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Homeowner Information - Table of Contents

If you have a question(s) that is not answered here, contact us, and we welcome the opportunity to answer them.

 

  • Common Ways of Holding Title
  • Condominium and PUD Ownership
  • Environmental Issues
  • Lead Poisoning
  • Living Trusts
  • Mechanic’s Lien
  • Mello-Roos
  • Radon
  • Underground Heating Oil Tanks
  • Understanding Foreclosures
Common Ways of Holding Title

How Should I Take Ownership of the Property I am Buying?

Real property can be incredibly valuable and the question of how parties can take ownership of their property is important. The form of ownership taken — the vesting of title — will determine who may sign various documents involving the property and future rights of the parties to the transaction. These rights involve such matters as: real property taxes, income taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, transferability of title and exposure to creditor’s claims. Also, how title is vested can have significant probate implications in the event of death.

The Land Title Association (LTA) advises those purchasing real property to give careful consideration to the manner in which title will be held. Buyers may wish to consult legal counsel to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for their particular situation, especially in cases of multiple owners of a single property.

The LTA has provided the following definitions of common vesting as an informational overview. Consumers should not rely on these as legal definitions. The Association urges real property purchasers to carefully consider their titling decision prior to closing, and to seek counsel should they be unfamiliar with the most suitable ownership choice for their particular situation.

Common Methods of Holding Title

SOLE OWNERSHIP
Sole ownership may be described as ownership by an individual or other entity capable of acquiring title. Examples of common vesting in cases of sole ownership are:

A Single Man/Woman:
A man or woman who has not been legally married. For example: Bruce Buyer, a single man.

An Unmarried Man/Woman:
A man or woman who was previously married and is now legally divorced. For example: Sally Seller, an unmarried woman.

A Married Man/Woman as His/Her Sole and Separate Property:
A married man or woman who wishes to acquire title in his or her name alone.

The title company insuring title will require the spouse of the married man or woman acquiring title to specifically disclaim or relinquish his or her right, title and interest to the property. This establishes that it is the desire of both spouses that title to the property be granted to one spouse as that spouse’s sole and separate property. For example: Bruce Buyer, a married man, as his sole and separate property.

CO-OWNERSHIP
Title to property owned by two or more persons may be vested in the following forms:

Community Property:
A form of vesting title to property owned by husband and wife during their marriage, which they intend to own together. Community property is distinguished from separate property, which is property acquired before marriage, by separate gift or bequest, after legal separation, or which is agreed to be owned only by one spouse.

Real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property, unless otherwise stated. Since all such property is owned equally, husband and wife must sign all agreements and documents of transfer. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of one half of the community property, including transfers by will. For example: Bruce Buyer and Barbara Buyer, husband and wife as community property.

Joint Tenancy
A form of vesting title to property owned by two or more persons, who may or may not be married, in equal interest, subject to the right of survivorship in the surviving joint tenant(s). Title must have been acquired at the same time, by the same conveyance, and the document must expressly declare the intention to create a joint tenancy estate. When a joint tenant dies, title to the property is automatically conveyed by operation of law to the surviving joint tenant(s). Therefore, joint tenancy property is not subject to disposition by will. For example: Bruce Buyer and Barbara Buyer, husband and wife as joint tenants.

Tenancy in Common:
A form of vesting title to property owned by any two or more individuals in undivided fractional interests. These fractional interests may be unequal in quantity or duration and may arise at different times. Each tenant in common owns a share of the property, is entitled to a comparable portion of the income from the property and must bear an equivalent share of expenses. Each co-tenant may sell, lease or will to his/her heir that share of the property belonging to him/her. For example: Bruce Buyer, a single man, as to an undivided 3/4 interest and Penny Purchaser, a single woman, as to an undivided 1/4 interest, as tenants in common.

Other ways of vesting title include:

A Corporation*:
A corporation is a legal entity, created under state law, consisting of one or more shareholders but regarded under law as having an existence and personality separate from such shareholders.

A Partnership*:
A partnership is an association of two or more persons who can carry on business for profit as co-owners, as governed by the Uniform Partnership Act. A partnership may hold title to real property in the name of the partnership.

As Trustees of A Trust*:
A trust is an arrangement whereby legal title to a property is transferred by the grantor to a person called a trustee, to be held and managed by that person for the benefit of the people specified in the trust agreement, called the beneficiaries.

Limited Liability Companies (L.L.C.)
This form of ownership is a legal entity and is similar to both the corporation and the partnership. The operating agreement will determine how the L.L.C. functions and is taxed. Like the corporation its existence is separate from its owners.

*In cases of corporate, partnership, L.L.C. or trust ownership – required documents may include corporate articles and bylaws, partnership agreements, L.L.C. operating agreement and trust agreements and/or certificates.

Remember:

How title is vested has important legal consequences. You may wish to consult an attorney to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for your particular situation.

Condominium and PUD Ownership

Builders, in an effort to combat the dual problem of an increasing population and a declining availability of prime land, are increasingly turning to common interest developments (CIDs) as a means to maximize land use and offer homebuyers convenient, affordable housing.

The two most common forms of common interest developments in many states are Condominiums and Planned Unit Developments, often referred to as PUDs. The essential characteristics shared by these two forms of ownership are:

– Common ownership of private residential property
– Mandatory membership of all owners in an association which controls use of the common property
– Governing documents which establish the procedures for governing the association, the rules which the owners must follow in the use of their individual lots or units as well as the common properties
– A means by which owners are assessed to finance the operation of the association and maintenance of the common properties

Before continuing further, it may be helpful to clarify a common misconception about Condominiums and PUDs. The terms Condominium and PUD refer to types of interests in land, not to physical styles of dwellings. Therefore, when homebuyers say that they are buying a townhouse, it is not the same as saying that they are buying a condominium. When homebuyers say that they are buying a unit in a PUD, they are not necessarily buying a single-family detached home. A townhouse might legally be a condominium, a unit or lot in a Planned Unit Development, or a single-family detached residence. The terms Condominium or PUD will say a great deal about the ownership rights the buyer will receive in the unit and the interest they will acquire in the common properties or common areas of the development.

Common interest developments offer many advantages to homebuyers, such as low maintenance and access to attractive amenities. However, there are restrictions and duties which come with ownership of a Condominium or PUD that buyers should be aware of prior to purchase.

To acquaint you with various aspects of ownership in common interest developments, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about Condominiums and PUDs.

What are the basic differences between ownership of a Condominium and ownership of a PUD?

The owner(s) of a unit within a typical Condominium project owns 100% of the unit, as defined by a recorded Condominium Plan. As well, they will own a fractional or percentage interest in all common areas of the Condominium project.

The owner(s) of a lot within a PUD owns the lot which has been conveyed to them-as shown in the recorded Tract Map or Parcel Map-and the structure and improvements thereon. In addition, they receive rights and easements to use in common areas owned by another-frequently a Homeowner’s association-of which the individual lot owners are members.

The above are basic descriptions and should not be considered legal definitions.

Besides ownership of my unit, what other amenities (common areas) will I be acquiring use of and how will I own them?

Common interest areas may span the spectrum from the ordinary-buildings, roadways, walkways and utility rooms-to the extravagant-equestrian trails and golf courses-with more usual amenities including community swimming pools and clubhouse facilities.

Your ownership rights in common areas will be spelled out in your project’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC and R’s). The subject of CC and R’s will be expanded upon later in this brochure.

As we stated in the answer to the previous question, Condominium owners own a fractional or percentage interest in common with all other owners in the Condominium project, in all common areas. PUD owners receive rights and easements to use of common areas through their membership in a Homeowner’s association, which typically owns and controls the common areas. Some PUD projects, however, provide that the individual homeowners will own a fractional interest in the common areas. Again, in this case, a Homeowner’s association will have the right to regulate the use of the common areas and to assess for purposes of maintaining the common areas.

Check your CC and R’s and association Bylaws (basically, rules governing the management of the development) to insure that you understand your rights to use of your unit and common areas.

What services will my Homeowner’s assessments help to finance?

Your Homeowner’s assessments support not only the easily recognizable-building and swimming pool upkeep, landscape maintenance-but also the unseen-association management and legal fees and association insurance.

As well, reserves must be factored into your assessments, including reserves for replacement of such items as roadways and walkways. In the case of condominiums, where ownership is usually limited to airspace within the walls, floors and ceiling of the unit, reserves will frequently fund replacement of such items as roofs and plumbing.

Each member of the Homeowner’s association, upon purchasing their unit, must receive a pro forma operating budget from the association. Basically, this will be a financial statement of the income and obligations of the association, which must include an estimate of the life of the obligations covered under the assessments and how their replacement is being funded.

What happens if I fail to pay my Homeowner’s assessments?

Delinquency fees will be added onto the unpaid assessments.

Should your delinquency continue, the association has the right to place a lien upon your property. The lien may lead to a foreclosure if the delinquency is not paid.

Of what importance are CC and R’s and Bylaws?

CC and R’s and Bylaws are the rules and regulations of the community, meant to guide the use of individual properties and common areas. Buyers should be aware that CC and R’s and Bylaws may be written so as to restrict not only property use, but also to restrict owners’ lifestyles, for instance, spelling out hours during which entertainment, such as parties, may be hosted.

CC and R’s and Bylaws are highly important and should be thoroughly examined and understood prior to purchase. They bind all owners and their successors to the rules and regulations of the community. Failure to follow those rules and regulations can be considered a breach of contract. Legal action may be taken against the homeowner for any such breach.

At what point in the real estate transaction will I be allowed to review a copy of my CC and R’s and Bylaws?

Legally, it is the responsibility of the owner to provide the prospective purchaser with the governing documents of the development (CC and R’s and Bylaws), the most recent financial statement of the Homeowner’s association and notice of any dues delinquent on the unit.

The law states that these items should be delivered as soon as practicable; however, the prospective buyer should request to see them as early as possible. If you do not fully understand what is stated in these documents, consult a real property attorney.

Should I object to items included in the CC and R’s and/or Bylaws, will I have the opportunity to terminate those items prior to taking ownership?

No. The process required to terminate these restrictions is often complex and costly. Termination of restrictions will require, at least, a majority vote by members of the Homeowner’s association, and may require litigation.

What if I have further questions regarding Condominium and PUD ownership?

Ask any questions you may have before you buy! Don’t wait to take ownership to find out about restrictions and regulations affecting your Homeownership rights.

Environmental Issues

When purchasing a piece of property, it is important to be aware of any environmental liabilities associated with it. For example, you should find out if there are any registered underground tanks within several miles of the property, known contaminated properties in the neighborhood, or property owners who have been fined by the government for failing to meet environmental safety standards.

Before, it took a costly site investigation to acquire this type of information, but now there are online environmental databases available at a fraction of the cost. Anyone can access reports on otherwise hard to detect environmental issues. With these databases, it is possible to obtain a list of hazards near a property, or spills and violations attributed to businesses nearby.

Some reputable databases include VISTA Information Systems, located in San Diego, California, which allows you to register and search the data bank for free, and E Data Resources, which is located in Southport, Connecticut. These services are all relatively inexpensive, but can provide you with priceless information that is useful before you make a purchase.

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is a serious problem that can lead to adverse health problems. In children, high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavioral and learning problems, slow growth, and hearing problems. In adults, lead poisoning can cause reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.

Lead poisoning is especially a problem in cities with older buildings. Typically, lead is present in the paint from older buildings, in the water supply, and in the environment from cars and buses. Preventing lead poisoning in large cities, where there is such widespread possibility for exposure is both difficult and expensive. Federal programs have attempted to address this problem.

Lead poisoning is also an issue that buyers and sellers need to consider. Houses that were built before 1978 probably have paint that contains lead. Federal law requires that sellers disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards and are likely to stipulate corrections.

Living Trusts

Estate planners often recommend Living Trusts as a viable option when contemplating the manner in which to hold title to real property. When a property is held in a Living Trust, title companies have particular requirements to facilitate the transaction. While not comprehensive, answers to many commonly asked questions are below. If you have questions that are not answered below, your title company representative may be able to assist you, however, one may wish to seek legal counsel.

Who are the parties to a Trust?

A Family Trust is a typical trust in which the Husband and Wife are the Trustees and their children are the Beneficiaries. Those who establish the trust and transfer their property into it are known as Trustors or Settlors. The settlors usually appoint themselves as Trustees and they are the primary beneficiaries during their lifetime. After their passing, their children and grandchildren usually become the primary beneficiaries if the trust is to survive, or the beneficiaries receive distributions directly from the trust if it is to close out.

What is a Living Trust?

Sometimes called an Inter-vivos Trust, the Living Trust is created during the lifetime of the Settlors (as opposed to being created by their Wills after death) and usually terminates after they die and the body of the Trust is distributed to their beneficiaries.

Can a Trust hold title to Real Property?

No, the Trustee holds the property on behalf of the Trust.

Is a Trust the best way to hold my property?

Only your attorney or accountant can answer that question. Some common reasons for holding property in a Trust are to minimize or postpone death taxes, to avoid a time consuming probate, and/or to shield property from attack by certain unsecured creditors.

What taxes can I avoid by putting my property in trust?

Married persons can usually exempt a significant part of their assets from taxation and may postpone taxes after the first of them to die passes. You should check with your attorney or accountant before taking any action.

Can I homestead property that is held in a Trust?

Yes, if the property otherwise qualifies.

Can a Trustee borrow money against the property?

A Trustee can take any action permitted by the terms of the Trust, and the typical Trust Agreement does give the Trustee the authority to borrow and encumber real property. However, not all lenders will lend on a property held in trust, so check with your lender first.

Can someone else hold title for me “in trust?”

Some people who do not wish their names to show as titleholders make private arrangements with a third party Trustee; however, such an arrangement may be illegal, and is always inadvisable because the Trustee of record is the only one who is empowered to convey, or borrow against, the property, and a Title Insurer cannot protect you from a Trustee who is not acting in accordance with your wishes despite the existence of a private agreement you have with the Trustee.

Mechanic’s Liens

The Mechanics’ Lien law provides special protection to contractors, subcontractors, laborers and suppliers who furnish labor or materials to repair, remodel or build your home.

If any of these people are not paid for the services or materials they have provided, your home may be subject to a mechanics’ lien and eventual sale in a legal proceeding to enforce the lien. This result can occur even when the homeowner has made full payment for the work of improvement.

The mechanics’ lien is a right that a state gives to workers and suppliers to record a lien and ensure payment. This lien may be recorded where the property owner has paid the contractor in full and the contractor then fails to pay the subcontractors, suppliers, or laborers. Thus, in the worst case, a homeowner may actually end up paying twice for the same work.

The theory is that the value of the property upon which the labor or materials have been bestowed has been increased by virtue of these efforts and the homeowner who has reaped this benefit is required in return to act as the ultimate guarantor of full payment to the persons responsible for this increase in value. In practice, a homeowner faced with a valid mechanics’ lien may be compelled to pay the lien claimant and then pursue conventional legal remedies against the contractor or subcontractor who initially failed to pay the lien claimant but who himself was paid by the homeowner. Another justification for this result relates to the relative financial strengths of the parties to a work of improvement. The law views the property owner as being in a better situation to absorb the financial setback occasioned by having to pay the amount of a valid mechanics’ lien, as opposed to a laborer or material man who is viewed as being less able to absorb the financial burdens occasioned by not being paid for services or materials provided in connection with a work of improvement.

The best protection against these claims is for the homeowner to employ reputable firms with sufficient experience and capital and/or require completion and payment bonding of the construction work. The issuance of checks payable jointly to the contractor, material men and suppliers is another protective measure, as is the careful disbursement of funds in phases based upon the percentage of completion of the project at a given point in the construction process. The protection offered by mechanics’ lien releases can also be helpful.

Even if a mechanics’ lien is recorded against your property you may be able to resolve the problem without further payment to the lien claimant. This possibility exists where the proper procedure for establishing the lien was not followed. While it is true that persons who have provided labor, services, or materials to a job site may record mechanics’ liens, each is required to strictly adhere to a well-established procedure in order to create a valid mechanics’ lien.

Needless to say, this is one area of the law that is very complex, thus it may be worthwhile to consult an attorney if you become aware that a mechanics’ lien has been recorded against your property. In the event you discover that a lien has been recorded but no effort has been made to enforce the lien, a title company may decide to ignore the lien. However, be prepared to be presented with a positive plan to eliminate the title problems created by this type of lien. This may be accomplished by means of a recorded mechanics’ lien release from the person who created the lien, or other measures acceptable to the title company.

As in all areas of the real estate field, the best advice is to investigate the quality, integrity, and business reputation of the firm with whom you are dealing. Once you are satisfied you are dealing with a reputable company and before you begin your construction project, discuss your concerns about possible mechanics’ lien problems and work out, in advance, a method of ensuring that they will not occur.

Mello-Roos

In purchasing your new home, your future monthly payments will be made up of principal, interest, real property taxes, and insurance. But what is the tax for the Community Facilities District, otherwise known as a Mello-Roos District? The Land Title Association (LTA) has answered some of the most commonly asked questions about the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act.

What is a Mello-Roos District?

A Mello-Roos District is an area where a special tax is imposed on those real property owners within a Community Facilities District. This district has chosen to seek public financing through the sale of bonds for the purpose of financing certain public improvements and services. These services may include streets, water, sewage and drainage, electricity, infrastructure, schools, parks and police protection to newly developing areas. The tax you pay is used to make the payments of principal and interest on the bonds.

Are the assessments included within the Proposition 13 tax limits?

No. The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 severely restricted local government in its ability to finance public capital facilities and services by increasing real property taxes. The “Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982” provided local government with an additional financing tool. The Proposition 13 tax limits are on the value of the real property, while Mello-Roos taxes are equally and uniformly applied to all properties.

What are my Mello-Roos taxes paying for?

Your taxes may be paying for both services and facilities. The services may be financed only to the extent of new growth, and services include: Police protection, fire protection, ambulance and paramedic services, recreation program services, library services, the operation and maintenance of parks, parkways and open space, museums, cultural facilities, flood and storm protection, and services for the removal of any threatening hazardous substance. Facilities which may be financed under the Act include: Property with an estimated useful life of five years or longer, parks, recreation facilities, parkway facilities, open-space facilities, elementary and secondary school sites and structures, libraries, child care facilities, natural gas pipeline facilities, telephone lines, facilities to transmit and distribute electrical energy, cable television lines, and others.

When do I pay these taxes?

By purchasing an interest in a subdivision within a Community Facilities District you can expect to be assessed for a Mello-Roos tax which will typically be collected with your general property tax bill. These special tax payments are subject to the same penalties that apply to regular property taxes.

How long does the tax stay in effect?

The tax will stay in effect until the principal and interest on the bonds are paid off along with any reasonable administrative costs incurred in collecting the special tax or so long as it is needed to pay the expenses of services, but in no case shall exceed 40 years.

What happens if a general tax payment is not made on time?

Because the Mello-Roos tax is typically collected with your general property tax bill, the Facilities District that obtained the lien may withdraw the assessment from the tax roll and commence judicial foreclosure.

What is the basis for the tax?

Most special taxes levied on properties within these districts have been structured on the basis of density of development, square footage of construction, or flat acreage charges. The act, however, allows for considerable flexibility in the method of apportionment of taxes, and the local agencies may have established an entirely different method of levying the special tax against property in the district in question.

How much will the Mello-Roos payment be?

The amount of tax may vary from year-to-year, but may not exceed the maximum amount specified when the district was created. In the case of the purchase of a new house within a subdivision, the maximum amount of the tax will be specified in the public report. The Resolution of Formation must specify the rate, method of apportionment, and manner of collection of the special tax in sufficient detail to allow each landowner or resident within the proposed district to estimate the maximum amount that he or she will have to pay.

How is the special tax reflected on the real property records?

The special tax is a lien on your property, essentially like a regular tax lien. The lien is recorded as a “Notice of Special Tax Lien” which is a continuing lien to secure each levy of the special tax.

How are Mello-Roos taxes affected when the property is sold?

The Mello-Roos tax is assessed against the land, but is not based upon the value of the property, therefore, the possible increased value of the property does not affect the amount of the tax when property is sold. The amount of the tax may not exceed the original maximum amount stated in the Resolution of Formation. Any delinquent payments must be satisfied before the sale of the real property since the unpaid amounts are a lien against the property.

Radon

A radioactive gas found in some homes that in sufficient concentrations can cause health problems.

Underground Heating Oil Tanks

Underground heating oil tanks can pose many potential problems to both home buyers and sellers. They have been the source of many environmental problems such as contamination of surrounding soil and ground water.

Leaks are generally caused by the rust inside underground tanks or by an electrical condition sparked by electric utility lines.

Buyers should always have the tank inspected to make sure that it is structurally sound. Buyers who do not want an underground fuel tank can arrange for an above ground tank to be installed in the basement and the underground tank to be shut off. Cleanup of any leaks will also have to be taken care of.

For buyers, the underground heating oil tank should be written in the sales contract. For sellers, your lawyer should make sure that the description and condition of the underground heating oil tank is accurate and up-to-date.

Understanding Foreclosures

It is an unfortunate commentary, but when economic activity declines and housing activity decreases, more real property enters the foreclosure process. High interest rates and creative financing arrangements are also contributing factors.

When prices are rapidly accelerating during a real estate “bonanza”, many people go to any lengths available to get into the market through investments in vacation homes, rental housing and trading up to more expensive properties. In some cases, this results in the taking on of high interest rate payments and second, third and even fourth deeds of trust. Many buyers anticipate that interest rates will drop and home prices will continue to escalate. It is possible that neither will occur and borrowers may be faced with large balloon payments becoming due. When payments cannot be met, the foreclosure process looms on the horizon.

In the foreclosure process, one thing should be kept in mind: as a general rule, a lender would rather receive payments than receive a home due to a foreclosure. Lenders are not in the business of selling real estate and will often try to accommodate property owners who are having payment problems. The best plan is to contact the lender before payment problems arise. If monthly payments are too hefty, it may be that a lender will be able to make some alternative payment arrangements until the owner’s financial situation improves.

Let’s say, however, that a property owner has missed payments and has not made any alternate arrangements with the lender. In this case, the lender may decide to begin the foreclosure process. Under such circumstances, the lender, whether a bank, savings and loan or private party, will request that the trustee, often a title company, file a notice of default with the county recorder’s office. A copy of the notice is mailed to the property owner.

If the default is due to a balloon payment not being made when due, the lender can require full payment on the entire outstanding loan as the only way to cure the default. If the default is not cured, the lender may direct the trustee to sell the property at a public sale.

In cases of a public sale, a notice of sale must be published in a local newspaper and posted in a public place, usually the courthouse, for three consecutive weeks. Once the notice of sale has been recorded, the property owner has until 5 days prior to the published sale date to bring the loan current. If the owner cures the default by making up the payments, the deed of trust will be reinstated and regular monthly payments will continue as before.

After this time, it may still be possible for the property owner to work out a postponement on the sale with the lender. However, if no postponement is reached, the property goes on the block. At the sale, buyers must pay the amount of their bid in cash, cashier’s check or other instrument acceptable to the trustee. A lender may “credit bid” up to the amount of the obligation being foreclosed upon.

With the recent attention given to foreclosure, there also has been corresponding interest in buying foreclosed properties. However, caveat emptor: buyer beware. Foreclosed properties are very likely to be burdened with overdue taxes, liens and clouded titles. A buyer should do his homework and ask a local title company for information concerning these outstanding liens and encumbrances. Title insurance may or may not be available following a foreclosure sale and various exceptions may be included in any title insurance policy issued to a buyer of a foreclosed property.

