Glossary, M-Z

Over the next several weeks, we will be producing a comprehensive term glossary to serve as a reference for everything you need to know about borrowing, mortgages, and the home-buying process. This post is Part 3 of 3, and it includes all terms from M to Z. 



A fixed number added to the index to compute the rate on an adjustable rate mortgage. 

Marketable Title 

Title that is free of liens, clouds and other legal defects and hence is readily acceptable by a buyer. 

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. 

Master Association 

A homeowners’ association in a large condominium or planned unit development (PUD) project that is made up of representatives from associations covering specific areas within the project. In effect, it is a “second-level” association that handles matters affecting the entire development, while the “first-level” associations handle matters affecting their particular portions of the project. 

Mechanics Lien 

The right of an unpaid contractor or subcontractor to file a lien against property to recover the amount due to him/her. 

Merged Credit Report 

A credit report that contains information from three credit repositories. When the report is created, the information is compared for duplicate entries. Any duplicates are combined to provide a summary of your credit. 


The act of changing any of the terms of the mortgage. 


A written instrument that creates a lien upon real estate as security for the payment of a specified debt. 

Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) 

A bond or other financial obligation secured by a pool of mortgage loans. 

Mortgage Banker 

Specializes in originating and servicing loans. They generally sell their loans to investors, but may continue to service them. 

Mortgage Broker 

Arranges financing for a borrower by placing loans with lenders. Mortgage brokers are paid a fee by the borrower or the lender when a loan closes. 

Mortgage Life Insurance 

A type of term life insurance often bought by mortgagors. The amount of coverage decreases as the principal balance declines. In the event that the borrower dies while the policy is in force, the debt is automatically satisfied by insurance proceeds. 


The lender. 


The borrower. 

Mortgage Insurance 

See private mortgage insurance (PMI) 

Mortgage Note 

A written agreement to repay a loan. The agreement is secured by a mortgage, serves as proof of an indebtedness, and states the manner in which it shall be paid. The note states the actual amount of the debt that the mortgage secures and renders the mortgagor personally responsible for repayment. 

Multidwelling Units 

Properties that provide separate housing units for more than one family, although they secure only a single mortgage. 

Multifamily Mortgage 

A residential mortgage on a dwelling that is designed to house more than four families, such as a high-rise apartment complex. 


Negative Amortization 

An increase in principal balance which occurs when the monthly payments do not cover all of the interest cost. The interest cost which is not covered by the payment is added to the unpaid principal balance. 

Net Effective Income 

The borrowers gross income minus federal income tax. 

No-Doc Loan 

A loan requiring very little loan documentation. These loans usually require large (25%) down payments. 

Nonconforming loan 

Loans that do not comply with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. 

Notary Public 

One authorized to take acknowledgments of certain types of documents, such as deeds, contracts, and mortgages. 


The Note is a promissory note, which is signed with loan documents and states the loan amount, interest rate and loan terms. 

Notice of default 

A letter sent to the defaulting party as a reminder of the default. 



An expression of willingness to purchase a property at a specified price. 


One who receives the offer. When the buyer makes an offer to the seller the seller is an offeree. 


One who makes the offer. When the buyer makes an offer to the seller the buyer is an offeror. 

Office of Comptroller Currency 

The oldest federal financial regulatory body that oversees the nation’s federally chartered banks. 

Office of Thrift Supervision 

The OTS charters federal thrift institutions and is the primary regulator of all federal and many state-chartered thrift institutions. 

Open-end Mortgage 

A mortgage permitting the mortgagor to borrow additional money under the same mortgage, with certain conditions. 

Open House 

A method of showing a home for sale to prospective buyers where the home is left open for inspection by those who may be interested in making a purchase. 

Option Arm 

The Option Arm loan program, commonly referred to as the negative amortized loan, has a low starting payment rate. Typically the starting rate is 1 to 2 percent. The initial monthly loan payment is calculated based on the starting rate, but the note rate will adjust to the Index plus the Margin after the first one to three months. The payment remains the same for the entire year, and is only adjusted yearly on the anniversary date. Since the interest charges may exceed the monthly payment, the interest that is not paid is added to the loan balance. This increases the loan amount, rather than decreasing the loan balance as in a fully amortized loan. Thus we have a negative amortization, or increasing loan balance, during the initial years of this loan. 


One who receives or purchases an option. 


One who gives or sells an option. 

Oral Contract 

A verbal agreement. Verbal agreements for the sale or use of real estate are normally unenforceable. 

Origination Fee 

See Loan Origination Fee. 

Owner Financing 

A property purchase transaction in which the property seller provides all or part of the financing. 

