owner has title to a unit in a building, an undivided interest in the common areas of the project, and sometimes the exclusive use of certain limited common areas.

     
Construction loan  

A short term loan to pay for the construction of buildings or homes. These loans typically provide periodic disbursements to the builder as each stage of the building is completed. When construction is completed a take-out or permanent loan is used to pay off the construction loan.

     
Consumer Reporting Agency (or bureau)  

An organization that prepares reports that are used by lenders to determine a potential borrower's credit history. The agency obtains data for these reports from a credit repository as well as from other sources. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the three main repositories.

     

Consideration

 

Anything of value given to induce another to enter into a contract. Earnest money deposit on a sales contract is consideration.

     

Contingency

  The requirement that a particular event occur before a contract is binding. For example: The sale of a home can be contingent upon the buyer obtaining financing.
     
Contract  

An agreement between competent parties to do or not do certain things for consideration.
To have a valid contract for the sale of real estate there must be:

  • an offer
  • an acceptance
  • competent parties
  • consideration
  • legal purpose
  • written documentation
  • description of the property
  • signatures by principals or their attorney-in-fact
     

Contract of Sale

  See Agreement of Sale
     

Conventional Loan

 

Any mortgage loan other than a VA or an FHA loan. A convention loan may be conforming or non-conforming.

     

Convertibility Clause

  A clause in some ARMs which allows the buyer (borrower) to change to a fixed-rate mortgage at a specified time.
     

Condemnation

 
    1. Taking private property for a public use with compensation to the owner under eminent domain. Used by governments to acquire land for streets, schools, freeways, etc. and by utilities to acquire necessary property.

    • 2. Declaring a structure unfit for use because of violations in housing codes or other reasons.
     

Conveyance

 

The transfer of title of real property from one party to another.

     
Covenant  

A clause in a mortgage that obligates or restricts the borrower and that, if violated, can result in foreclosure.

     

Convertible Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

 

Some variable loans come with options to convert to a fixed loan based on a pre-determined formula, during a given time period. For example the 1 Year T-Bill ARM may be converted to a fixed rate during the first five years on the adjustment date. One could convert during the thirteenth, twenty-fifth, thirty-seventh, forty-ninth or sixty-first month of the loan.

     

Credit Life Insurance

 

A type of insurance often bought by mortgagors because it will pay off the mortgage debt if the mortgagor dies while the policy is in force.

     
Credit Report  

A report detailing a borrower's credit and payment history including: revolving and installment accounts; public records such as tax liens and judgments.

     
Credit Repository  

An organization that gathers, records, updates, and stores financial and public records information about the payment records of individuals who are being considered for credit. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

     
Credit Score  

A credit score is a snapshot of a person’s credit risk at a particular point in time. It is used by lenders to help determine if a borrower qualifies for a loan. There are three main credit reporting companies that issue these credit scores. Experian calls it the FICO score, TransUnion calls it Empirica, and Equifax calls it the Beacon.

     
Creditor   A person or entity (a bank or other lender) who funded the loan and to whom a debt is owed.
     
Cul-de-sac   A dead-end street with a turn-around space at the end. These are attractive to some homeowners because the ending street cuts down on "thru" traffic, speeding, etc.
     

D

Debt Ratio   This is a loan qualifying ratio used by lenders to determine if a borrower qualifies for a loan. The debt (-to-income) ratio is calculated by taking the borrower’s monthly debts, including house payments, credit cards and personal loans, and dividing it by the monthly income.
     
Deed   A written document by which title to real property is transferred from one owner to another. The deed should contain an accurate description of the property being conveyed, should be signed, witnessed and recorded according to the laws of the State of Iowa; and should be delivered to the buyer at closing.
     

Deed-in-lieu

 

A deed given by a mortgagor (homeowner) to the mortgagee (lender) to satisfy a debt and avoid foreclosure. Also called a "voluntary conveyance." This avoids the foreclosure process, however it may still be considered a negative mark on your credit and affect your credit scores.

     
Deed of Trust  

A mortgage document often used in real estate transactions in Iowa. Many deed of trust documents do not show the mortgage amount.

     
Deed Restriction   A clause in a deed that limits the use of land. Example : A deed might require that a road cannot be built on the land.
     
Default  

Failure to meet legal obligations in a contract, such as the failure to make the monthly mortgage payment.