Your local title company will be happy to provide additional information.

Mortgage Information - Table of Contents

If you have a question(s) that is not answered here, contact us, and we welcome the opportunity to answer them.

 

  • Adjustable Rate Morgages – The Basics
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgages – The Pros and Cons
  • Closing Costs When Buying or Refinancing a Home
  • Documenting Your Assets – Verifying Your Down Payment
  • FICO Score – A Brief Explanation
  • FICO Score and Your Mortgage
  • Items You Need When Applying For a Loan
  • Land Contract
  • The Advantages of Different Types of Mortgage Lenders
  • The Biweekly Mortgage – Who Needs It
  • The No-Cost Thirty Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
  • Types of Mortgage Lenders
  • What’s A FICO
  • Where Does the Money Come From for Mortgage Loans
  • Which ARM is the Best Alternative
  • Your Savings and Down Payment
Adjustable Rate Mortgages - The Basics

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that fluctuates periodically. This is in contrast to a fixed rate mortgage, which always has the same interest rate.

Every ARM has basic components:

An index
A margin
Adjustment Period
An interest rate cap
An initial interest rate
The Index
An ARM’s interest rate is tied to one of many economic indices, some examples of which are the 1-year constant maturity Treasury security, the Cost of Funds Index, or the London Interbank Offered Rate. Different indices move at different rates so know the characteristics of the index used for your ARM.

The Margin
The interest rate for your ARM will be calculated by adding a margin to the interest rate from the index. The margin is basically the markup charged by the lender that allows them to make a profit off of your loan, such as adding 2% to the index, where the 2% is the margin. The margin of your loan usually does not fluctuate.

The Adjustment Period
The Adjustment Period controls when and how often your interest rate changes. For example, if your ARM has an adjustment period of 1 year, your interest rate will be subject to change at the end of each year and your monthly mortgage payment will be recalculated to reflect this change.

The Interest Rate Cap
Interest rate caps are built into the loan to protect the borrower from drastic interest rate fluctuations. The caps limit how much the interest rate or monthly payment can change at the end of each adjustment period. An ARM can also have a cap for the life of the loan. For example, during the life of a loan, the interest rate can only be increased by 5%.

The Initial Interest Rate
The Initial Interest Rate is the interest rate that you start with at the beginning of your loan period. The length of time your loan stays at this rate is built into the loan. For example, you may stay at the initial interest rate for 1 year, 5 years, or another length of time depending on your specific mortgage. This type of ARM is generally referred to as a Hybrid ARM. The initial interest rate for an adjustable rate mortgage is generally lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages - The PROS & CONS

Now that you know what an ARM is and how it works, you may be wondering what the advantages and disadvantages are. So let’s explore that issue.

Offering adjustable rates allows lenders to transfer part of the interest rate risk from themselves to the borrower. If you get a fixed rate mortgage and the interest rate then goes up, it costs the lender money. However, if you have an adjustable rate mortgage, as the interest rate goes up, so does your payment, thus compensating the lender. Adjustable rate mortgages are particularly useful when unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans hard to get.

One of the main advantages of an adjustable rate mortgage is that the initial interest rate is lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage. A lower rate means lower payments, which may help you qualify for a larger loan. This is an important detail if you expect your future earnings to rise. In this case, the ARM will allow you to qualify for a larger loan amount earlier rather than later.

However, this information should only be used with care. If you use an ARM to qualify for a larger loan amount than a fixed rate would allow you and the interest rate then rises drastically or your income doesn’t rise, you may not be able to afford the larger monthly payments, thus causing you to default on your loan.

A situation in which an adjustable rate mortgage makes sense would be if you are only going to keep the house for a short period of time. If you are only planning to own your house for only a few years, the risk of the interest rate rising goes down. This means that you will get a better rate with an ARM, making it a good choice. However, if you plan on staying in your home for a long period of time, a fixed rate may be a better option.

The lesson here is to have a plan. Know what your goals are in purchasing a home and plan for all eventualities. Do your research when shopping for an ARM and consider the worst-case scenario.

Closing Costs When Buying or Refinancing a Home

This is a detailed summary of costs you may have to pay when you buy or refinance your home. They are listed in the order that they should appear on a Good Faith Estimate you obtain from a mortgage lender. There are two broad categories of closing costs. Non-recurring closing costs are items that are paid once and you never pay again. Recurring closing costs are items you pay time and again over the course of home ownership, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Some of the items that appear here do not traditionally appear on a lender’s Good Faith Estimate and lenders are not required to show all of these items.

Non-Recurring Closing Costs Associated with the Lender.
Loan Origination Fee – The loan origination fee is often referred to as points. One point is equal to one percent of the mortgage loan. As a rule, if you are willing to pay more in points, you will get a lower interest rate. On a VA or FHA loan, the loan origination fee is one point. Any additional points are called discount points.

Loan Discount – On a government loan, the loan origination fee is normally listed as one point or one percent of the loan. Any points in addition to the loan origination fee are called discount points. On a conventional loan, discount points are usually lumped in with the loan origination fee.

Appraisal Fee – Since your property serves as collateral for the mortgage, lenders want to be reasonably certain of the value and they require an appraisal. The appraisal looks to determine if the price you are paying for the home is justified by recent sales of comparable properties. The appraisal fee varies, depending on the value of the home and the difficulty involved in justifying value. Unique and more expensive homes usually have a higher appraisal fee. Appraisal fees on VA loans are higher than on conventional loans.

Credit Report – As part of the underwriting review, your mortgage lender will want to review your credit history. The cost of running the credit report can vary and is included in closing costs.

Lender’s Inspection Fee – You normally find this fee on new construction and is associated with what is called a 442 Inspection. Since the property is not finished when the initial appraisal is done, the 442 Inspection is done when the building is completed and verifies that construction is complete with carpeting and flooring installed.

Mortgage Broker Fee – About seventy percent of loans are originated through mortgage brokers and they will sometimes list your points in this area instead of the Loan Origination Fee category. They may also add any broker processing fees in this area so you clearly understand how much is being charged by the wholesale lender and how much is being charged by the broker. Wholesale lenders offer lower costs/rates to mortgage brokers than you can obtain directly, so you are not paying extra by going through a mortgage broker.

Tax Service Fee – During the life of your loan you will be making property tax payments, either on your own or through your impound account with the lender. Since property tax liens can sometimes take precedence over a first mortgage, it is in your lender’s interest to pay an independent service to monitor property tax payments.

Flood Certification Fee – Your lender must determine whether or not your property is located in a federally designated flood zone. This is a fee usually charged by an independent service to make that determination.

Flood Monitoring – From time to time flood zones are re-mapped. Some lenders charge this fee to maintain monitoring on whether this re-mapping affects your property.

Other Lender Fees
We put these in a separate category because they vary so much from lender to lender and cannot be associated directly with a cost of the loan. These fees generate income for the lenders and are used to offset the fixed costs of loan origination. The Processing Fee mentioned above can also fall into this category, but since it is listed higher on the Good Faith Estimate Form we did not also include it here. You will normally find some combination of these fees on your Good Faith Estimate.

Document Preparation – Before computers made it fairly easy for lenders to draw their own loan documents, they used to hire specialized document preparation firms for this function. This was the fee charged by those companies. Nowadays, lenders draw their own documents but this fee is charged on almost all loans.

Underwriting Fee – Once again, it is difficult to determine the exact cost of underwriting a loan since the underwriter is usually a paid staff member.

Administration Fee – If an Administration Fee is charged, you will probably find there is no Underwriting Fee. This is not always the case.

Appraisal Review Fee – Even though you will probably not see this fee on your Good Faith Estimate, it is charged occasionally. Some lenders routinely review appraisals as a quality control procedure, especially on higher valued properties.

Warehousing Fee – This is rarely charged and begins to border on the ridiculous. However, some lenders have a warehouse line of credit and add this as a charge to the borrower.

Items Required to be Paid in Advance
Pre-paid Interest – Mortgage loans are usually due on the first of each month. Since loans can close on any day, a certain amount of interest must be paid at closing to get the interest paid up to the first. For example, if you close on the twentieth, you will pay ten days of pre-paid interest.

Homeowner’s Insurance – This is the insurance you pay to cover possible damages to your home and other items. If you buy a home, you will normally pay the first year’s insurance when you close the transaction. If you are buying a condominium, your Homeowners’ Association Fees normally cover this insurance.

VA Funding Fee – On VA loans, the Veterans Administration charges a fee for guaranteeing your loan. The fee will be a percentage of the loan balance but the exact percentage will vary depending on whether you have used your VA eligibility in the past. Instead of actually paying this as an out-of-pocket expense, most veterans choose to finance it, so it gets added to the loan balance. This is why the loan balance on VA loans can be higher than the actual purchase amount.

Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) – This is charged on FHA purchases of single-family residences (SFR’s) or Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Like the VA Funding Fee it is normally added to the balance of the loan. Unlike a VA loan, the homebuyer must also pay a monthly mortgage insurance fee, too. This is why many lenders do not recommend FHA loans if the homebuyer can qualify for a conventional loan. Condominium purchases do not require the UFMIP.

Mortgage Insurance – Though it is rare nowadays, some first-time homebuyer programs still require the first year mortgage insurance premium to be paid in advance. Most mortgage insurance (when required) is simply paid monthly along with your mortgage payment. Mortgage insurance covers the lender and covers a portion of the losses in those cases where borrowers default on their loans.

Reserves Deposited with Lender
If you make a minimum down payment, you may be required to deposit funds into an impound account. Funds in this account are your funds, and the lender uses them to make the payments on your homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance (whichever is applicable). Each month, in addition to your mortgage payment, you provide additional funds which are deposited into your impound account.

The lender’s goal is to always have sufficient funds to pay your bills as they come due. Sometimes impound accounts are not required, but borrowers request one voluntarily. A few lenders even offer to reduce your loan origination fee if you obtain an impound account. However, if you are disciplined about paying your bills and an impound account is not required, you can probably earn a better rate of return by putting the funds into a savings account. Impound accounts are sometimes referred to as escrow accounts.

Homeowners Insurance Impounds – your lender will divide your annual premium by twelve to come up with an estimated monthly amount for you to pay into your impound account. Since a lender is allowed to keep two months of reserves in your account, you will have to deposit two months into the impound account to start it up.

Property Tax Impounds – How much you will have to deposit towards taxes to start up your impound account varies according to when you close your real estate transaction. For example, you may close in November and property taxes are due in December. Your deposit would be higher than for someone closing in May.

Mortgage Insurance Impounds – When required, most lenders allow this to simply be paid monthly. However, you may be required to put two months’ worth of mortgage insurance as an initial deposit into your impound account.

Non-Recurring Closing Costs not associated with the Lender
Closing/Escrow/Settlement Fee – Methods of closing a real estate transaction vary from state to state, as do the fees.

Title Insurance – Title Insurance assures the homeowner that they have clear title to the property. The lender also requires it to insure that their new mortgage loan will be in first position. The costs vary depending on whether you are purchasing a home or refinancing.

Notary Fees – Most sets of loan documents have two or three forms that must be notarized. Usually your settlement or escrow agent will arrange for you to sign these forms at their office and will charge a notary fee.

Recording Fees – Certain documents get recorded with your local county recorder. Fees vary regionally.

Pest Inspection – This is also referred to as a Termite Inspection. This inspection tests not only for pest infestations, but also other items such as wood rot and water damage. If repairs are required, the amount to cover those repairs can vary. The seller will usually pay for the most serious repairs, but this is a negotiable item. Usually (not always) the pest inspection fee is paid by the seller of the home and is not normally reflected on the Good Faith Estimate.

Home Inspection – Since it is the homebuyer’s choice to obtain a home inspection or not, this cost is not usually reflected on a Good Faith Estimate. However, it is recommended. Keep in mind that the home inspector has a certain set of standards he uses when inspecting a home, and those standards may be higher than required by local building codes. An example is that an inspector may note there is no spark arrestor on a chimney but the local building code may not require it. This sometimes leads to conflicts between buyer and seller.

Home Warranty – This is also an optional item and not normally included on the Good Faith Estimate. A Home Warranty usually covers such items as the major appliances, should they break down within a specific time. Often this is paid by the seller.

Refinancing Associated Costs (but not charged by the new Lender)
Interest – When you close the transaction on your refinance, there will most likely be some outstanding interest due on the old loan. For example, if you close on August twentieth (and you made your last payment), you will have twenty days interest due on the old loan and ten days prepaid interest on the new loan. Your first payment on the new loan would not be until October 1st since you have already paid all of August’s interest when you closed the refinance transaction (since interest is paid in arrears, a September payment would have paid August’s interest, which has already been paid in closing).

Reconveyance Fee – This fee is charged by your existing lender when they “reconvey” their collateral interest in your property back to you through recording of a Reconveyance.

Demand Fee – Your existing lender may charge a fee for calculating payoff figures.

Sub-Escrow fee – Though it sounds like an escrow fee, this fee is actually charged by the Title Company. Assume it is an income-generating fee similar to some of the lender fees mentioned above.

Loan Tie-in Fee – Though it sounds like a lender fee, this cost is actually charged by the Escrow Company.

Homeowner’s Association Transfer Fee – If you are buying a condominium or a home with a Homeowner’s Association, the association often charges a fee to transfer all of their ownership documents to you.

Asking the Seller to Pay Closing Costs – Rules and Advice.
It has become common to ask the seller to pay some or all of the closing costs when you purchase a home. Essentially, this is financing your closing costs since you will probably pay a little bit more for the property than you would if you were paying your own costs.

Keep in mind a few simple rules. On conventional loans you can only ask the seller to pay non-recurring costs, not prepaid fees or items to be paid in advance. If you are putting ten percent down or more, the most the seller can contribute is six percent of the purchase price. If you are putting less down, the most the seller can contribute is three percent.

On VA loans, you can ask the seller to pay everything. This is called a “VA No-No”, meaning the buyer is making no down payment and paying no closing costs.

On FHA loans, the seller can pay almost any cost, but the buyer has to have a minimum three percent investment in the home/closing costs.

Most refinances include the closing costs and prepaids in the new loan amount, requiring little or no out-of-pocket expenses to close the deal.

If you didn’t get bored as you read through this, now you know everything (almost) about closing costs.

Documenting Your Assets - Verifying Your Down Payment

When buying a home, it is not enough to just come up with the money. With the exception of no asset verification loans, lenders want to verify where the money for your new home will be coming from. If you can document that the funds are coming from your personal savings, the lender is more confident of your strength as a borrower.

In addition, if you can verify that you have additional assets that are not needed for the down payment, it is important to document those, too. Additional assets are reserves you can draw upon during times of trouble, such as unemployment, medical emergencies, and similar occurrences. Additional assets can also help to document that you have a history of saving money, which makes you a more dependable borrower.

It is extremely important to completely document the paper trail of any funds you use for down payment and closing costs. The sections below provide guidance on both verifying assets and documenting them as a source of your down payment.

Checking, Savings, & Money Market Accounts
The quickest and easiest way to document funds in your bank account is to provide your lender with copies of your most recent bank statements. Most lenders request two months of bank statements, but some still ask for three. Some lenders still send a Verification of Deposit to your bank in order to determine your current bank balances and average balance for the last two months. However, that is the old way of doing business and most lenders nowadays prefer to have bank statements.

If the money you are using for the down payment and closing costs has been in the bank for the entire period covered by the bank statements, you’re fine. These are known as “seasoned funds.” However, if your statements show any large or unusual deposits, the lender will ask you to explain them and document their source.

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, etc.
Most of those who own stocks get a monthly or quarterly statement from their brokerage. You will need to supply statements for the most recent sixty or ninety days in order to document these assets.

Though it is rare nowadays, some people actually have stock certificates instead of having a brokerage account. When this is the situation, make copies of the certificates and provide those copies to your lender. You might also want to supply tax records to indicate you have owned these stocks for some time.

If part of your down payment will come from the sale of stocks and investments, you will need to keep all documentation that applies to the sale. Provide these copies to your lender as well.

Gifts
Especially when buying a first home, some borrowers need help coming up with the down payment. This help should come in the form of a gift from a close family member. Lenders will require the donors to sign a special form called a gift letter. The gift letter states the relationship between the parties, the address of the purchased property, the amount of the gift, and sometimes the source of the funds used to make the gift. The gift letter also clearly states that the funds are a gift and not required to be repaid.

With most lenders, the donor will have to also provide evidence that they have the ability to make the gift. This can be in the form of a bank or stock statement to show they have the funds available. You should also make a copy of the check used to make the gift and keep a copy of the deposit receipt when you deposit the gift funds into your bank account or escrow.

401K or Retirement Accounts
It is important to provide documentation about your retirement accounts or 401K programs because this is another asset you could draw upon as reserves in case of a problem. It is also another way to show you have a savings history. Just provide a copy of your most recent statement to your lender.

Many people use these accounts as a source of funds for their down payment, too. Some employers allow you to cash out a portion of the 401K and some allow you to borrow against it. Be sure to keep copies of all paperwork involving the transaction. If they cut you a check, be sure to make a photocopy of that, too, including any receipt for deposit into your personal bank account.

If you are borrowing against your 401K, some lenders will count this as an additional debt to go along with car payments, credit cards and other obligations. This may seem kind of silly because you are borrowing your own money, but from the lender’s viewpoint it is still a monthly obligation that you must come up with and should be taken into account. If you are tight on your debt-to-income ratios in qualifying for a home loan, this could be an important consideration. It may affect whether you choose to cash out the account and pay any tax penalty, or simply borrow against it.

Employers
Some companies provide down payment assistance for their employees. They may feel that Homeowners are more stable and reliable employees, or that providing down payment assistance fosters an environment of higher morale and loyalty to the firm. Just make copies of all the paperwork, including a copy of the check and the receipt when you deposit the funds into your personal bank account. It is important that these funds do not require repayment.

Savings Bonds
If you have Savings Bonds, remember that they are also financial assets. Since you hold the actual bonds in your possession, the easiest and best way to verify them for your mortgage lender is to make photocopies of them. If you choose to cash them in for down payment or closing costs, you should do this at your local bank. Be sure to keep copies of the paperwork the bank provides because that will establish the current value of the bonds and show that you received their cash value.

Personal Property – Cars, Antiques, etc.
Personal property includes automobiles, vehicles, boats, furniture, collections, heirlooms, antiques, art, clothing, and practically everything you own except for real estate. The mortgage application asks you to estimate the value of these items.

The larger the loan amount, the more important it is for you to provide details on your personal property. This is because larger loans usually indicate larger incomes, and lenders check to see if your personal property matches your income. If it does not, this sends a red flag to the underwriter and they take a closer look at your application.

You are not required to document the value of personal property unless you intend to sell them to come up with your down payment.

Selling Personal Property
For those Homebuyers who do sell personal property in order to come up with their down payment, the verification process can be arduous. Lenders are much stricter about documenting this method of coming up with your source of funds.

Selling a car is perhaps the easiest to document. First, you need to photocopy the registration that shows you actually own the vehicle. You will have to provide a copy of the page in the “Blue Book” that shows your model and its value. Then you need to photocopy the bill of sale showing the transfer to another individual and a copy of the check used to purchase the vehicle. Do not get paid in cash because that makes it impossible to show you actually received the funds. Make a copy of the receipt when you deposit the funds into the bank.

Other types of personal property are more difficult because you have to show that you actually own the property and that it actually has the value that you sold it for. This is a little harder to do for most assets than it is for automobiles.

Records showing you purchased the property would be helpful. You could also provide an old inventory that documents ownership. To determine value, you may have to contract with an independent appraiser or a specialist who has the knowledge for that particular type of property.

If you cannot document the item’s value, the lender will not view the sale as an acceptable source of funds. Just like selling a car, you have to prove you own the item, make a copy of the bill of sale, copy the check used to purchase the item, and make a copy of your receipt when you deposit the funds into your bank.

FICO® Score - a Brief Explanation

When you apply for a mortgage loan, you expect your lender to pull a credit report and look at whether you’ve made your payments on time. What you may not expect is that they seem to be more interested in your FICO® score.

“What’s a FICO® score?” is a common reaction.

Each time your credit report is pulled, it is run through a computer program with a built-in scorecard. Points are awarded or deducted based on certain items such as how long you have had credit cards, whether you make your payments on time, if your credit balances are near maximum, and assorted other variables. When the credit report prints in your lender’s office, the total score is displayed. Your score can be anywhere between the high 300’s and the low 850’s.

Lenders wanted to determine if there was any relationship between these credit scores and whether borrowers made their payments on time, so they did a study. The study showed that borrowers with scores above 680 almost always made their payments on time. Borrowers with scores below 600 seemed fairly certain to develop problems.

As a result, credit scoring became a more important factor in approving mortgage loans. Credit scores also made it easier to develop artificial intelligence computer programs that could make a “yes” decision for loans that should obviously be approved. Nowadays, a computer and not a person may have actually approved your mortgage.

In short, lower credit scores require a more thorough review than higher scores. Often, mortgage lenders will not even consider a score below 600.

Some of the things that affect your FICO score are:

Delinquencies
Too many accounts opened within the last twelve months
Short credit history
Balances on revolving credit are near the maximum limits
Public records, such as tax liens, judgments, or bankruptcies
No recent credit card balances
Too many recent credit inquiries
Too few revolving accounts
Too many revolving accounts
FICO® actually stands for Fair Isaac and Company, which is the company used by the Experian (formerly TRW) credit bureau to calculate credit scores. Trans-Union and Equifax are two other credit bureaus who also provide credit scores.

FICO® Scores and Your Mortgage

Years ago, credit scoring had little to do with mortgage lending. When reviewing the credit worthiness of a borrower, an underwriter would make a subjective decision based on past payment history.

Then things changed.

Lenders studied the relationship between credit scores and mortgage delinquencies. There was a definite relationship. Almost half of those borrowers with FICO® scores below 550 became ninety days delinquent at least once during their mortgage. On the other hand, only two out of every 10,000 borrowers with FICO® scores above eight hundred became delinquent.

So lenders began to take a closer look at FICO® scores and this is what they found out. The chart below shows the likelihood of a ninety day delinquency for specific FICO® scores.

FICO® Score Odds of a Delinquent Account
595 2 to 1
600 4 to 1
615 9 to 1
630 18 to 1
645 36 to 1
660 72 to 1
680 144 to 1
780 576 to 1
If you were lending a couple hundred thousand dollars, who would you want to lend it to?

FICO® SCORES, WHAT AFFECTS THEM, HOW LENDERS LOOK AT THEM
Imagine a busy lending office and a loan officer has just ordered a credit report. He hears the whir of the laser printer and he knows the pages of the credit report are going to start spitting out in just a second. There is a moment of tension in the air. He watches the pages stack up in the collection tray, but he waits to pick them up until all of the pages are finished printing. He waits because FICO® scores are located at the end of the report. Previously, he would have probably picked them up as they came off. A FICO® above 700 will evoke a smile, then a grin, perhaps a shout and a “victory” style arm pump in the air. A score below 600 will definitely result in a frown, a furrowed brow, and concern.

FICO® stands for Fair Isaac & Company, and credit scores are reported by each of the three major credit bureaus: TRW (Experian), Equifax, and Trans-Union. The score does not come up exactly the same on each bureau because each bureau places a slightly different emphasis on different items. Scores range from 365 to 840.

