Glossary of Mortgage & Lending Terms

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A form that you file with the IRS to request the information contained on a previously filed tax return without requesting the return itself. The information is called the transcript of the tax return. You may request that the copy be sent to you or to someone else.



The best credit rating, deserving of the lowest interest rates that lenders offer. Most lenders require a FICO score above 720. There is seldom any payoff for being above the A-credit threshold, but you are penalized for being below it.


Abstract (Of Title)

A summary of the public records relating to the title to a particular piece of land. An attorney or title insurance company reviews an abstract of title to determine whether there are any title defects, which must be cleared before a buyer can purchase clear, marketable, and insurable title.


Acceleration Clause

A mortgage condition that requires the balance of the loan to become due immediately if regular mortgage payments are not made or the property is sold.


Accrued interest

Interest earned but not yet paid, adding to the amount owed in a loan. With a traditional (principal and interest) mortgage, the longer you pay down a mortgage the more of your payment is applied toward the principal. Mortgage interest accrues daily and is based on your loan’s principal balance and interest rate.



An agreement or list that is added to a contract, agreement, or other document such as a letter of intent.


Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically based on a preselected index.



Appraisal Management Company (AMC)

An entity through which mortgage lenders order residential real estate appraisal services for properties on which they are considering extending loans to homebuyers. AMCs fulfill an administrative function in the appraisal process, including selecting an appraiser and delivering the appraisal report to the lender. Individual appraisers who work for AMCs provide the property valuation services.



The agreement between buyer and seller where the buyer takes over the payments on an existing mortgage from the seller. The assumption of a loan can usually save the buyer money as compared to a new mortgage, which carries closing costs and possibly a higher interest rate.


Attorney Review Period

This period begins after the buyer and seller sign a real estate contract completed by a Realtor® or a real estate agent. During this review period the buyer and seller can ask their attorney to make changes to the contract. Also, during this period the buyer or seller may cancel the contract. This period usually lasts from a few days to two weeks, depending on how quickly the attorneys work.


Automated Underwriting

A computer-driven process for informing the loan applicant very quickly, sometimes within a few minutes, whether the applicant will be approved, or whether the application will be forwarded to an

 underwriter. The quick decision is based on information provided by the applicant, subject to later verification, and other information retrieved electronically, including information about the borrower's credit history and the subject property.


Automated Underwriting System

A particular computerized system for doing automated underwriting. Mortgage insurers and some large lenders have developed such systems, but the most widely used are Fannie Mae’s “Desktop Underwriter” and Freddie Mac’s “Loan Prospector.”


Adjustment Interval

On an adjustable rate mortgage, the time between changes in the interest rate and/or monthly payment, typically one, three, or five years, depending on the index.


Amount Financed

On the Truth in Lending form, the loan amount less "prepaid finance charges," which are lender fees paid at closing. For example, if the loan is for $100,000 and the borrower pays the lender $4,000 in fees, the amount financed is $96,000.



The monthly loan payment calculated to pay off the debt at the end of a fixed period, including accrued interest on the outstanding balance.


Amortization Schedule

A timetable for repayment of a mortgage. The amortization schedule shows the portion of each payment that is applied to interest and principal, and the principal balance after each payment is applied.


Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The cost of a mortgage expressed as a yearly interest rate. This rate is likely to be higher than the stated note rate or advertised rate on the mortgage because it takes into account points and other credit costs. The APR allows homebuyers to compare different types of mortgages based on the total cost for each loan.



A written estimate of a property’s market value, ordered by the lender. A qualified appraiser who has training, experience and insight into the marketplace prepares the home appraisal report based on recent sales in the property’s neighborhood. Lenders require an appraisal before granting a mortgage to purchase or refinance a home or property.



Balloon Loan

Short-term, fixed-rate loans with fixed monthly payments for a set number of years followed by one large final balloon payment for the remainder of the principal. Typically, the balloon payment may be due at the end of five, seven, or ten years.



A person named to receive a benefit from a trust. A contingent beneficiary has conditions attached to his rights; usually the primary beneficiary must die before the contingent beneficiary receives a benefit.


When the lender and/or the homebuilder subsidize the mortgage by lowering the interest rate during the first few years of the loan. Rates do rise during the term, however the initial lower rate helps the borrower qualify for an amount for which they may not otherwise qualify. This is an excellent instrument for those who anticipate the ability to pay slightly increasing payments in subsequent years.

Biweekly Mortgage

A mortgage on which the borrower pays half the monthly payment every two weeks. Since this results in 26 (rather than 24) payments per year, the biweekly mortgage effectively lowers the amount of interest paid on a mortgage.