     
Defective Title  

Any recorded instrument that would prevent a grantor/seller from giving a clear title.
Example: The seller has a mechanic's lien on the property which was filed when he/she failed to pay the contractor for the kitchen remodel. The seller may obtain clear title by paying the contractor and removing the lien.

     
Deferred Interest  

Unpaid interest added to the loan balance. This is common in a negative amortized or option arm loan program. The minimum payment is less than the interest charges. The interest that is not paid is added to the balance.

     

Deficiency Judgment

  Personal claim against the debtor when the sale of foreclosed property does not yield sufficient proceeds to pay off the mortgages, accrued interest, legal fees, etc.
     

Delinquency

  Failure to make payments on time. A Notice of Default and foreclosure process usually takes place after you are delinquent for more than a few months.
     

Depreciation

  When related to the appraisal of property, depreciation is the decrease in value from any cause. When related to taxation, "book depreciation" is a steady decrease (calculated using mathematical formulas or schedules) in the owner's tax basis.
     

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

 

An independent governmental agency which guarantees long-term, low- or no-money-down mortgages to eligible veterans.

     
Discount Points   Fees paid to a lender to reduce the interest rate.
     

Dower Interest

 

The rights of  the titleholder's spouse.

     
Downpayment  

The amount paid for the purchase of a property in addition to the mortgage, but not including any closing costs.

     
Due on Sale Clause   A clause in the Deed of Trust or Mortgage that states that the entire loan is due upon the sale of the property.
     

E

Earnest Money

 

A deposit made by a buyer of real estate towards the down payment to evidence good faith. This money is typically held by the real estate brokers or the escrow company.

     

Easement

 

The right to use the land of another for a specific purpose. Easements may be temporary or permanent. Example: The utility company may need an easement to run electric lines.

     
Eminent Domain  

The right of the government or a public utility to acquire property for necessary public use by condemnation, with proper compensation to the owner.

     

Encroachment

 

A building, part of a building, or an obstruction (e.g., a fence or wall) that physically intrudes upon or overlaps the property of another.

     
Encumbrance  

Any interest or right in real property possessed by a stranger to the title, which affects the owner's property value, but does not prevent the owner from transferring title. Encumbrances may affect title, or condition or use of the property.

     
Entitlement   VA home loan benefits are known as entitlement and/or eligibility.
     
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)   A federal law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs.
     

Equity

  The market value of real property, less the amount of any liens. Equity is often expressed as a percentage of the property value.
     

Escheat

 

The reversion of property to the state in the event that the owner dies without leaving a will and has no legal heirs.

     
Escrow   Delivery of a deed by a grantor to a third party for delivery to the grantee upon the occurrence of a conditional event.
     

Escrow Account

 

That portion of a borrower's monthly payments held by the lender or servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other items as they become due. Also known as reserves.

     
Estate   The ownership interest of an individual in real property. The sum total of all the real property and personal property owned by an individual at time of death.
     
Eviction  

The lawful expulsion of an occupant from real property. The legal process of eviction is different in each state.

     
Examination of Title   The Attorney's report on the title of a property after reviewing the abstract of the title.
     
Exclusive Listing  

A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time, but reserving the owner’s right to sell the property alone without the payment of a commission.

     

Executor

 

A person named in a will to carry out its provisions for the disposition of the estate. Executrix is the feminine name for Executor

     

F

Fair Credit Reporting Act   A consumer protection law that regulates the disclosure of consumer credit reports by consumer/credit reporting agencies and establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on one's credit record.
     
Fair Market Value  

The highest price that a buyer, willing but not compelled to buy, would pay, and the lowest a seller, willing but not compelled to sell, would accept.

     
Fed  

Federal Reserve Bank

     

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

  An agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHA offers mortgage insurance programs to protect the lender in the event of default. Because lenders are insured against loss, they can make affordable financing available to borrowers who would not otherwise qualify.
     

Federal Reserve System

  The central federal banking system that regulates and provides services to member commercial banks. Also has the responsibility for conducting federal monetary policy.
     
Fee Simple (Fee Absolute or Fee Simple Absolute)  

Absolute ownership of real property; owner is entitled to the entire property with unconditional power of disposition during the owners life and upon his death the property descends to the owner's designated heirs.

