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Glossary of Terms

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage in which interest and payment rates vary periodically, based on a specific index, such as 30-year Treasury bills or the Cost-of-Funds index.Adjustments
Money credited to either/both buyer and seller at closing, including real estate taxes, price adjustments based on disclosures in the inspection, etc.

Affidavit
A written statement made under oath before a notary public or other judicial officer.

Agent
A licensed person who represents the seller (and/or buyer) and who provides market assessment, sales or buying strategy, recommends various services and sources important to the seller or buyer.

Amortization
A method by which monthly mortgage payments are equalized over the life of the loan despite the fact that the proportion of principal to interest changes.

Appraisal
Professional and unbiased written opinion of property’s value based on recent, comparable sales, quality of construction, current condition and style of architecture.

Assessor
A municipal or county official who determines the value of properties for the purpose of taxation.

Assumption of Mortgage
The buyer assumes liability for an an existing mortgage held by the seller, subject to approval by the lender.

Balloon Mortgage
A short-term mortgage, generally at a fixed rate of interest, to be paid back in pre-determined, equal monthly payments, with a large, final payment for the balance of the loan paid at the end of the term.Broker
A person licensed to represent home buyers or sellers for a contracted fee. Most real estate offices are managed by a broker who employs licensed sales agents to sell the properties.

Cap
A limit on the total amount an interest rate can be increased. (See ARM.)Cashier’s Check
A check drawn by a bank on itself rather than on an account of a depositor. A cashier’s check is generally acceptable to close a sale without waiting for the check to clear.

Closing
The final settlement at which time the title is transferred from seller to buyer, accounts are settled, new mortgages signed and all fees and expenses dispersed or satisfied.

Closing Costs
All fees, taxes, charges, commissions and other costs paid by buyer and/or seller at the closing.

Closing Statement
The statement which lists the financial settlement between buyer and seller, and also the costs each must pay. A separate statement for buyer and seller is sometimes prepared.

Collateral
Personal property pledged as the security for a debt. The mortgage is usually the collateral for the property itself.

Commission
A previously agreed upon percentage of the home’s sale price paid to the listing and selling agent(s).

Commitment
Also called “binder.” A document issued by a title insurance company that contains the conditions under which a policy of title insurance will be issued.

Conventional Mortgage
Most popular home financing form not insured by FHA or guaranteed by VA. Available from many lenders at varying rates, terms and conditions.

Credit Report
A report outlining the credit history of an individual which includes current and previous debts, payment amounts, late payments and past due amounts and other related information on every credit source the individual has used.

Deed
A legal “instrument” that conveys the title to a property from seller buyer.Deed Restriction
A covenant contained in a deed imposing limits on the use or occupancy of the real estate or the type, size, purpose or location of improvements to be constructed on it.

Disbursements
Payments made during the course of an escrow or at closing.

Disclosure
Statement concerning the condition of the property for sale and the surrounding area.

Documentary Tax Stamps
Stamps, similar to postage stamps, affixed to a deed, showing the amount of transfer tax paid. Most states now “stamp” the deed rather than actually affixing a stamp.

Down Payment
The buyer’s payment to the seller at the time the sales contract has been mutually agreed to, or at closing, for the percentage of the total purchase price required by the buyer’s mortgage loan.

Earnest Money
Money paid by the buyer at the time an official offer to purchase is submitted to the seller, intended to demonstrate the good faith of the buyer to complete the purchase. Earnest money applied against the purchase price; however, it may be forfeited if the buyer fails to complete the purchase under the terms of the sales contract.Easement
A right to use all or part of the land owned by another for a specific purpose. An easement may, for example, entitle its holder to install and maintain sewer or utility lines.

Encroachment
Any building, improvement or structure located on one property (such as a wall, fence or driveway) that intrudes upon the property of another.

Encumbrance
Any interest, right, lien or liability attached to a parcel of land (such as unpaid taxes or an unsatisfied mortgage) that constitutes or represents a burden or charge upon the property.

Equity
The difference between the sale price of a property and the mortgage on the property.

Escrow Account
A third party account used to retain funds including the property owner’s real estate taxes, buyer’s earnest money or hazard insurance premiums.

Examination
The study of the instruments and muniments incident to a chain of title to determine their effect and condition in order to reach a conclusion as to the status of the title.

Exception
A provision in a title insurance binder or policy that excludes liability for a specific title defect or an outstanding lien or encumbrance.