SOME OF THE THINGS THAT AFFECT YOUR FICO® SCORES:
Delinquencies
Too many accounts opened within the last twelve months
Short credit history
Balances on revolving credit are near the maximum limits
Public records, such as tax liens, judgments, or bankruptcies
No recent credit card balances
Too many recent credit inquiries
Too few revolving accounts
Too many revolving accounts
SOUNDS CONFUSING, DOESN’T IT?
The credit score is actually calculated using a scorecard where you receive points for certain things. Creditors and lenders who view your credit report do not get to see the scorecard, so they do not know exactly how your score was calculated. They just see the final scores.

Basic guidelines on how to view the FICO® scores vary a little from lender to lender. Usually, a score above 680 will require a very basic review of the entire loan package. Scores between 640 and 680 require more thorough underwriting. Once a score gets below 640, an underwriter will look at a loan application with a more cautious approach. Many lenders will not even consider a loan with a FICO® score below 600, some as high as 620.

FICO® SCORES AND INTEREST RATES
Credit scores can affect more than whether your loan gets approved or not. They can also affect how much you pay for your loan, too. Some lenders establish a base price and will reduce the points on a loan if the credit score is above a certain level. For example, one major national lender reduces the cost of a loan by a quarter point if the FICO® score is greater than 725. If it is between 700 and 724, they will reduce the cost by one-eighth of a point. A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.

There are other lenders who do it in reverse. They establish their base price, but instead of reducing the cost for good FICO® scores, they add on costs for lower FICO® scores. The results from either method would work out to be approximately the same interest rate. It is just that the second way looks better when you are quoting interest rates on a rate sheet or in an advertisement.

FICO® Scores and Mortgage Underwriting Decisions
FICO® SCORES AS GUIDELINES
FICO® scores are only guidelines and factors other than FICO® scores also affect underwriting decisions. Some examples of compensating factors that will make an underwriter more lenient toward lower FICO® scores can be a larger down payment, low debt-to-income ratios, an excellent history of saving money, and others. There also may be a reasonable explanation for items on the credit history report that negatively impact your credit score.

THEY DON’T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE
Even so, sometimes credit scores do not seem to make any sense at all. One borrower with a completely flawless credit history can have a FICO® score below 600. One borrower with a foreclosure on her credit report can have a FICO® above 780.

PORTFOLIO & SUB-PRIME LENDERS
Finally, there are a few portfolio lenders who do not even look at credit scoring, at least on their portfolio loans. A portfolio lender is usually a savings & loan institution that originates some adjustable rate mortgages that they intend to keep in their own portfolio rather than selling them in the secondary mortgage market. These lenders may look at home loans differently. Some concentrate on the value of the home. Some may concentrate more on the savings history of the borrower. There are also sub-prime lenders, or “B & C paper” lenders, who will provide a home loan, but at a higher interest rate and cost.

RUNNING CREDIT REPORTS
One thing to remember when you are shopping for a home loan is that you should not let numerous mortgage lenders run credit reports on you. Wait until you have a reasonable expectation that they are the lender you are going to use to obtain your home loan. Not only will you have to explain any credit inquiries in the last ninety days, but also numerous inquiries will lower your FICO® score by a small amount. This may not matter if your FICO® is 780, but it would matter if it is 642.

DON’T BUY A CAR JUST BEFORE LOOKING FOR A HOME!
A word of advice not directly related to FICO® scores. When people begin to think about the possibility of buying a home, they often think about buying other big-ticket items, such as cars. Quite often when someone asks a lender to pre-qualify them for a home loan there is a brand new car payment on the credit report. Often, they would have qualified in their anticipated price range except that the new car payment has raised their debt-to-income ratio, lowering their maximum purchase price. Sometimes they have bought the car so recently that the new loan doesn’t even show up on the credit report yet, but with six to eight credit inquiries from car dealers and automobile finance companies it is kind of obvious. Almost every time you sit down in a car dealership, it generates two inquiries into your credit.

CREDIT HISTORY IS IMPORTANT
Nowadays, credit scores are important if you want to get the best interest rate available. Protect your FICO® score. Do not open new revolving accounts needlessly. Do not fill out credit applications needlessly. Do not keep your credit cards nearly maxed out. Make sure you do use your credit occasionally. Always make sure every creditor has their payment in their office no later than 29 days past due.

And never ever be more than thirty days late on your mortgage. Ever.

Items You Need When Applying For a Loan

Have These Items Ready When You Apply For a Loan

It used to be that lenders mailed out verifications to employers, banks, mortgage companies, and so on, in order to verify the data supplied by borrowers. Nowadays, the interest is often in speed and getting answers quickly so alternate documentation has become more widely used. Alternate documentation means that underwriting answers can be obtained with information supplied directly from the borrower instead of waiting around for verifications to come back in the mail.

The following is required for most standardized loans as part of alternate documentation processing. Items may differ according to whether your loan is a conforming (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), non-conforming (jumbo) loan, government loan, or a portfolio loan.

Verifications are still mailed out, but usually as part of quality control procedures.

These are the things you need to supply to your lender to get a quick approval using alternate documentation

Income Items
W2 forms for the last two years
Pay stubs covering a 30 day period
Federal tax returns (1040s) for the last two years, if:
you are self-employed
earn more than 25% of your income from commissions or bonuses
own rental property
or are in a career where you are likely to take non-reimbursed business expenses
Year-to-Date Profit and Loss Statement (for self employed)
Corporate or partnership tax returns (if applicable)
Pension Award letter (for retired individuals)
Social Security Award letters (for those on Social Security)
Asset Items
Bank statements for previous two months (sometimes three) on all accounts. All pages.
Statements for two months on all stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc.
Copy of most recent 401K statement (or other retirement assets)
Explanations for any large deposits and source of those funds
Copy of HUD1 Settlement Statement on recent sales of homes
Copy of Estimated HUD1 Settlement Statement if a previous home is for sale, but not yet closed
Gift letter (if some of the funds come as a gift from a family member)
Gifts can also require:
Verification of donor’s ability to make the gift (bank statement)
Copy of the check used to make the gift
Copy of the deposit receipt showing the funds deposited into bank account or escrow
Credit Items
Landlord’s name, address, and phone number (for verification of rental)
Explanations for any of the following items that may appear on your credit report:
Late payments
Credit inquiries in the last 90 days
Charge-offs
Collections
Judgments
Liens
Copy of bankruptcy papers if you have filed bankruptcy within the last seven years
Other
Copy of purchase agreement (if you have already made an offer)
To document receipt of child support (if you desire to show it as income)
Copy of Divorce Settlement (to show the amount)
Copies of twelve months canceled checks to document actual receipt of fund
FHA Loans
Copy of Social Security Card (or other documentation of social security number)
Copy of Driver’s license
VA Loans
Copy of DD214
Refinances
Copy of Note on existing loan
Copy of HUD1 Settlement Statement on existing loan
Name, address, phone number, loan number of existing loan/lender

Land Contract

An alternative to a non-conforming loan is the use of a land contract, which is allowed in some states. A land contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller, where the buyer agrees to make periodic payments to the seller. The title to the property only transfers to the land contract buyer on fulfillment of the land contract obligations.

A land contract can be helpful for those who need time to establish or improve their credit rating. There are only small closing costs, and payment can help establish a good mortgage payment record. This can help establish an overall good credit rating, and it is possible for the buyer to later refinance the land contract with a conforming loan.

On the other hand, there are risks associated with land contracts. Land contract purchases are not necessarily recorded in the public record, and there are no guarantees that the seller will be able to transfer a clear title to the buyer upon fulfillment of the land contract. There also is no lender assuring that the purchase price for the property is justified, and no inspection of the property’s condition.

Another alternative to a non-conforming loan is assuming the seller’s mortgage. By assuming a mortgage, if the mortgage is assumable, it is possible to save on closing costs, and may allow you to obtain a favorable interest rate.

The Advantages of Different Types of Mortgage Lenders

What kind of lender is best?

If you ask a loan officer, “What kind of lender is best?” the answer will be whatever kind of company he works for and he will give you a list of reasons why. If you meet the same loan officer years later, and he works for a different kind of lender, he will give you a list of reasons why that type of lender is better.

REALTORS® will also have differing opinions, and those opinions have and will continue to change over time. In the past, it seemed like most would recommend portfolio lenders. Now, they usually recommend mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers. Most often they direct you to a specific loan officer who has demonstrated a track record of service and reliability.

This article discusses the advantages and disadvantage of different types of institutions, not the individual loan officers. However, it is often more important to choose the correct loan officer, not the institution. The loan officer has many responsibilities, one of which is to act as your representative and advocate to the lender he works for or the institutions he brokers loans to. You want someone who has proven dependable and ethical in the past.

Regarding the institutions, the truth of the matter is that each type of lender has strengths and weaknesses. This does not even take into account the variety of other factors that influence whether a lender is good or bad. Quality can vary, depending on the loan officer, the support staff, which branch or office you are obtaining your loan from, and a variety of other factors.

PORTFOLIO LENDERS
Savings & Loans are quite often portfolio lenders, as are some banks. Portfolio lenders generally promote their own portfolio loans, which are usually adjustable rate loans. They will often pay more compensation to their loan officers for originating a portfolio product than for originating a fixed rate loan. You may also find that they are not as competitive as mortgage bankers and brokers in the fixed rate loan market.

However, it is often easier to qualify for a portfolio loan, so borrowers who may not qualify for a fixed rate loan may be able to obtain a loan from a portfolio lender. A borrower may be able to qualify for a larger loan from a portfolio lender than he could obtain from a fixed rate lender.

Portfolio lenders also can serve as niche lenders because certain things are more important to them than meeting the more standardized underwriting guidelines of a mortgage banker. An example would be a savings & loan, which is more concerned with an individual’s savings history than being able to fully document income and other things.

If you apply for a loan with a portfolio lender and you are declined, you usually have to start the process over with a new company.

MORTGAGE BANKERS
If we are talking about the larger mortgage bankers, you can count on them having several strengths. For the biggest ones, you will recognize the brand name.

Usually, they are much better at promoting special first time buyer programs offered by states and local governments, that have lower interest rates and costs than the current market rate. These programs are often available to buyers who have not owned a home in the last three years and fall within certain income guidelines.

Mortgage bankers may incur problems because they are just too big to manage, or they may operate like well-oiled machines.

If you are buying a home and you need a VA or FHA loan and the development you are buying in has not yet been approved, they will be better at getting it approved than other lenders.

If your home loan is declined for some reason, many mortgage bankers allow their loan officers to broker the loan to another institution. However, because your loan officer is so used to promoting the company’s product, he may not be familiar with which institution may be the best one to submit your loan to. Another reason is because wholesale lenders do not expect to get many loans from direct mortgage bankers, so they do not expend much marketing effort on them.

BANKS AND SAVINGS & LOANS
Their major strength is that you will recognize their name. In addition, they will usually be operating as a mortgage banker, a portfolio lender, or both, and have the same weaknesses and strengths.

MORTGAGE BROKERS
The major strength of mortgage brokers is that they can shop the wholesale lenders for the best rate much easier than a borrower can. They also learn the “hot points” of certain wholesale lenders and can handpick the lender for a borrower that may be unique in some way. He will be able to advise you whether your loan should be submitted to a portfolio lender or a mortgage banker. Another advantage is that, if a loan gets declined for some reason, they can simply repackage the loan and submit it to another wholesale lender.

One additional advantage is that mortgage brokers tend to attract a high number of the most qualified loan officers. This is not universal because mortgage brokers also serve as the training ground for those just entering the business. If you have a new loan officer and there is something unique about you or the property you are buying, there could be a problem on the horizon that an experienced loan officer would have anticipated.

A disadvantage is that mortgage brokers sometimes attract the greediest loan officers, too. They may charge you more on your loan, which would then nullify the ability of the mortgage broker being able to shop for the lowest rate.

WHOLESALE LENDERS
Borrowers cannot get access to the wholesale divisions of mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders without going through a broker.

When REALTORS® or Builders Recommend a Lender
If your REALTOR® or builder makes a suggestion for a lender, be sure to talk to that lender. One reason REALTORS® and builders make suggestions is the fact that they have regular dealings with this lender and have come to expect a certain amount of reliability. Reliability is extremely important to all parties involved in a real estate transaction.

On the other hand, a recent trend in mortgage lending has been for real estate companies and builders to own their own mortgage companies or create “controlled business arrangements” (CBA’s) in order to increase their profitability. These mortgage brokers sometimes become used to having what is essentially a captured market and may not necessarily offer you the lowest rates or costs.

Some real estate companies also offer different types of incentives to their REALTORS® in exchange for recommending their company-owned mortgage and escrow companies or lenders with whom they have CBA’s. Dealing with one of these lenders is not necessarily a bad thing, though. The builder or real estate company often feels they have more ability to expedite matters when they own the company or have a controlled business relationship. They cannot usually influence the underwriting decision, but they can sometimes cut through red tape to handle problems or speed up the process. Builders are especially forceful on having you use their lender. One reason is that there are certain intricacies in dealing with new homes. If you use a loan officer who usually deals with refinances or resale home loans, he may not even be aware of how different it is to close a mortgage on a new home and this can lead to problems or delays.

It is in your interest to know if there is any kind of ownership relationship or controlled business arrangement between the real estate or builder and the lender, so be sure to ask. Do not automatically disqualify such a lender, but be sure to be more vigilant on getting the best interest rate and the lowest costs.

Conclusion
Make sure to do a little shopping. By knowing the interest rates in your market and making sure your loan officer knows you are looking at rates from other institutions, you can use that as leverage to make sure you are obtaining the best combination of service and the lowest rates.

The Biweekly Mortgage - Who Needs It?

Have you received an advertisement offering to save you thousands of dollars on your thirty-year mortgage and cut years off your payments? With email spam becoming more pervasive as everyone tries to get rich quick on the Internet, these ads are popping up with troublesome regularity.

The ads promote a Biweekly Mortgage and for the most part, do not come from a mortgage lender. Exclamation points punctuate practically every claim:

No closing costs!
No refinancing!
No points!
No credit check!
No appraisal!
Save thousands!
Cut years off your mortgage!
To achieve these wonderful savings all you have to do is allow half of your mortgage payment to be deducted from your checking account every two weeks. It’s easy. Of course, there is a small set-up fee and usually a transaction fee with every automatic deduction.

Essentially, the ads are truthful in almost every respect.

They just want to charge you money for something you can do on your own for free.

The Basics:
Normally, you make twelve mortgage payments a year. Since there are fifty-two weeks in a year, a biweekly mortgage equals 26 half-payments a year. The equivalent would be making thirteen mortgage payments a year instead of twelve. By applying that extra payment directly to the loan balance as a principal reduction, your loan amortizes more quickly, requiring fewer payments.

You save money. The ads are true.

How it Actually Works:
You cannot simply mail in half a payment every two weeks to your mortgage lender. Since they do not accept partial payments for legal and accounting reasons, the mortgage company would just mail your half-payment back to you.

Instead, the biweekly mortgage company is an intermediary between you and your mortgage lender. They automatically debit your checking account every two weeks for half of your mortgage payment then place your funds into a trust account. Basically, this is just a holding account for your money. In another two weeks, there is another automatic deduction from your checking account, and so on. When your mortgage payment is due, your funds are withdrawn from the trust account and forwarded to your mortgage lender.

Since you are placing funds into the trust account faster than your mortgage payments are due, you eventually accumulate enough money to make an extra payment. The way the cycle works, this occurs once a year. he extra payment is applied directly to your principal balance, which causes your loan to amortize faster, pay off more quickly and save you thousands of dollars.

Potential Problems with the Trust Account
Because your funds are held in the trust account until your mortgage payment is due, there are potential dangers. Not only are your funds held in this account, but so are the funds of everyone else enrolled in the biweekly program. That is a lot of money.

Most likely, there will be no problems.

However, if there are accounting errors, mismanagement, or even fraud, your mortgage payment might not get made. The first hint of a problem will probably be a phone call or letter from your mortgage lender, but not until after your payment is already late. Since responsibility for making the payment rests with you and not the biweekly payment company, you may find yourself digging into your personal savings to make the payment directly — even though the biweekly payment company has already collected your funds.

Later you can work out the trust account problem with your biweekly payment company.

The Cost of the Biweekly Mortgage
There is usually a set-up fee that runs between $195 and $350, depending on how much sales commission is paid to the individual or company setting up the account for you. You also pay a transaction fee each time there is an automatic deduction from your checking account and sometimes also when the payment is made to your mortgage lender. There may also be a periodic maintenance fee.

Meanwhile, whoever controls the trust account is earning interest on your money.

Savings of the Biweekly Mortgage
By making principal reductions using the biweekly mortgage program, your mortgage will amortize more quickly, saving you money. How quickly your loan pays off depends on your interest rate and when you begin making the biweekly payments.

On a $100,000 loan at an interest rate of eight percent, your first principal reduction would probably be a year from now. Assuming the principal reduction is equal to one monthly payment ($733.76), you would save $43,852 over the life of the loan and pay it off almost seven years early.

However, you have to deduct from those savings any amounts you paid in set-up, transaction, and maintenance fees.

No-Cost Alternatives to the Biweekly Mortgage
Instead of hiring a company to manage your biweekly payment, you could accomplish essentially the same thing on your own for free. Just take your monthly payment, divide it by twelve, and add that amount to your monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to earmark it as a principal reduction.

The first way you save is that you do not have to pay any fees to anyone. It’s free.

In addition to not paying fees — using the same example as above — your total savings on the mortgage would be $45,904. Plus the loan would be paid off three months quicker than with the biweekly mortgage. The reason you save more is because you are making a principal reduction each month, instead of waiting for funds to accumulate so that you can make one principal reduction a year.

Self-Discipline?
The biweekly mortgage companies claim that homeowners are not disciplined enough to follow through with principal reduction plans on their own. They suggest the reason for setting up the biweekly mortgage enforces discipline upon you, and by doing so, they save you money.

However, in this technologically advanced age, banking online and automatic deductions are readily available. You can set up your own automatic deductions including the additional principal reduction and have it go directly to your mortgage lender. Since the deduction occurs automatically, just like with the biweekly mortgages, self-discipline is not a problem. Once again, you don’t have to pay anyone to do it for you and you save even more money.

Conclusion
The biweekly mortgage plans do not really do anything except move your money around and charge you for it. Plus, even though the danger is negligible, you must trust someone else to hold your money for you. If you can do the very same thing for free, plus save yourself even more money by doing it on your own, why pay someone else?

The biweekly mortgage plan – who needs it?

If your goal is principal reduction and saving money, then it is a good plan. If you do it on your own instead of paying someone else to do it for you, then it is a great plan.

The No-Cost Thirty Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

There really is no such thing as a no-cost mortgage loan. There are always costs, such as appraisal fees, escrow fees, title insurance fees, document fees, processing fees, flood certification fees, recording fees, notary fees, tax service fees, wire fees, and so on, depending on whether the loan is a purchase or a refinance. The term “no-cost” actually means that your lender is paying the costs of the loan. All a no-cost loan means is that there is no cost to you, the borrower.

Except that you pay a higher interest rate.

Understand How Loans Are Priced
A variation of the no-cost loan is the “no points” loan, or even the “no points, no lender fees” loan. On these loans you pay all the costs associated with buying a house or refinancing, but you do not have to pay the lender associated fees or points. However, since lenders and loan officers do not do anything for free, the profit has to come from somewhere.

So where does it come from?

First, you have to understand how loans are priced and how mortgage lenders and loan officers earn income. Each morning mortgage companies create rate sheets for loan officers. The rates usually change slightly from day to day. In volatile markets they change several times a day. On the rate sheet, there are many different programs, including the thirty year fixed rate.

There will be one column that lists several different interest rates and another column that lists the cost for that particular rate. For example:

Rate Cost (points)
6.250% 2.000
6.375% 1.500
6.500% 1.000
6.625% 0.500
6.750% 0.000
6.875% (0.500)
7.000% (1.000)
7.125% (1.500)
7.250% (2.000)
In the above example, 6.75% has a “par” price, which means it has a zero cost. The lower in rate you go, the higher the cost, or points. A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. The parentheses in the cost column for the higher interest rates indicate a negative number. For example, (1.500) equals -1.500, which means instead of having a cost associated with the loan, the lender is willing to pay out money for those interest rates. This is called premium or rebate pricing.

Zero Cost Loans
HOW MORTGAGE COMPANIES AND LOAN OFFICERS MAKE MONEY
The above rate sheet is not a rate sheet designed for public review. In fact, most lenders have a policy that the public cannot see their internal rate sheet. This rate sheet is designed for loan officers and the cost column is the loan officer’s cost, not the cost to the borrower. When the loan officer gives you an interest rate quote, he will add on a certain amount, usually one to one and a half points. Most companies leave it up to the loan officer’s discretion how much to add on to the base cost. However, they usually require at least a minimum add-on, which is usually one point.

The loan officer’s commission depends on his split with the company, which varies. He receives a portion of the add-on and the rest goes to the company.

If we assume the loan officer is adding on one point, and you were willing to pay one point for your loan, then your rate would be (according to this rate sheet) 6.75%. You would pay one percentage point and receive an interest rate of six and three-quarters. If you wanted a lower rate and were willing to pay two points, you could get 6.5%. If you wanted a “no points” loan, then your rate would be 7%. The loan officer and the mortgage company would split the one point rebate, listed as (1.000) on the rate sheet.

See how it works?

In addition to the cost noted on the rate sheet above, lenders have certain other fees they collect, too. These can include document fees, processing fees, underwriting fees, warehouse fees, flood certification fees, wire transfer fees, tax service fees, and so on. Usually, you will not be charged all of these fees, it is just that different lenders call them different things. Some of them are legitimate costs to the lender and some of them are simply fees designed to generate additional income to the mortgage company. They are customary in today’s mortgage market and can vary from around $600 to $1,300. In addition, there will usually be an appraisal fee and a credit report fee. Appraisals and credit reports are usually contracted out to independent companies even though these are considered to be lender fees.

Note that it is common for companies who charge higher fees to have a slightly lower interest rate and companies that charge lower fees will usually have a slightly higher interest rate. So if you shop entirely based on fees, you may actually spend more money in the long run because your interest rate may be higher.

The point is that if you want a “no points – no lender fees” loan, then on our rate sheet above, you may get an interest rate of 7.125%. That is because the loan officer has to bump the interest rate even further than on a “no points” loan in order to cover his own company’s fees.

If you want a “no cost” loan, then the loan officer has to bump your interest rate even further. That is because all of the costs on your purchase or refinance do not come from the lender. The escrow or settlement company involved in your transaction will charge a fee that must be paid. The lender will require title insurance and the title insurance company charges a fee for providing this insurance. If your new lender requires information from your homeowner’s association (if you have one) then the homeowner’s association will most likely charge a fee for providing those documents. If you are refinancing, your current lender will usually charge at least two fees: a demand fee, and a reconveyance fee. The demand fee is charged simply for providing payoff information. The reconveyance fee is charged because your current lender prepares a document that releases your property as collateral for their outstanding loan. This document is called a reconveyance.

These charges will add about one additional point to how much the loan officer must collect in premium pricing in order to cover the costs associated with your refinance or purchase. For a zero cost loan, he will normally need to collect somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half points. Because points are a percentage of your loan amount and most of the costs are fixed, it takes fewer points to provide zero costs on higher loan amounts. On smaller loan amounts it takes more. One percent of $200,000 is $2,000 and one percent of $100,000 is only $1,000, so you can see how it is easier to cover costs on larger loans.

DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO DO A ZERO COST LOAN?
On a $200,000 thirty year fixed rate loan, the difference in monthly mortgage payments will be about $87, using the example rate sheet on the first page. Over thirty years, it works out that you will pay more than $30,000 extra for getting a zero cost loan. So if you intend to remain in the home for a long period of time it just doesn’t make sense.

Suppose you intend to stay for only five years. On a purchase, using the $200,000 example, if you stayed longer than fifty-five months, it would make more sense to pay your own costs and get the lower interest rate. If you kept the loan for a shorter time, then it makes more sense to pay zero costs and get a higher interest rate.

Except for one thing.

If you knew you were only going to be staying in the home for five years you would probably not want a thirty-year fixed rate, anyway. You would get a loan that has a fixed payment for the first five years, then convert to an adjustable rate or whatever fixed rates are five years from now. These loans have an interest rate almost a half percent lower than thirty year fixed rate loans. Since it is practically impossible to do a zero cost loan on this type of loan, you would have to compare a zero cost thirty year fixed rate loan to paying points on a loan with a fixed payment for five years.

The difference in payments would be about $150. The two and a half point rebate equals $5,000. Working out the math, if you stayed in the home longer than thirty-three months, it would make more sense to pay the points and get the loan with the five-year fixed rate.

Finally, carry the discussion one step further. Suppose you know you are going to be in the new loan for less than three years? Doesn’t it make sense to get a “zero cost” loan then?

No.

Then you get an adjustable rate loan. As long as the start rate is two percent lower than the current fixed rate, you cannot lose. The first year you will save a lot of money. The second year you will probably break even. The third year, you will probably give up some of the savings from the first year, but not all of it.

Zero cost loans just don’t make sense for most homebuyers.

But they sound really good in an advertisement!

EXCEPTIONS:
On a FHA Streamline Refinance Without an Appraisal (not a purchase – which is what the article talks about), it makes sense to do a zero cost loan. This is mostly because the new loan has to be exactly the same amount as the existing balance of the current loan.
If the homebuyer only has enough money for a down payment and none to cover closing costs, PLUS no arrangement can be made for the seller to pay closing costs, then zero cost may make sense. (However, I would still recommend negotiating terms with the seller – be willing to pay a higher price in exchange for the seller paying your costs.)

Types of Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage Bankers

Mortgage Bankers are lenders that are large enough to originate loans and create pools of loans, which are then sold directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, jumbo loan investors, and others. Any company that does this is considered to be a mortgage banker.

Some companies don’t sell directly to those major investors, but sell their loans to the mortgage bankers. They often refer to themselves as mortgage bankers as well. Since they are actually engaging in the selling of loans, there is some justification for using this label. The point is that you cannot reliably determine the size or strength of a particular lender based on whether or not they identify themselves as a mortgage banker.

Portfolio Lenders
An institution that lends their own money and originates loans for itself is called a portfolio lender. This is because they are lending for their own portfolio of loans and not worried about being able to immediately sell them on the secondary market. Because of this, they don’t have to obey Fannie/Freddie guidelines and can create their own rules for determining credit worthiness. Usually these institutions are larger banks and savings & loans.

Quite often only a portion of their loan programs are a portfolio product. If they are offering fixed rate loans or government loans, they are certainly engaging in mortgage banking as well as portfolio lending.

Once a borrower has made the payments on a portfolio loan for over a year without any late payments, the loan is considered seasoned. Once a loan has a track history of timely payments it becomes marketable, even if it does not meet Freddie/Fannie guidelines.

Selling these seasoned loans frees up more money for the portfolio lender to make additional loans. If they are sold, they are packaged into pools and sold on the secondary market. You will probably not even realize your loan is sold because, quite likely, you will still make your loan payments to the same lender, which has now become your servicer.

Direct Lenders
Lenders are considered to be direct lenders if they fund their own loans. A direct lender can range anywhere from the biggest lender to a very tiny one. Banks and savings & loans obviously have deposits with which they can fund loans, but they usually use warehouse lines of credit for drawing the money to fund the loans. Smaller institutions also have warehouse lines of credit from which they draw money to fund loans.

Direct lenders usually fit into the category of mortgage bankers or portfolio lenders, but not always.

Correspondents
Correspondent is usually a term that refers to a company that originates and closes home loans in their own name, then sells them individually to a larger lender, called a sponsor. The sponsor acts as the mortgage banker, re-selling the loan to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac as part of a pool. The correspondent may fund the loans themselves or funding may take place from the larger company. Either way, the sponsor usually underwrites the loan.

It is almost like being a mortgage broker, except that there is usually a very strong relationship between the correspondent and their sponsor.

Mortgage Brokers
Mortgage Brokers are companies that originate loans with the intention of brokering them to lending institutions. A broker has established relationships with these companies. Underwriting and funding takes place at the larger institutions. Many mortgage brokers are also correspondents.

Mortgage brokers deal with lending institutions that have a wholesale loan department.

Wholesale Lenders
Most mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders also act as wholesale lenders, catering to mortgage brokers for loan origination. Some wholesale lenders do not even have their own retail branches, relying solely on mortgage brokers for their loans. These wholesale divisions offer loans to mortgage brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The mortgage broker then adds on his fee. The result for the borrower is that the loan costs about the same as if he obtained a loan directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.

Banks and savings & loans usually operate as portfolio lenders, mortgage bankers, or some combination of both.

Credit Unions usually seem to operate as correspondents, although a large one could act as a portfolio lender or a mortgage banker.

What's a FICO®?

What is a FICO® Score?

FICO® stands for Fair Isaac & Company and is the name for the most well known credit scoring system, used by Experian. The credit bureau’s computer evaluates a complete credit profile and assigns a score, which is used to estimate credit worthiness. Each of the three bureaus (Experian, Trans Union, Equifax) employs its own scoring system, so a given person will usually have 3 separate scores. Someone with a higher score will be viewed as a better risk than someone with a lower score. Typically, scores will range from about 600 to 700 or above, although some cases will be outside this range.

What Kind of Score Do I Need for a Home Loan?
There are as many answers to this question as there are loan programs available. Most lenders will take the average of all 3 scores to evaluate an application. Niche loans, such as Easy Qualifier and low down payment loans will have higher FICO® requirements.

How is My Score Determined?
The FICO® model has 5 main elements:

Past payment history (about 35% of score) The fewer the late payments the better. Recent late payments will have a much greater impact than a very old Bankruptcy with perfect credit since.
Myth – paying off cards with recent late payments will fix things. Payoffs do not affect payment history.
Credit use (about 30% of score) Low balances across several cards is better than the same balance concentrated on a few cards used closer to maximums. Too many cards can bring down the score, but closing accounts can often do more harm than good if the entire profile is not considered. BE CAREFUL WHEN CLOSING ACCOUNTS!
Length of credit history (15% of score) The longer accounts have been open the better for the score. Opening new accounts and closing seasoned accounts can bring down a score a great deal.
Types of credit used (10% of score) Finance company accounts score lower than bank or department store accounts.
Inquiries (10% of score) Multiple inquiries can be a risk if several cards are applied for or other accounts are close to maxed out. Multiple mortgage or car inquiries within a 14 day period are counted as one inquiry.
How Can I Raise My Score
Your score can only be changed by the way that item is reported directly to the credit bureaus (Experian, TU, Equifax). Written confirmation from the creditor is required. It is best to make these corrections before you try to purchase a home, because you can never be sure the exact impact a change will have on your score.

What Does This Mean to Me?
You should have your credit reviewed BEFORE you look for a home, and work with a PROFESSIONAL loan officer to make sure your loan is based on the most accurate information.

Where Does the Money Come From for Mortgage Loans?

In the olden days, when someone wanted a home loan they walked downtown to the neighborhood bank or savings & loan. If the bank had extra funds lying around and considered you a good credit risk, they would lend you the money from their own funds.

It doesn’t generally work like that anymore. Most of the money for home loans comes from three major institutions:

Fannie Mae (FNMA – Federal National Mortgage Association)
Freddie Mac (FHLMC – Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)
Ginnie Mae (GNMA – Government National Mortgage Association)
This is how it works:

You talk to practically any lender and apply for a loan. They do all the processing and verifications and finally, you own the house with a home loan and regular mortgage payments. You might be making payments to the company who originated your loan, or your loan might have been transferred to another institution. The institution where you mail your payments is called the servicer, but most likely they do not own your loan. They are simply servicing your loan for the institution that does own it.

What happens behind the scenes is that your loan got packaged into a pool with a lot of other loans and sold off to one of the three institutions listed above. The servicer of your loan gets a monthly fee from the investor for servicing your loan. This fee is usually only 3/8ths of a percent or so, but the amount adds up. There are companies that service over a billion dollars of home loans and it is a tidy income.

At the same time, whichever institution packaged your loan into the pool for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae, has received additional funds with which to make more loans to other borrowers. This is the cycle that allows institutions to lend you money.

What Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, and Fannie Mae may do after they purchase the pools is break them down into smaller increments of $1,000 or so, called mortgage-backed securities. They sell these mortgage-backed securities to individuals or institutions on Wall Street. If you have a 401K or mutual fund, you may even own some. Perhaps you have heard of Ginnie Mae bonds? Those are securities backed by the mortgages on FHA and VA loans.

These bonds are not ownership in your loan specifically, but a piece of ownership in the entire pool of loans, of which your loan is only one among many. By selling the bonds, Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae obtain new funds to buy new pools so lenders can get more money to lend to new borrowers.

And that is how the cycle works.

So when you make your payment, the servicer gets to keep their tiny part and the majority is passed on to the investor. Then the investor passes on the majority of it to the individual or institutional investor in the mortgage backed securities.

From time to time your loan may be transferred from the company where you have been making your payment to another company. They aren’t selling your loan again, just the right to service your loan.

There are exceptions.

Loans above $333,700 do not conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, which is why they are called non-conforming loans, or “jumbo” loans. These loans are packaged into different pools and sold to different investors, not Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Then they are securitized and for the most part, sold as mortgage backed securities as well.

This buying and selling of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities is called mortgage banking, and it is the backbone of the mortgage business.

Which ARM is the Best Alternative?

How would you like a mortgage loan where you did not have to make the whole payment if you did not want to? Or would you like a loan with an interest rate about 1% below a thirty-year fixed rate mortgage and pay zero points? Or a loan where you did not have to document your income, savings history, or source of down payment? How would you like a mortgage payment of only 1.95%? You can have all that with the 11th District Cost of Funds (COFI) Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Sound too good to be true? Sound like a bunch of hype?

Each statement above is true. However, it is also only part of the story and loan officers do not always tell you the whole story when promoting this loan. Other loan officers may try to scare you away from adjustable rate mortgages. However, once you become aware of all the details of the loan, it is an excellent way to buy the house of your dreams, especially when fixed rates begin to go up.

ARMs in General
Adjustable rate mortgages all have certain similar features. They have an adjustment period, an index, a margin, and a rate cap. The adjustment period is simply how often the rate changes. Some change monthly, some change every six months, and some only adjust once a year. Indexes are simply an easily monitored interest rate that moves up and down over time. Adjustable rate mortgages have different indexes. The margin is the difference between your interest rate and the index. The margin does not change during the term of the loan.

So if you have an adjustable rate mortgage and you wanted to calculate your interest rate on your own, all you have to do is look up the index in the paper or on the internet, add the margin, and you have your rate.

Indexes and the 11th District
The “Prime Rate” you hear about in the news is one interest rate index, although it is very rare that mortgages are tied to this index. It is more common to find adjustable rate mortgages tied to different treasury bill indexes, the average interest rate paid on certificates of deposit, the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), or the 11th District Cost of Funds.

COFI ARM Index
The 11th District Cost of Funds (COFI) is the weighted average of interest rates paid out on savings deposits by banking institutions in the 11th district of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB), which is located in San Francisco. The 11th District includes the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona.

The COFI index moves slower than the other indexes, making it more stable. It also lags behind actual changes in the interest rate market. For example, when rates begin to go up, the COFI index may continue to decline for a couple of months before it also begins to rise.

The Margin and Interest Rates
The margin on the COFI ARM typically ranges between 2.25-3%.

Monthly Adjustments Sound Scary, but…
Although you can get a COFI ARM with an adjustable period of six months, you can get a lower margin if you go for the monthly adjustment period. Since the margin plus the index equals your interest rate, the lower margin is an advantage and most people choose the monthly adjustment.

Monthly adjustments sound scary to the uninitiated, but keep in mind that this is a slow moving index. Most other ARMS have an annual cap of 2% a year. Since 1981, when the FHLB began tracking the index, the most it has moved during any calendar year is 1.6%. So why get a higher margin just to get a rate cap that you probably will not use anyway?

The“life-of-loan” cap for the COFI ARM is usually 11.95%. The most recent year that this cap could have been reached was 1985. Plus, most experts do not expect a return to the interest rates of the early 1980’s when interest rates were pushed up artificially to combat the inflation of the 1970’s.

Make Only Part of Your Payment?
This is the really interesting feature of the loan. You do not have to make the whole payment. Each month you get a bill that has at least three payment options. One choice is the full payment at the current interest rate. A second choice allows you to pay only the interest that is due on the loan that particular month, but does not pay anything towards the principal. Finally, the third option gives you the choice to pay even less than that and is called the “minimum payment.”

The minimum payment when you start your loan can be calculated as low as 1.95%. Keep in mind that this is not the note rate on your loan, but just a way to calculate your minimum payment.

Deferred Interest and Amortization
Of course, if you only make the minimum payment each month, you are not paying all of the interest that is currently due that month. You are deferring some of the interest that is currently due on the loan so you will have to pay it later. The lender keeps track of this deferred interest by adding it to the loan and the loan balance gets larger. Neither you nor the lender wants this to continue forever, so your minimum payment increases a bit each year.

The payment cap on the loan is 7.5%, which also has nothing to do with the interest rate. All it means is the most your minimum payment can increase from one year to the next is seven and a half percent. For example, if your minimum payment is $1000 this year, next year the most it could be is $1075. This continues each year until your payment is approximately equal to the payment at the full note rate.

Just in case, there are fail-safes built into the loan. If you continue making only the minimum payment and your current balance ever reaches 110% of the beginning balance, the loan is re-amortized to make sure you pay it off in thirty years (or forty years, whichever option you chose). Every five years the loan is re-amortized to make sure it pays off within the term of the loan.

Stated Income and Other Features
Many COFI lenders allow Homebuyers with good credit to apply without documenting their income, assets, or source of down payment. Of course, you have to make a twenty or twenty-five percent down payment on your home purchase. This is helpful for self-employed borrowers or those who have jobs where it is difficult to document their income. Plus, some people just do not like the bother of supplying W2 forms, tax returns and pay-stubs. Anyway, it makes for a quick and easy loan approval.

Sub-Prime COFI ARMs
Some people have less than perfect credit and they are used to being charged outrageous rates for past problems. Some COFI lenders offer this same loan but have a slightly higher starting payment and a higher margin. The end result is that your interest rate would be about one percent higher.

Who Should Get This Loan?
Most people who get the COFI ARM are purchasing a home between $300,000 and $650,000, but it is not limited to that. It is a real favorite of those working in the financial industry and those with higher incomes. One reason these groups like this particular loan is because they consider any deferred interest to be an extended loan at a very attractive rate. By making the minimum payment, they can do other things with the money.

Homebuyers whose income has peaks and valleys, such as self-employed or commissioned salespeople also like the loan, because it provides flexibility in the monthly payment. During a slow month they can make the minimum payment if they choose.

Another reason borrowers like the loan is because it allows for tax planning. The borrower can defer interest payments and at the end of the year, analyze their tax situation. If it serves their tax interests, they can make a lump sum payment toward any interest that has been deferred and deduct it for tax purposes.

Skipping the Starter Home or Move-Up Home
If you’re buying a home with the intention of living in it for only a few years before you move up to a bigger home, the COFI ARM makes sense, too. With this loan and its low start payment you can often qualify for a larger home than you can when applying for a fixed rate loan. This allows you to skip the intermediate purchase and move up immediately to the home you really want, which makes more sense and saves you money.

If you buy a home then sell it to move up to a bigger home, you are going to have to pay a REALTOR’S® commissions and closing costs. On a $300,000 house, this would be around $25,000. If you skip buying that home and buy the home you really want, you save that money. Plus, you save money in another way. Say you live in your intermediate purchase for five years, then move up and buy another home with another thirty-year mortgage. That is thirty-five years of home loans. If you buy your ideal home now, you save five years of mortgage payments. Depending on your loan amount, that can be a lot of cash.

Conclusion
So, when rates start going up this is an attractive alternative to a fixed rate mortgage. It even makes sense for some borrowers when rates are low. Something we also did not mention is that most COFI lenders also give you a fourth option on your monthly mortgage statement, which allows you to pay it off quicker.

Your Savings and Down Payment

Your First Step Toward Buying a Home

When preparing to buy a home, the first thing many homebuyers do is look at the real estate ads in newspapers, magazines and listings on the Internet. Some potential buyers read how-to articles like this one. The next thing you should do – before you call on an ad, before you talk to a REALTOR®, before you shop for interest rates – is look at your savings.

Why?

Because determining how much money you have available for down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a home – including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.

Mortgage Programs
If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment, but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.

Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.

Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgages and all the varieties of each.

Shopping for Rates
A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping for interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.

If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell you which programs fit and quote your rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the Internet, you have to develop some idea of your loan program on your own.

Writing Your Offer
Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is because it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but also different loan programs have different rules that also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.

If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.

Finally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.

Conclusion
As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a home. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can – when you get ready to take action – the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase.

Title and Escrow - Table of Contents

If you have a question(s) that is not answered here, contact us, and we welcome the opportunity to answer them.

 

  • Closing and Title Costs
  • Creative Financing
  • Required Reporting to the I.R.S.
  • Statements of Information
  • The Functions of an Escrow
  • Title Insurance Requirements for Insuring Trusts
  • Title Insurance Where Does Your Dollar Go
  • Understanding Preliminary Reports
  • Understanding Title Insurance
  • Why Do You Need Title Insurance
Closing and Title Costs

It’s the big day.

The day you go to the title or escrow company, sign your name on the dotted line, hand over a check and prepare to take ownership of your new home.

It’s also the day that you and the seller will pay “closing” or settlement costs, an accumulation of separate charges paid to different entities for the professional services associated with the buying and selling of real property.

It’s too often a day filled with uncertainty and stress.

To help you better understand this confusing subject, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about title, closing and closing costs.

WHAT SERVICES WILL I BE PAYING FOR WHEN I PAY CLOSING COSTS?
You will usually be paying for such things as real estate commissions, appraisal fees, loan fees, escrow charges, advance payments such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, title insurance premiums, pest inspections and the like.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY IN CLOSING COSTS?
The amount you pay for closing costs will vary; however, when buying your home and obtaining a new loan, an estimate of your closing costs will be provided to you pursuant to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act after you submit your loan application. This disclosure provides you with a good faith estimate of what your closing costs will be in the real estate process. An itemized list of charges will be prepared when you close your transaction and take title to your new property.

CAN I PAY FOR MY CLOSING COSTS IN INSTALLMENTS?
No, and it is easy to understand why. Many different parties will have fulfilled their responsibilities and be awaiting payment upon closing. The title or escrow company will disburse money to those parties, pursuant to the escrow instructions, when funds are available.

WILL I BE ALLOWED TO WRITE A PERSONAL CHECK TO COVER MY CLOSING COST?
Your closing funds should be in the form of a cashier’s check, issued by an institution from the state of your purchase, made payable to the title company or escrow office in the amount requested. A personal check may delay the closing or may be unacceptable to the title or escrow company. An out-of-state check could also cause a delay in your closing due to possible delays in clearing the check.

HOW MUCH CAN I EXPECT TO PAY FOR TITLE INSURANCE?
This point is often misunderstood. Although the title company or escrow office usually serves as a meeting ground for closing the sale, only a small percentage of total closing fees are actually for title insurance protection.

Your title insurance premium may actually amount to less than one percent of the purchase price of your home, and less than ten percent of your total closing costs. The title policy is good for as long as you and your heirs own the property with the payment of only one premium.

WHY ARE SEPARATE OWNER’S AND LENDER’S TITLE INSURANCE POLICIES ISSUED?
Both you and your lender will want the security offered by title insurance.

Your home is an important purchase, and you will want to be certain your home is yours, all yours. Title insurance companies insure your rights and interests in order to protect you against claims.

Your lender is looking to insure the enforceability of their lien on your property and marketability. What is meant by “marketability”? Local lenders will originate a loan here, and, often, sell it to an out-of-state investor. This investor, who may never see the property, needs to know that he has a valid and enforceable lien. Title insurance is the way of making certain. Without a current title policy, the loan is essentially unmarketable.

WHAT DOES MY TITLE DOLLAR PAY FOR?
Title insurers, unlike property or casualty insurance companies, operate under the theory of risk elimination.

Risk elimination can only be accomplished after an intensive period of risk identification.

Title companies spend a high percentage of their operating revenue each year collecting, storing, maintaining and analyzing official records for information that affects title to real property. The issuance of a title insurance policy is highly labor-intensive. It is based upon the maintenance of a title “plant” or library of title records, in many cases dating back over a hundred years. Each day, recorded documents affecting real property are posted to these plants so that when a title search on a particular parcel is requested, the information is already organized for rapid and accurate retrieval.

Trained title experts are able, with the aid of their extensive title plants, to identify the rights others may have in your property, such as recorded liens, legal actions, disputed interests, rights of way or other encumbrances on your title. Before closing your transaction, you can seek to clear those encumbrances which you do not wish to assume.

The goal of title companies is to conduct such a thorough search and evaluation of public records that no claims will ever arise. Of course, this is impossible–we live in an imperfect world, where human error and changing legal interpretations make 100 percent risk elimination impossible. When claims do arise, title insurance companies have professional claims personnel to make sure that your property rights are protected pursuant to the terms of your policy.

To conclude, when you pay for your title insurance policy, you are paying for a team of professionals who have worked together to deliver you a title insurance policy which represents protection for your ownership of real property.

WHO CAN I LOOK FOR STRAIGHT ANSWERS ON TITLE, CLOSING, AND CLOSING COSTS?
Title or escrow company personnel are available to review and explain your title policy and your closing statement.

Article by CLTA

Creative Financing

Creative financing: You’ve heard of it, and, as a seller, the idea sounds pretty attractive. But, do you know everything you need to know about carrying back a second; essentially, about becoming a lender? You better know the same things that financial institutions know – you better know about lender’s title insurance.

It’s time to sell your $150,000 home, a home that you have owned for fifteen years, a home in which you have substantial equity. The loan terms call for a $20,000 down payment from your buyer, a new $100,000 loan from a local savings and loan, and for you, the seller, to carry back a note for the remaining $30,000.

Will you, the seller, need title insurance?

Yes, you will. Everyone who retains an interest in the property needs title insurance. When you took on the role of lender, you retained a record title interest which you will want to protect for the term of the loan.

But, why would you need lender’s title insurance when the repayment of your loan is assured by a lien in the form of a recorded deed of trust against the property? What could possibly go wrong?

