Glossary of Mortgage Terms

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A.P.R.

See: annual percentage rate.

abstract of title

A historical summary provided by a title insurance company of all records affecting the title to a property.

acceleration clause

Allows a lender to declare the entire outstanding balance of a loan immediately due and payable should a borrower violate specific loan provisions or default on the loan

adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)

A variable or flexible rate mortgage with an interest rate that varies according to the financial index it is based upon. To limit the borrower's risk, the ARM may have a payment or rate cap. See also: cap.

amenities

Features of your home that fit your preferences and can increase the value of your property. Some examples include the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or vicinity to public transportation.

amortization

The liquidation of a debt by regular, usually monthly, installments of principal and interest. An amortization schedule is a table showing the payment amount, interest, principal and unpaid balance for the entire term of the loan.

annual cap

See: cap.

annual percentage rate (A.P.R.)

The actual interest rate, taking into account points and other finance charges, for the projected life of a mortgage. Disclosure of APR is required by the Truth-in-Lending Law and allows borrowers to compare the actual costs of different mortgage loans.

appraisal

An estimate of a property's value as of a given date, determined by a qualified professional appraiser. The value may be based on replacement cost, the sales of comparable properties or the property's ability to produce income.

appreciation

A property's increase in value due to inflation or economic factors.

ARM

See: adjustable rate mortgage.

assessment

Charges levied against a property for tax purposes or to pay for municipality or association improvements such as curbs, sewers, or grounds maintenance.

assignment

The transfer of a contract or a right to buy property at given rates and terms from a mortgagee to another person.

assumption

An agreement between a buyer and a seller, requiring lender approval, where the buyer takes over the payments for a mortgage and accepts the liability. Assuming a loan can be advantageous for a buyer because there are no closing costs and the loan's interest rate may be lower than current market rates. Depending on what is in the mortgage or deed of trust, the lender may raise the interest rate, require the buyer to qualify for the mortgage, or not permit the buyer to assume the loan at all.