Owner of Record 

The individual named on a deed that has been recorded at the county recorders office. 

Owner Occupant 

A tenant of a residence who also owns the property. 


Package Mortgage 

Mortgage covering both real and personal property. 


A mortgage, deed of trust or land contract provided in lieu of cash. 

Partial Release 

A provision in a mortgage that allows some of the property secured to be freed from serving as collateral. 

Participation Mortgage 

A mortgage that allows the lender to share in part of the income or resale proceeds. 

Pass-through Certificates 

Interests in a pool of mortgages sold by mortgage bankers to investors. Money collected as monthly mortgage payments is distributed to those who own certificates. 

Permanent Loan or Mortgage 

A mortgage for a long period of time. Often referred to as the mortgage that pays off a construction loan on a completed property. 


A document issued by a government regulatory authority that allows the bearer to take some specific action. An occupancy permit allows the owner of a building to occupy or rent the building. 


Email phishing, also referred to as brand spoofing or carding, is a variation on “fishing,” the idea being that bait is thrown out with the hopes that while most will ignore the bait, some will be tempted into biting. An example of receiving this kind of spam email is “We have been trying to contact you regarding your loan request. Your loan is approved. Click here to complete your loan application.” Another example is a request for information using a bank’s website header, so it looks like it’s coming from the bank, but is actually a fake. 


Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. Your mortgage loan payment usually includes the principal and interest amounts. When you borrow more than 80 percent of the value of your home, lenders usually require that you also pay the taxes and insurance payments with your loan payment. 

Planned Unit Development (PUD) 

A zoning classification that allows flexibility in the design of a subdivision. PUD’s include individually owned units as well as some common space that is jointly owned. 


A plan or map of a specific land area. 

Plat Book 

A public record containing maps of land, showing the division of the land into streets, blocks, and lots and indicating the measurements of the individual parcels. 

Pledged Account Mortgage (PAM) 

When the borrower places money in a pledged savings account, and these funds, plus interest earned, are gradually used to reduce mortgage payments. 


Fees paid to lenders. 1 point = 1 percent of the loan amount. On a $100,000 loan 1 point is $1000. Points may be further classified into origination points or discount points. 

Portfolio Loan 

A loan that is held as an investment by a bank or savings and loan, and NOT sold on the secondary market to investors. 

Power of Attorney 

A written document authorizing a person to act on the behalf of another person. That person does not have to be an attorney. See Attorney-In-Fact. 

Prepaid Interest 

Prepaid interest is the interest charged to borrowers at closing to pay for the cost of borrowing for a balance of the month. For example, if a loan closes on the 19th of the month and the first payment is due on the 1st of the following month, the lender will charge 12 days of prepaid interest. 


Full or partial payment of the principal before the due date. This might occur if the borrower makes extra payments, sells the property, or refinances the existing loan. 

Prepayment Penalty 

Fees paid by the borrower if they pay the loan before its due date. 


The process of determining how much money a prospective home buyer will be eligible to borrow before he or she applies for a loan. 

Primary Mortgage Market 

Companies that originate and service mortgage loans (banks, savings & loans, credit union, mortgage bankers, institutional lenders) make up the primary mortgage market. See also secondary mortgage market. 

Prime Rate 

The rate offered to a bank’s best customers. 


The outstanding balance on a loan. 

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 2 percent in some cases. With the smaller down payment loans, however, borrowers are usually required to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance payments are normally made annual or monthly. An impound account may be required. 


Court process to establish the validity of the will of a deceased person. 

Property Tax 

A government levy based on the market value (as assessed by the county assessor’s office) of the property. 

Public Sale 

An auction of property with notice to the general public. 

Purchase Agreement 

A real property agreement between a buyer and seller specifying the price and terms of the sale. 

Purchase Money Mortgage 

A mortgage used to finance the purchase of a property. 


Qualification Rate 

Rate of interest used to calculate whether or not a borrower qualifies for a mortgage. 

Qualification Requirements 

Guidelines used by lenders to decide whether to loan money to an applicant. 

Qualified Acceptance, Conditional Acceptance 

Acceptance for a loan (or other contract) provided that certain conditions are met. 

Qualified Buyer 

A person who has been pre-approved for a mortgage loan. 

Qualifying Ratios 

Calculations that are used in determining whether a borrower can qualify for a mortgage. They consist of two separate calculations: a housing expense as a percent of income ratio and total debt obligations as a percent of income ratio. 

Quiet Title (Action) 

A court action to settle a title dispute. 