Caps (Interest)

Consumer safeguards limiting the amount the interest rate on an adjustable mortgage may change per year and/or over the life of the loan.


Caps (Payment)

Consumer safeguards limiting the amount monthly payments on an adjustable rate mortgage may change.


Cash-Out Refinance

Refinancing for an amount in excess of the balance on the old loan plus settlement costs. The borrower takes "cash out" of the transaction, usually as an alternative to taking out a home equity loan.



See Consolidation, Extension, and Modification Agreement.


Certificate of Eligibility

The document given to qualified veterans that entitles them to VA guaranteed loans for their homes, businesses, and mobile homes. Certificates of eligibility may be obtained by sending a DD-214 (Separation Paper) to the local VA office with a VA form 1880 (request for Certificate of Eligibility).


Certificate of Occupancy

A certificate issued by a local government body stating that the building is in a condition to be occupied.


Chain of Title

The chronological order of a property’s conveyance from the original owner to the present owner.


Closing (Escrow)

The meeting between the buyer, seller, and lender at the real estate agent's escrow company in which the property and funds legally change hands. Also called a settlement meeting or escrow closing.


Closing Agent

Can be the lender, escrow, title, closing service company, etc. A closing agent performs the closing process, which includes disbursing the funds; issuing the title insurance, if applicable; and recording the deed.

Consolidation, Extension, and Modification Agreement

A technique to reduce the mortgage tax. A mortgage note is modified to become an extension of the note on which mortgage tax was previously paid. After a CEMA is completed, the homebuyer pays the mortgage tax on the difference between the previous mortgage and the new mortgage, not the tax on the entire amount of the new loan.


Construction Loan

A loan borrowed to finance the construction of a home. Typically, only the interest is paid during the construction period. Once the construction is complete, the loan principal becomes due, which the borrower converts to a traditional mortgage.


Conventional Loans

A mortgage not insured by FHA or guaranteed by the VA or Farmers Home Administration (FMHA).


Conversion Option

The option to convert an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage at some point during the life of the loan. Loans with a conversion option are likely to carry a higher rate or more points than ARMs without the option.



A multi-unit housing complex that gives multiple owners shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the property. Each resident in the co-op has the right to occupy a specific unit or apartment.


Credit Report

A report from a credit bureau containing detailed information about an individual’s creditworthiness including the individual's credit history.


Closing Costs

Usually include an origination fee, discount points, appraisal fee, title search and insurance, survey, taxes, deed recording fee, credit report charge, and other costs assessed at settlement.


Closing Disclosure (CD)

The new disclosure, provided to borrowers prior to closing, combines the TIL and HUD-1 Settlement Statement



A co-borrower accepts responsibility, along with the primary borrower, for repaying the mortgage. Often, adding a co-borrower to a mortgage increases the likelihood of approval and improves the financing options for primary borrowers with no credit history, poor credit history, or insufficient income. Also known as a co-borrower or co-applicant.



Assets pledged as security for the repayment of a loan.



An agreement, often in writing, between a lender and a borrower to loan money at a future date subject to the completion of paperwork or compliance with stated conditions.


Comparables (Comps)

An abbreviation for "comparable properties," 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.


Compensating Factors

Positive characteristics of a borrower's credit, employment, or savings history that may be used to offset high debt-to-income ratios in the underwriting process.


Condominium (Condo)

A real estate project in which every owner holds 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. The condominium may be attached or detached. The homeowners’ association dues are included in the total monthly mortgage payment for qualifying purposes.




The written document conveying title to real property. The deed must be executed (signed), acknowledged, and delivered to the property’s buyer. Once recorded at the courthouse, the original piece of paper is not needed to convey title in the future.


Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

A document conveying a property’s title over to the lender. An alternative to the lender foreclosing on the property.


Deed of Trust

Holds the property in trust until the mortgage loan is paid. If the buyer defaults on the loan, the property is sold at public auction and the auction proceeds are used to repay the loan.

Down Payment

Money paid to make up the difference between the purchase price and mortgage amount, usually 10 to 20 percent of the sales price on conventional loans, and 0 to 5 percent of FHA and VA loans.


Due-On-Sale Clause

A provision in a mortgage or deed of trust that allows the lender to demand immediate payment of the balance of the mortgage if the mortgage holder sells the home.



Failure to meet legal obligations in a contract, specifically, failure to make the monthly payments on a mortgage, which can lead to foreclosure.



Failure to make payments on time. This can lead to foreclosure.


Discount Points

Prepaid interest paid at closing to the lender and used to lower the loan’s interest rate. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount (e.g. two points on a $100,000 mortgage would cost $2,000). Although discount points lower the monthly payment, they increase the closing costs.




