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Mortgage Glossary

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage with an interest rate that changes during the life of the loan according to movements in an index rate. Sometimes called AMLs (adjustable mortgage loans) or VRMs (variable-rate mortgages).

Adjustment Date
The date that the interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

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.

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 Costs
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 of the country and will be disclosed shortly after the time of the application and prior to closing.

Consumer Reporting Agency (or Bureau)
An organization that handles the preparation of reports used by lenders to determine a potential borrower's credit history. The agency gets data for these reports from a credit repository and from other sources.

Credit Report
A report detailing an individual's credit history that is prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender to determine a loan applicant's creditworthiness.

Down Payment
Part of the purchase price of a property that is paid in cash 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 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.

Fannie Mae
A congressionally chartered, shareholder-owned company that is the nation's largest supplier of home mortgage funds.

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.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM)
A mortgage interest rate that is fixed throughout the entire term of the loan.

Fully Amortized ARM
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a monthly payment that is sufficient to amortize the remaining balance, at the interest accrual rate, over the amortization term.

Housing Expense Ratio
The percentage of gross monthly income budgeted to pay housing expenses.

HUD-1 statement
A document that provides an itemized listing of the funds that are payable at closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points, and initial escrow amounts. Each item on the statement is represented by a separate number within a standardized numbering system. The totals at the bottom of the HUD-1 statement define the seller's net proceeds and the buyer's net payment at closing.

Hybrid ARM (3/1 ARM, 5/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM)
A combination fixed rate and adjustable rate loan - also called 3/1,5/1,7/1 - can offer the best of both worlds: lower interest rates (like ARMs) and a fixed payment for a longer period of time than most adjustable rate loans. For example, a "5/1 loan" has a fixed monthly payment and interest rate for the first five years and then turns into a traditional adjustable rate loan, based on then-current rates for the remaining 25 years. It's a good choice for people who expect to move or refinance, before or shortly after, the adjustment occurs.

Index
The index is the measure of interest rate changes a lender uses to decide the amount an interest rate on an ARM will change over time.The index is generally a published number or percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on Treasury bills. Some index rates tend to be higher than others and some are more volatile.

Interest
Is one of the fees charged by a lender to the borrower on a mortgage loan, and is expressed as an annual percentage of the principal amount of the loan. The interest rate may be fixed or vary according to an Index. Interest charges are paid as part of each monthly payment on a loan.

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.

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

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.

Loan
A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Percentage
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.

Lock-In Period
The guarantee of an interest rate for a specified period of time by a lender, including loan term and points, if any, to be paid at closing. Short term locks (under 21 days), are usually available after lender loan approval only. However, many lenders may permit a borrower to lock a loan for 30 days or more prior to submission of the loan application.

Margin
The number of percentage points the lender adds to the index rate to calculate the ARM interest rate at each adjustment.

Maturity
The date on which the principal balance of a loan becomes due and payable.

Mortgagor
The borrower in a mortgage agreement.

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.

Payment Change Date
The date when a new monthly payment amount takes effect on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a graduated-payment mortgage (GPM). Generally, the payment change date occurs in the month immediately after the adjustment date.

Periodic Rate Cap
A limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period, regardless of how high or low the index might be.

PITI Reserves
A cash amount that a borrower must have on hand after making a down payment and paying all 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 (usually three).

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.

Prepayment Penalty
A fee that may be charged to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.

Pre-Approval
The process of determining the amount of money you may be eligible to borrow based upon an evaluation of creditworthiness.

Prime Rate
Is a rate derived from a Wall Street Journal survey of the nation’s 30 largest banks. The rate changes when at least 23 of those 30 banks change their prime rates, usually in response to a change in the federal funds rate (the set rate that banks may charge other banks for overnight loans).

Principal
The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

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 or not these amounts that are paid into an escrow account each month.

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 PMI 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. They consist of two separate calculations: a ratio of housing expense as a percent of income and a ratio of total debt obligations as a percent of income.

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.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.

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

Secondary Mortgage Market
Where existing mortgages are bought and sold.

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.

Truth-in-Lending
A federal law that requires lenders to fully disclose, in writing, the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the annual percentage rate (APR) and other charges.

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.

 

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