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Real Estate Glossary
For your convenience, we've compiled a list of words and phrases to help you understand Real Estate better.
Or select one specifically:
A clause in your mortgage which allows the lender to demand payment of the outstanding loan balance for various reasons. The most common reasons for accelerating a loan are if the borrower defaults on the loan or transfers title to another individual without informing the lender.
adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage in which the interest changes periodically, according to corresponding fluctuations in an index. All ARMs are tied to indexes.
The date the interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
The loan payment consists of a portion which will be applied to pay the accruing interest on a loan, with the remainder being applied to the principal. Over time, the interest portion decreases as the loan balance decreases, and the amount applied to principal increases so that the loan is paid off (amortized) in the specified time.
A table which shows how much of each payment will be applied toward principal and how much toward interest over the life of the loan. It also shows the gradual decrease of the loan balance until it reaches zero.
annual percentage rate (APR)
This is not the note rate on your loan. It is a value created according to a government formula intended to reflect the true annual cost of borrowing, expressed as a percentage. It works sort of like this, but not exactly, so only use this as a guideline: deduct the closing costs from your loan amount, then using your actual loan payment, calculate what the interest rate would be on this amount instead of your actual loan amount. You will come up with a number close to the APR. Because you are using the same payment on a smaller amount, the APR is always higher than the actual note rate on your loan.
The form used to apply for a mortgage loan, containing information about a borrower's income, savings, assets, debts, and more.
A written justification of the price paid for a property, primarily based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby.
An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property. Since an appraisal is based primarily on comparable sales, and the most recent sale is the one on the property in question, the appraisal usually comes out at the purchase price.
An individual qualified by education, training, and experience to estimate the value of real property and personal property. Although some appraisers work directly for mortgage lenders, most are independent.
The increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions, inflation, or other causes.
The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation.
The placing of a value on property for the purpose of taxation.
A public official who establishes the value of a property for taxation purposes.
Items of value owned by an individual. Assets that can be quickly converted into cash are considered "liquid assets." These include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so on. Other assets include real estate, personal property, and debts owed to an individual by others.
When ownership of your mortgage is transferred from one company or individual to another, it is called an assignment.
A mortgage that can be assumed by the buyer when a home is sold. Usually, the borrower must "qualify" in order to assume the loan.
The term applied when a buyer assumes the seller's mortgage.
A mortgage loan that requires the remaining principal balance be paid at a specific point in time. For example, a loan may be amortized as if it would be paid over a thirty year period, but requires that at the end of the tenth year the entire remaining balance must be paid.
The final lump sum payment that is due at the termination of a balloon mortgage.
By filing in federal bankruptcy court, an individual or individuals can restructure or relieve themselves of debts and liabilities. Bankruptcies are of various types, but the most common for an individual seem to be a "Chapter 7 No Asset" bankruptcy which relieves the borrower of most types of debts. A borrower cannot usually qualify for an "A" paper loan for a period of two years after the bankruptcy has been discharged and requires the re-establishment of an ability to repay debt.
bill of sale
A written document that transfers title to personal property. For example, when selling an automobile to acquire funds which will be used as a source of down payment or for closing costs, the lender will usually require the bill of sale (in addition to other items) to help document this source of funds.
A mortgage in which you make payments every two weeks instead of once a month. The basic result is that instead of making twelve monthly payments during the year, you make thirteen. The extra payment reduces the principal, substantially reducing the time it takes to pay off a thirty year mortgage. Note: there are independent companies that encourage you to set up bi-weekly payment schedules with them on your thirty year mortgage. They charge a set-up fee and a transfer fee for every payment. Your funds are deposited into a trust account from which your monthly payment is then made, and the excess funds then remain in the trust account until enough has accrued to make the additional payment which will then be paid to reduce your principle. You could save money by doing the same thing yourself, plus you have to have faith that once you transfer money to them that they will actually transfer your funds to your lender.
Usually refers to the daily buying and selling of thirty year treasury bonds. Lenders follow this market intensely because as the yields of bonds go up and down, fixed rate mortgages do approximately the same thing. The same factors that affect the Treasury Bond market also affect mortgage rates at the same time. That is why rates change daily, and in a volatile market can and do change during the day as well.
Not used much anymore, bridge loans are obtained by those who have not yet sold their previous property, but must close on a purchase property. The bridge loan becomes the source of their funds for the down payment. One reason for their fall from favor is that there are more and more second mortgage lenders now that will lend at a high loan to value. In addition, sellers often prefer to accept offers from buyers who have already sold their property.
Broker has several meanings in different situations. Most Realtors are "agents" who work under a "broker." Some agents are brokers as well, either working form themselves or under another broker. In the mortgage industry, broker usually refers to a company or individual that does not lend the money for the loans themselves, but broker loans to larger lenders or investors. (See the Home Loan Library that discusses the different types of lenders). As a normal definition, a broker is anyone who acts as an agent, bringing two parties together for any type of transaction and earns a fee for doing so.