You must insure yourself for the same reason that financial institutions obtain title insurance – for the protection of your investment. You must be assured that your lien on the property cannot be defeated by a prior lien or other interest in the property, which, if exercised, would wipe out your security.

Anything that involves the new buyer’s ownership rights to the property is of direct interest to you because you are holding the second mortgage. If such ownership rights are in question or defective, you may have trouble collecting your monthly mortgage payments. But, you say, there is nothing in your property’s history that could cause problems: no problems with easements, no problems with boundaries, no problems with rights-of-way.

Contrary to what may be popular belief, these matters are not the only source of title problems; a large proportion of title problems arise out of man’s interaction with man. The fact of a marriage, a divorce, a death, a forgery, a judgment for money damages, a failure to pay state or federal taxes – these occurrences can and usually will affect your rights as a mortgage lender.

As an example of what can befall the lender, did you know that a federal tax lien recorded against your buyer before the loan transaction is concluded may result in the loss of security in your home? Sophisticated mortgage lenders are aware of this possibility as well as many others which could jeopardize their loan security and seek the protection afforded by a lender’s title insurance policy.

If you are considering carrying back a second, be sure to get all the facts regarding the benefits of lender’s title insurance. Your local title insurance company should be happy to provide the information you need.

Article by CLTA

Required Reporting to the I.R.S.

Sellers of real property will have certain information regarding the sale reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

This required reporting is a consequence of the Tax Reform Act of 1986; it is intended to encourage taxpayer compliance and aid in audit and enforcement efforts by the I.R.S.

To help you better understand this subject, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about Required Reporting to the I.R.S.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THE I.R.S.?
Sellers of real property, under guidelines established by the I.R.S., are required to have their gross proceeds from the sale reported on a Form 1099S. When a settlement agent is used, the I.R.S. makes this agent responsible for the delivery of the information on the Form 1099S.

The settlement agent generally will be the escrow agent or title company; however, it may be an attorney, real estate broker or other person providing settlement services.

WHAT IS AN I.R.S. FORM 1099S, AND WHAT WILL BE REPORTED?
The Form 1099S is the reporting form adopted by the I.R.S. for submitting the information required by law.

The information will be transferred onto magnetic media by the settlement agent who will store the information and make the required report to the I.R.S. The settlement agent is also responsible for keeping a master copy of all transactions reported.

In general, information required by the I.R.S. falls into the following categories:

The name, address and taxpayer ID number (social security or tax identification number) of the seller(s)
A general description of the property (in most cases an address)
The closing date of the transaction
The gross proceeds of the transaction (even though gross proceeds do not correspond to taxable income)
Any property involved as part of the transaction other than cash or cash equivalent
The name, address and taxpayer identification number of the settlement agent.
Real estate tax paid in advance that is allocable to the buyer.
ON WHAT TYPE OF TRANSACTIONS IS A FORM 1099S REQUIRED?
Currently, typical homeowner transactions covered include sales and exchanges of 1-4 family residential properties such as houses, townhouses, and condominiums. Also reportable are sales or exchanges of improved or unimproved land, commercial or industrial buildings, condominiums, stock in a cooperative housing corporation and mobile homes (manufactured homes) affixed to real property.

Specifically excluded from reporting are foreclosures and abandonment of real property and financing or refinancing of properties.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE SELLER(S) REFUSES TO PROVIDE THE TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER FOR THE FORM 1099S?
The settlement agent is required to request the transferor’s taxpayer identification number(s) (TIN(s)) before the time of closing. You may request a TIN on Form W-9 or use an alternative written request. The IRS has included sample wording of an alternative written request in the instructions for preparation of Form 1099S.

Should the seller fail to provide the identification number and certify its correctness, the settlement agent may choose to:

Delay the closing of the transactions until the information is furnished, or
Complete the transaction and report to the I.R.S. that an attempt was made to obtain the information from the seller.
HOW IS THE SALE REPORTED WHEN THERE IS MORE THAN ONE SELLER INVOLVED OR WHEN MULTIPLE SELLERS DO NOT OWN EQUAL INTERESTS IN THE PROPERTY?
Multiple sellers may allocate the gross proceeds among themselves for purposes of reporting. If there is no allocation, an incomplete allocation or conflicting allocations, then the entire gross proceeds will be reported for each seller.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON TAXATION OF REAL PROPERTY?
The I.R.S. provides free publications that explain the tax aspects of real estate transactions. You may wish to order:

Publication #523 “Tax Information on Selling Your Home”
Publication #530 “Tax Information for Home Owners”
Publication #544 “Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets”
Publication #551 “Basis of Assets”
To place your order, phone toll-free (800) 829-3676.

Article by CLTA

Statements of Information

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

When a title company seeks to uncover matters affecting title to real property, the answer is, “Quite a bit.”

Statements of Information provide title companies with the information they need to distinguish the buyers and sellers of real property from others with similar names. After identifying the true buyers and sellers, title companies may disregard the judgments, liens or other matters on the public records under similar names.

To help you better understand this sensitive subject, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about Statements of Information.

WHAT IS A STATEMENT OF INFORMATION?
A Statement of Information is a form routinely requested from the buyer, seller and borrower in a transaction where title insurance is sought. The completed form provides the title company with information needed to adequately examine documents so as to disregard matters which do not affect the property to be insured, matters which actually apply to some other person.

WHAT DOES A STATEMENT OF INFORMATION DO?
Every day documents affecting real property–liens, court decrees, bankruptcies–are recorded.

Whenever a title company uncovers a recorded document in which the name is the same or similar to that of the buyer, seller or borrower in a title transaction, the title company must ask, “Does this document affect the parties we are insuring?” Because, if it does, it affects title to the property and would, therefore, be listed as an exception from coverage under the title policy.

A properly completed Statement of Information will allow the title company to differentiate between parties with the same or similar names when searching documents recorded by name. This protects all parties involved and allows the title company to competently carry out its duties without unnecessary delay.

WHAT TYPES OF INFORMATION ARE REQUESTED IN A STATEMENT OF INFORMATION?
The information requested is personal in nature, but not unnecessarily so. The information requested is essential to avoid delays in closing the transaction.

You, and your spouse if you are married, will be asked to provide full name, social security number, year of birth, birthplace, and information or citizenship. If you are married, you will be asked the date and place of your marriage or registered domestic partnership.

Residence and employment information will be requested, as will information regarding previous marriages or registered domestic partnerships.

WILL THE INFORMATION I SUPPLY BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL?
The information you supply is completely confidential and only for title company use in completing the search of records necessary before a policy of title insurance can be issued.

WHAT HAPPENS IF A BUYER, SELLER OR BORROWER FAILS TO PROVIDE THE REQUESTED STATEMENT OF INFORMATION?
At best, failure to provide the requested Statement of Information will hinder the search and examination capabilities of the title company, causing delay in the production of your title policy.

At worst, failure to provide the information requested could prohibit the close of your escrow. Without a Statement of Information, it would be necessary for the title company to list as exceptions from coverage judgments, liens or other matters which may affect the property to be insured. Such exceptions would be unacceptable to most lenders, whose interest must also be insured.

CONCLUSION
Title companies make every attempt in issuing a policy of title insurance to identify known risks affecting your property and to efficiently and correctly transfer title so as to protect your interests as a homebuyer.

By properly completing a Statement of Information, you allow the title company to provide the service you need with the assurance of confidentiality.

Article by CLTA

The Functions of an Escrow

Buying or selling a home (or other piece of real property) usually involves the transfer of large sums of money. It is imperative that the transfer of these funds and related documents from one party to another be handled in a neutral, secure and knowledgeable manner. For the protection of buyer, seller and lender, the escrow process was developed.

As a buyer or seller, you want to be certain all conditions of sale have been met before property and money change hands. The technical definition of an escrow is a transaction where one party engaged in the sale, transfer or lease of real or personal property with another person delivers a written instrument, money or other items of value to a neutral third person, called an escrow agent or escrow holder. This third person holds the money or items for disbursement upon the happening of a specified event or the performance of a specified condition.

Simply stated, the escrow holder impartially carries out the written instructions given by the principals. This includes receiving funds and documents necessary to comply with those instructions, completing or obtaining required forms and handling final delivery of all items to the proper parties upon the successful completion of the escrow.

The escrow must be provided with the necessary information to close the transaction. This may include loan documents, tax statements, fire and other insurance policies, title insurance policies, terms of sale and any seller-assisted financing, and requests for payment for various services to be paid out of escrow funds.

If the transaction is dependent on arranging new financing, it is the buyer’s or the buyer’s agent’s responsibility to make the necessary arrangements. Documentation of the new loan agreement must be in the hands of the escrow holder before the transfer of property can take place. A real estate agent can help identify appropriate lending institutions.

When all the instructions in the escrow have been carried out, the closing can take place. At this time, all outstanding funds are collected and fees- such as title insurance premiums, real estate commissions, termite inspection charges- are paid. Title to the property is then transferred under the terms of the escrow instructions and appropriate title insurance is issued.

Payment of funds at the close of escrow should be in the form acceptable to the escrow, since out-of-town and personal checks can cause days of delay in processing the transaction.

The following items represent a typical list of what an escrow holder does and does not do:

THE ESCROW HOLDER:

serves as the neutral “stakeholder” and the communications link to all parties in the transaction;
prepares escrow instructions;
requests a preliminary title search to determine the present condition of title to the property;
requests a beneficiary’s statement if debt or obligation is to be taken over by the buyer;
complies with lender’s requirements, specified in the escrow agreement;
receives purchase funds from the buyer;
prepares or secures the deed or other documents related to escrow;
prorates taxes, interest, insurance and rents according to instructions;
secures releases of all contingencies or other conditions as imposed on any particular escrow;
records deeds and any other documents as instructed;
requests issuance of the title insurance policy;
closes escrow when all the instructions of buyer and seller have been carried out;
disburses funds as authorized by instructions, including charges for title insurance, recording fees, real estate commissions and loan payoffs;
prepares final statements for the parties accounting for the disposition of all funds deposited in escrow (these are useful in the preparation of tax returns).
THE ESCROW HOLDER DOES NOT:

offer legal advice;
negotiate the transaction;
offer investment advice.
Your local title company should be happy to provide additional information.

Article by CLTA

Title Insurance Requirements for Insuring Trusts

In today’s world of busy probate courts and exorbitant death taxes, the living trust has become a common manner of holding title to real property. The following may help you understand a few of the requirements of the title insurance industry if title to property is conveyed to the trustee of a living trust.

WHAT IS A TRUST?
An agreement between a trustor and trustee for the trustee to hold title to and administer designated assets of the trustor for the use and benefit of one or more beneficiaries.

CAN A TRUST ITSELF ACQUIRE AND CONVEY INTERESTS IN REAL PROPERTY?
No. The trust is an arrangement between a trustee and the trustor. Only the trustee, on behalf of the trust, may own and convey any interest in real property. The trustee may only exercise the powers granted in the trust.

WHAT WILL THE TITLE COMPANY REQUIRE IF A TRUSTEE HOLDS THE TITLE TO THE PROPERTY WHICH IS PART OF THE TRUST?
A certification of trust containing the following information:

Date of execution of the trust instrument,
Identity of the trustor and trustee,
Powers of the trustee,
Identity of person with power to revoke trust, if any,
Signature authority of the trustees,
Manner in which title to the trust assets should be taken,
Legal description of any interest in the property held by the trust, and
A statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended in any manner which would cause the certification to be incorrect and that the certification is being signed by all currently acting trustees of the trust
MY TRUST CONTAINS CERTAIN AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO BE GIVEN TO VARIOUS CHARITIES WHICH IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. CAN I OMIT THESE PAGES?
Because many different provisions may be on the same page, the answer must be no — but if the title company requires a copy of the trust, it may accept a copy with those amounts blacked out.

IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE TRUSTEE, CAN JUST ONE SIGN?
Maybe. The trust must specifically provide for less than all to sign.

CAN THE TRUSTEE GIVE SOMEONE A POWER-OF-ATTORNEY?
Only if the trust specifically provides for the appointment of an attorney-in-fact.

WHAT WILL THE TITLE COMPANY REQUIRE IF ALL THE TRUSTEES HAVE DIED OR ARE UNWILLING TO ACT?
If the trustor is not able to do so, or the trust provisions prohibit the trustor from appointing a new trustee, the court may do so.

HOW DOES A NOTARY ACKNOWLEDGE THE SIGNATURE OF THE TRUSTEE?
Title is vested in the trustee. Hence, if the trustee is an individual or a corporation, then the new general form of acknowledgment will be prepared to reflect the intrinsic nature of the trustee.

HOW WOULD THE DEED TO THE TRUSTEE ORDINARILY BE WORDED TO TRANSFER TITLE TO THE TRUSTEE?
“John Doe and Mary Doe, as trustees of the Doe family trust, under declaration of trust dated January 1,1992.”

ARE THERE ANY LIMITATIONS ON WHAT A TRUSTEE MAY DO?
Yes, the trustee is limited principally and most importantly by the provisions of the trust and, thus, may only act within the terms of the trust. The probate code contains general powers which, unless limited by the trust agreement, are sufficient for title insurers to rely on for sale, conveyance, and refinance purposes.

Article by CLTA

Title Insurance When Refinancing Your Loan

Lower interest rates have motivated you to refinance your home loan. The lower rate may save you a tremendous amount of money over the life of the loan, but you should also expect to pay the lender the typical closing costs associated with any new loan, including service fees, points, title insurance protection and other expenses.

WHY DO I NEED TO PURCHASE A NEW TITLE INSURANCE POLICY ON A REFINANCED LOAN?
To the lender, a refinance loan is no different than any other home loan. So, your lender will want to insure that their new loan is protected by title insurance, just as the original lender required. Therefore, when you refinance you are buying a title policy to protect your lender.

WHY DOES A LENDER NEED TITLE INSURANCE?
Most lenders generate loans and then immediately sell those loans to secondary market investors, such as FannieMae.

FannieMae, in order to protect its security interest in the loan, requires title insurance coverage. Even those lenders who keep original loans in their portfolio are wise to get a lenders policy to protect their investment against title related defects.

WHEN I PURCHASED MY HOME, DIDN’T I ALSO BUY A LENDER’S POLICY?
Perhaps. Who pays for the lender’s policy on a purchase loan varies regionally and by the terms of individual contracts.

However, even if you did buy a lender’s policy when you purchased your home, the lender’s policy remains in force only during the life of the loan that was insured. If you refinance, the old loan is paid off (the “life” of the loan expires) and a new loan is issued for which the lender will require a new title insurance policy.

WHAT ABOUT MY ORIGINAL TITLE INSURANCE POLICY?
When you bought your home, you purchased a Homeowners title policy. The Homeowners’ policy stays in force as long as you or your heirs own the home. When you refinance, your lender will often require that you purchase a new lender’s policy to protect their new security interest in the property. Thus, you are buying a policy to protect your lender, not a new Homeowner’s policy.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAVE HAPPENED SINCE I PURCHASED MY HOME WHICH WARRANTS A NEW LENDER’S POLICY?
Since the time that the original loan was made, you may have taken out a second trust deed on the house or had mechanic’s liens, child support liens or legal judgments recorded against you – events that could result in serious financial losses to an unprotected lender. Regardless if it has been only 6 months or less since you purchased or refinanced your home, a myriad of title defects could have occurred. While you may not have any title defects, many Homeowners do. The only way for a lender to adequately protect itself is to get a new lender’s policy each time you purchase or refinance your home.

ARE THERE ANY DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE FOR TITLE INSURANCE ON A REFINANCE TRANSACTION?
Yes. Title companies offer a refinance transaction discount or a short-term rate. Discounts may also be available if you use the same lender for your refinance loan and your original loan. Be sure to ask your title company how they can save you money.

Article by CLTA

Title Insurance - Where Does Your Dollar Go?

Title Insurance: As a homebuyer, the term is probably familiar – but is it understood? What is your dollar actually paying for when you purchase a title policy?

Title Insurers, unlike property or casualty insurance companies, operate under the theory of risk elimination. Title companies spend a high percentage of their operating income each year collecting, storing, maintaining and analyzing official records for information that affects title to real property. Their technical experts are trained to identify the rights others may have in your property, such as recorded liens, legal actions, disputed interests, rights of way or other encumbrances on your title. Before closing your transaction, the title company will proceed to clear those encumbrances which you do not wish to assume.

This theory is different from that of most other insurance where, for example, rates and anticipated losses are based on actuarial studies and premiums are pooled on the assumption that a certain number of claims will be made. The distinction is important: title insurance premiums are paid to identify and eliminate potential risks and claims before they happen. Medical and casualty insurance premiums, for example, are paid to insure against an unpredictable future event, knowing that risks exist and claims will occur. Furthermore, title insurance involves a one-time premium, paid when you close the real estate transaction, while property, casualty and medical insurance require regular renewal premiums.

The goal of title companies is to conduct such a thorough search and evaluation of public records that no claims will ever arise. Of course, this is impossible — we live in an imperfect world, where human error and changing legal interpretations make 100% risk elimination impossible. When claims arise, professional claims personnel are assigned to handle them according to the terms of the title insurance policy.

As in all competitive business environments, rates vary from company to company, so you should make comparisons before deciding on a particular title company. Your real estate professional can help you do this. In addition, there are many helpful customer services provided by title companies which you and your real estate professional may find helpful to your transaction.

The issuance of a title insurance policy is highly labor-intensive. It is based upon the maintenance of a title plant, or library of title records, in many cases dating back over a hundred years. Each day, recorded documents affecting real property and property owners are posted to these title plants so that when a title search on a particular parcel is requested, the information is already organized for rapid and accurate retrieval. This investment in skilled personnel and advanced data processing represents a major part of the title insurance premium dollar.

Article by CLTA

Understanding Preliminary Reports

After months of searching, you’ve finally found it — your perfect dream home. But is it perfect?

Will you be purchasing more than just a beautiful home? Will you also be acquiring liens placed on the property by prior owners? Have documents been recorded that will restrict your use of the property?

The preliminary report will provide you with the opportunity, prior to purchase, to review matters affecting your property which will be excluded from coverage under your title insurance policy unless removed or eliminated before your purchase.

To help you better understand this often bewildering subject, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about preliminary reports.

WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY REPORT?
A preliminary report is a report prepared prior to issuing a policy of title insurance that shows the ownership of a specific parcel of land, together with the liens and encumbrances thereon which will not be covered under a subsequent title insurance policy.

WHAT ROLE DOES A PRELIMINARY REPORT PLAY IN THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS?
A preliminary report contains the conditions under which the title company will issue a particular type of title insurance policy.

The preliminary report lists, in advance of purchase, title defects, liens and encumbrances which would be excluded from coverage if the requested title insurance policy were to be issued as of the date of the preliminary report. The report may then be reviewed and discussed by the parties to a real estate transaction and their agents.

Thus, a preliminary report provides the opportunity to seek the removal of items referenced in the report which are objectionable to the buyer prior to purchase.

WHEN AND HOW IS THE PRELIMINARY REPORT PRODUCED?
Shortly after escrow is opened, an order will be placed with the title company which will then begin the process involved in producing the report.

This process calls for the assembly and review of certain recorded matters relative to both the property and the parties to the transaction. Examples of recorded matters include a deed of trust recorded against the property or a lien recorded against the buyer or seller for an unpaid court award or unpaid taxes.

These recorded matters are listed numerically as “exceptions” in the preliminary report. They will remain exceptions from title insurance coverage unless eliminated or released prior to the transfer of title.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN READING MY PRELIMINARY REPORT?
You will be interested, primarily, in the extent of your ownership rights. This means you will want to review the ownership interest in the property you will be buying as well as any claims, restrictions or interests of other people involving the property.

The report will note in a statement of vesting the degree, quantity, nature and extent of the owner’s interest in the real property. The most common form of interest is “fee simple” or “fee” which is the highest type of interest an owner can have in land.

Liens, restrictions and interests of others which are being excluded from coverage will be listed numerically as exceptions in the preliminary report. These may be claims by creditors who have liens or liens for payment of taxes or assessments. There may also be recorded restrictions which have been placed in a prior deed or contained in what are termed CC&Rs- covenants, conditions and restrictions. Finally, interests of third parties are not uncommon and may include easements given by a prior owner which limit your use of the property. When you buy property you may not wish to have these claims or restrictions on your property. Instead, you may want to clear the unwanted items prior to purchase.

In addition to the limitations noted above, a printed list of standard exceptions and exclusions listing items not covered by your title insurance policy may be attached as an exhibit item to your report. Unlike the numbered exclusions, which are specific to the property you are buying, these are standard exceptions and exclusions appearing in title insurance policies. The review of this section is important, as it sets forth matters which will not be covered under your title insurance policy, but which you may wish to investigate, such as governmental laws or regulations governing building and zoning.

WILL THE PRELIMINARY REPORT DISCLOSE THE COMPLETE CONDITION OF THE TITLE TO A PROPERTY?
No. It is important to note that the preliminary report is not a written representation as to the condition of title and may not list all liens, defects, and encumbrances affecting title to the land, but merely report the current ownership and matters that the title company will exclude from coverage if a title insurance policy should later be issued.

IS A PRELIMINARY REPORT THE SAME THING AS TITLE INSURANCE?
Definitely not.

A preliminary report is an offer to insure, it is not a report of a complete history of recorded documents relating to the property. A preliminary report is a statement of terms and conditions of the offer to issue a title insurance policy, not a representation as to the condition of title.

These distinctions are important for the following reasons: first, no contract or liability exists until the title insurance policy is issued; second, the title insurance policy is issued to a particular insured person and others cannot claim the benefit of the policy.

CAN I BE PROTECTED AGAINST TITLE RISKS PRIOR TO THE CLOSE OF THE REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION?
Yes, you can. Title companies can protect your interest through the issuance of “binders” and “commitments”.

A binder is an agreement to issue insurance giving temporary coverage until such time as a formal policy is issued. A commitment is a title insurer’s contractual obligation to insure title to real property once its stated requirements have been met.

Discuss with your title insurer the best means to protect your interests.

HOW DO I GO ABOUT CLEARING UNWANTED LIENS AND ENCUMBRANCES?
You will wish to carefully review the preliminary report. Should the title to the property be clouded, you and your agents will work with the seller and the seller’s agents to clear the unwanted liens and encumbrances prior to taking title.

WHO CAN I TURN TO FOR FURTHER INFORMATION REGARDING PRELIMINARY REPORTS?
Your real estate agent and your attorney, should you choose to use one, will help explain the preliminary report to you. Your escrow and title company can also be helpful sources.

CONCLUSION
In a business which is directed at risk elimination, the efforts leading to the production of the preliminary report, which is designed to facilitate the issuance of a policy of title insurance, is perhaps the most important function undertaken.

Article by CLTA

Understanding Title Insurance

What is title insurance? Newspapers refer to it in the weekly real estate sections and you hear about it in conversations with real estate brokers. If you’ve purchased a home you may be familiar with the benefits of title insurance. However, if this is your first home, you may wonder, “Why do I need yet another insurance policy?” While a number of issues can be raised by that question, we will start with a general answer.

The purchase of a home is one of the most expensive and important purchases you will ever make. You and your mortgage lender will want to make sure the property is indeed yours and that no one else has any lien, claim or encumbrance on your property.

The Land Title Association, in the following pages, answers some questions frequently asked about an often misunderstood line of insurance – title insurance.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TITLE INSURANCE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE?
Title insurers work to identify and eliminate risk before issuing a title insurance policy. Casualty insurers assume risks.

