Real Estate Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ABSTRACT

The notes made by a title examiner based on his examination of the land records. These notes are a concise summary of the transactions affecting the property.

ACCELERATION CLAUSE

A condition in a real estate financing instrument giving the lender the power to declare all sums owing lender immediately due and payable upon the happening of an event, such as the sale of the property, or a delinquency in the repayment of the note.

ADDENDUM

A form/document added to a contract or agreement, also known as a Rider.

ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM)

A mortgage loan which bears interest at a rate subject to change during the term of the loan.

AGENCY

A relationship in which the agent is given the authority to act on behalf of another person (Principal).

AGREEMENT

A meeting of minds.

AMORTIZED LOAN

A loan to be repaid, interest and principal, by a series of regular payments that are equal or nearly equal, without any special balloon payment prior to maturity.

AMORTIZATION

The periodic principal pay down of a loan.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (A.P.R.)

Is an interest rate reflecting the cost of a mortgage as a yearly rate. This rate is likely to be higher than the stated note rate or advertised rate on the mortgage, because it takes into account point and other credit costs. The APR allows home buyers to compare different types of mortgages based on the annual cost for each loan.

APPRAISAL

An estimate of the value of property, made by a qualified professional called an "appraiser." Most states require licenses. Various lenders have their own lists of approved appraisers.

APPROVED ATTORNEY

An attorney authorized by a title insurance company to handle closings and render title opinions.

ASSIGN

To transfer interest.

ASSIGNEE

One who receives an assignment or transfer of rights. An assignment of a contract transfers the right to buy property.

ASSIGNOR

The one who assigns to another person.

ASSUMPTION

The agreement between buyer and seller where the buyer takes over the payments on an existing mortgage from the seller. Assuming a loan can usually save the buyer money since this is an existing mortgage debt, unlike a new mortgage where closing costs and new, possibly higher, market-rate interest charges will apply.

BALLOON MORTGAGE

Usually a short-term fixed-rate loan which involves small payments for a certain period of time and one large payment for the remaining amount of the principal at a time specified in the contract.

BANKRUPTCY

A provision of Federal Law whereby a debtor surrenders his assets to the Bankruptcy Court and is relieved of the future obligation to repay his unsecured debts. A Trustee in Bankruptcy administers the assets, selling them to pay as much of the debt as possible. If your seller is in bankruptcy, the Trustee in Bankruptcy owns the property and is the party to sign the contract and make decisions. After bankruptcy, the debtor is discharged and his unsecured creditors may not pursue further collection efforts against him. Secured creditors, those holding deeds of trust or judgment liens, continue to be secured by the property but they may not take other action to collect from the debtor.

BLANKET MORTGAGE

A mortgage covering at least two pieces of real estate as security for the same mortgage. This sort of loan is more common for commercial property or "special case" loans.

BREACH OF CONTRACT

Failure to perform provisions of a contract.

BROKER

An individual in the business of assisting in arranging funding or negotiating contracts for a client buy who does not loan the money himself. Brokers usually charge a fee or receive a commission for their services.

CHAIN OF TITLE

The series of transactions from grantor to grantee as evidenced in the land records.

CHATTEL

Personal property.

CLOSING

The meeting between the buyer, seller and lender or their agents where the property and funds legally change hands. Also called settlement. Closing costs usually include an origination fee, discount points, appraisal fee, title search and insurance, survey, taxes, deed recording fee, credit report and notary fees.

COLLATERAL

Property pledged to secure a loan.

CONTRACT

A legally enforceable agreement between two parties.

CONTRACT FOR DEED

Also known as a Land Contract or Land Installment Contract. A method of financing where title remains in the Seller's name until the Buyer has paid the full purchase price.

CONVENTIONAL LOAN

A mortgage not insured by FHA or guaranteed by the VA.

COST APPROACH

A method used by an appraiser to estimate replacement costs of improvements less depreciation.

CREDIT REPORT

A report documenting the credit history and current status of a borrower's credit standing.

DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIO

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower's monthly payment obligation on long-term debts is divided by his or her gross monthly income. See housing expenses-to-income ratio.

DEED

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

DEED OF TRUST

A voluntary lien to secure a debt deeding the property to Trustees who foreclose, sell the property at public auction, in the event of default on the Note the Deed of Trust secures..

DEFAULT

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

DELIVERY

The final, unconditional and absolute transfer of a DEED to the Grantee so that the Grantor may not revoke it. A Deed, signed but held by the Grantor, does not pass title.

DOWN PAYMENT

Money paid to make up the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage amount.

DUE ON SALE CLAUSE

A clause in the deed of trust or mortgage that makes the loan non-assumable by providing the noteholder may call the loan immediately due and payable upon a sale or conveyance of an interest in the property.

EARNEST MONEY

A good faith deposit.

ENCUMBRANCE

Any lien, liability or charge against a property.

EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT (ECOA)

Is a federal law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or receipt of income from public assistance programs.

EQUITY

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

ESCROW

A disinterested third party holds funds or documents on behalf of others and subject to their instructions.

FIXTURE

An item of personal property attached to real property so that it can not be removed without damage to the real property. A fixture becomes part of the real property.

FORECLOSURE

The process by which a lender sells property securing a loan in order to repay the loan. Under a deed of trust, foreclosure is by public auction after appropriate advertisement. A mortgage may require the lender to obtain Court approval prior to sale.

GENERAL WARRANTY DEED

The Grantor warrants title against all claims.

HAZARD INSURANCE

A form of insurance in which the insurance company protects the insured from specified losses, such as fire, windstorm and the like.

HOMESTEAD DEED

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

HOUSING RATIO

The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower's housing expenses are divided by his/her gross monthly income. See debt-to-income ratio.

IMPOUND

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

INDEMNITY

A protection against actual loss or damage as a result of the matter mentioned. An indemnity is not an absolute guarantee that something won't happen; it states the terms under which an actual loss will be compensated.

INDEX

A published interest rate against which lenders measure the difference between the current interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage and that 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 costs-of-funds incurred by savings and loans), which is then used to adjust the interest rate on an adjustable mortgage up or down.

JOINT TENANTS

Two or more persons own a property. Joint tenants with the common law right of survivorship means the survivor inherits the property without reference to the decedent's will. Creditors may sue to have the property divided to settle claims against one of the owners.

JUDGMENT LIEN

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

JUMBO LOAN

A loan which is larger (more than $207,000 as of 1/1/96) than the limits set by the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Because jumbo loans cannot be funded by these two agencies, they usually carry a higher interest rate.

JUNIOR MORTGAGE

Mortgage of lesser priority than the prior recorded mortgage.

LIEN

A claim or charge against property. Property is said to be encumbered by a lien and the lien must be removed to clear title.

LIFE CAP

With regard to an adjustable rate mortgage, a ceiling the note rate cannot exceed over the life of 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.

LOAN APPLICATION

The loan application is 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.

MARKET VALUE

The highest price that a buyer would pay and the lowest price a seller would accept on a property. Market value may be different from the price a property could actually be sold for at a given time.

MORTGAGE

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. See private mortgage insurance, FHA mortgage insurance.

NET WORTH

The difference between total assets and total liabilities.

NON-ASSUMPTION CLAUSE

A statement in a mortgage contract forbidding the assumption of the mortgage without the prior approval of the lender. Note: The signed obligation to pay a debt, as a mortgage note.

NOTE

A written promise to pay a certain sum of money at a certain time. A negotiable note starts "Pay to the order of" and is transferable by endorsement similar to a check.

NOTARY PUBLIC

One authorized by law to acknowledge and certify documents and signatures.

OFFER

A proposal; after acceptance it becomes a contract.

OPTION

A right given for a consideration to keep an offer to purchase or lease open for specific time.

PAY-OFF AMOUNT

A total balance; amount of a full payment on existing loan or lien.