Usually refers to a fixed rate mortgage where the interest rate is "bought down" for a temporary period, usually one to three years. After that time and for the remainder of the term, the borrower's payment is calculated at the note rate. In order to buy down the initial rate for the temporary payment, a lump sum is paid and held in an account used to supplement the borrower's monthly payment. These funds usually come from the seller (or some other source) as a financial incentive to induce someone to buy their property. A "lender funded buydown" is when the lender pays the initial lump sum. They can accomplish this because the note rate on the loan (after the buydown adjustments) will be higher than the current market rate. One reason for doing this is because the borrower may get to "qualify" at the start rate and can qualify for a higher loan amount. Another reason is that a borrower may expect his earnings to go up substantially in the near future, but wants a lower payment right now.
Similar to the acceleration clause.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages have fluctuating interest rates, but those fluctuations are usually limited to a certain amount. Those limitations may apply to how much the loan may adjust over a six month period, an annual period, and over the life of the loan, and are referred to as "caps." Some ARMs, although they may have a life cap, allow the interest rate to fluctuate freely, but require a certain minimum payment which can change once a year. There is a limit on how much that payment can change each year, and that limit is also referred to as a cap.
When a borrower refinances his mortgage at a higher amount than the current loan balance with the intention of pulling out money for personal use, it is referred to as a "cash out refinance."
certificate of deposit
A time deposit held in a bank which pays a certain amount of interest to the depositor.
certificate of deposit index
One of the indexes used for determining interest rate changes on some adjustable rate mortgages. It is an average of what banks are paying on certificates of deposit.
Certificate of Eligibility
A document issued by the Veterans Administration that certifies a veteran's eligibility for a VA loan.
Certificate of Reasonable Value (CRV)
Once the appraisal has been performed on a property being bought with a VA loan, the Veterans Administration issues a CRV.
chain of title
An analysis of the transfers of title to a piece of property over the years.
A title that is free of liens or legal questions as to ownership of the property.
This has different meanings in different states. In some states a real estate transaction is not consider "closed" until the documents record at the local recorders office. In others, the "closing" is a meeting where all of the documents are signed and money changes hands.
Closing costs are separated into what are called "non-recurring closing costs" and "pre-paid items." Non-recurring closing costs are any items which are paid just once as a result of buying the property or obtaining a loan. "Pre-paids" are items which recur over time, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance. A lender makes an attempt to estimate the amount of non-recurring closing costs and prepaid items on the Good Faith Estimate which they must issue to the borrower within three days of receiving a home loan application.
See Settlement Statement.
cloud on title
Any conditions revealed by a title search that adversely affect the title to real estate. Usually clouds on title cannot be removed except by deed, release, or court action.
An additional individual who is both obligated on the loan and is on title to the property.
In a home loan, the property is the collateral. The borrower risks losing the property if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the mortgage or deed of trust.
When a borrower falls behind, the lender contacts them in an effort to bring the loan current. The loan goes to "collection." As part of the collection effort, the lender must mail and record certain documents in case they are eventually required to foreclose on the property.
Most salespeople earn commissions for the work that they do and there are many sales professionals involved in each transaction, including Realtors, loan officers, title representatives, attorneys, escrow representative, and representatives for pest companies, home warranty companies, home inspection companies, insurance agents, and more. The commissions are paid out of the charges paid by the seller or buyer in the purchase transaction. Realtors generally earn the largest commissions, followed by lenders, then the others.
common area assessments
In some areas they are called Homeowners Association Fees. They are charges paid to the Homeowners Association by the owners of the individual units in a condominium or planned unit development (PUD) and are generally used to maintain the property and 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.
An unwritten body of law based on general custom in England and used to an extent in some states.
In some states, especially the southwest, property acquired by a married couple during their marriage is considered to be owned jointly, except under special circumstances. This is an outgrowth of the Spanish and Mexican heritage of the area.
Recent sales of similar properties in nearby areas and used to help determine the market value of a property. Also referred to as "comps."
A type of ownership in real property where all of the owners own the property, common areas and buildings together, with the exception of the interior of the unit to which they have title. Often mistakenly referred to as a type of construction or development, it actually refers to the type of ownership.
Changing the ownership of an existing building (usually a rental project) to the condominium form of ownership.
A condominium project that has rental or registration desks, short-term occupancy, food and telephone services, and daily cleaning services and that is operated as a commercial hotel even though the units are individually owned.
A short-term, interim loan for financing the cost of construction. The lender makes payments to the builder at periodic intervals as the work progresses.
A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.
An oral or written agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.
Refers to home loans other than government loans (VA and FHA).
An adjustable-rate mortgage that allows the borrower to change the ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage within a specific time.
