Mortgage Glossary


The number of years over which a mortgage will be repaid. The most common mortgage amortization periods are between 20 years and 30 years.


Prepared by a qualified real estate appraiser, an appraisal reports the estimated fair market value of a property.

Bridging loan

Interim financing, which temporarily finances, for example, the funds necessary to cover completing the purchase of one property while waiting for the sale of another to complete.

Certificate of occupancy

This certificate is issued by the local government entity responsible for the use of land in the community where the property is located. The certificate states that the buildings on the property (or any improvements made to those buildings) comply with the government's codes, ordinances, and regulations, and that these buildings may now be occupied.


The final step in the mortgage loan process after loan commitment. The closing is a meeting between all parties involved in the mortgage transaction in which mortgage documents are signed. (Also known as, settlement)

Closing costs

Fees paid at a mortgage closing. Some examples of closing costs are title insurance, attorney fees, appraisal fees, recording fees and taxes.

Closing date

In most cases, the date when the sale of a property becomes final and the new owner takes possession.


Property pledged as security for repayment of a mortgage loan. If the borrower defaults on the loan, this collateral would then be used to pay off the mortgage.


The transfer of property from one owner to another.

Credit score

A numerical rating provided on a credit report that establishes creditworthiness based upon a person's past credit and payment history and their current credit standing. The bank uses this credit score to determine the borrower's ability to repay a loan.

Debt-to-income ratio

Relationship of a borrower's monthly payment obligation on their long-term debts divided by their gross monthly income, expressed as a percentage. (Also known as bottom ratio) If this ratio is less than 40%, the borrower would most likely be able to manage loan payments.


Failure to abide by the terms of a loan agreement.


The amount by which the value of the borrower's home exceeds the amount owed on the mortgage loan.

Escrow account

An account established with a mortgage lender comprising of funds from a borrower used to pay taxes and insurance premiums when they become due. (

First mortgage

A mortgage whose lien is superior, that is, first in line to be paid before any other mortgage on the same property. This lien is superior either because it was recorded prior to all other mortgages or because the mortgagee of another mortgage, which had been recorded ahead of this mortgage, has agreed to have the earlier lien come next in line to the lien of this mortgage.

Fixed rate of interest

A rate of interest that remains constant throughout the length of the term.


A legal procedure whereby the lender obtains ownership of the property when the borrower does not comply to the terms of the mortgage agreement.


The amount of money the borrower pays the lender for the use of its money. The total amount is determined by the rate of interest the bank offers its customers.

Interim interest

Interest owned by the borrower to the lender on the mortgage loan from the day of the closing to the date covered by the first payment.


An encumbrance on the property, which acts as security for the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation. A mortgage is a lien. A lender will want most, if not all, liens on the property removed before making a mortgage loan.

Loan-to-value ratio

The loan in this ratio is the mortgage amount. The value is either the purchase price of the property or its appraised value, whichever is lower. The loan-to-value ratio is the mortgage amount divided by the value of the property, expressed as a percentage. A lender will use this ratio to determine the maximum mortgage loan amount that it will make on the property.


A pledge of real estate collateral to secure a debt, and,the legal document describing and defining the pledge. The mortgage may also include the terms of repayment of the debt.


The lender in a mortgage transaction.


The borrower in a mortgage transaction.

Offer letter

A written offer by the lender to the applicant, which states the terms under which the lender agrees to make a mortgage loan.


A process in which a conditional commitment is issued after a loan profile is underwritten with all standard documentation except a property appraisal and a title search. With pre-approval, the borrower can make an offer on a property at once, without having to wait to hear from their bank.


The amount of money borrowed.


Guidelines applied by the lender during underwriting a mortgage loan application to determine how large a loan to grant to an applicant. The ratios that lenders use are generally the Loan-to-Value Ratio, Housing-to-Income Ratio and Debt-to-Income Ratio.

Real estate broker

An individual employed on a fee or commission basis as agent to bring buyers and sellers together and assist in negotiating real estate contracts between them.

Rate of Interest

The percentage amount charged in return for borrowing funds. The rate of interest can be a fixed rate throughout the length of the term or a variable rate, a percentage that changes as market conditions change.


Proceeds of a new loan used to pay off an existing mortgage on the same property.

Sales agreement

A written contract setting out the terms under which the buyer agrees to buy. Upon acceptance by the seller, it becomes a legally binding contract subject to the terms and conditions outlined in the document.


The term of a mortgage is the length of time (from six months to ten years) the borrower agrees to the conditions of the mortgage. These mortgage conditions include the rate of interest, the frequency of payments, and how much of each payment is applied to the principal and to the interest, as well as other conditions. At the end of the term, the borrower can pay off the mortgage or renew for another term.


Written evidence of the ownership of property, such as a property deed.