PLAT

A map showing the division of a piece of land with lots, streets and, if applicable, common area.

PITI

Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. Also called monthly housing expense.

POINTS (loan discount points)

Prepaid interest assessed at closing by the lender. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount (e.g., two points on a $100,000 mortgage would cost $2,000).

POWER OF ATTORNEY

A written document authorizing another to act on his behalf as an attorney in fact. One does not need to be a licensed attorney to act as an attorney in fact, but power of attorney forms are powerful legal documents that should be used only under advice of a licensed attorney at law.

PREPAYMENT PENALTY

An additional charge imposed by the lender for paying off a loan before the due date.

PRIME RATE

The most favorable interest rate charged by lenders on short-term loans to qualified customers.

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 3 percent in some cases. With the smaller down payment loans, however, borrowers are usually required to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance will usually require an initial premium payment and may require an additional monthly fee depending on your loan's structure.

PROMISSORY NOTE

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

PUBLIC SALE

Sale, auction open to the public.

PURCHASE MONEY MORTGAGE (PMM)

Seller financing as a part of the purchase price.

QUIET TITLE

A suit brought to remove a claim or objection on title.

QUITCLAIM DEED

A deed releasing whatever interest you may hold in a property but making no warranty whatsoever.

REALTOR

A member of the National Association of Realtors.

RECISION

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

RECORDING FEES

Money paid to the lender for recording a home sale with the local authorities, thereby making it part of the public records.

REFINANCE

Obtaining a new mortgage loan on a property already owned, often to replace existing loans on the property.

RESPA

Short for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. RESPA is a federal law that allows consumers to review information on known or estimated settlement costs once after application and once prior to or at a settlement. The law requires lenders to furnish the information after application only.

REVERSION

A provision in a conveyance that the land will return to the grantor upon the happening of an event or contingency.

SECONDARY MARKET

A market for the purpose of purchase and sale of existing mortgages usually at discounted prices to provide greater liquidity to the mortgagee/lender.

SECOND MORTGAGE

A mortgage recorded after a First mortgage, ranks second in priority.

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT

Additional tax imposed by the local government for public improvements such as new streets, etc.

SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED

The seller warrants he has done nothing to impair title but makes no warranty before his ownership.

SUBDIVISION

Dividing land into lots and streets. The owner signs a PLAT and Deed of Resubdivision which is recorded among the land records. The state and county have strict requirements for subdivision of land.

TENANTS IN COMMON

Two or more persons own the property with no right of survivorship. If one dies, his interest passes to his heirs, not necessarily the co-owner. Either party, or a creditor of one, may sue to partition the property.

TITLE

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

TITLE INSURANCE

Insurance that provides an indemnity against loss or damage as a result of defect in title ownership to a particular piece of property. Title insurance covers mistakes made during a title of search as well as matters which could not be found or discovered in the public records such as missing heirs, mistakes, fraud and forgery.

TITLE SEARCH

An examination of the public records, including court decisions, to disclose facts concerning the ownership of real estate. The title examiner prepares an abstract and the title agent prepares a binder but decisions regarding the legal sufficiency of title or questions requiring legal interpretation must be resolved by a licensed attorney at law.

TRUTH-IN-LENDING

A federal law requiring disclosure of the Annual Percentage Rate to home buyers shortly after they apply for the loan. Also known as Regulation Z.

UNDERWRITING

The decision whether to make a loan to a potential home buyer based on credit, employment, assets, and other factors and the matching of this risk to an appropriate rate and term 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

WARRANTY DEED

A deed conveying the title to a property with a warranty of clean, clear marketable title.

WRAPAROUND

The debt secured includes an existing debt already on the property. The payments made to the holder of the wraparound include payments due on the existing loan and the holder must forward the appropriate portion of each payment to the existing noteholder. Often used to avoid a prepayment penalty or a due on sale clause. Can refer to a wraparound deed of trust or contract for deed.

ZONING

Regulation of private land use and development by local government.