Earnest Money

Money given by a buyer to a seller as part of the purchase price to bind a transaction or assure payment.


The difference between the fair market value and the mortgage loan balance, also referred to as the owner's interest.



See Impounds.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

A federal law requiring lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available. Lenders and creditors may not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs.




Fannie Mae

See Federal National Mortgage Association.


Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC)

Also called Freddie Mac, a quasi-government agency that purchases conventional mortgages from insured depository institutions and HUD-approved mortgage bankers.


Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

A division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its main activity is insuring residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. FHA also sets standards for underwriting mortgages.


Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA)

Also known as Fannie Mae, a taxpaying corporation created by Congress that purchases and sells conventional residential mortgages as well as those insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA. This institution, which provides funds for one in seven mortgages, makes mortgage money more available and more affordable.


A rate lock with an option to reduce the rate if market interest rates decline during the lock period. Float-downs vary in when and how often the borrower can exercise it (usually only once).



A legal proceeding in which property securing debt is sold by the lender to pay a defaulting borrower's debt.


Freddie Mac

See Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Fee Simple

The absolute total interest in real property.


Fixed-Rate Mortgage

A mortgage on which the interest rate is set for the term of the loan.



Allowing the rate and points to vary with changes in market conditions. Allowing the rate to float exposes the borrower to market risk, and also to the risk of being taken advantage of by the loan provider. See Lock or Lock-in Period.




Grace period

The period after the payment due date in which the borrower can pay without accruing a late fee. A grace period applies only to mortgages on which interest is calculated monthly. Simple-interest mortgages do not have a grace period because interest accrues daily.


Gross Monthly Income

The total amount the borrower earns per month, before any expenses are deducted.



Hazard Insurance

Insurance purchased by the borrower and required by the lender to protect the property against loss from fire and other hazards. Also known as "homeowners insurance."


Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A mortgage set up as a line of credit against which a borrower can draw up to a maximum amount, as opposed to a loan for a fixed dollar amount. For example, with a standard mortgage you might borrow $150,000, which would be paid out in its entirety at closing. Using a HELOC, you receive the lender’s promise to advance you up to $150,000, in amounts and at times of your choosing. You can draw on the line by writing a check, using a special credit card, or in other ways.

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development)

The federal government agency that acts as a clearinghouse for housing assistance. It offers loans and subsidized housing.


HUD Settlement Statement

A standard form that itemizes the closing costs associated with purchasing a home or refinancing a loan.


Homeowners Insurance

See Hazard Insurance.


Homestead Deed

A declaration filed in the land records that an individual is asserting his homestead exemption. That exemption allows you to protect some assets (the amount varies by state) against creditors’ claims.


Housing Expense

The sum of the mortgage payment, hazard insurance, property taxes, and homeowners’ association fees. Same as PITI.


Housing Expenses-to-income Ratio

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, of a borrower's housing expense to his/her net effective income (for a VA loan) or gross monthly income (for a conventional loan).




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

Interest-only Loan

Offers the option of paying just the interest or the interest and as much principal as you want in any given month during an initial time period. Interest-only home loans can be 30-year fixed-rate mortgages or adjustable-rate mortgages.


Interim Financing

A construction loan made during completion of a building or a project. A permanent loan usually replaces this loan after completion.



Used to adjust the interest rate on an adjustable mortgage, the index is a published interest rate against which lenders measure the difference between the current interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage and the interest earned by other investments (such as one-, three-, and five-year U.S. Treasury security yields, the monthly average interest rate on loans closed by savings and loan institutions, and the monthly average Cost-of-Funds Index).



Joint Tenants

Two or more people owning a property. With joint tenants with the common-law right of survivorship, the survivor(s) inherits the property automatically upon one owner’s death, avoiding probate.

Jumbo Loan

A loan that is larger than the limits set by the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. These loans usually carry a slightly higher interest rate.


Judgment Lien

A lien against all real property owned by the judgment debtor in the county where the judgment is recorded.



Lender Credit

A credit issued by the lender to reduce some of the closing costs.



A claim upon a piece of property for the payment or satisfaction of a debt or obligation.


Life Cap

Regarding an adjustable rate mortgage, an upper limit on the interest rate for the life of the loan.



The ability to readily convert assets or investments into cash.


Loan Application

The source of information on which the lender bases a decision to make the loan; defines the term of the loan, gives the name(s) of the borrower(s), place of employment, salary, bank accounts and credit references, and describes the real estate that is to be mortgaged. It also stipulates the amount of the loan being applied for and the repayment terms.