A type of multiple ownership in which the residents of a multiunit housing complex own shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the property, giving each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit.
cost of funds index (COFI)
One of the indexes that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgages. It represents the weighted-average cost of savings, borrowings, and advances of the financial institutions such as banks and savings & loans, in the 11th District of the Federal Home Loan Bank.
An agreement in which a borrower receives something of value in exchange for a promise to repay the lender at a later date
A record of an individual's repayment of debt. Credit histories are reviewed my mortgage lenders as one of the underwriting criteria in determining credit risk.
A report of an individual's credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender in determining a loan applicant's creditworthiness.
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.
A person to whom money is owed.
Compensation or indemnity for loss owing to breach of contract.
DATE OF COMPLETION
The date specified by an agreement of purchase and sale, when the purchaser is to deliver the balance of money due and the vendor to deliver a duly executed deed.
An amount owed to another.
The amount of principal and interest payments made under a mortgage.
The legal document conveying title to a property.
A restriction in a deed to limit or govern the use of the land.
Failure to fulfil an obligation
An accounting method of dealing with income that is received but not included in a statement of earnings as normal earnings.
An insufficient payment, often relating to an amount recovered under a power of sale or foreclosure action.
DELAYED PARTICIPATION LOAN
Where a lender disposes of a loan to several other participants putting up their respective shares later.
Payment is made on demand, usually within a few days notice to the borrower.
Payment of money or other valuable consideration as pledge for fulfilment of contract.
DEPRECIATED REPRODUCTION COST
Appraisal method by which the cost of replacing a structure, minus depreciation, gives the depreciation reproduction costs.
A loss in value due to any cause.
DISCHARGE OF MORTGAGE
A document executed by the mortgagee, and given to the mortgagor when a mortgage loan has been repaid in full before, at, or after the maturity date.
A statement contained in a consumer credit transaction in order to disclose complete credit terms and interest rates.
Reduction in product price or cost of a service. A discount if the difference between the nominal face value of a loan and actual cash received by the borrower because interest is paid at the beginning of a loan based on the sum to be repaid at maturity.
DISCOUNTED CASHFLOW ANALYSIS
This is a method of analysis that calculates the true value of an investment in terms of the present value, i.e. what the investment ifs worth now, although it is spread over a number of years. To compensate for future earnings a discount factor is added in so that a real comparison can be made between an investment with quick return and one that is placed over a number of years.
The face value of the loan minus the interest or discount charged by the lender is the amount actually advanced to a borrower.
The estate which derives benefit from an easement over a subservient estate, as in a Right-of-Way.
A wife's interest in the lands of her husband accruing to her by virtue of the marriage.
Occurs where the debt service on a mortgage exceeds the yield on an investors' property, thereby reducing cash flow.
The person, bank, or corporation on whom a bill, note or cheque is drawn from and from whom payment is expected by the payee or his assignee.
The person or corporation who writes a cheque or note for payment to a third party. In the case of a bill of exchange, the drawer is the creditor and is usually the payee.
The right acquired for access over another person's land for a specific purpose, such as for a driveway or public utilities.
Loss in value of property due to eternal influences related to the property or not controlled by the owner.
EFFECTIVE GROSS INCOME
The estimated gross income less allowances for vacancies and rent losses.
EFFECTIVE INTEREST RATE
The actual interest rate on investment where a debt or loan was bought at discount or at a premium.
A fixture, such as a wall or fence, which illegally intrudes into or invades on public or private property diminishing the size and value of the invaded property.
Outstanding claim or lien recorded against property, or any legal right to the use of the property by another person who is not the owner
The mortgage loan to the final customer, such as a purchaser of a condominium unit.
The transfer of equity in property as security for a debt. Any mortgage registered after the first mortgage.
The value of real estate over and above the mortgage(s) against it.
EQUITY OF REDEMPTION
The right of the mortgagor to reclaim clear title to the real property upon full repayment of the debt.
The reversion of property to the state in event the owner thereof dies leaving no will and having no legally qualified heir to whom the property may pass by lawful descent.
An account held by an agent on behalf of his principal for the payment of money due to a third party on the event of specified incidents, e.g. a vendor's solicitor will hold funds on his behalf until title dees to property have been delivered and property registered and the keys delivered to the purchaser; or an account maintained by a mortgagee for the payment of property taxes or life insurance premiums.
The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in real property.
ESTOPPEL CERTIFICATE - now called a STATUS CERTIFICATE
A written statement or certificate which states certain facts upon which the receiver of the statement or a third party may rely, eg. Lender's estoppel statement as to a purchaser or property. The lender cannot later deny the truth of these statements because a third party has relied and acted upon them.
EXACT DAY INTEREST
Interest calculated on the basis of 365 days per year or 366 days in a leap year.
A clause which excuses one party from personal liability in the event of a default.
The act of forcefully taking private property for public use.
The lengthening of a term on a contract to extent the maturity date; or to permit more time for the performance of an obligation or condition; or the extension of the coverage of a lien to include more property.
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