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Common Mortgage-Related Terms Explained - Part 1

Acceleration - This refers to a lender's right to request immediate payment of the balance of the loan when the borrower defaults or by using a stipulation from a Due on Sale Clause

ARM / Adjustable Rate Mortgage - A mortgage that has an interest rate that is periodically adjusted. This adjustment is based off of criteria from an agreed upon index and is also called a variable rate mortgage.

Amortization - Mortgage split into periodic, equally sized payments so that at the end of the agreed upon mortgage period the balance is paid.

APR / Annual Percentage Rate - Expression of the yearly rate of the mortgage measured by mortgage's full cost including all expenses and fees.

Appraisal - A documented official estimation of a property's value.

Assessment - Tax on a property that serves a specific purpose, like sewers for example.

Assumption - The agreement between a buyer and a seller in which the buyer is taking over payments from the seller on the seller's existing mortgage.

Balloon Mortgage - This is a loan whose amortization schedule exceeds the length of the mortgage. A final (often large) balloon payment is paid at the end of this end of this extended period of time.

Bridge Loan - A secondary trust used for collateral by the homebuyer's present property, which permits proceeds to be utilized to close on a new property purchase before the existing one is sold.

Buy Down - A buy down occurs when a lender allows a mortgage rate to be lowered by buyer subsidization.

Caps - Safeguards that set limits on the amount of interest rate or payment change on a monthly basis for ARM's

Change Frequency - The increment of the number of months that a rate may change in an ARM

Closing - The closing is the final meeting that occurs involving the property buyer, the seller, and the lender during which all legally binding papers are signed and the property purchase deal is "closed" and property ownership is transferred.

Closing Costs - The expenses and fees incurred either by a home buyer or seller at a closing for a variety of tasks, charges, insurances, etc.

Conversion Clause - ARM provision for having the mortgage's rate be converted to a fixed-rate at some point during the life of the loan.

Credit Report - Official documentation noting the status and history of a potential buyer/borrower.

Default - In a nutshell, not making a payment on time; legally failing to provide required payment to lender by specified deadline.

Down Payment - The money paid during a property purchase that fills the gap between sale price and moneys borrowed.

Equity - The amount left over when comparing money owed on a property to the property's current value.

Escrow - An escrow account is held by the lending institution in which the borrower pays money for insurance or tax reasons. Escrow describes the deposits that are held when a loan is pending closing.

Escrow Payment - The part of a borrowers monthly mortgage payment that the lender holds to pay for insurance, lease, or tax purposes.

Fannie Mae - Federal National Mortgage Association; a government backed organization that buys and sells residential mortgages.

Freddie Mac - Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; a government backed organization that acquires mortgages from various depositary institutions and HUD-approved lenders.

FHA Loan - A loan that the Federal Housing Administration insures, open to any home buyer that meets certain requirements.
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