Casualty insurance companies realize that a certain number of losses will occur each year in a given category (auto, fire, etc.). The insurers collect premiums monthly or annually from the policy holders to establish reserve funds in order to pay for expected losses.

Title companies work in a very different manner. Title insurance will indemnify you against loss under the terms of your policy, but title companies work in advance of issuing your policy to identify and eliminate potential risks and therefore prevent losses caused by title defects that may have been created in the past.

Title insurance also differs from casualty insurance in that the greatest part of the title insurance premium dollar goes towards risk elimination. Title companies maintain title plants, which contain information regarding property transfers and liens reaching back many years. Maintaining these title plants, along with the searching and examining of title, is where most of your premium dollar goes.

WHO NEEDS TITLE INSURANCE?
Buyers and lenders in real estate transactions need title insurance. Both want to know that the property they are involved with is insured against certain title defects. Title companies provide this needed insurance coverage subject to the terms of the policy. The seller, buyer and lender all benefit from the insurance provided by title companies.

WHAT DOES TITLE INSURANCE INSURE?
Title insurance offers protection against claims resulting from various defects (as set out in the policy) which may exist in the title to a specific parcel of real property, effective on the issue date of the policy. For example, a person might claim to have a deed or lease giving them ownership or the right to possess your property. Another person could claim to hold an easement giving them a right of access across your land. Yet another person may claim that they have a lien on your property securing the repayment of a debt. That property may be an empty lot or it may hold a 50-story office tower. Title companies work with all types of real property.

WHAT TYPES OF POLICIES ARE AVAILABLE?
Title companies routinely issue two types of policies: An “owner’s policy” which insures you, the Homebuyer, for as long as you and your heirs own the home; and a “lender’s” policy which insures the priority of the lender’s security interest over the claims that others may have in the property.

WHAT PROTECTION AM I OBTAINING WITH MY TITLE POLICY?
A title insurance policy contains provisions for the payment of the legal fees in defense of a claim against your property which is covered under your policy. It also contains provisions for indemnification against losses which result from a covered claim. A premium is paid at the close of a transaction. There are no continuing premiums due, as there are with other types of insurance.

WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF EVER USING MY TITLE POLICY?
In essence, by acquiring your policy, you derive the important knowledge that recorded matters have been searched and examined so that title insurance covering your property can be issued. Because we are risk eliminators, the probability of exercising your right to make a claim is very low. However, claims against your property may not be valid, making the continuous protection of the policy all the more important. When a title company provides a legal defense against claims covered by your title insurance policy, the savings to you for that legal defense alone will greatly exceed the one-time premium.

WHAT IF I AM BUYING PROPERTY FROM SOMEONE I KNOW?
You may not know the owner as well as you think you do. People undergo changes in their personal lives that may affect title to their property. People get divorced, change their wills, engage in transactions that limit the use of the property and have liens and judgments placed against them personally for various reasons.

There may also be matters affecting the property that are not obvious or known, even by the existing owner, which a title search and examination seeks to uncover as part of the process leading up to the issuance of the title insurance policy.

Just as you wouldn’t make an investment based on a phone call, you shouldn’t buy real property without assurances as to your title. Title insurance provides these assurances.

The process of risk identification and elimination performed by the title companies, prior to the issuance of a title policy, benefits all parties in the property transaction. It minimizes the chances that adverse claims might be raised, and by doing so reduces the number of claims that need to be defended or satisfied. This process keeps costs and expenses down for the title company and maintains the traditional low cost of title insurance.

Article by CLTA

Why Do You Need Title Insurance?

Title Insurance.

It’s a term we hear and see frequently – we see reference to it in the Sunday real estate section, in advertisements and in conversations with real estate brokers. If you’ve purchased a home before, you’re probably familiar with the benefits and procedures of title insurance. But if this is your first home, you may wonder, “Why do I need another insurance policy? It’s just one more bill to pay.”

The answer is simple: The purchase of a home is most likely one of the most expensive and important purchases you will ever make. You, and your mortgage lender, want to make sure that the property is indeed yours – lock, stock and barrel – and that no individual or government entity has any right, lien, claim to your property.

Title insurance companies are in business to make sure your rights and interests to the property are clear, that transfer of title takes place efficiently and correctly and that your interests as a homebuyer are protected to the maximum degree.

Title insurance companies provide services to buyers, sellers, real estate developers, builders, mortgage lenders and others who have an interest in a real estate transfer. Title companies routinely issue two types of policies – “owner’s”, which cover you, the homebuyer; and “lender’s”, which covers the bank, savings and loan or other lending institution over the life of the loan. Both are issued at the time of purchase for a modest, one-time premium.

Before issuing a policy, however, the title company performs an extensive search of relevant public records to determine if anyone other than you has an interest in the property. The search may be performed by title company personnel using either public records or more likely, information gathered, reorganized and indexed in the company’s title plant.

With such a thorough examination of records, any title problems usually can be found and cleared up prior to your purchase of the property. Once a title policy is issued, if for some reason any claim which is covered under your title policy is ever filed against your property, the title company will pay the legal fee involved in defense of your rights, as well as any covered loss arising from a valid claim. That protection, which is in effect as long as you or your heirs own the property, is yours for a one-time premium paid at the time of purchase.

The fact that title companies work to eliminate risks before they develop makes the title insurance decidedly different from other types of insurance you may have purchased. Most forms of insurance assume risks by providing financial protection through a pooling of risks for losses arising from an unforeseen event, say a fire, theft or accident. The purpose of title insurance, on the other hand, is to eliminate risks and prevent losses caused by defects in title that happened in the past. Risks are examined and mitigated before property changes hands.

This risk elimination has benefits to both you, the homebuyer, and the title company: it minimizes the chances adverse claims might be raised, and by so doing reduces the number of claims that have to be defended or satisfied. This keeps costs down for the title company and your title premiums low.

Buying a home is a big step emotionally and financially. With title insurance you are assured that any valid claim against your property will be borne by the title company, and that the odds of a claim being filed are slim indeed.

Isn’t sleeping well at night, knowing your home is yours, reason enough for title insurance?

Article by CLTA

Glossary of Real Estate Terms
Terms in Alphabetical Order

A
ACCELERATION CLAUSE
A provision in a mortgage that gives the lender the right to demand payment of the entire principal balance if a monthly payment is missed.

ACCEPTANCE
An offeree’s consent to enter into a contract and be bound by the terms of the offer.

ADDITIONAL PRINCIPAL PAYMENT
A payment by a borrower of more than the scheduled principal amount due in order to reduce the remaining balance on the loan.

ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM)
A mortgage that permits the lender to adjust its interest rate periodically on the basis of changes in a specified index.

ADJUSTED BASIS
The original cost of a property plus the value of any capital expenditures for improvements to the property minus any depreciation taken.

ADJUSTMENT DATE
The date on which the interest rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
The period that elapses between the adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

ADMINISTRATOR
A person appointed by a probate court to administer the estate of a person who died intestate.

AFFIDAVITS
A formal sworn statement of fact. As part of the closing process, you’re likely to sign numerous affidavits. You may be required, for example, to sign an affidavit of occupancy. It states that you will use the property as a principal residence. Or, you and the seller may have to sign an affidavit stating all of the improvements to the property required in the sales contract were completed before closing.

Your lender can provide additional information regarding any of these documents you will sign.

AFFORDABILITY ANALYSIS
A detailed analysis of your ability to afford the purchase of a home. An affordability analysis takes into consideration your income, liabilities, and available funds, along with the type of mortgage you plan to use, the area where you want to purchase a home, and the closing costs that you might expect to pay.

AMENITY
A feature of real property that enhances its attractiveness and increases the occupant’s or user’s satisfaction although the feature is not essential to the property’s use. Natural amenities include a pleasant or desirable location near water, scenic views of the surrounding area, etc. Human-made amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, community buildings, and other recreational facilities.

AMORTIZATION
The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan by installments.

AMORTIZATION TERM
The amount of time required to amortize the mortgage loan. The amortization term is expressed as a number of months. For example, for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the amortization term is 360 months.

AMORTIZE
To repay a mortgage with regular payments that cover both principal and interest.

AMOTIZATION SCHEDULE
A timetable for payment of a mortgage loan. An amortization schedule shows the amount of each payment applied to interest and principal and shows the remaining balance after each payment is made.

ANNUAL MORTGAGOR STATEMENT
A report sent to the mortgagor each year. The report shows how much was paid in taxes and interest during the year, as well as the remaining mortgage loan balance at the end of the year.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR)
The cost of a mortgage stated as a yearly rate; includes such items as interest, mortgage insurance, and loan origination fee (points).

ANNUITY
An amount paid yearly or at other regular intervals, often on a guaranteed dollar basis.

APPLICATION
A form used to apply for a mortgage loan and to record pertinent information concerning a prospective mortgagor and the proposed security.

*See also “Loan Application” entry.

APPRAISAL
A written analysis of the estimated value of a property prepared by a qualified appraiser. Contrast with home inspection.

APPRAISED VALUE
An opinion of a property’s fair market value, based on an appraiser’s knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

APPRAISER
A person qualified by education, training, and experience to estimate the value of real property and personal property.

APPRECIATION
An increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions or other causes. The opposite of depreciation.

ASSESSED VALUE
The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation.

ASSESSMENT
The process of placing a value on property for the strict purpose of taxation. May also refer to a levy against property for a special purpose, such as a sewer assessment.

ASSESSMENT ROLLS
The public record of taxable property.

ASSESSOR
A public official who establishes the value of a property for taxation purposes.

ASSET
Anything of monetary value that is owned by a person. Assets include real property, personal property, and enforceable claims against others (including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, and so on).

ASSIGNMENT
The transfer of a mortgage from one person to another.

ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE
A mortgage that can be taken over (“assumed”) by the buyer when a home is sold.

A provision in an assumable mortgage allows a buyer to assume responsibility for the mortgage from the seller. The loan does not need to be paid in full by the original borrower upon the sale or transfer of the property.

ASSUMPTION
The transfer of the seller’s existing mortgage to the buyer.

*See also “Assumable Mortgage” entry.

ASSUMPTION CLAUSE
A provision in an assumable mortgage that allows a buyer to assume responsibility for the mortgage from the seller. The loan does not need to be paid in full by the original borrower upon sale or transfer of the property.

ASSUMPTION FEE
The fee paid to a lender (usually by the purchaser of real property) resulting from the assumption of an existing mortgage.

ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
One who holds a power of attorney from another to execute documents on behalf of the grantor of the power.

AUTOMATED UNDERWRITING
After you complete your loan application with a lender, it is sent to “underwriting” for review. In short, underwriting is the process used to analyze how you have managed credit obligations in the past, whether you have the ability to repay the mortgage loan you are applying for (i.e., your income and assets), and whether the price you are willing to pay for the home is supported by the price of the property.

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B
BALANCE SHEET
A financial statement that shows assets, liabilities, and net worth as of a specific date.

BALLOON MORTGAGE
A mortgage that has level monthly payments that will amortize it over a stated term but that provides for a lump sum payment to be due at the end of an earlier specified term.

BALLOON PAYMENT
The final lump sum payment that is made at the maturity date of a balloon mortgage.

BANKRUPT
A person, firm, or corporation that, through a court proceeding, is relieved from the payment of all debts after the surrender of all assets to a court-appointed trustee.

BANKRUPTCY
A proceeding in a federal court in which a debtor who owes more than his or her assets can relieve the debts by transferring his or her assets to a trustee.

BEFORE-TAX INCOME
Income before taxes are deducted.

BENEFICIARY
The person designated to receive the income from a trust, estate, or a deed of trust.

BEQUEATH
To transfer personal property through a will.

BETTERMENT
An improvement that increases property value as distinguished from repairs or replacements that simply maintain value.

BILL OF SALE
A written document that transfers title to personal property.

BINDER
A preliminary agreement, secured by the payment of an earnest money deposit, under which a buyer offers to purchase real estate.

BIWEEKLY MORTGAGES
Your lender will probably tell you that a biweekly mortgage is structured just like a traditional fixed-rate, level-payment, fully amortizing mortgage. However, you make your payments every 14 days instead of once a month. The monthly payment is split in half, resulting in the same total monthly mortgage, but the resulting 26 and sometimes 27 biweekly payments a year translate into 13 monthly payments, or one extra monthly payment per year.

Borrowers can qualify for a 30-year monthly payment amount, but get a loan that pays off in approximately 22 years at current interest rates. At higher rates, the actual term declines.

If you are looking to build up equity in your home faster without the higher mortgage payments that come with a shorter-term mortgage, you may want to consider the biweekly mortgage. Payments can be deducted from your bank account and scheduled to coincide with your payroll deposits to simplify budgeting. Lenders may charge an initial set-up fee to automatically debit your checking account.

BLANKET INSURANCE POLICY
A single policy that covers more than one piece of property (or more than one person).

BLANKET MORTGAGE
The mortgage that is secured by a cooperative project, as opposed to the share loans on individual units within the project.

BONA FIDE
In good faith, without fraud.

BOND
An interest-bearing certificate of debt with a maturity date. An obligation of a government or business corporation. A real estate bond is a written obligation usually secured by a mortgage or a deed of trust.

BREACH
A violation of any legal obligation.

BRIDGE LOAN
A form of second trust that is collateralized by the borrower’s present home (which is usually for sale) in a manner that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on a new house before the present home is sold. Also known as “swing loan.”

BROKER
A person who, for a commission or a fee, brings parties together and assists in negotiating contracts between them.

BUDGET
A detailed plan of income and expenses expected over a certain period of time. A budget can provide guidelines for managing future investments and expenses.

BUDGET CATEGORY
A category of income or expense data that you can use in a budget. You can also define your own budget categories and add them to some or all of the budgets you create. “Rent” is an example of an expense category. “Salary” is a typical income category.

BUILDING CODE
Local regulations that control design, construction, and materials used in construction. Building codes are based on safety and health standards.

BUYDOWN ACCOUNT
An account in which funds are held so that they can be applied as part of the monthly mortgage payment as each payment comes due during the period that an interest rate buydown plan is in effect.

BUYDOWN MORTGAGE
A temporary buydown is a mortgage on which an initial lump sum payment is made by any party to reduce a borrower’s monthly payments during the first few years of a mortgage. A permanent buydown reduces the interest rate over the entire life of a mortgage.

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C
CALL OPTION
A provision in the mortgage that gives the mortgagee the right to call the mortgage due and payable at the end of a specified period for whatever reason.

CAP
A provision of an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that limits how much the interest rate or mortgage payments may increase or decrease.

*See also “lifetime payment cap”, “lifetime rate cap”, “periodic payment cap”, and “periodic rate cap”.

CAPACITY
Lenders will want to know if you can repay the mortgage debt you incur — this is known as your capacity. Lenders will base their evaluation on employment information, how long you’ve worked, and how much you are paid. Lenders will also review your expenses and any other debt obligations you have. This means they’ll want to know how many dependents you have and whether you pay any alimony or child support, for example.

CAPITAL
Money used to create income, either as an investment in a business or an income property.
The money or property comprising the wealth owned or used by a person or business enterprise.
The accumulated wealth of a person or business.
The net worth of a business represented by the amount by which its assets exceed liabilities.
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE
The cost of an improvement made to extend the useful life of a property or to add to its value.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT
Any structure or component erected as a permanent improvement to real property that adds to its value and useful life.

CASH-OUT REFINANCE
A refinance transaction in which the amount of money received from the new loan exceeds the total of the money needed to repay the existing first mortgage, closing costs, points, and the amount required to satisfy any outstanding subordinate mortgage liens. In other words, a refinance transaction in which the borrower receives additional cash that can be used for any purpose.

CD-INDEXED (CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT) ARMS
The Certificate of Deposit index represents the weekly average of secondary market interest rates on six-month negotiable CDs.

The initial interest rate and payments adjust every six months after an initial six-month period.

ARMs with this index typically come with a per-adjustment cap of 1 percent and a lifetime rate cap of 6 percent.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT
A document written by a bank or other financial institution that is evidence of a deposit, with the issuer’s promise to return the deposit plus earnings at a specified interest rate within a specified time period.

*See also “Adjustable-Rate Mortgage” entry.

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT INDEX
An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain ARM plans. It represents the weekly average of secondary market interest rates on six-month negotiable certificates of deposit.

*See also “Adjustable-Rate Mortgage” entry.

CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY
A document issued by the federal government certifying a veteran’s eligibility for a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage.

CERTIFICATE OF REASONABLE VALUE (CRV)
A document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that establishes the maximum value and loan amount for a VA mortgage.

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE
A statement provided by an abstract company, title company, or attorney stating that the title to real estate is legally held by the current owner.

CHAIN OF TITLE
The history of all of the documents that transfer title to a parcel of real property, starting with the earliest existing document and ending with the most recent.

CHANGE FREQUENCY
The frequency (in months) of payment and/or interest rate changes in an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

CHANGE ORDERS
After construction begins, you may discover that you need to make unplanned and necessary changes to the work. The contingency reserve covers unforeseen repairs or deficiencies found during renovation. Unnecessary additions or changes are treated differently.

These change orders are considered discretionary and must first be approved by your lender. You must deposit additional funds to pay for the work in the escrow account before work on the changes begins. These change orders – as well as any that result from unforeseen repairs – must be added as amendments to your construction contract.

CHATTEL
Another name for personal property.

CLEAR TITLE
A title that is free of liens or legal questions as to ownership of the property.

CLOSING
A meeting at which a sale of a property is finalized by the buyer signing the mortgage documents and paying closing costs. Also called “settlement”.

*See also “Settlement” entry.

CLOSING AGENT
As a potential home buyer, you will need a closing (or “settlement”) agent to coordinate the various closing activities. These can include but are not limited to preparing and recording the closing documents and disbursing funds.

The types of services provided by a closing agent depend on the person you hire, but typically the closing is conducted by title companies, escrow companies or attorneys. It is usually held at the lender’s or real estate sales professional’s office.

CLOSING COST ITEM
A fee or amount that a home buyer must pay at closing for a single service, tax, or product. Closing costs are made up of individual closing cost items such as origination fees and attorney’s fees. Many closing cost items are included as numbered items on the HUD-1 statement.

CLOSING COSTS
Expenses (over and above the price of the property) incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property. Closing costs normally include an origination fee, an attorney’s fee, taxes, an amount placed in escrow, and charges for obtaining title insurance and a survey. Closing costs percentage will vary according to the area of the country; lenders or REALTORS® often provide estimates of closing costs to prospective homebuyers.

CLOSING DATE
After your lender has approved your mortgage and you accept the commitment letter, the next step is to set a closing date. Many times, your real estate sales professional coordinates the setting of this date with you, the seller, the closing agent, and your lender.

Remember, you need to ensure that the closing occurs before your lender’s commitment letter – and the rate lock-in, if there is one – expire. You can now finalize your moving plans.

CLOUD ON TITLE
Any conditions revealed by a title search that adversely affect the title to real estate. Usually clouds on title cannot be removed except by a quitclaim deed, release, or court action.

CO-MAKER
A person who signs a promissory note along with the borrower. A co-maker’s signature guarantees that the loan will be repaid, because the borrower and the co-maker are equally responsible for the repayment.

COINSURANCE
A sharing of insurance risk between the insurer and the insured. Coinsurance depends on the relationship between the amount of the policy and a specified percentage of the actual value of the property insured at the time of the loss.

COINSURANCE CLAUSE
A provision in a hazard insurance policy that states the amount of coverage that must be maintained – as a percentage of the total value of the property – for the insured to collect the full amount of a loss.

COLLATERAL
An asset (such as a car or a home) that guarantees the repayment of a loan. The borrower risks losing the asset if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the loan contract.

COLLECTION
The efforts used to bring a delinquent mortgage current and to file the necessary notices to proceed with foreclosure when necessary.

COMMERCIAL BANKS
Commercial banks, like thrifts, originate and service mortgage loans. In some cases, commercial banks may have mortgage banking subsidiaries that perform this function. Banks may choose to hold a loan in their own portfolio or sell the loan to an investor.

COMMISSION
The fee charged by a broker or agent for negotiating a real estate or loan transaction. A commission is generally a percentage of the price of the property or loan.

COMMITMENT LETTER
A formal offer by a lender stating the terms under which it agrees to lend money to a homebuyer. Also known as a “loan commitment”.

COMMON AREA ASSESSMENTS
Levies against individual unit owners in a condominium or planned unit development (PUD) project for additional capital to defray homeowners’ association costs and expenses and to repair, replace, maintain, improve, or operate the common areas of the project.

COMMON AREAS
Those portions of a building, land, and amenities owned (or managed) by a planned unit development (PUD) or condominium project’s homeowners’ association (or a cooperative project’s cooperative corporation) that are used by all of the unit owners, who share in the common expenses of their operation and maintenance. Common areas include swimming pools, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities, as well as common corridors of buildings, parking areas, means of ingress and egress, etc.

COMMON LAW
An unwritten body of law based on general custom in England and used to an extent in the United States.

COMMUNITY LAND TRUST MORTGAGE OPTION
An alternative financing option that enables low- and moderate-income home buyers to purchase housing that has been improved by a nonprofit Community Land Trust and to lease the land on which the property stands.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY
In some western and southwestern states, a form of ownership under which property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be owned jointly unless acquired as separate property of either spouse.

COMMUNITY SECONDS
An alternative financing option for low- and moderate-income households under which 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 organization. Payment on the second mortgage is often deferred and carries a very low interest rate (or no interest rate at all). Part of the debt may be forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home.

COMPARABLES
An abbreviation for “comparable properties”; used for comparative purposes in the appraisal process. Comparables are properties like the property under consideration; they have reasonably the same size, location, and amenities and have recently been sold. Comparables help the appraiser determine the approximate fair market value of the subject property.

COMPOUND INTEREST
Interest paid on the original principal balance and on the accrued and unpaid interest.

CONDEMNATION
The determination that a building is not fit for use or is dangerous and must be destroyed; the taking of private property for a public purpose through an exercise of the right of eminent domain.

CONDITION OF THE HOME
Potential homeowners should know of major problems in a home before they make an offer. As a potential buyer, you should carefully examine all elements of the home. Ask questions to the seller and the real estate sales professional about any concerns you may have. Both the seller and the real estate agent can be held liable if they do not disclose any defects they know about in the home.

CONDOMINIUM
A real estate project in which each unit owner has title to a unit in a building, an undivided interest in the common areas of the project, and sometimes the exclusive use of certain limited common areas.

CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION
Changing the ownership of an existing building (usually a rental project) to the condominium form of ownership.

CONDOMINIUM HOTEL
A condominium project that has rental or registration desks, short-term occupancy, food and telephone services, and daily cleaning services and that is operated as a commercial hotel even though the units are individually owned.

CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT
The terms and conditions of any major renovation job should be part of a formal, legally binding contract between you and your contractor – this is called the construction contract. The lender you choose will likely want to review this contract before you sign it.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN
A short-term, interim loan for financing the cost of construction. The lender makes payments to the builder at periodic intervals as the work progresses.

CONTINGENCIES FOR REPAIRS
In your purchase offer, you may consider stating that the seller must make sure the electrical systems, heating and cooling, plumbing, and mechanical systems are functioning properly at the closing. You may also state that your purchase is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of a professional home inspection, which will check these systems and other elements more completely. These are both ways to ensure that surprises don’t arise when your moving day arrives.

If you do not include this clause in your contract, you are essentially accepting the house “as is.”