FHA Insured Mortgage
The Federal Housing Administration makes available through banks and other lenders, insured mortgages with low down payment requirements.Fixed-Rate Mortgage
A mortgage that has a set interest rate and is basically unaffected by interest rate changes.

Forgery
The fraudulent signing of another’s name to an instrument such as a deed, mortgage or check.

Free and Clear Title
Title to a property which is free from any mortgage, lien, or other encumbrance.

Gift Letter
A letter to HUD from the donor (giver) stating that a gift of money has been made to the buyer in order to purchase specific property. The relationship of the donor and donee is stated, as well as the amount of the gift.Graduated Payment Mortgage
This mortgage offers low initial monthly payments which increase at a pre-determined rate, then cap at a final level for the duration of the mortgage.

Grant
To bestow or confer, with or without compensation, a gift such as land or money by one having control or authority over the gift.

Hold Harmless Agreement
An agreement by which one party agrees to repay another for any loss or damage the latter may suffer.Home Inspection
A formal survey of a home’s structure, mechanical systems and overall condition, generally performed by a licensed professional inspector.

Homeowner’s Insurance
Real estate insurance (also known as “Hazard Insurance”) protecting against loss caused by fire, some natural causes, vandalism, etc., depending on the terms of the policy. Also includes coverage such as personal liability and theft away from home.

Homestead
The dwelling house and adjoining land which is considered your primary residence. However, the homestead is limited in size to either 1/2 of a contiguous acre if within a municipality, or up to 160 contiguous acres if outside a municipality. You can only have one homestead in Florida and the exemption, should you qualify, is $25,000.

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development)
The federal department responsible for the major housing programs in the United States.

Interest
The pre-determined charge or fee paid to a lender by the borrower for the use of monies loaned.Intestate
Without leaving a will, or leaving an invalid will so that the property of the estate passes by the laws of succession rather than by direction of the deceased.

Irrevocable
That which cannot be revoked or recalled, such as certain trusts, contracts, and other legal relationships.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
An undivided interest in property, taken by two or more joint tenants. The interests must be equal, occurring under the same conveyance, and beginning at the same time. Upon the death of a joint tenant, the interest passes to the surviving joint tenants, rather than to the heirs of the deceased.Judgment
The determination of a court regarding the rights of parties in an action. A judgment of debt on a property owner can create a lien on all of that owner’s land within a certain jurisdiction.

Junior Mortgage
A mortgage lower in lien priority than another.

Leasehold
The right to possession and use of land for a fixed period of time. The lease is the agreement that creates the right.Lease-Purchase Agreement
An agreement between owner and tenant specifying a portion of monthly rent, during a specified period, to be credited toward purchase of property.

Legal Description
A method of geographically identifying a parcel of land, which is acceptable in a court of law.

Line of Credit
An amount of money a borrower may obtain from a bank without a special credit check. The money is generally for business purposes and the amount would not include the borrower’s own home loan and other personal secured loans.

Loan Policy
Also called “mortgagee policy.” A title insurance policy insuring a mortgagee, or beneficiary under a deed of trust, against loss caused by invalidity or unenforceability of a lien, or loss of priority of the mortgage or deed of trust.

Market Price
The actual price at which a property is sold.Market Value
The price that is established by existing economic conditions, property location and market style and size preferences.

Metes and Bounds
A land description in which boundaries are described by courses, directions, distances and monuments.

Mortgage
A legal claim received by the lender on a property as security for the loan made to a buyer to facilitate the purchase.

Mortgage Interest
The amount the borrower pays the lender to compensate the lender for the use of money to purchase the borrower’s home. This is tax deductible interest.

Mortgagee Policy
See Loan Policy.

Note
Also called a “promissory note.” A written promise to pay a sum of money, usually at a specified interest rate, at a stated time to a named payee.Negative Amortization
Most likely to occur with ARMs when monthly payments are not sufficient to cover interest cost. Additional interest is added to principal balance and the borrower may end up owing more than at the initiation of the loan.

Origination Fee
Similar to a point, this fee is a supplemental fee paid by buyers to lenders.Owner’s Policy
A policy of title insurance insuring an owner of real estate against loss occasioned by defects in, liens against, or unmarketability of the owner’s title.

Payment Cap
A limit on the amount monthly payments on an adjustable rate mortgage can increase or decrease at each adjustment period.Planned (Unit) Development
A subdivision of five or more individually owned lots with one or more other parcels owned in common or with reciprocal rights in one or more other parcels. The lots are generally small, being the exact size of the improvements, or slightly larger.