     
Fico  

Fair Isaac Corporation. This credit score is reported on your Experian (formerly TRW) credit report. A FICO score is a snapshot of a person’s credit risk at a particular point in time.

     

Fiduciary

  A person in a position of trust or responsibility with specific duties to act in the best interest of a client. A real estate broker is a fiduciary for his/her clients.
     

Firm Commitment

 

A lender’s agreement to make a loan to a specific borrower on a specific property. This is usually given as a written loan approval from a lender.

     

First Mortgage

 

A mortgage that has priority as a lien over all other mortgages. In the case of a foreclosure the first mortgage will be satisfied before other mortgages. See also second mortgage.

     
Fixture   Personal property attached to the land in such a way as to be considered part of the real property.
     
Flood Insurance  

An insurance policy that covers property damage due to natural flooding. Flood insurance may be required on properties in a flood zone.

     
Foreclosure (Repossession)  

A legal process in which the right, title and interest of a mortgagor or trustor in real property are terminated by selling the property and applying the proceeds to satisfy liens of creditors.

     
Free and clear   A property that has no liens.
     
Forfeiture   The loss of money, property, rights, or privileges due to a breach of legal obligation.
     
FSBO  

For sale by owner. A property for sale that is not listed with a real estate broker.

     

G

General Warranty Deed   A deed in which the grantor (seller) agrees to the protect the grantee (buyer) against any other claim to title of the property. See also warranty deed.
     
Good Faith Estimate (GFE)   The form that lists the settlement charges the borrower must pay at closing. The lender is obligated to provide the borrower this form within three business days of receiving the loan application.
     
Grantee  

That party in the deed who is the buyer or recipient.

     
Grandfather Claus  

The clause in a law permitting the continuation of a use, business, etc., which was permissible but because of a change in the law is now no longer permissible.

     

Grantor

 

That party who is the seller or the giver.

     

H

Hazard Insurance (Fire Insurance, Homeowners insurance)   A type of real estate insurance providing protection against loss due to fire and other risks.
     

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

 

A mortgage loan, which is usually in a subordinate position, that allows the borrower 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 a property.

     
Home Inspection  

A thorough inspection that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser. Contrast with appraisal.

     

Homeowners Association

 

An association of homeowners in a particular subdivision, planned unit development (PUD), or condominium organized to manage the common area of the development and to enforce the association rules and regulations.

     
Homestead  

Status provided to a homeowner's principal residence that protects the home against certain types of judgments.

     
Homestead Exemption  

A statutory exemption shielding real homestead property against the rights of certain creditors.

     

Housing and Urban Development

  A U.S. government agency established to implement certain federal housing and community development programs.
     

Housing Code

 

A local government ordinance that sets minimum standards of safety and sanitation for existing residential buildings.

     
HUD 1  

A closing document required by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which outlines the settlement cost of a loan. The closing agent prepares this document and sends it to the buyer upon closing.

     
Hypothecate  

To pledge a property as security without having to give up possession of it.

     

I

Improvements  

Additions to raw land such as buildings, streets, etc. that add value to the land.

     
Income (Capitalization) Approach  

An appraisal method used for the valuation of income-producing property in which net income is capitalized.

     
Income Property   Real estate that generates rental income. Examples: apartment buildings, office buildings and shopping centers.
     

Index

  A statistic that indicates some current economic of financial condition. Indexes are used to make adjustments in variable rate loans.
     
Inflation  

In economics, inflation is an increase in the general level of prices of a given kind. General inflation is a fall in the market value or purchasing power of money within an economy, and is referred to as a rise in the general level of prices.

     
Ingress and Egress   The right to pass through a piece of property. See Easements.
     
Interest Only  

An interest-only loan program is a loan program that has an interest-only payment option. The loan can be a fixed rate or variable rate program. The interest only monthly payment is the amount of the interest rate times the original loan amount divided by twelve. No principal is paid, and the loan balance does not decrease. You may pay the interest only payment amount or pay the fully amortized payment amount. The interest only payment option is only available in the initial years of the loan term. Conforming loan programs have the interest only term for ten to fifteen years. Jumbo programs vary from three years up to ten years.

     

J

Joint and Several Liability  

A creditor can demand full repayment from any and all of those who have borrowed. Each borrower is liable for the full debt, not just the prorated share.