CONTINGENCY
A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.

CONTINGENCY FOR CLEAR TITLE
Your purchase contract should include a contingency that the purchase is subject to your receiving clear title to the property. This process includes a title search and title insurance.

CONTINGENCY FOR FINANCING
When you make a formal offer on a house, your contract should include a financing contingency. It specifies if you don’t get the money you need to purchase the house at the terms you want, the offer is void and you will be refunded your deposit.

Don’t be surprised if the seller includes a clause in the contract that states you must make a “good faith effort” to get the mortgage. This is the seller’s way to ensure that you explore all options to get a mortgage loan.

CONTINGENCY FOR PERSONAL PROPERTY
Your purchase contract should specify appliances, fixtures, and other personal property that must remain in the home. You can avoid any surprises by listing in your contract everything that is to be left behind when the seller moves out.

CONTINGENCY RESERVE
Most mortgages for purchase-renovation require an additional 10 percent of the total cost of the project to be put aside into a reserve account. This contingency reserve is only used when unforeseen repairs or deficiencies are found during renovation.

CONTRACT
An oral or written agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.

CONTRACTOR
A general contractor is a person who oversees a construction project and handles aspects such as scheduling workers and ordering supplies.

CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government. Contrast with government mortgage.

CONVERTIBILITY CLAUSE
A provision in some adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) that allows the borrower to change the ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage at specified timeframes after loan origination.

CONVERTIBLE ARM
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that can be converted to a fixed-rate mortgage under specified conditions.

COOPERATIVE (CO-OP)
A type of multiple ownership in which the residents of a multiunit housing complex own shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the property, giving each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit.

COOPERATIVE CORPORATION
A business trust entity that holds title to a cooperative project and grants occupancy rights to particular apartments or units to shareholders through proprietary leases or similar arrangements. A business trust entity that holds title to a cooperative project and grants occupancy rights to particular apartments or units to shareholders through proprietary leases or similar arrangements.

COOPERATIVE MORTGAGES
Mortgages related to a cooperative project. This usually refers to the multifamily mortgage covering the entire project but occasionally describes the share loans on the individual units.

COOPERATIVE PROJECT
A residential or mixed-use building wherein a corporation or trust holds title to the property and sells shares of stock representing the value of a single apartment unit to individuals who, in turn, receive a proprietary lease as evidence of title.

CORPORATE RELOCATION
Arrangements under which an employer moves an employee to another area as part of the employer’s normal course of business or under which it transfers a substantial part or all of its operations and employees to another area because it is relocating its headquarters or expanding its office capacity.

COST OF FUNDS INDEX (COFI)
An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans. It represents the weighted-average cost of savings, borrowings, and advances of the 11th District members of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

*See also “adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)”.

COSTS OF SETTLING INTO YOUR HOME
When figuring out how much home you can afford, you need to account for the costs associated with getting into your home.

These can include the cost for repairs that need to be made before you can occupy your residence. There may also be the cost of purchasing appliances, such as a washer and dryer, refrigerator, or stove.

The bottom line is you do not want to spend all your money on purchasing the home and not have any left to pay these types of costs.

COVENANT
A clause in a mortgage that obligates or restricts the borrower and that, if violated, can result in foreclosure.

CREDIT
An agreement in which a borrower receives something of value in exchange for a promise to repay the lender at a later date.

CREDIT BUREAU
The three main credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus, are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. You can order a copy of your credit report (a nominal fee may apply) via telephone at:

* Equifax: (800) 685-1111

* Trans Union: (800) 916-8800

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* Experian: (800) 682-7654

CREDIT HISTORY
A record of an individual’s open and fully repaid debts. A credit history helps a lender to determine whether a potential borrower has a history of repaying debts in a timely manner.

CREDIT LIFE INSURANCE
A type of insurance often bought by mortgagors because it will pay off the mortgage debt if the mortgagor dies while the policy is in force.

CREDIT PROFILE
There are several ways to ensure you have a good credit report and credit score. One of the most effective is to manage your existing credit in a positive way.

Ask your lender for suggestions about ways to control the amount of money you owe. Or, you can choose a credit counselor from the list provided on this site. Some lenders may view consumers as a greater risk if they have used most or all of their available credit. Consumers who are considered “overextended” may be viewed this way even if they have made all their debt payments on time.

Missing a payment on a bill should be avoided, as should late payments on any of your credit obligations. Experiencing a mortgage foreclosure, filing for bankruptcy, or having your vehicle repossessed can also affect your credit score and credit report, limiting your ability to get new credit at a reasonable rate.

CREDIT REPORT
A report of an individual’s credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender in determining a loan applicant’s creditworthiness.

CREDIT REPORT FEE
The credit report fee covers the lender’s cost for ordering your credit report from a credit bureau.

This report will verify some of the information you provided on your loan application as well as additional information from the credit agency’s files and from public records.

When a credit report is received, your lender will check it against your application and look for any discrepancies. You may be asked to explain information in your credit report.

CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY
An organization that prepares reports that are used by lenders to determine a potential borrower’s credit history. The agency obtains data for these reports from a credit repository as well as from other sources.

The three main credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus, are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. You can order a copy of your credit report (a nominal fee may apply) via telephone at:

* Equifax: (800) 685-1111

* Trans Union: (800) 916-8800

* Experian: (800) 682-7654

CREDIT REPOSITORY
An organization that gathers, records, updates, and stores financial and public records information about the payment records of individuals who are being considered for credit.

CREDIT SCORING
Your credit score is based on all the information in your credit report. This information is converted into a number – a credit score – that the lender uses to determine whether you are likely to repay your loan in a timely manner. The scores used in mortgage lending are typically in the 300 to 900 range. A general guide is that the higher your score the better. But you should keep in mind that your credit score is just one of several factors that will be used to evaluate your mortgage loan application.

CREDIT UNIONS
A credit union is a financial institution that is owned and run by its members. It is a nonprofit, cooperative institution that offers members a place to save and borrow. A credit union often works by having its members pool their funds so additional loans can be made to other members.

CREDITOR
A person to whom money is owed.

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D
DEBT
An amount owed to another. See installment loan and revolving liability.

DEED
The legal document conveying title to a property.

The deed is the document that transfers ownership from the seller to you. Only the seller signs the deed at closing, and you’ll receive a copy of it.

The closing agent will record the deed with you listed as the new property owner. Your name and the names of any other buyers appear on the deed, and it will be sent to you after it is recorded.

DEED OF TRUST
The document used in some states instead of a mortgage; title is conveyed to a trustee.

In some states, a “deed of trust” is used instead of a mortgage. When homeowners sign a deed of trust, they receive title to the property but convey title to a neutral third party – called a trustee – until the loan balance is paid in full.

DEED-IN-LIEU
A deed given by a mortgagor to the mortgagee to satisfy a debt and avoid foreclosure. Also called a “voluntary conveyance.”

DEFAULT
Failure to make mortgage payments on a timely basis or to comply with other requirements of a mortgage.

DELINQUENCY
Failure to make mortgage payments when mortgage payments are due.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
An agency of the federal government that guarantees residential mortgages made to eligible veterans of the military services. The guarantee protects the lender against loss and thus encourages lenders to make mortgages to veterans.

The Veterans Administration is a federal government agency authorized to guarantee loans made to eligible veterans under certain conditions. To obtain more information, you can contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The qualification guidelines for VA loans are more flexible than those for either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or conventional loans.

If you are a qualified veteran, this can be an attractive mortgage program. To determine whether you are eligible, check with your nearest VA regional office.

DEPOSIT
A sum of money given to bind the sale of real estate, or a sum of money given to ensure payment or an advance of funds in the processing of a loan.

See earnest money deposit.

DEPRECIATION
A decline in the value of property; the opposite of appreciation.

DETACHED SINGLE-FAMILY HOME
The most traditional type of single-family home is one that is “detached.” This type of home stands separate from any other housing structure and serves as a place of residence for the occupants.

DIRECT LEVERAGING LOAN PROGRAM
The Direct Leveraging Loan Program makes it easier and more economical for rural residents to own a home through lower interest rates and no down payment.

Under this program, the lender offers up to 50 percent of the mortgage amount as a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate first mortgage and the Rural Housing Service (RHS) offers the balance as a second mortgage at an interest rate that is generally below market.

The RHS is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

DISCOUNT POINTS
Discount points are often used to describe a type of fee that lenders charge. Discount points are additional funds you pay the lender at closing to get a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

A point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. So, if you and your lender agree to a mortgage of $100,000, one point would equal $1,000.

Typically, each point you pay for a 30-year loan lowers your interest rate by .125 of a percentage point. If the current interest rate on a 30-year mortgage is 7.75 percent, paying one point would lower the interest rate to 7.625.

Ask your lender if you have the option of paying 1, 2, or 3 discount points – or you can choose not to pay any discount points. It often makes more sense to pay discount points if you plan to stay in your home for a long time.

DOWER
The rights of a widow in the property of her husband at his death.

DOWN PAYMENT
The part of the purchase price of a property that the buyer pays in cash and does not finance with a mortgage.

Saving for a down payment is usually one of the most difficult parts of preparing to buy a home. If you believe you have the needed funds, you are in a better position to seek pre-qualification from a lender to get the mortgage that is right for you.

Most homeowners rely on a mortgage from a financial institution, and most mortgage products require buyers to include a portion of their own funds towards the purchase of the home. This is called the down payment. Lenders feel more secure when buyers include a down payment, indicating they are less likely to walk away from their investment if their finances take a downturn.

Historically, buyers usually made a down payment that totaled 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. Under this scenario, a down payment for a $100,000 home is $20,000. But today, new mortgage products allow buyers to put down as little as 3 percent to 5 percent, provided private mortgage insurance is obtained. The down payment for a $100,000 home with 5 percent down payment is just $5,000.

Sources for down payments may come from buyers’ savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, and gifts.

DUE-ON-SALE PROVISION
A provision in a mortgage that allows the lender to demand repayment in full if the borrower sells the property that serves as security for the mortgage.

DUE-ON-TRANSFER PROVISION
This terminology is usually used for second mortgages.

*See also “due-on-sale provision”.

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E
EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT
A deposit made by the potential home buyer to show that he or she is serious about buying the house.

The earnest money deposit is a “good-faith” payment you submit with your offer on a home to show the seller you are serious about proceeding.

The earnest money is deposited in an escrow account and will be applied to your closing costs.

Sometimes, your lender will want you to bring a receipt for the earnest money deposit along with your sales contract to the initial loan application meeting.

EASEMENT
A right of way giving persons other than the owner access to or over a property.

EFFECTIVE AGE
An appraiser’s estimate of the physical condition of a building. The actual age of a building may be shorter or longer than its effective age.

EFFECTIVE GROSS INCOME
Normal annual income including overtime that is regular or guaranteed. The income may be from more than one source. Salary is generally the principal source, but other income may qualify if it is significant and stable.

EMINENT DOMAIN
The right of a government to take private property for public use upon payment of its fair market value. Eminent domain is the basis for condemnation proceedings.

ENCROACHMENT
An improvement that intrudes illegally on another’s property.

ENCUMBRANCE
Anything that affects or limits the fee simple title to a property, such as mortgages, leases, easements, or restrictions.

ENDORSER
A person who signs ownership interest over to another party. Contrast with co-maker.

EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT (ECOA)
A federal law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs.

EQUITY
A homeowner’s financial interest in a property. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage.

A lender determines how much equity you have in your home by taking the appraised value of the home and subtracting any mortgage debt.

For example, if your house is valued at $150,000 and your mortgage balance is $80,000, you have $70,000 equity in the house.

ERRORS IN CREDIT REPORT
Your credit report may contain inaccuracies. The best way to ensure there are no errors in your credit report is to request copies and review the information.

Since each of the main credit bureaus keeps its own records, you may want to request copies from all three: Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian.

If you have been turned down for credit because of the information in your credit report, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your report within 60 days of the denial. If you haven’t been denied credit, you can still request a copy of your credit report, usually for a nominal fee.

If you find errors in your report, follow the directions in the credit report and contact the agencies to have the errors corrected. They will investigate the targeted items and remove incorrect information.

You don’t have to delay applying for a mortgage while errors in your report are being corrected. Explain the discrepancies in the report to your lender and state that the credit agency is correcting them.

ESCROW
An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the deposit by a borrower with the lender of funds to pay taxes and insurance premiums when they become due, or the deposit of funds or documents with an attorney or escrow agent to be disbursed upon the closing of a sale of real estate.

ESCROW ACCOUNT
The account in which a mortgage servicer holds the borrower’s escrow payments prior to paying property expenses.

An escrow account is money that is deposited with a third party – outside the buyer and the seller – to be used to pay various fees. A borrower typically provides funds that will pay taxes, mortgage insurance, lease payments, hazard insurance premiums, and other payments when they are due.

An escrow payment by the holder of a mortgage is also known as “impounds” or “reserves” in some states.

When escrow funds are used to pay taxes, hazard insurance, and other fees, it is called an escrow disbursement. Periodically, an escrow analysis will be performed to determine if current monthly deposits provide sufficient funds to pay bills when they are due.

ESCROW ANALYSIS
The periodic examination of escrow accounts to determine if current monthly deposits will provide sufficient funds to pay taxes, insurance, and other bills when due.

ESCROW COLLECTIONS
Funds collected by the servicer and set aside in an escrow account to pay the borrower’s property taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard insurance.

ESCROW DISBURSEMENTS
The use of escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, and other property expenses as they become due.

ESCROW PAYMENT
The portion of a mortgagor’s monthly payment that is held by the servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments, and other items as they become due. Known as “impounds” or “reserves” in some states.

ESTABLISHING A CREDIT REPORT
It is possible to establish a credit history even if you do not have a traditional credit record that shows credit card payments or payments on a student or car loan.

You can build a nontraditional credit history, for example, by documenting your monthly payments to previous and current landlords; to utility companies for your gas, water and telephone services; and to insurance companies for medical, life, and automobile coverage.

Your lender can provide further details on how you can effectively establish a credit record.

ESTATE
The ownership interest of an individual in real property. The sum total of all the real property and personal property owned by an individual at time of death.

EVICTION
The lawful expulsion of an occupant from real property.

EXAMINATION OF TITLE
The report on the title of a property from the public records or an abstract of the title.

EXCLUSIVE LISTING
A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time, but reserving the owner’s right to sell the property alone without the payment of a commission.

EXECUTOR
A person named in a will to administer an estate. The court will appoint an administrator if no executor is named. “Executrix” is the feminine form.

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F
FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT
A consumer protection law that regulates the disclosure of consumer credit reports by consumer/credit reporting agencies and establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on one’s credit record.

FAIR MARKET VALUE
The highest price that a buyer, willing but not compelled to buy, would pay, and the lowest a seller, willing but not compelled to sell, would accept.

FANNIE MAE (FNMA)
A New York Stock Exchange company and the largest non-bank financial services company in the world. It operates pursuant to a federal charter and is the nation’s largest source of financing for home mortgages.

FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION (FHA)
An agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its main activity is the insuring of residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. The FHA sets standards for construction and underwriting but does not lend money or plan or construct housing.

FEE SIMPLE
The greatest possible interest a person can have in real estate.

Fee simple ownership provides the owner with unrestricted powers to dispose of the owned property as the owner sees fit. Of all types of ownership a person can have in real estate, fee simple provides the greatest amount of personal control.

FEE SIMPLE ESTATE
An unconditional, unlimited estate of inheritance that represents the greatest estate and most extensive interest in land that can be enjoyed. It is of perpetual duration. When the real estate is in a condominium project, the unit owner is the exclusive owner only of the air space within his or her portion of the building (the unit) and is an owner in common with respect to the land and other common portions of the property.

FHA COINSURED MORTGAGE
A mortgage (under FHA Section 244) for which the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the originating lender share the risk of loss in the event of the mortgagor’s default.

FHA LOANS
With FHA insurance, you can purchase a home with a low down payment from 3 percent to 5 percent of the FHA appraised value or the purchase price, whichever is lower.

FHA mortgages have a maximum loan limit that varies depending on the average cost of housing in a given region. In general, the loan limit is less than what is available with a conventional mortgage through a lender.

FHA MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Also known as a government mortgage.

With FHA insurance, you can purchase a home with a low down payment from 3 percent to 5 percent of the FHA appraised value or the purchase price, whichever is lower.

FHA mortgages have a maximum loan limit that varies depending on the average cost of housing in a given region. In general, the loan limit is less than what is available with a mortgage through a lender.

FINAL WALK-THROUGH INSPECTION
Your sales contract should include a clause that allows you to examine the property you want to purchase within the 24 hours before closing.

This walk-through, during which you will be accompanied by the real estate sales professional, is your chance to ensure that the seller has vacated the house and left behind whatever property was agreed upon.

Make sure to check that all lights, appliances, and plumbing fixtures are in working order.

You will also want to make sure that all conditions of the sales contract have been met. If they aren’t, or you observe major problems, you have the right to delay the closing until the problems are corrected.

One other option is to make sure money to correct the problems is placed in an escrow account at closing to cover the cost of repairs.

FINANCIAL INDEX
An index is a number to which the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is tied. It is generally a published number expressed as a percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on U.S. Treasury bills. A margin is added to the index to determine the interest rate that will be charged on ARMs. This interest rate is subject to any caps associated with the mortgage.

The interest rate changes on an ARM are tied to some type of financial index. Some of the most common type of indexed ARMs are:

Treasury-Indexed ARMs
CD-Indexed ARMs (Certificate of Deposit)
Cost of Funds-Indexed ARMs (COFI)
LIBOR-Based ARMs
When comparing ARMs, look at how the index to which it is tied has performed recently. Your lender can provide information on how to track the index and a history of the index they use.

FINDERS FEE
A fee or commission paid to a mortgage broker for finding a mortgage loan for a prospective borrower.

FIRM COMMITMENT
A lender’s agreement to make a loan to a specific borrower on a specific property.

FIRST MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is the primary lien against a property.

A “first mortgage” is the primary lien against a property. The term is usually coined “first mortgage” only when a “second mortgage” is obtained on a property. A “second mortgage” is a lien that is subordinate to the first mortgage. Usually, the interest rates on second mortgages are slightly higher than the interest rates on a first mortgage. The amount of a second mortgage you can take out will depend on the equity you have built up in your home, the appraised value of your property, your credit history, and any other liens you may have against your property, such as a home equity line of credit.

Borrowers will typically get a second mortgage to tap into the equity they’ve built in their home – and use that for home improvements, debt consolidation, medical bills, or other purposes. You apply for a second mortgage with the same process you follow for a first mortgage. However, some of your closing costs may be less.

When you have a first and second mortgage, you theoretically have two loans, both requiring interest and principal payments.

FIXED INSTALLMENT
The monthly payment due on a mortgage loan. The fixed installment includes payment of both principal and interest.

FIXED-PERIOD ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGES
This type of adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) maintains the same initial interest rate for the first three, five, seven, or 10 years of your loan, depending on the term you choose. Your interest rate then adjusts annually, and can move up or down as market conditions change. Be sure to ask your lender about the interest rate caps for both the annual adjustments and for the life of the loan.

Advantages:

Your initial interest rate will be lower than a fixed-rate mortgage, so you may be able to afford more home.
You are protected against interest rate increases for the first three, five, seven, or 10 years of the loan, depending on which type of fixed-period ARM you choose.
You may have the option to convert your ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage at the first, second, or third interest rate adjustment dates.
You have time to improve your financial position (i.e. salary increases) or accumulate additional assets before the interest rate adjusts at the end of the fixed period.
Details:

The lifetime interest rate cap for fixed-period ARMs is typically 5 to 6 percentage points above your initial rate. Your annual cap during the adjustable period is typically 1 to 2 percentage points above or below over the current rate.
Can be used to buy one- to four-family residences including second homes and condos, co-ops and planned unit developments. Manufactured homes are also eligible. (Manufactured housing units must be built on a permanent chassis at a factory and then transported to a permanent site and attached to a foundation.)
FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE
A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

Fixed-rate mortgages, the most popular type of mortgage, offer the peace of mind that your interest rate will remain the same for as long as you have your loan. If you expect to live in your home for many years, having the same interest rate may be your key concern. If you decide that you like the stable, predictable payments of a fixed-rate loan, you have the option of choosing from a variety of repayment terms: 15, 20, and 30 years are the most common. Typically, the longer the term of the mortgage, the more interest you pay over the life of your loan. However, stretching out your repayment term means your monthly mortgage payments will be less than they would be with a comparable shorter-term mortgage. Lenders offer a wide array of fixed-rate mortgages:

Balloon Mortgages
Biweekly Mortgages
FIXTURE
Personal property that becomes real property when attached in a permanent manner to real estate.

FLOOD INSURANCE
Insurance that compensates for physical property damage resulting from flooding. It is required for properties located in federally designated flood areas.

FORECLOSURE
The legal process by which a borrower in default under a mortgage is deprived of his or her interest in the mortgaged property. This usually involves a forced sale of the property at public auction with the proceeds of the sale being applied to the mortgage debt.

If you repeatedly do not make your mortgage payments on time, your lender could sell your home and evict you from it in a legal procedure called foreclosure. A foreclosure on your property can result in the loss of your home and your good credit rating. Foreclosure is most often a last resort effort that lenders will take if you repeatedly don’t make your mortgage payments. Before going to foreclosure, lenders will work with you if you are facing financial hardships to come up with repayment plans that will let you get back on track and remain in your home.

FORFEITURE
The loss of money, property, rights, or privileges due to a breach of legal obligation.

FSBO (FOR SALE BY OWNER)
For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, is the process of marketing, buying and selling of real estate without the representation of a real estate broker. FSBO can refer to both the individual selling the property “They are a FSBO,” or the property itself “that house is a FSBO.”

FULLY AMORTIZED ARM
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a monthly payment that is sufficient to amortize the remaining balance, at the interest accrual rate, over the amortization term.

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G
GENERAL CONTRACTOR
A general contractor is someone whom you may work closely with during your home improvement project. The general contractor is the person who oversees the construction project and handles various aspects such as scheduling workers and ordering supplies.

If you are borrowing mortgage funds to renovate a home, your lender may need to review whether your contractor meets all federal, state, and local registration, licensing and certification standards.

GOOD FAITH ESTIMATE
The good-faith estimate is a report from your lender that outlines the costs you will incur to get your mortgage. It is based on the lender’s typical loan origination costs for the area where your home is located. The estimate usually changes between application and closing, so you’ll want to review your settlement form before the closing meeting.

The settlement form will list the actual amount of money you’ll need to bring to closing. You’ll need to pay your closing costs in the form of a certified or cashier’s check because personal checks usually are not accepted.

GOVERNMENT MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Rural Housing Service (RHS). Contrast with conventional mortage.

GOVERNMENT NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION
A government-owned corporation within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Created by Congress on September 1, 1968, GNMA assumed responsibility for the special assistance loan program formerly administered by Fannie Mae. Popularly known as Ginnie Mae.

GRANTEE
The person to whom an interest in real property is conveyed.

GRANTOR
The person conveying an interest in real property.

GROUND RENT
The amount of money that is paid for the use of land when title to a property is held as a leasehold estate rather than as a fee simple estate.

GROUP HOME
A single-family residential structure designed or adapted for occupancy by unrelated developmentally disabled persons. The structure provides long-term housing and support services that are residential in nature.