Quit Claim Deed 

A deed which transfers whatever interest the maker of the deed may have in the particular parcel of land. A quitclaim deed is often given to clear the title when the grantor’s interest in a property is questionable. By accepting such a deed the buyer assumes all the risks. Such a deed makes no warranties as to the title, but simply transfers to the buyer whatever interest the grantor has. 



A radioactive gas which seeps up from the ground and can cause health problems. A radon test is often part of the home inspection. 

Real Property 

Land and appurtenances, including anything of a permanent nature such as structures, trees, minerals, and the interest, benefits, and inherent rights thereof. 

Realtor ® 

A real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. 

Real Estate Broker 

An individual who often owns a real estate company or is in a management position, and who is licensed to represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction. 

Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) 

A law that states how mortgage lenders must treat those who apply for real estate loans on property with one to four units. 

Example : A lender is required to provide a good faith estimate of closing costs within three days of an application being filed. 

Recapture tax 

Some government sponsored or insured programs, like HUD Low Income Housing programs, require that the buyer occupy the property and retain ownership for a specific period of time. If the buyer sells the property and in some cases moves out of the property, the tax benefits or subsidies received are recaptured, meaning charged to the homeowner. This is a penalty assessed for selling the house too early. 


A recession is usually defined as a fall of a country’s real Gross National Product in two or more successive quarters of a year. A recession may also involve falling prices, which can lead to a depression. In a free market economy, recessions come and go at fairly regular intervals, often five to ten years, in what is known as the business cycle. 


When a mortgage is paid in full, the lender conveys the property back to the owner. 


The act of entering into a book of public records instruments affecting title to the real property. A lender requires that a deed of trust or a mortgage be recorded to evidence the debt against the property. 

Recording Fees 

Money paid to the lender for recording a home sale with local authorities, making it public record. 


The cancellation of a contract. When refinancing a mortgage on a principal residence the law gives the homeowner three days to cancel the contract. 


The right of the holder of a note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust to claim money from the borrower in default in addition to the property pledged as collateral. 


The practice of refusing to provide loans or insurance in a certain neighborhood. 


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

Regulation Z (Reg Z) 

A federal regulation requiring creditors to provide full disclosure of the terms of a loan including the terms of the loan and the annual percentage rate (APR). 

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) 

A trust that uses investors’ money to purchase and manage real estate. Investors realize some of the tax advantages in owning real estate. 

Restrictive Covenants 

Private restrictions limiting the use of real property. Restrictive covenants are created by deed and may “run with the land,” binding all subsequent purchasers of the land, or may be “personal” and binding only between the original seller and buyer. 

Reverse Annuity Mortgage (RAM) 

A mortgage in which the lender makes periodic payments to the borrower using the borrower’s equity in the home as collateral. 

Reverse Mortgage 

A mortgage used by the elderly that provides income as long as they live in exchange. Payments made cause the loan principal to increase. 

Right of First Refusal 

A portion of an agreement that requires a property owner to give one party the opportunity to buy or lease the property before the property is made available to other potential buyers. 

Right of Ingress or Egress 

The right to enter or leave designated premises. 

Right of survivorship 

The right of a surviving joint tenant to acquire the interest of a deceased joint owner. 

Rollover Loan 

A loan that is amortized over a long period of time (e.g., 30 yrs) but the interest rate is fixed for a short period (e.g., 5 yrs). The loan may be extended or rolled over, at the end of the shorter term, based on the terms of the loan. 


Sales Agreement or Sales Contract 

See Agreement of Sale. 

Savings & Loan 

Depository institutions that specialize in originating, servicing and holding mortgage loans primarily on owner occupied residential property. 

Second Home 

Also known as a vacation home. This home is different from an investment property as it is not rented, but used occasionally by the owners. 

Second Mortgage 

A subordinated lien, created by a mortgage loan, over the amount of a first mortgage. Second mortgages generally carry a higher rate than a first mortgage since they represent a higher risk for an investor. 

Secondary Mortgage Market 

The market where banks, savings & loans and mortgage bankers can sell mortgages to investors like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. 

Section 1031 

The section of the IRS that deals with tax free exchanges of certain property. General rules for tax free exchanges are 

The properties must be : 

  • Exchanged 
  • Similar 
  • Used for business or as an investment 

Section 8 Housing 

Privately owned rental units participating in the low-income rental assistance program. Landlords receive subsidies on behalf of qualified low-income tenants, allowing the tenants to pay a limited proportion of their incomes toward the rent. 


Property that serves as collateral for a debt. 


An organization that collects principal and interest payments from borrowers and manages borrowers’ escrow accounts. The servicer often services mortgages that have been purchased by an investor in the secondary mortgage market. 