     

Joint Tenancy

 

Ownership of a property by two or more people, each of whom has an undivided interest with the right of survivorship.

     

Judgment

 

The decision of a court of law stating that one individual is indebted to another and fixing the amount of indebtedness. Judgments, when recorded, become a lien on real property owned by the defendant.

     
Judicial Foreclosure  

A type of foreclosure proceeding used in some states that is handled as a civil lawsuit and conducted entirely under the auspices of a court.

     
Junior Mortgage  

A mortgage subordinate to another mortgage. In the case of a foreclosure a senior mortgage will be paid prior to a junior mortgage.

     

K

Kicker  

A payment required by a mortgage in addition to normal principal and interest. Sometimes known as a participation loan.

     

L

Land Contract  

See Conditional Sales Contract

     
Late Charge  

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

     
Lease  

A written agreement between the property owner and a tenant that stipulates the conditions under which the tenant may possess the real estate for a specified period of time and rent.

     
Lease with Option to Purchase  

A lease under which the lessee has the right to purchase the property. The option may run for a portion or for the full length of the lease

     
Legal Description  

Legally acceptable identification of real estate by one of the following:

  • the government rectangular survey
  • metes and bounds
  • recorded plat (lot and block number)
     
Lessee   A person to whom property is rented under a lease. (Tenant)
     

Lessor

 

A person who rents property to another under a lease. (Landlord)

     
Life Estate  

An estate in real property for the life of a living person. The estate then reverts back to the grantor or to a third party.

     
Lien  

A claim against the property for the payment of a debt, judgment, mortgage or taxes.

Example : Unpaid contractors may file a mechanic's lien.

     

Line of Credit

 

An agreement by a commercial bank or other financial institution to extend credit up to a certain amount for a certain time to a specified borrower. See home equity line of credit.

     
Lis Pendens   Latin for "lawsuit pending." Recorded notice that litigation is pending on a property. Most lenders will require the clearance of the Lis Pendens prior to closing.
     
Listing  

Real Estate properties for sale are usually considered listed when a real estate agent is contracted to sell the property, using a listing agreement, and the property is posted in the multiple listing service (MLS) for that local region. It can also be in an Internet listing service online, which can be done directly by the homeowner.

     
Liquid Asset  

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

     
Loan Application  

A document required by a lender prior to loan approval. The application includes detailed information about the borrower and the property.

     

Loan Origination Fee or Points

 

Charge by a lender or broker connected with originating a loan. This is different from discount points which are used to buy down the rate of interest.

     

Loan Servicing

 

The act of collecting loan payments, handling property tax and insurance escrows, foreclosing on defaulted loans and remitting payments to the investors.

     

Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)

 

The loan amount divided by the value of the property.

     

Lock-in

 

A written agreement in which the lender guarantees a specified interest rate if a mortgage goes to closing within a set period of time. The lock-in also usually specifies the number of points to be paid at closing.

     
Lock-in period  

The time period during which the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower. See lock-in.

     

M

Margin   A fixed number added to the index to compute the rate on an adjustable rate mortgage.
     
Marketable Title  

Title that is free of liens, clouds and other legal defects and hence is readily acceptable by a buyer.

     

Market Value

  The highest price that a buyer would pay and the lowest price a seller would accept on a property. Market value may be different from the price a property could actually be sold for at a given time.
     

Mechanics Lien

 

The right of an unpaid contractor or subcontractor to file a lien against property to recover the amount due to him/her.

     
Merged Credit Report  

A credit report that contains information from three credit repositories. When the report is created, the information is compared for duplicate entries. Any duplicates are combined to provide a summary of your credit.

     

Modification

 

The act of changing any of the terms of the mortgage.

     
Mortgage  

A written instrument that creates a lien upon real estate as security for the payment of a specified debt. 

     
Mortgage Banker  

Specializes in originating and servicing loans. They generally sell their loans to investors, but may continue to service them.

     
Mortgage Broker  

Arranges financing for a borrower by placing loans with lenders. Mortgage brokers are paid a fee by the borrower or the lender when a loan closes.

     

Mortgage Life Insurance

  A type of term life insurance often bought by mortgagors. The amount of coverage decreases as the principal balance declines. In the event that the borrower dies while the policy is in force, the debt is automatically satisfied by insurance proceeds.
     
