Written by 12:50 pm Mortgage

Mortgage-Related Terms You Need To Know

Buying a home is a dream for anyone, but it instantly turns into a nightmare as you delve into the intricate process. From deciphering the best practices to boost your credit score to unraveling the complexities of various mortgage options like USDA, VA, FHA, and Conventional loans, the journey feels like navigating through a maze. Amidst these challenges, we understand the need for clarity. 

To simplify this process for you, we’re introducing a comprehensive guide that breaks down all the terms related to mortgages. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to refinance, this resource will serve as your companion, breaking down the jargon, explaining the nuances of different loan options, and empowering you to make informed decisions. 

Important Mortgage-Related Terminology

Here is the list of all the terms that you need to know before stepping into the world of mortgage:

  1. Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): This mortgage type has an interest rate that changes periodically, offering a low “teaser” rate at the start, but later, it can go up or down based on the market conditions.
  1. Amortization: It is the process of paying off bit by bit over time. If you have a 15- or 30-year home loan, each payment covers a part of what you borrowed and some interest. By the end, you’ve paid off the whole loan.
  1. APR (Annual Percentage Rate): It is the total cost of getting a mortgage. It includes the interest rate, fees, and other costs. It’s higher than just the interest rate and shows the real price of the loan.
  1. Cash-out refinance: Cash-out refinance allows homeowners to tap into their home’s equity by replacing the existing mortgage with a larger one. The new loan incorporates the outstanding balance of the initial mortgage and the cash withdrawn, introducing a new interest rate and term into the equation.
  1. Closing costs: Fees incurred during the mortgage process, including origination, appraisal, credit report, and title search fees. While both buyers and sellers share closing costs, the buyer often bears a larger portion.
  1. Conforming loan: A conforming loan adheres to the guidelines and loan limits that are set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). These guidelines encompass the borrower’s creditworthiness, debt-to-income ratio, and down payment. By conforming to these standards, lenders can sell these loans to entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thereby mitigating risk and potentially offering more favorable terms to borrowers.
  1. Conventional loan: A conventional loan stands apart from government-backed mortgages, as it is entirely financed by the private sector without federal insurance or guarantees. 
  1. Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: A measure of a borrower’s ability to repay a mortgage, which is calculated by dividing monthly installment of debt payments by gross income.
  1. Down payment: The down payment constitutes the upfront cash payment a homebuyer makes toward the purchase price. A larger down payment can enhance a borrower’s likelihood of securing a lower interest rate, though different mortgages have varying minimum down payment requirements.
  1. Earnest money: A buyer’s commitment to a home purchase. Earnest money is a deposit made upon entering a purchase and sale agreement. Typically held in escrow by a title company, this deposit is applied towards closing costs or the down payment upon the successful completion of the home sale.
  1. Equity: The percentage of a home owned outright, calculated by removing the mortgage balance from the home’s value.
  1. Escrow: An escrow account, also known as an impound account, serves to hold a portion of a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment earmarked for homeowners’ insurance premiums and property taxes. Managed by the lender or servicer, this account ensures timely payment of insurance and tax bills, reducing financial risk for the lender.
  1. FHA loan: Insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these loans are attractive to borrowers with easier credit requirements and lower down payment options. Particularly favored by first-time homebuyers, FHA loans offer a government-backed safety net for lenders in case of default.
  1. Fixed-rate mortgage: A loan with a constant interest rate throughout its term, offering stability and predictability to borrowers. The interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage can only be altered through refinancing.
  1. Interest rate: It is the cost of borrowing the money, expressed as a percentage. It influences the amount of each mortgage payment and is subject to general market movements and the borrower’s risk profile.
  1. Jumbo loan: A mortgage for higher-priced properties exceeding conforming loan limits.
  1. Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio: Compares the mortgage amount to the property’s value, influencing the need for mortgage insurance.
  1. Mortgage insurance: It is required on loans with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Mortgage insurance acts as protection for the lender in case of borrower default. Two primary types exist: private mortgage insurance (PMI) for conventional loans and mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) for FHA loans.
  1. Origination fee: A lender’s charge for initiating a loan, typically a percentage of the total amount, paid at closing.
  1. Preapproval: A lender’s indication of willingness to provide a specific loan amount based on a borrower’s financial position.
  1. Refinance: Existing mortgage holders can refinance by obtaining a new loan with different terms, rates, or both, using it to pay off the existing mortgage. Refinancing allows borrowers to take advantage of the lower interest rates or adjust loan terms to better suit their financial goals.
  1. Reverse mortgage: Available to homeowners typically aged 62 or older who have paid off their homes, a reverse mortgage involves receiving monthly payments from a lender borrowing against home equity. Repayment is due when the borrower sells, permanently leaves the home, or passes away.
  1. Underwriting: A lender’s assessment of the risk associated with lending to a specific borrower. Factors considered include credit report and score, income, debt, and the property’s value. 
  1. USDA loan: Government-guaranteed loans for purchasing homes in specific rural areas. These loans often provide favorable terms, such as no down payment, but applicants must fall within low- to moderate-income brackets.
  1. VA loan: Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, offering benefits to eligible military members with no down payment requirements.


At Bond Street, we believe that understanding the intricacies of the homebuying process shouldn’t be a source of stress but a stepping stone towards the realization of your homeownership dream. So, arm yourself with knowledge, and let this guide be your key to a successful journey towards owning the home you’ve always envisioned. 

For more detailed information and mortgage solutions, reach out to us at Bond Street.

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