Mortgage Terms Glossary for Mortgage Borrowers

Unsure about a certain mortgage term? Use this mortgage glossary to find the information you need.

1003 Mortgage Application Form
AKA URLA (Uniform Residential Loan Application). This is the industry standard form used by nearly all mortgage lenders in the U.S. A borrow who wants to apply for a mortgage must complete this basic form or its equivalent.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
This is a mortgage in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically based on a pre-selected index. They’re sometimes known as a variable rate mortgage. For more details please visit our ARM Loan page.

The process of paying off a debt with periodic payments. You can request an amortization schedule that would reflect the mortgage loan payment divided into equal periodic payments. This includes accrued interest calculated to pay off the debt at the end of a fixed period on the outstanding balance.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The measurement of the full cost of a loan including interest and loan fees expressed as a yearly percentage rate. Because all lenders apply the same rules in calculating the annual percentage rate, it provides consumers with a good basis for comparing the cost of different loans.

An estimate of the value of property made by a qualified professional called an appraiser based on his or her knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property. For more details please visit our Understanding a Home Appraisal page.

Buyer’s Agent
This is a real estate agent who represents only the buyer of a property in a real estate transaction. This type of agent agrees to exclusively represent the best interest of the buyer, usually under a formal contract. For agent recommended by the King Team at Get a Rate please visit our Recommended Real Estate Agents page.

Certificate of Eligibility
The document provided to qualified veterans that entitles them to VA guaranteed loans for homes and mobile homes. Obtain certificates of eligibility by sending form DD-214 (report of separation ) to the local VA office with VA form 1880 (Request for Certificate of Eligibility).

Also referred to as completion or settlement, closing is the final step in executing a real estate transaction. The closing date is set during the negotiation phase and tends to take place several weeks after the formal acceptance of the offer. On the closing date, the ownership of the property transfers to the buyer.

Closing Costs
Expenses over and above the price of the property that buyers and sellers incur when transferring property ownership. Closing costs normally include an origination fee, property taxes, charges for title insurance and escrow costs, appraisal fees, etc. Closing costs vary according to the location of the property and the lender used.

Closing Disclosure
A five-page form that provides final details about the mortgage loan you have selected. It includes the loan terms, your projected monthly payments, and how much you will pay in fees and other costs like closing costs to get your mortgage.

Contract Sale or Deed
A contract between the purchaser and a seller of real estate to transfer title after meeting certain conditions. It is a form of the installment sale.

Conventional Loan
A mortgage not insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA. For more details please visit our Conventional Loan page.

Credit Report
A report documenting the credit history and the status of a borrower’s credit standing. For more about credit please visit our Credit Scores page.

Debt-to-Income Ratio
Or sometimes called DTI, is the ratio expressed as a percentage based on the borrower’s monthly payment obligation on long-term debts divided by his or her gross monthly income.

Deed of Trust
In many states, this document is used in place of a mortgage to secure the payment of a note.

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

Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) An independent agency of the federal government that guarantees long-term low-or-no-down payment mortgages to eligible veterans.

Down Payment
Money paid to make up the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage amount. For more information please visit our Mortgage Down Payments page.

Earnest Money
Money that the buyer gives to a seller as part of the purchase price to bind a transaction or assure payment.

Also referred to as the owner’s interest, equity is the difference between the fair market value and current indebtedness. The value an owner has in real estate over and above the obligation against the property.

A situation in which a third party, acting as the agent for the buyer and the seller, carries out the instructions of both and assumes the responsibilities of handling all the paperwork and disbursement of funds at settlement or at closing.

Escrow Agent
A person or entity that holds property in trust for third parties while finalizing a transaction or resolving a disagreement. An attorney or a notary in civil law jurisdictions often plays the role of an escrow agent.

Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) also known as “Fannie Mae”
A government-sponsored entity that purchases and sells conventional residential mortgages as well as those insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage
The mortgage interest rate will remain the same on these mortgages throughout the term of the mortgage for the original borrower. For more details please visit our Fixed Rate Mortgage page.

FHA Loan
A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration open to all qualified home purchasers. While there are limits to the size of FHA loans, they are generous enough to handle moderately priced homes almost anywhere in the country. For more details please visit our FHA Loan page.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC)
Also known as Freddie Mac, this provides a secondary market for savings and loans by purchasing their conventional mortgage loans.

HOA or Homeowners Association
An organization of homeowners residing within a neighborhood whose major purpose is to maintain and provide community facilities and services for the residents’ enjoyment.

Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
An insurance policy available to owners of private residents that covers the home and contents in the case of fire, wind damage, theft, and personal liability. The typical policy does not include flood or earthquake coverage.

The fee charged for borrowing money.

An entity that provides loan programs or acts as a money source for a lender.

Loan Estimate
Or sometimes called an LE, is a three-page form that you receive after applying for a mortgage. The loan estimate tells you important details about the loan you have requested. The form provides important information including the estimated interest rate, monthly payment, and total closing costs for the loan.

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.

Mortgage Insurance (MI)
Cost of insuring the mortgage when the down payment is less than 20 percent.

Origination Fee
What the lender charges the borrower for making the mortgage loan. This is generally a percentage of the loan amount.

Or Loan Discount Points, are prepaid interest assessed at closing by the lender. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. (For example, two points on a $100,000 mortgage equals $2,000).

Primary Residence
A place where a person lives that becomes the legal residence for income tax purposes.

Mortgage principal is the amount borrowed from the lender minus the amounts repaid to the lender that reduce the principal. As the borrower makes monthly mortgage payments, the mortgage principal shrinks.

A document that gives evidence of a person’s ownership of property.

Title Insurance
A policy usually issued by a title insurance company to protect a home buyer against errors during the title search. The cost of the policy is usually a function of the value of the property that the purchaser and/or seller pay. Policies are also available to protect the lender’s interests.

The decision whether to make a loan to a potential home buyer based on credit, employment, assets, and other factors. The decision is matched against overall risk and the details of the loan including rate, term, and loan amount.

A zero-down-payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban homebuyers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USDA loan program — USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program — typically issues these loans. For more details please visit our USDA Loan page.

VA Loan
A loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s restricted to veterans, military members, and qualified surviving spouses. For more details please visit our VA Home Loan page.