Mortgagee   The lender.
     

Mortgagor

 

The borrower.

     
Mortgage Insurance   See private mortgage insurance (PMI)
     

Mortgage Note

 

A written agreement to repay a loan. The agreement is secured by a mortgage, serves as proof of an indebtedness, and states the manner in which it shall be paid. The note states the actual amount of the debt that the mortgage secures and renders the mortgagor personally responsible for repayment.

     
Multidwelling Units  

Properties that provide separate housing units for more than one family, although they secure only a single mortgage.

     

Multifamily Mortgage

 

A residential mortgage on a dwelling that is designed to house more than four families, such as a high-rise apartment complex.

     

N

Negative Amortization   An increase in principal balance which occurs when the monthly payments do not cover all of the interest cost. The interest cost which is not covered by the payment is added to the unpaid principal balance.
     
Net Effective Income  

The borrowers gross income minus federal income tax.

     
Notary Public  

One authorized to take acknowledgments of certain types of documents, such as deeds, contracts, and mortgages.

     
Note  

The Note is a promissory note, which is signed with loan documents and states the loan amount, interest rate and loan terms.

     
Notice of default  

A letter sent to the defaulting party as a reminder of the default.

     

O

Offer

  An expression of willingness to purchase a property at a specified price.
     
Offeree  

One who receives the offer. When the buyer makes an offer to the seller the seller is an offeree.

     
Offeror  

One who makes the offer. When the buyer makes an offer to the seller the buyer is an offeror.

     
Open-end Mortgage  

A mortgage permitting the mortgagor to borrow additional money under the same mortgage, with certain conditions.

     
Open House   A method of showing a home for sale to prospective buyers where the home is left open for inspection by those who may be interested in making a purchase.
     
Optionee   One who receives or purchases an option
     
Optionor   One who gives or sells an option.
     

Oral Contract

  A verbal agreement. Verbal agreements for the sale or use of real estate are normally unenforceable.
     

Origination Fee

  See Loan Origination Fee.
     
Owner Financing   A property purchase transaction in which the property seller provides all or part of the financing.
     
Owner of Record   The individual named on a deed that has been recorded at the county recorders office.
     
Owner Occupant  

A tenant of a residence who also owns the property.

     

P

Partial Release  

A provision in a mortgage that allows some of the property secured to be freed from serving as collateral.

     
Permanent Loan or Mortgage   A mortgage for a long period of time. Often referred to as the mortgage that pays off a construction loan on a completed property.
     
Permit  

A document issued by a government regulatory authority that allows the bearer to take some specific action. An occupancy permit allows the owner of a building to occupy or rent the building.

     
PITI  

Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. Your mortgage loan payment usually includes the principal and interest amounts. When you borrow more than 80 percent of the value of your home, lenders usually require that you also pay the taxes and insurance payments with your loan payment.

     
Plat   A plan or map of a specific land area.
     

Plat Book

  A public record containing maps of land, showing the division of the land into streets, blocks, and lots and indicating the measurements of the individual parcels.
     
Points   Fees paid to lenders. 1 point = 1 percent of the loan amount. On a $100,000 loan 1 point is $1000. Points may be further classified into origination points or discount points.
     
Portfolio Loan   A loan that is held as an investment by a bank or savings and loan, and NOT sold on the secondary market to investors.
     

Power of Attorney

 

A written document authorizing a person to act on the behalf of another person. That person does not have to be an attorney. See Attorney-In-Fact.

     

Prepaid Interest

 

Prepaid interest is the interest charged to borrowers at closing to pay for the cost of borrowing for a balance of the month. For example, if a loan closes on the 19th of the month and the first payment is due on the 1st of the following month, the lender will charge 12 days of prepaid interest.

     

Prepayment

  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.
     
Prepayment Penalty   Fees paid by the borrower if they pay the loan before its due date.
     
Pre-Qualification   The process of determining how much money a prospective home buyer will be eligible to borrow before he or she applies for a loan.
     

Primary Mortgage Market

 

Companies that originate and service mortgage loans (banks, savings & loans, credit union, mortgage bankers, institutional lenders) make up the primary mortgage market. See also secondary mortgage market.

     
Prime Rate   The rate offered to a bank's best customers.
     
Principal  

The outstanding balance on a loan.