The act of billing, collecting payment, filing reports, managing impound accounts and handling defaults on a mortgage. 

Settlement Cost (HUD guide) 

See Buying Your Home: Settlement Costs and Information (HUD guide) 

Settlement Statement 

See HUD 1 

Shared Appreciation Mortgage 

A residential loan with a fixed, below-market interest rate in which the lender is entitled to a specified share of property appreciation during an agreed upon time period. 

Sheriff’s Deed 

A deed given at the sheriff’s sale in the foreclosure of a mortgage. 

Simple Interest 

Interest which is computed only on the principal balance. 

Single Family Home (SFR) 

A type of residential structure designed to include one dwelling. E.g., town home, detached unit. 

Example : Town houses, detached units. 

Soft Market 

A market where houses aren’t selling much or quickly, so the sales price is likely to be significantly lower than the asking (listing) price. It’s a good time for buyers to buy, but not the best time for prospective sellers to sell. 

Spec House 

A single family dwelling constructed by a builder in anticipation of finding a buyer. 

Special Assessment 

A special tax imposed on property, individual lots or all property in the neighborhood to pay for improvements – street lights, sidewalks, etc. 

Special Warranty Deed 

The grantor does not warrant against title defects arising from conditions that existed before he/she owned the property. The seller warrants that he/she has done nothing to impair title. 

Specific Performance 

A legal action in which the court requires a party to a contract to perform their obligations under the terms of the agreement. 

Stock Cooperative 

A common interest development in which a corporation holds title. Stock and exclusive right to occupancy are given to individual members (stock holders) of the stock cooperative. 

Standard Uniform Loan Application (Form 1003) 

A standard loan application widely used in the mortgage industry. 


A tract of land divided into lots suitable for home building purposes. 

Subject To Clause 

A clause stating that the grantee takes title “subject to” an existing mortgage or trust deed. The original mortgagor remains responsible for any deficiency in the event of foreclosure. See Assumable Mortgage. 

Subordinate Financing 

Any mortgage or other lien that has a priority that is lower than that of the first mortgage. 


A loan in a lower priority, for example a second mortgage is subordinate to a first. 

Subsidized Second Mortgage 

An alternative financing option known as the Community Seconds® mortgage for low- and moderate-income households. An investor purchases a first mortgage that has a subsidized second mortgage behind it. The second mortgage may be issued by a state, county, or local housing agency, foundation, or nonprofit corporation. Payment on the second mortgage is often deferred and carries a very low interest rate (or no interest rate). Part of the debt may be forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home. 


Map made by a licensed surveyor who measures land and charts its boundaries, improvements and relationship to the property surrounding it. 

Sweat Equity 

Value added to a property due to improvements made personally by the owner. 


Takeout Financing 

A commitment to provide permanent financing upon completion of construction. The take out loan normally pays off the construction loan. 

Tax Lien 

Lien for nonpayment of taxes. 

Tax Sale 

Public sale of a property at an auction by a government authority as a result of non-payment of taxes. 

Teaser Rate 

A low initial interest rate on a mortgage. 

Tenancy at Sufferance 

Tenancy established when a person who had been a lawful tenant wrongfully remains in possession of property after expiration of a lease. 

Tenancy at Will 

A license to use or occupy land and buildings at the will of the owner. The tenant may decide to leave the property at any time or must leave at the landlords will. 

Tenancy by the Entirety 

A form of ownership by husband and wife whereby each owns the entire property. In event of the death of one, the survivor owns the property without probate. 

Tenancy for Years 

Created by a lease for a fixed term, such as 6 months, 2 years, etc. 

Tenancy in Common 

Ownership of a property by 2 or more persons, each of whom has an undivided interest, without the right of survivorship. Upon the death of one of the owners, the ownership share of the deceased is inherited by the beneficiary designated on the owner’s will. 

Tenancy in Severalty 

Ownership of property by one person. 

Time Share 

A form of property ownership under which a property is held by a number of people, each with the right of possession for a specified time interval. Time sharing is used mostly for vacation properties. 

Time is of the Essence 

Legal phrase in a contract requiring all references to specific dates and times noted in the contract be interpreted exactly. 


Evidence that the owner of the property is in lawful possession. Evidence of ownership. 

Title Insurance 

An insurance policy which protects the insured against loss arising from defects in title. Title insurance policies are typically obtained for the buyer and the lender. 

Title Report 

A document indicating the current state of title. The report includes information on the current ownership, outstanding deeds of trust or mortgages, liens, easements, covenants, restrictions, and any defects. 

