Real Estate Glossary

Amortization
The number of years it takes to repay the entire amount of the mortgage.

Appraisal Value
An estimate of a property’s market value by a professional Appraiser; used by lenders in determining the amount of the mortgage.

Debt Service Ratio
The percentage of a borrower’s income that can be used for housing costs.

Gross Debt Service (ADS) Ratio
Gross debt service divided by household income. A rule of thumb is that ADS should not exceed 30%. It is also referred to as PIT (Principal, Interest and Taxes) over income. Sometimes energy costs are added to the formula, producing BITE, which moves the rule-of-thumb ADS to 32%.

Total Debt Service (ADS) Ratio
The maximum percentage of a borrower’s income that a lender will consider for all debt repayment (other loans and credit cards, etc.) including a mortgage.

Equity
The difference between the price for which a property can be sold and the mortgage(s) on the property. Equity is the owner’s stake in the property.

Foreclosure
A legal process by which the lender takes possession and ownership of a property when the borrower doesn’t meet the mortgage obligations.

Inspection
Every home buyer should demand this independent, third-party examination of the property prior to the sale. If the inspector finds a problem, such as a bad furnace or roof, the buyer can demand repairs or a lower price as a condition of the sale. Cost to buyer: $200 to $350 for most homes. Buyers should attend inspections.

Loan-to-value ratio (LTV)
What you’re borrowing compared to the price. The smaller your down payment is, the higher the ratio and the riskier the mortgage. When you apply for a loan, a lender will study the ratio closely.

Mortgage
A contract between a borrower and a lender. The borrower pledges a property as security to guarantee repayment of the mortgage debt. Lenders consider both the property (security) and the financial worth of the borrower (covenant) in deciding on a mortgage loan.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
In this type of loan, the rate changes anywhere from once in six months to once in five years reflecting interest rate changes. To sell an ARM, a lender will offer a lower initial rate than on a fixed loan.

Assumable Mortgage
A mortgage held on a property by the seller that can be taken over by the buyer, who then accepts responsibility for making the mortgage payments.

Conventional Mortgage
The most common home loan. It is a mortgage loan that is 75 per cent or less of the loan-to-value ratio; and does not require insurance by or other private insurer. A Conventional Mortgage is not insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

First Mortgage
The first security registered on a property. Additional mortgages secured against the property are “secondary” to the first mortgage.

Fixed-rate mortgage
In this type of mortgage, payments stay the same during the term of the loan. Fixed-rate loans are often made for 15 years or 30 years. You can cut the interest rate by taking a shorter-term loan, but the monthly payment will be higher.

High-ratio Mortgage
A mortgage that exceeds 75 percent of the loan-to-value ratio; must be insured by either the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or a private insurer to protect the lender against default by the borrower who has less equity invested in the property.

Jumbo Mortgage
Mortgages that are above $322,700 fall into several categories: Conforming vs. Jumbo The conforming limit is a mortgage amount set by Congress and is the maximum loan size eligible for purchase by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, two Federally chartered organizations who purchase the underlying securities from mortgage originators. Those funds are reinvested in new mortgages completing the flow of funds cycle. The current conforming limit is set at $322,700. Any loan amount above that figure is considered a Jumbo loan and is often subject to an interest rate pricing premium as well as to some additional underwriting restrictions. A common strategy to lower overall interest costs if your purchase or refinance balance is above $322,700 is to use a combination of both first and second trust money, referred to as an 80/10/10 or 80/15/5. Every situation is different, but it is one more option to consider.

Open Mortgage
A mortgage that can be prepaid or renegotiated at any time and in any amount, without penalty.

Pre-Approved Mortgage
Tentatively approved by a financial institution for a specified amount, interest rate and monthly payment.

Second Mortgage
A second financing arrangement, in addition to the first mortgage, also secured by the property. Second mortgages are usually issued at a higher interest rate and for a shorter term than the first mortgage.

Term Mortgage
A non-amortizing mortgage under which the principal is paid in its entirety upon the maturity date. Sometimes called a straight loan.

Variable-rate Mortgage
A mortgage for which payments are fixed, but whose interest rate changes in relationship to fluctuating market interest rates. If mortgage rates go up, a larger portion of the payment goes to interest. If rates go down, a larger portion of the payment is applied to the principal.

Vendor Take-Back Mortgage
When sellers use their equity in a property to provide some or all of the mortgage financing in order to sell the property.

Mortgage Life Insurance
Insurance that pays off the mortgage debt should the insured borrower die.

Mortgage Payment
The regular installments made towards paying back the principal and interest on a mortgage.

Mortgagee
The person or financial institution lending the money, secured by a mortgage.

Mortgagor
The property owner borrowing the money, secured by a mortgage.

Mortgage Broker
A person or company having contacts with financial institutions or individuals wishing to invest in mortgages. The mortgagor pays the broker a fee for arranging the mortgage. Appraisal and legal services may or may not be included in the fee.

Mortgage Insurer
In Canada, high-ratio mortgages (those representing greater than 75% of the property value) must be insured against default by either CMHC or private insurers. The borrower must arrange and pay for the insurance, which protects the lender against default.

Mortgage Prepayment Penalty
Is a fee paid by the borrower to the lender in exchange for being permitted to break a contract (a mortgage agreement); usually three months’ interest, but it can be a higher or it can be the equivalent of the loss of interest to the lender.

PITI
The owner’s typical monthly payment, which includes Principal, Interest, (property) Taxes and (mortgage) Insurance. Most lenders collect a portion of annual tax and insurance bills each month, then pay them when they’re due.

Point
A point is 1 percent of the loan amount. For example, two points on a $100,000 loan would be $2,000. Often you can pay points to get your lender to give you a lower interest rate. Or, you can refuse to pay points and keep the interest rate offered. Often the increase in payment is quite small, so weigh the pluses and minuses carefully before you decide. Points are also called loan discount fees.

Portability
A mortgage feature that allows borrowers to take their mortgage with them without penalty when they sell their present home and buy another one.

Prepayment Clause
A clause inserted in a mortgage, which gives the mortgagor the privilege of paying all or part of the mortgage debt in advance of the maturity date.

Principal
The mortgage amount initially borrowed or the portion still owing on the mortgage. Interest is calculated on the principal amount.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
If your down payment is less than 20 percent of the property’s cost, most lenders will require you to obtain private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender if you default on the loan. Cost: $45 to $75 a month. Be sure you can cancel the private mortgage insurance policy when you’ve paid your loan to less than 80 percent of your home’s value.

Rate
(Interest) The return the lender receives for advancing the mortgage funds required by the borrower to purchase a property.

Refinancing
The process of obtaining a new mortgage, usually at a lower interest rate, to replace the existing mortgage.

Secondary Financing
Second, third, fourth, etc. mortgages, secured by a property “behind” the first mortgage.

Term
The actual life of a mortgage contract at the end of which the mortgage becomes due and payable unless the lender renews the mortgage for another term (See Amortization).