     

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

 

In the event that you do not have a 20 percent down payment, lenders will allow a smaller down payment - as low as 2 percent in some cases. With the smaller down payment loans, however, borrowers are usually required to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance payments are normally made annual or monthly. An impound account may be required.

     
Probate   Court process to establish the validity of the will of a deceased person.
     

Property Tax

 

A government levy based on the market value (as assessed by the county assessor's office) of the property.

     

Public Sale

  An auction of property with notice to the general public.
     

Purchase Agreement

 

A real property agreement between a buyer and seller specifying the price and terms of the sale.

     
Purchase Money Mortgage  

A mortgage used to finance the purchase of a property.

     

Q

Qualification Rate   Rate of interest used to calculate whether or not a borrower qualifies for a mortgage.
     
Qualification Requirements  

Guidelines used by lenders to decide whether to loan money to an applicant.

     
Qualified Acceptance, Conditional Acceptance  

Acceptance for a loan (or other contract) provided that certain conditions are met.

     

Qualified Buyer

  A person who has been pre-approved for a mortgage loan.
     
Qualifying Ratios  

Calculations that are used in determining whether a borrower can qualify for a mortgage. They consist of two separate calculations: a housing expense as a percent of income ratio and total debt obligations as a percent of income ratio.

     

Quiet Title (Action)

 

A court action to settle a title dispute.

     
Quit Claim Deed  

A deed which transfers whatever interest the maker of the deed may have in the particular parcel of land. A quitclaim deed is often given to clear the title when the grantor's interest in a property is questionable. By accepting such a deed the buyer assumes all the risks. Such a deed makes no warranties as to the title, but simply transfers to the buyer whatever interest the grantor has.

     

R

Radon  

A radioactive gas which seeps up from the ground and can cause health problems. A radon test is often part of the home inspection.

     

Real Property

  Land and appurtenances, including anything of a permanent nature such as structures, trees, minerals, and the interest, benefits, and inherent rights thereof.
     

Realtor ®

 

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

     
Real Estate Broker   An individual who often owns a real estate company or is in a management position, and who is licensed to represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction.
     
Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA)  

A law that states how mortgage lenders must treat those who apply for real estate loans on property with one to four units.
Example : A lender is required to provide a good faith estimate of closing costs within three days of an application being filed.

     

Recapture tax

  Some government sponsored or insured programs, like HUD Low Income Housing programs, require that the buyer occupy the property and retain ownership for a specific period of time. If the buyer sells the property and in some cases moves out of the property, the tax benefits or subsidies received are recaptured, meaning charged to the homeowner. This is a penalty assessed for selling the house too early.
     
Recession  

A recession is usually defined as a fall of a country’s real Gross National Product in two or more successive quarters of a year. A recession may also involve falling prices, which can lead to a depression. In a free market economy, recessions come and go at fairly regular intervals, often five to ten years, in what is known as the business cycle.

     
Reconveyance   When a mortgage is paid in full, the lender conveys the property back to the owner.
     
Recording  

The act of entering into a book of public records instruments affecting title to the real property. A lender requires that a deed of trust or a mortgage be recorded to evidence the debt against the property.

     
Recording Fees   Money paid to the lender for recording a home sale with local authorities, making it public record.
     
Recision  

The cancellation of a contract. When refinancing a mortgage on a principal residence the law gives the homeowner three days to cancel the contract.

     
Recourse   The right of the holder of a note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust to claim money from the borrower in default in addition to the property pledged as collateral.
     
Refinance   Obtaining a new mortgage loan on a property already owned, often to replace existing loans.
     

Regulation Z (Reg Z)

  A federal regulation requiring creditors to provide full disclosure of the terms of a loan including the terms of the loan and the annual percentage rate (APR).
     
Report of Liens  

A document indicating the current state of title. The report includes information on the current ownership, outstanding deeds of trust or mortgages, liens, easements, covenants, restrictions, and any defects. Also known as a Title Report.

     
Restrictive Covenants  

Private restrictions limiting the use of real property. Restrictive covenants are created by deed and may "run with the land," binding all subsequent purchasers of the land, or may be "personal" and binding only between the original seller and buyer.