Title Search 

An examination of the public records to determine the ownership and encumbrances affecting the property. 

Total Expense Ratio 

Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income. The total expense ratio includes monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts. 

Town House 

Residence which normally has 2 or more floors and is attached to other similar units. Town houses are commonly found in planned unit developments (PUDs) and condominiums. 


A parcel of land, generally held for subdividing. 

Trade Equity 

Equity that results from a property purchaser giving his or her existing property (or an asset other than real estate) as trade as all or part of the down payment for the property that is being purchased. 

Transfer Tax 

Tax paid to the city, county, state or other government entity upon sale of a property. 

Transfer of Ownership 

Any means by which the ownership of a property changes hands. Lenders consider all of the following situations to be a transfer of ownership: the purchase of a property “subject to” the mortgage, the assumption of the mortgage debt by the property purchaser, and any exchange of possession of the property under a land sales contract or any other land trust device. In cases in which an inter vivos revocable trust is the borrower, lenders also consider any transfer of a beneficial interest in the trust to be a transfer of ownership. 

Treasury Bill 

Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. Commonly called T-bills they come in denominations of three months, six months and one year. Each Treasury bill has a corresponding interest rate (i.e. 3-month T-bill rate, 1-year T-bill rate). The rate determines the T-bill Index rate, which is used in many variable rate loan programs. 

Triple-Net Lease 

One in which the tenant pays all operating expense of the property. The landlord receives the net rent. 

Trust Account 

A separate bank account maintained by a broker or escrow company to handle all money collected for clients. A broker may not commingle these funds with his/her own funds. 

Trust Deed 

See Deed of Trust. 


A party who is given legal responsibility to hold property in the best interest of or “for the benefit of” another. The trustee is one placed in a position of responsibility for another, a responsibility enforceable in a court of law. 

Truth in Lending 

See Regulation Z. 

Two-Step Mortgage 

A mortgage in which the borrower receives a fixed rate for a specified number of years (most often 5 or 7), and then receives a new interest rate based on the terms in the note. 

Two- to Four-Family Property 

A property that consists of a structure that provides living space (dwelling units) for two to four families, although ownership of the structure is evidenced by a single deed. 



The decision whether to make a loan to a potential home buyer based on credit, income, employment history, assets, etc. 

Undivided Interest 

An ownership right to use and possess a property that is shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property. 

Unimproved Property 

Land that has received no development. 

Unencumbered Property 

Real estate with free and clear title. 

Unrecorded Deed 

A document that transfers title from the grantor to the grantee without recording (i.e. providing public notice). 


Charging a rate of interest greater than that permitted by law. 


Vacation Home 

See second home. 

VA Loan 

Home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Veterans Administration, enabling a veteran to buy a home with no money down. 

Variable Rate Mortgage 

See Adjustable Rate Mortgage 

Verification of Deposit (VOD) 

A document signed by the borrower’s bank or other financial institution verifying the account balance and history. 

Verification of Employment 

A document signed by the borrower’s employer verifying his/her starting date, job title, salary and probability of continued employment. 



The voluntary renunciation, abandonment, or surrender of some claim, right, or privilege. 

Walk-Through Inspection 

A final walk-through immediately prior to closing to verify that no changes have taken place and no new damage has occurred. 


Mortgage bankers and other financial institutions make loans that are then periodically sold on the secondary market. After the loan is made but before it is sold, the loan is said to be in the lender’s warehouse. 

Warranty Deed 

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

Wear and Tear 

Normal use and the resulting reduction in value of a property. 

Web Portal 

Commonly referred to as simply a portal, a Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience. 

Wraparound Mortgage 

A loan arrangement whereby the existing loan is retained and a new loan is added to the property. 
Example : The seller sells his/her property for $200,000. The buyer puts $80,000 down. The seller has an existing loan balance of $100,000 for a remaining period of twenty-five years at an interest rate of 6 percent. The seller then makes a wraparound mortgage to the buyer, (where the seller acts as a lender) for $120,000 at 8 percent. The seller has to continue making payments on his old loan. They buyer has to pay the seller on the new loan. The buyer may at a later date refinance the property and close both loans. 


What You See IWhat You Get. Computer software may display data on the computer screen with a format and color scheme that is different when you print the page or when you view it in a Web browser. Software that is WYSIWYG will print and look the same as what you see on the screen in the WYSIWYG. 


Zero Lot Line 

A form of housing where individual units are on separate lots, but are attached to one another. Example: PUD, townhouse. 


Areas may be zoned to specify use of a property i.e. residential, commercial, agricultural. These zoning ordinances are normally enforced by the city or the county.