Loss Payee Clause

A clause in an insurance contract providing payment to someone other than the insured party who has an insurable interest in the insured property. In the case of a home insurance policy, this clause would provide for payment to the mortgage lender.


Loan Estimate (LE)

A new initial disclosure which combines the GFE and TIL


Loan Originator

An individual in the business of assisting in arranging, funding, or negotiating contracts for a client but who does not loan the money himself. You, the consumer, typically pay no additional costs for this service.


Loan-to-value Ratio (LTV)

The relationship between the amount of the mortgage loan and the appraised value of the property expressed as a percentage.


Lock or Lock-in Period

An option exercised by the borrower, at the time of the loan application or later, to "lock in" the rates and points prevailing in the market at that time for a specified time period, usually between 15 and 60 days, during which the borrower must close on the loan. This lock-in protects the borrower against market increases during that period.




The amount a lender adds to the index on an adjustable rate mortgage to establish the adjusted interest rate.


Market Value

The highest price that a buyer would pay and the lowest price a seller would accept on a property. The market value of a property may differ from its purchase price at a given time.

Mortgagee Clause

See Loss Payee Clause.



The Lender.



The borrower or homeowner.



A voluntary lien filed against property to secure a debt, usually a loan. To foreclose, the lender must often institute a court action and the borrower may have the right to reclaim the property after foreclosure.


Mortgage Insurance

Money paid to insure the mortgage when the down payment is less than 20 percent of the value of the property. See Private Mortgage Insurance.



Negative Amortization

Occurs when the monthly payments are not large enough to pay all the interest due on the loan. This unpaid interest is added to the unpaid balance of the loan. The danger of negative amortization is that the homebuyer ends up owing more than the original amount of the loan.


A legal document obligating a borrower to repay a loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time. The agreement is secured by a mortgage, deed of trust or other security instrument.


Notary Public

A person authorized by law to acknowledge and certify documents and signatures.


Non-occupant Co-borrower

A non-occupant co-borrower is a person who may be added to a mortgage loan, but does not plan to live in the home. A non-occupying co-borrower is beneficial from an income or credit perspective.


Non-warrantable Condo

A condominium that does not meet lender requirements.



Origination Fee

The fee charged by a lender to prepare loan documents, make credit checks, inspect and sometimes appraise a property, usually computed as a percentage of the loan’s face value.





Payment Shock

A very large increase in the payment on an ARM that may surprise the borrower. Also used to refer to a large difference between the rent being paid by a first-time homebuyer and the monthly housing expense on the purchased home.


Per Diem Interest

Interest from the day of closing to the first day of the following month. In some cases, however, the borrower can get a credit at closing by making the first payment a month earlier.



Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Also called monthly housing expenses.



See Discount Points.


Power of Attorney

A legal document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another in specified legal and/or financial matters.

Promissory Note

A written, unsecured note promising to pay a specified amount of money on demand, transferable to a third party.


Purchase Agreement

The contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold. Purchase agreements indicate the agreed-upon purchase price and may also include details such as which appliances stay and when the buyer would like to take possession, etc. The purchase agreement is generally required when you apply for a home loan.


Prepaid Expenses

Expenses necessary to create an escrow account or to adjust the seller's existing escrow account. Can include taxes, hazard insurance, private mortgage insurance and special assessments.


Prepayment Penalty

Money charged for an early repayment of a mortgage loan. Prepayment penalties are allowed in some form (but not necessarily imposed) in 36 states and the District of Columbia.



The amount of debt, not counting interest, left 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 5 percent in some cases. With these loans, however, borrowers are usually required to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance will require an initial premium payment and additional monthly fees of 0.3 to 0.5 percent, depending on your loan's structure.



Quitclaim Deed

A legal instrument that transfers ownership interest in a property from one person to another.






A member of the National Association of Realtors®.


Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

A federal law that allows consumers to review information on known or estimated settlement costs once before application and once prior to or at settlement. The law requires lenders to furnish information after application only.



The cancellation of a loan application. With respect to mortgage refinancing, the law gives the homeowner three days to cancel a loan application in some cases once it is signed, if the transaction uses equity in the home as security.

Reverse Mortgage

A loan allowing a homeowner to receive money from the equity in the home without having to make monthly payments. While you are still required to pay your real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, you are not required to make a monthly mortgage payment. As time goes on, the borrower’s debt will increase and the equity will decrease. The amount received with a reverse mortgage depends on the borrower's age and the value of the home. These materials are not from HUD or FHA and were not approved by HUD or a government agency.


Recording Fees

Fees paid to local county recording offices for the recording of mortgage liens, and in the event of a purchase transaction, the deed that transfers title. Recording fees vary by county and are set by state and local governments.