     

Revenue Tax Stamps

  Stamps affixed to a deed showing the amount of transfer tax
     

Reverse Mortgage

 

A special type of mortgage 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. Unlike traditional home equity loans, a borrower does not qualify on the basis of income but on the value of his or her home. In addition, the loan does not have to be repaid until the borrower no longer occupies the property.

     
Right of First Refusal   A portion of an agreement that requires a property owner to give one party the opportunity to buy or lease the property before the property is made available to other potential buyers.
     
Right of Ingress or Egress  

The right to enter or leave designated premises.

     
Right of survivorship   The right of a surviving joint tenant to acquire the interest of a deceased joint owner.
     

S

Sales Agreement or Sales Contract

  See Agreement of Sale.
     
Second Home   Also known as a vacation home. This home is different from an investment property as it is not rented, but used occasionally by the owners.
     

Second Mortgage

 

A subordinated lien, created by a mortgage loan, over the amount of a first mortgage. Second mortgages generally carry a higher rate than a first mortgage since they represent a higher risk for an investor.

     

Secondary Mortgage Market

 

The market where banks, savings & loans and mortgage bankers can sell mortgages to investors like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

     

Section 1031

 

The section of the IRS that deals with tax free exchanges of certain property. General rules for tax free exchanges are
The properties must be :

  • Exchanged
  • Similar
  • Used for business or as an investment
     
Section 8 Housing   Privately owned rental units participating in the low-income rental assistance program. Landlords receive subsidies on behalf of qualified low-income tenants, allowing the tenants to pay a limited proportion of their incomes toward the rent.
     

Security

  Property that serves as collateral for a debt.
     
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.

     
Servicing  

The act of billing, collecting payment, filing reports, managing impound accounts and handling defaults on a mortgage.

     
Settlement Statement   See HUD 1
     

Sheriff's Deed

  A deed given at the sheriff's sale in the foreclosure of a mortgage.
     

Simple Interest

  Interest which is computed only on the principal balance.
     
Soft Market   A market where houses aren't selling much or quickly, so the sales price is likely to be significantly lower than the asking (listing) price. It's a good time for buyers to buy, but not the best time for prospective sellers to sell.
     
Spec House  

A single family dwelling constructed by a builder in anticipation of finding a buyer.

     

Special Assessment

  A special tax imposed on property, individual lots or all property in the neighborhood to pay for improvements - street lights, sidewalks, etc.
     
Special Warranty Deed   The grantor does not warrant against title defects arising from conditions that existed before he/she owned the property. The seller warrants that he/she has done nothing to impair title.
     
Specific Performance   A legal action in which the court requires a party to a contract to perform their obligations under the terms of the agreement.
     
Standard Uniform Loan Application (Form 1003)   A standard loan application widely used in the mortgage industry.
     
Subdivision   A tract of land divided into lots suitable for home building purposes.
     
Subject To Clause  

A clause stating that the grantee takes title "subject to" an existing mortgage or trust deed. The original mortgagor remains responsible for any deficiency in the event of foreclosure. See Assumable Mortgage.

     
Subordinate Financing   Any mortgage or other lien that has a priority that is lower than that of the first mortgage.
     
Subordination  

A loan in a lower priority, for example a second mortgage is subordinate to a first.

     
Subsidized Second Mortgage   An alternative financing option for low- and moderate-income households. This mortgage may be issued by a state, county, or local housing agency, foundation, or nonprofit corporation. Payment on the second mortgage is often deferred and carries a very low interest rate (or no interest rate). Part of the debt may be forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home.
     
Survey   Map made by a licensed surveyor who measures land and charts its boundaries, improvements and relationship to the property surrounding it.
     

Sweat Equity

 

Value added to a property due to improvements made personally by the owner.

     

T

Takeout Financing   A commitment to provide permanent financing upon completion of construction. The take out loan normally pays off the construction loan.
     
Tax Lien  

Lien for nonpayment of taxes.

     
Tax Sale  

Public sale of a property at an auction by a government authority as a result of non-payment of taxes.

     
Teaser Rate   A low initial interest rate on a mortgage.
     
Tenancy at Will  

A license to use or occupy land and buildings at the will of the owner. The tenant may decide to leave the property at any time or must leave at the landlords will.

     
Tenancy for Years   Created by a lease for a fixed term, such as 6 months, 2 years, etc.
     