Plat
Also called “plat map.” A map dividing a parcel of land into lots, as in a subdivision. A plat book contains the plat maps for a given area.

Point
A single percent of the loan principal, often charged by the lender in addition to various fees and interest.

Power of Attorney
An authority by which one person (principal) enables another (attorney-in-fact) to act for him. (1) General power – Authorizes sale, mortgaging, etc. of all property of the principal. Invalid in some jurisdictions. (2) Special power – Specifies property, buyers, price and terms. How specific it must be varies in each state.

Prepayment Penalty
A fee included in the mortgage agreement requiring borrower to pay in the event the loan is paid before the due date.

Prequalification
An informal estimate of the “financing potential” of a prospective borrower.

Principal
The amount of money borrowed against which interest and possibly fees will be charged. (A second meaning: one of the parties to a contract.)

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Insurance against a loss by a lender in the event of default by a borrower (mortgagor). The insurance is similar to insurance by a governmental agency such as FHA, except that it is issued by a private insurance company. The premium is paid by the borrower and is included in the mortgage payment.

Prorate
Proportionate division of expense based on days or time occupied or used by the seller and/or buyer.

Qualify
Ability of a borrower to satisfy a lender’s mortgage approval requirements.Quit Claim Deed
A deed that does not imply that the grantor holds title, but that surrenders and gives to the grantee any possible interest or rights that the grantor may have in the property.

Recording
The noting in a public office of the details of a legal document – such as a deed or mortgage – affecting the title to real estate. When such an instrument is properly recorded, it is considered to be a matter of public record. Legally, that means that all subsequent purchasers are deemed to have constructive knowledge of that information.Refinancing
The process of applying for a new mortgage to gain better terms or use of equity.

Reissue Rate
A charge for a title insurance policy if a previous policy on the same property was issued within a specified period. The reissue rate is less than the original charge.

RESPA Statement
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act requires a precise listing of all closing costs for both sellers and buyers.

Restrictions
Limitations on the use of property imposed or created by deeds or other documents in the chain of title. A restriction, for example, may prohibit the placement of a trailer or the construction of a commercial structure on the property.

Riparian Rights
The rights of owners of lands bordering watercourses which relate to the water and its use.

Satisfaction
Discharge of an obligation by payment of the amount due, as on a mortgage, trust deed, or contract; or payment of a debt awarded, such as satisfaction of a judgment. Also the recorded instrument stating said payment has been made.Search
A careful exploration and perusal of the public records in an effort to find all recorded instruments relating to a particular chain of title.

Second Mortgage
A mortgage ranking in priority immediately below a first mortgage.

Settlement
This term relates to all legal and financial transactions required to finalize the contract between buyer and seller, at the conclusion of which closing takes place.

Simultaneous Issue
A simultaneous issuance by a title insurance company of policies insuring both an owner and a lender. The lender’s policy is issued at a reduced rate.

Subordination
The act or process by which a person’s rights are ranked below the rights of others. For example, a second mortgagee’s rights are subordinate to those of the first mortgagee.

Title
A legal document that defines the property, right of ownership and possession.Title Defect
(1) Any possible or patent claim or right outstanding in a chain of title that is adverse to the claim of ownership. (2) Any material irregularity in the execution or effect of an instrument in the chain of title.

Title Insurance
An insurance policy that protects the buyer against errors, omissions or any defects in the title.

VA Mortgage
The Department of Veterans Affairs has made guaranteed mortgages available through banks and other lending institutions to active military personnel, veterans, or spouses of veterans who died of service-related injuries.Variable Interest Rate
Also called “flexible interest rate.” An interest rate that fluctuates as the prevailing rate moves up or down. In mortgages, there are usually maximums as to the frequency and amount of fluctuation.

Walk-Through Inspection
The final inspection by the buyer, usually in the company of the buyer’s real estate sales agent, to ensure that all conditions noted in the offer-to-purchase, and all seller-related contingencies have been met. This inspection is most often completed immediately prior to the official act of closing, after the seller has vacated the premises.Warranty
Protection provided to the purchaser regarding the condition of appliances and pictures. Often, new homes have more extensive warranties also covering the overall structure.

Zoning
Laws passed by local governments regulating the size, type, structure, nature and use of land or buildings.

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