Rent Free

Living with a relative or friend without paying rent.



The borrower’s remaining assets after a loan closing.  Reserves may be required as part of the loan process to ensure the borrower has financial flexibility after the transaction.



Second Mortgage

An additional mortgage placed on a property with rights that are subordinate to the first mortgage. This is a lien in which you are given a lump sum amount that you pay off in installments over a specified period of time. In the case of a foreclosure, the lender who holds the second mortgage gets paid only after the lender holding the first mortgage is paid.



All the steps and operations a lender performs to keep a loan in good standing, such as collecting mortgage payments, paying taxes, paying homeowners insurance, and the like.

Subordinate Financing

A second mortgage on a property that is not paid off when a new loan is taken out. The second-mortgage lender must allow subordination of the second mortgage to the new first mortgage.



A bird's-eye sketch of a property that shows the boundary lines of the lot and details any encroachments between the property and the neighboring properties.


Seller's Concession

A discount or other incentive given by a seller to a prospective buyer to induce them to purchase a property.



See Closing.


Settlement Costs

See Closing Costs.


Short Sale

An agreement between a mortgage borrower in arrears and a lender that allows the borrower to sell the house and remit the proceeds to the lender. It is an alternative to foreclosure, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure.



Tangible Net Benefit

The borrower’s net gain from a refinancing.


Tax Service Fee

A fee charged by some lenders at closing to cover the cost of paying taxes on the borrower's property when they come due, or (if the borrower is paying the taxes), verifying that the payment has been made.


Tenants in Common

Two or more people own a share in a property. These shares can be of unequal size and can be transferred to other owners, either during the owner’s life or through the terms of a will.



The period used to calculate the monthly mortgage payment. The term is usually, but not always, the same as the maturity. On a seven-year balloon loan, for example, the maturity is seven years, but the term in most cases is 30 years.


A right or title to a property held for another’s benefit.



A federal law requiring disclosure of the annual percentage rate to home buyers shortly after they apply for a loan.


Total Interest Percentage (TIP)

The new TILA/RESPA disclosure has a term referred to as TIP. The TIP is the total amount of interest a consumer will pay over the loan term as a percentage of the loan amount. The TIP does not replace the APR. The new disclosures will have both the TIP and APR.


TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID)

The combination of the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), Truth-in-Lending Statement (TIL) and Settlement Statement (HUD-1).



A document that gives evidence of an individual's ownership of property.


Title Insurance

A policy, usually issued by a title insurance company, that insures a home buyer against defects in the title search. The cost of the policy is usually a function of the property’s value, and is paid by the purchaser or seller.


Title Search

An examination of municipal records to determine the legal ownership of property. Usually is performed by a title company.






The decision whether to make a loan to a potential homebuyer based on his/her creditworthiness, employment, assets, and other factors. Also the process of matching this risk to an appropriate rate, term, and/or loan amount.





VA Loan

A long-term, low- or no-down-payment loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Restricted to individuals qualified by military service or other entitlements.


Variable Rate Mortgage (VRM)

See Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Verification of Employment

A document signed by the borrower's employer verifying the borrower’s employment status.


Verification of Deposit (VOD)

A document signed by the borrower's financial institution verifying the status and balance of his/her financial accounts.



Waive Escrows

An authorization by the lender for the borrower to pay taxes and insurance directly. This is in contrast to the standard procedure in which the lender adds a charge to the monthly mortgage payment that is deposited in an escrow account, from which the lender pays the borrower’s taxes and insurance when they are due. On some loans, lenders will not waive escrows, and on loans where a waiver is permitted, lenders are likely either to charge for it in the form of a small increase in points, or restrict it to borrowers making a large down payment.


Warrantable Condos

A condominium project with features that lenders view as protections against hazards that would threaten the value of condo units. These features include the project being completed with most units sold rather than rented, no one party owning more than 10% of the units, adequate insurance coverage of common structures, and an ownership association independent of the developer.




The regulation of the development and use of property by local government.



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Silver Fin Capital Group LLC

11 Grace Avenue, Suite 408,
Great Neck, NY 11021

NMLS ID: 12147

State of Connecticut: Department of Banking, Licensed Mortgage Broker Number 17302; State of Florida: Office of Financial Regulation, Mortgage Broker License MBR572; State of New Jersey: Department of Banking & Insurance, Residential Mortgage Broker License 0805907; State of Pennsylvania: Department of Banking & Securities, Licensed Mortgage Broker, License 98635; State of New York: Department of Financial Services, (Institution A006520). New York Mortgage Broker Registration 208842.

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