Tenancy in Common  

Ownership of a property by two or more persons, each of whom has an undivided interest, without the right of survivorship. Upon the death of one of the owners, the ownership share of the deceased is inherited by the beneficiary designated on the owner's will.

     
Tenancy in Severalty   Ownership of property by one person.
     
Time Share  

A form of property ownership under which a property is held by a number of people, each with the right of possession for a specified time interval. Time sharing is used mostly for vacation properties.

     
Time is of the Essence   Legal phrase in a contract requiring all references to specific dates and times noted in the contract be interpreted exactly.
     

Title

 

Evidence that the owner of the property is in lawful possession. Evidence of ownership.

     
Title Insurance   An insurance policy which protects the insured against loss arising from defects in title. Title insurance policies are typically obtained for the buyer and the lender.
     

Title Report

 

A document indicating the current state of title. The report includes information on the current ownership, outstanding deeds of trust or mortgages, liens, easements, covenants, restrictions, and any defects. Also known as a Report of Liens.

     
Title Search   An examination of the public records to determine the ownership and encumbrances affecting the property.
     
Total Expense Ratio  

Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income. The total expense ratio includes monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts.

     

Tract

 

A parcel of land, generally held for subdividing.

     
Trade Equity   Equity that results from a property purchaser giving his or her existing property (or an asset other than real estate) as trade as all or part of the down payment for the property that is being purchased.
     

Transfer Tax

 

Tax paid to the city, county, state or other government entity upon sale of a property.

     
Transfer of Ownership  

Any means by which the ownership of a property changes hands. Lenders consider all of the following situations to be a transfer of ownership: the purchase of a property "subject to" the mortgage, the assumption of the mortgage debt by the property purchaser, and any exchange of possession of the property under a land sales contract or any other land trust device. In cases in which an inter vivos revocable trust is the borrower, lenders also consider any transfer of a beneficial interest in the trust to be a transfer of ownership.

     
Treasury Bill   Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. Commonly called T-bills they come in denominations of three months, six months and one year. Each Treasury bill has a corresponding interest rate (i.e. 3-month T-bill rate, 1-year T-bill rate). The rate determines the T-bill Index rate, which is used in many variable rate loan programs.
     

Trust Account

 

A separate bank account maintained by a broker or escrow company to handle all money collected for clients. A broker may not commingle these funds with his/her own funds.

     
Trust Deed   See Deed of Trust.
     
Trustee   A party who is given legal responsibility to hold property in the best interest of or "for the benefit of" another. The trustee is one placed in a position of responsibility for another, a responsibility enforceable in a court of law.
     
Truth in Lending  

See Regulation Z.

     

U

Underwriting   The decision whether to make a loan to a potential home buyer based on credit, income, employment history, assets, etc.
     

Undivided Interest

 

An ownership right to use and possess a property that is shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property.

     
Unimproved Property  

Land that has received no development.

     
Unencumbered Property   Real estate with free and clear title.
     
Unrecorded Deed   A document that transfers title from the grantor to the grantee without recording.
     

Usury

  Charging a rate of interest greater than that permitted by law.
     

V

Vacation Home  

See second home.

     
VA Loan  

Home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Veterans Administration, enabling a veteran to buy a home with no money down.

     

Variable Rate Mortgage

  See Adjustable Rate Mortgage
     
Verification of Deposit (VOD)   A document signed by the borrower's bank or other financial institution verifying the account balance and history.
     

Verification of Employment

 

A document signed by the borrower's employer verifying his/her starting date, job title, salary and probability of continued employment.

     

W

Waiver   The voluntary renunciation, abandonment, or surrender of some claim, right, or privilege.
     
Walk-Through Inspection  

A final walk-through immediately prior to closing to verify that no changes have taken place and no new damage has occurred.

     
Warranty Deed   A deed conveying the title to a property with a warranty of a clear marketable title.
     
Wear and Tear   Normal use and the resulting reduction in value of a property.
     
Wraparound Mortgage   A loan arrangement whereby the existing loan is retained and a new loan is added to the property.
     

X

     

Y

     

Z

Zero Lot Line  

A form of housing where individual units are on separate lots, but are attached to one another. Example: PUD, townhouse.

     
Zoning   Areas may be zoned to specify use of a property i.e. residential, manufacturing,    agricultural. These zoning ordinances are normally enforced by the city or the county.
     




 


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