GROWING-EQUITY MORTGAGE (GEM)
A fixed-rate mortgage that provides scheduled payment increases over an established period of time, with the increased amount of the monthly payment applied directly toward reducing the remaining balance of the mortgage.

GUARANTEE MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is guaranteed by a third party.

GUARANTEED LOAN
Also known as a government mortgage.

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H
HAZARD INSURANCE
Insurance coverage that in the event of physical damage to a property from fire, wind, vandalism, or other hazards.

HOME EQUITY CONVERSION MORTGAGE (HECM)
A special type of mortgage that enables older home owners to convert the equity they have in their homes into cash, using a variety of payment options to address their specific financial needs. Unlike traditional home equity loans, a borrower does not qualify on the basis of income but on the value of his or her home. In addition, the loan does not have to be repaid until the borrower no longer occupies the property. Sometimes called a reverse mortgage.

A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a type of home loan that lets homeowners aged 62 or over with little or no remaining balance on their mortgage convert their equity into cash. The equity can be paid to the homeowner in a lump sum, in a stream of payments, draws from a line of credit, or a combination of monthly payments and line of credit.

Whatever payment plan you select, you do not have to repay any part of this reverse mortgage until you sell the home or vacate it for another reason. At that time, you pay the loan balance, plus any accrued interest. Any proceeds above that amount go to you or to your estate.

Developed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the HECM mortgage provides a cash growth feature not found with some other reverse mortgages – check with your Fannie Mae approved lender to see how this works based on your personal needs and your payment plan.

Advantages:

The funds are yours to spend in any way you choose.
There are no monthly payments with a HECM.
Your loan funds do not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits. (If you receive Supplemental Social Security or Medicaid, these benefits may be affected.)
You do not have to pay back the loan until you sell your home or no longer use it for your primary residence. Then, you or your estate will repay the cash you received from the HECM, plus interest and other finance charges to the lender. This means that the remaining equity in your home can be passed on to your heirs through the sale of the property.
You will never owe more than the value of the home at the time of repayment, even if the loan balance exceeds the value of your property. This means no debt will ever be passed along to the estate or your heirs.
Details:

You and any co-borrowers must be at least 62 years old.
You must own your home outright – or carry a small mortgage balance.
Eligible properties include a single-family home, a two- to four-unit dwelling, a condominium or a manufactured home. All housing types must meet Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guidelines. (Ask your lender if your property qualifies.)
Your home must be your principal residence, which means you must live in it more than half the year.
You must attend pre-application mortgage counseling before you apply for the loan.
You must keep applicable taxes current, as well as maintain insurance coverage on your home.
The amount you can borrow with a HECM depends on the age of the youngest borrower(s), the interest rate, how much your house is worth, and the maximum claim amount. In general, you can get between one-third and one-half of your equity as a line of credit or as a lump sum payment.
The balance of funds advanced against the equity in your home is due and payable when you relinquish your home as a primary residence, or if the borrower(s) pass away. You may have to pay off the debt if you fail to pay property taxes or insurance or if you do not maintain your property.
HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT
A mortgage loan, which is usually in a subordinate position, that allows the borrower to obtain multiple advances of the loan proceeds at his or her own discretion, up to an amount that represents a specified percentage of the borrower’s equity in a property.

HOME INSPECTION
A thorough inspection that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser. Contrast with appraisal.

The home inspection reviews the structural and mechanical condition of the property. This is not an evaluation of the market value of the home or a determination of whether the home complies with applicable building and safety codes. The inspection does not include a recommendation on whether you should or should not buy the house.

The inspector bases the findings on observable structural elements of the home. Potential home buyers are urged to be present during the inspection – this will allow you to ask questions and be in a better position to learn more about any problems that arise.

You should expect to see an evaluation of:

roof and siding,
windows and doors,
foundation,
insulation,
ventilation,
heating and cooling systems,
plumbing and electrical systems,
walls, floors, and ceilings,
and any common areas if you are purchasing a condominium or cooperative.
You should view the home inspection report as a way to identify problems before you buy the home, to help negotiate adjustments in the purchase price if problems exist, and to help get the buyer to make any needed improvements before you buy the home.

Lastly – and for some buyers most importantly – the home inspection report is a way to make you feel confident that the home you are buying includes systems that are in good working condition.

HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION
A nonprofit association that manages the common areas of a planned unit development (PUD) or condominium project. In a condominium project, it has no ownership interest in the common elements. In a PUD project, it holds title to the common elements.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
Homeowner’s insurance — also called “hazard insurance” – should be equal to at least the replacement cost of the property you want to purchase. Replacement cost coverage ensures that your home will be fully rebuilt in case of a total loss.

Most home buyers purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy that includes personal liability insurance in case someone is injured on their property; personal property coverage for loss and damage to personal property due to theft or other events; and dwelling coverage to protect the house against fire, theft, weather damage, and other hazards.

If the home you want to buy is located near water, you may be able to get flood insurance as part of your homeowner’s protection. In fact, it may be required in some areas, so check with your real estate professional or an approved lender for further information.

Seek out and compare rates from several insurance companies before making your final decision.

Lenders often want the first year’s premium to be paid at or before closing. Your lender may add the insurance cost to your monthly mortgage payments and keep this portion of your payments in an escrow account. The lender then pays your insurance bill out of escrow when it receives premium notices from your insurance company.

HOMEOWNERS WARRANTY
A type of insurance that covers repairs to specified parts of a house for a specific period of time. It is provided by the builder or property seller as a condition of the sale.

HOMESTYLE CONSTRUCTION-TO-PERMANENT MORTGAGE
This mortgage gives you the financial power to build your own home – you can borrow money to build a home from the ground up or to finish building a home that’s currently under construction. This loan provides financing from the construction through the purchase phases of your new home.

Advantages:

You enjoy peace of mind by locking in fixed interest rates on both the construction and permanent mortgage financing phases of your home purchase in one convenient loan.
You can borrow a minimum of 95 percent of the construction cost or the as-completed value of the property (which means your down payment can be as low as 5 percent).
You can use this mortgage to purchase land upon which you build your home.
You save money because there is one set of closing costs, compared to those associated with separate loans for construction and occupancy.
You pay interest only on the funds disbursed during construction.
This mortgage can be used for construction that’s already under way.
Details:

A minimum down payment of 5 percent for a one-unit home and 10 percent for two-unit homes.
Construction phases of six, nine, or 12 months, with extensions available up to six months, are allowed.
This loan is available for one- and two-unit owner-occupied homes, one-unit second homes, and one-unit investor homes.
You can choose a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. You can also include the construction phase in these terms, or not, depending on your preference.
You can also finance with fixed-period ARMs.
HOMESTYLE MORTGAGE LOAN
A mortgage that enables eligible borrowers to obtain financing to remodel, repair, and upgrade their existing homes or homes that they are purchasing.

HOUSING EXPENSE RATIO
The percentage of gross monthly income that goes toward paying housing expenses.

HUD MEDIAN INCOME
Median family income for a particular county or metropolitan statistical area (MSA), as estimated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD-1 STATEMENT
A document that provides an itemized listing of the funds that are payable at closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points, and initial escrow amounts. Each item on the statement is represented by a separate number within a standardized numbering system. The totals at the bottom of the HUD-1 statement define the seller’s net proceeds and the buyer’s net payment at closing. The blank form for the statement is published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD-1 statement is also known as the “closing statement” or “settlement sheet.”

The HUD-1 Settlement Statement itemizes the amounts to be paid by the buyer and the seller at closing. The (blank) form is published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Items on the statement include:

real estate commissions,
loan fees,
points, and
escrow amounts.
The form is filled out by your closing agent and must be signed by the buyer and the seller. The buyer should be allowed to review the HUD-1 Settlement Statement on the business day before the closing meeting to know the closing costs in advance.

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I
IN-FILE CREDIT REPORT
An objective account, normally computer-generated, of credit and legal information obtained from a credit repository.

INCOME PROPERTY
Real estate developed or improved to produce income.

INDEX
A number used to compute the interest rate for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). The index is generally a published number or percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on Treasury bills. A margin is added to the index to determine the interest rate that will be charged on the ARM. This interest rate is subject to any caps that are associated with the mortgage.

INFLATION
An increase in the amount of money or credit available in relation to the amount of goods or services available, which causes an increase in the general price level of goods and services. Over time, inflation reduces the purchasing power of a dollar, making it worth less.

INITIAL INTEREST RATE
The original interest rate of the mortgage at the time of closing. This rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Sometimes known as “start rate” or “teaser.”

INSTALLMENT
The regular periodic payment that a borrower agrees to make to a lender.

The regular periodic payment that a borrower agrees to make to a lender. The installment is more often referred to as your monthly mortgage payment.

Installments, or monthly payments, can be made either monthly or biweekly, depending on your mortgage type. Your approved lender may also offer additional payment plans tailored to fit your needs.

INSTALLMENT LOAN
Borrowed money that is repaid in equal payments, known as installments. A furniture loan is often paid for as an installment loan.

INSURABLE TITLE
A property title that a title insurance company agrees to insure against defects and disputes.

INSURANCE
A contract that provides compensation for specific losses in exchange for a periodic payment. An individual contract is known as an insurance policy, and the periodic payment is known as an insurance premium.

INSURANCE BINDER
A document that states that insurance is temporarily in effect. Because the coverage will expire by a specified date, a permanent policy must be obtained before the expiration date.

INSURED MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is protected by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or by private mortgage insurance (MI). If the borrower defaults on the loan, the insurer must pay the lender the lesser of the loss incurred or the insured amount.

INTEREST
The fee charged for borrowing money.

Simply put, this is the fee that is charged for borrowing money from lenders.

The interest rate is the rate of interest that is in effect when the monthly payment is due. An interest rate ceiling – for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) – is the maximum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note; the interest rate floor is the minimum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.

INTEREST ACCRUAL RATE
The percentage rate at which interest accrues on the mortgage. In most cases, it is also the rate used to calculate the monthly payments, although it is not used for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with payment change limitations.

INTEREST RATE
The rate of interest in effect for the monthly payment due.

INTEREST RATE BUYDOWN PLAN
An arrangement wherein the property seller (or any other party) deposits money to an account so that it can be released each month to reduce the mortgagor’s monthly payments during the early years of a mortgage. During the specified period, the mortgagor’s effective interest rate is “bought down” below the actual interest rate.

INTEREST RATE CEILING
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the maximum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.

INTEREST RATE FLOOR
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the minimum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.

INTEREST RATE FOR HECMS
The interest rate on a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) adjusts monthly or yearly. It is tied to the weekly average yield of U.S. Treasury securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year. The interest charged on the HECM loan will be payable to your lender when the loan terminates.

INTERESTFIRSTSM MORTGAGE
If you’re looking to leverage your mortgage to expand purchasing power, this mortgage offers the benefit of a low, fixed-rate monthly payment.

Advantages:

For the first 15 years, monthly payments are lower than a comparable 30-year fixed-rate loan.
Gain control of your cash flow.
Ideal if you plan to stay in your home no more than 15 years and want the lowest monthly payment for that period.
Flexible cash flow for college costs, home improvements, IRA contributions, consumer debt reduction, or optional principal payments.
Details:

For the first 15 years, you pay only the interest due every month.
Any prepayments will reduce your principal balance and reduce future monthly payments.
Prepayment of principal may be made without penalty.
Payment adjusts at the start of year 16 to cover all interest and principal due on the loan for the remaining 15 years.
Monthly payment is fixed during years 16 through 30.
INVESTMENT PROPERTY
A property that is not occupied by the owner.

IRA (INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNT)
A retirement account that allows individuals to make tax-deferred contributions to a personal retirement fund. Individuals can place IRA funds in bank accounts or in other forms of investment such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

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J
JOINT TENANCY
A form of co-ownership that gives each tenant equal interest and equal rights in the property, including the right of survivorship.

JUDGMENT
A decision made by a court of law. In judgments that require the repayment of a debt, the court may place a lien against the debtor’s real property as collateral for the judgment’s creditor.

JUDGMENT LIEN
A lien on the property of a debtor resulting from the decree of a court.

JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE
A type of foreclosure proceeding used in some states that is handled as a civil lawsuit and conducted entirely under the auspices of a court.

JUMBO LOAN
A loan that exceeds mortgage amount limits. Also called a nonconforming loan.

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L
LATE CHARGE
The penalty a borrower must pay when a payment is made a stated number of days (usually 15) after the due date.

LEASE
A written agreement between the property owner and a tenant that stipulates the conditions under which the tenant may possess the real estate for a specified period of time and rent.

LEASE-PURCHASE OPTION
An alternative financing option that allows low- and moderate-income home buyers to lease a home from a nonprofit organization with an option to buy. Each month’s rent payment consists of principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) payments on the first mortgage plus an extra amount that is earmarked for deposit to a savings account in which money for a downpayment will accumulate.

Nonprofit organizations may use the lease-purchase option to purchase a home that they then rent to a consumer, or “leaseholder.” The leaseholder has the option to buy the home after a designated period of time (usually three or five years). Part of each rent payment is put aside toward savings for the purpose of accumulating the down payment and closing costs.

LEASEHOLD ESTATE
A way of holding title to a property wherein the mortgagor does not actually own the property but rather has a recorded long-term lease on it.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION
A property description, recognized by law, that is sufficient to locate and identify the property without oral testimony.

LIABILITIES
A person’s financial obligations. Liabilities include long-term and short-term debt, as well as any other amounts that are owed to others.

LIABILITY INSURANCE
Insurance coverage that offers protection against claims alleging that a property owner’s negligence or inappropriate action resulted in bodily injury or property damage to another party.

LIBOR-BASED ARMS
The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is based on the interest rate that major international banks are willing to lend and borrow funds for a specified period of time in the London interbank market. The LIBOR is similar to the prime-lending rate posted by major U.S. banks.

You can select an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) that adjusts to the LIBOR at specified periods, usually every six months. This type of ARM typically has a per-adjustment period cap of 1 percent and is offered with either a 5 percent or a 6 percent lifetime rate cap.

LIEN
A legal claim against a property that must be paid off when the property is sold.

LIFETIME PAYMENT CAP
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease over the life of the mortgage.

LIFETIME RATE CAP
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease over the life of the loan.

LINE OF CREDIT
An agreement by a commercial bank or other financial institution to extend credit up to a certain amount for a certain time to a specified borrower.

LIQUID ASSET
A cash asset or an asset that is easily converted into cash.

LIS PENDENS
A publicly recorded notice of a pending lawsuit against a property owner that may affect the ownership of a property. Some states require lenders to file a lis pendens to begin the foreclosure process if a borrower is in default on loan payments.

LOAN
A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.

LOAN APPLICATION
The loan application is a detailed form designed to provide information from you that your lender will need. Lenders use the application to evaluate whether or not they can give you a loan, and if so, the amount of money they can lend you. The “four Cs” of credit come into play when filling out an application — they are capacity, credit history, capital and collateral.

The loan application form requests information such as:

bank account balances and account numbers, as well as bank branch address;
information about where you work or what sources of income you have;
outstanding debts (including loans and credit cards with names and addresses of creditors).
Information needed for the loan application may vary from lender to lender, so prior to filling out the application it’s important to discuss with your lender what items your lender will need.

LOAN COMMITMENT
The commitment letter states the dollar amount of the loan being offered, the number of years you have to repay the loan, the loan origination fee, the points, the annual percentage rate, and the monthly charges.

The letter also states the time you have to accept the loan offer and to close the loan. Make sure you understand all aspects of the commitment letter because by signing it, you indicate your acceptance of its terms and conditions.

LOAN LIMIT
The limit on the size of a mortgage which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will purchase and/or guarantee. The conforming loan limit is set annually by Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator, The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). OFHEO uses the October to October percentage increase/decrease in the average house price in the monthly interest rate survey of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) to adjust the conforming loan limits for the subsequent year.

Mortgages which exceed the conforming loan limit are known as jumbo mortgages. The interest rate on jumbo mortgages can be higher than the interest rate on conforming mortgages. A borrower whose mortgage amount slightly exceeds the conforming loan limit should analyze the economics of reducing their loan size through a larger downpayment or possibly using secondary financing to qualify for a conforming mortgage verses a jumbo mortgage.

LOAN ORIGINATION
The process by which a mortgage lender brings into existence a mortgage secured by real property.

LOAN ORIGINATION FEE
The loan origination fee covers the administrative costs of processing the loan. It is often expressed in points. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount.

For example, a $100,000 mortgage with a loan origination fee of 1 point would mean you pay $1,000.

LOAN TERMS AND CONDITIONS
With a reverse mortgage, a lender can call in your loan under certain conditions. But, if you occupy the property as your primary residence, are not absent from the property for 12 consecutive months.

You may instruct the lender to pay the taxes and insurance on your behalf from your reverse mortgage funds. The lender will set aside funds from your reverse mortgage to pay for future taxes and insurance, as long as funds are available.

Furthermore, as long as you comply with the terms noted above, you can’t be forced to sell your home to pay off the reverse mortgage, even if the loan balance grows to exceed the value of your property.

LOAN-TO-VALUE (LTV) PERCENTAGE
The relationship between the principal balance of the mortgage and the appraised value (or sales price if it is lower) of the property. For example, a $100,000 home with an $80,000 mortgage has a LTV percentage of 80 percent.

LOCK-IN
A written agreement in which the lender guarantees a specified interest rate if a mortgage goes to closing within a set period of time. The lock-in also usually specifies the number of points to be paid at closing.

LOCK-IN PERIOD
The time period during which the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower.

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M
MANUFACTURED HOUSING
Homes and dwellings that are not built at the home site and are moved to the location are considered manufactured housing. Manufactured housing units must be built on a permanent chassis at a factory and then transported to a permanent site and attached to a foundation. All manufactured homes must be built to meet standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The standards focus on such aspects as design, strength, energy efficiency, and fire resistance.

Manufactured housing represents one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the United States. Nearly all of the mortgage products are available for owners of manufactured housing.

MARGIN
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the amount that is added to the index to establish the interest rate on each adjustment date, subject to any limitations on the interest rate change.

MARKET VALUE
You can get a good feel for the market value of a home by asking whether the listing agent compiled a “comparative market analysis (CMA)”. This written report on the property examines comparable homes in the area that have recently been sold, are currently on the market, or are currently under contract.

The CMA will help you figure out whether the asking price is in line with other comparable houses in the neighborhood.

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.

MATURITY
The date on which the principal balance of a loan, bond, or other financial instrument becomes due and payable.

MAXIMUM CLAIM AMOUNT
Your maximum claim amount is the lesser of two figures:

Your home’s appraised value.
HUD 203(b) limit.
The HUD 203(b) limit is the maximum loan amount that FHA will insure for residences in your geographical area. Check with your lender to get the latest figures for your area.

MAXIMUM FINANCING
A mortgage amount that is within 5 percent of the highest loan-to-value (LTV) percentage allowed for a specific product. Thus, maximum financing on a fixed-rate mortgage would be 90 percent or higher, because 95 percent is the maximum allowable LTV percentage for that product.

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 a your credit.

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

MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT
A savings account that provides bank depositors with many of the advantages of a money market fund. Certain regulatory restrictions apply to the withdrawal of funds from a money market account.

MONEY MARKET FUND
A mutual fund that allows individuals to participate in managed investments in short-term debt securities, such as certificates of deposit and Treasury bills.

MONTHLY FIXED INSTALLMENT
That portion of the total monthly payment that is applied toward principal and interest. When a mortgage negatively amortizes, the monthly fixed installment does not include any amount for principal reduction.

MONTHLY PAYMENT MORTGAGE
A mortgage that requires payments to reduce the debt once a month.

Your monthly mortgage payment is composed of four components.

Principal refers to the part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of the mortgage.
Interest is the fee charged for borrowing money.
Taxes and insurance refer to the amounts that are paid into an escrow account each month for property taxes and mortgage and hazard insurance.
All four of these elements are often referred to as PITI.

Your monthly mortgage payment due may be mailed to you in a book of coupons each year, or in a separate coupon every month.

Ask your lender if the automated underwriting system is used, which may reduce costs associated with your mortgage.

MORTGAGE
A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt.

Simply put, the mortgage is the legal document that gives the lender a legal claim against your house should you default on your loan payments. The mortgage indicates that a specific amount of money will be loaned at a specific interest rate so that you can buy your home. Another way of thinking of the mortgage is that you have possession of the property but the lender has ownership until you have repaid your loan.

The items stated in the mortgage include the homeowner’s responsibility to:

pay principal
pay interest
pay taxes
pay insurance on time
pay to maintain hazard insurance on the property
adequately maintain the property
The mortgage also includes the basic information found in the note.

Should you consistently fail to meet these requirements, your lender can seek full repayment of the balance of the loan, foreclose on the property, or sell the property and use the proceeds to pay off the loan balance and foreclosure costs.

A deed of trust is used instead of a mortgage in some states.

MORTGAGE BANKER
A company that originates mortgages exclusively for resale in the secondary mortgage market.

Mortgage companies originate and service mortgages. In other words, they make loans to consumers. Mortgage companies then typically sell these loans to other lenders and investors.

Some mortgage companies may be subsidiaries of depository institutions or their holding companies but do not receive money from individual depositors.

MORTGAGE BROKER
An individual or company that brings borrowers and lenders together for the purpose of loan origination. Mortgage brokers typically require a fee or a commission for their services.

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers defines a mortgage broker as “an independent real estate financing professional who specializes in the origination of residential and/or commercial mortgages.”

There are an estimated 20,000 mortgage brokerage operations from coast to coast. They originate more than half of the residential loans in the U.S.

A mortgage broker has professional expertise that can assist mortgage seekers in finding the best loan for them. The mortgage broker is also experienced in offering many applicable financing options for a consumer’s specific needs.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE
A contract that insures the lender against loss caused by a mortgagor’s default on a government mortgage or conventional mortgage. Mortgage insurance can be issued by a private company or by a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Depending on the type of mortgage insurance, the insurance may cover a percentage of or virtually all of the mortgage loan.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM (MIP)
The amount paid by a mortgagor for mortgage insurance, either to a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or to a private mortgage insurance (MI) company.

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.

MORTGAGE-RELATED CLOSING COSTS
Mortgage-related closing costs generally are costs associated with your loan application. They vary, but here are some of the most common ones:

Loan origination fee: This fee covers the administrative costs of processing the loan. It may be expressed as a percentage of the loan (for example, 1 percent of the mortgage amount).
Loan discount points: These points are additional funds you pay the lender at closing to get a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Typically, each point you pay for a 30-year loan lowers your interest rate by .125 of a percentage point. If the current interest rate on a no-point, 30-year mortgage is 7.75 percent, paying one point would lower the interest rate to 7.625. Each point is one percent of the mortgage (for example, if your mortgage is $200,000, one point equals $2,000).
Appraisal fee: This fee pays for the appraisal, which the lender uses to determine whether the value of the property secures the loan should you default. The home buyer usually pays this fee. It may appear on the settlement form as “POC,” or “paid outside closing.”
Credit report fee: This covers the cost of the credit report, which the lender uses to determine your creditworthiness.
Assumption fee: This fee is charged if you take over the payments on the seller’s existing loan. It may range from hundreds of dollars to one percent of the loan amount.
Prepaid interest: You are charged interest when you borrow money from a lender, and you will pay interest on the mortgage amount from the date of settlement to the beginning of the period covered by the first monthly mortgage payment. At closing, you may be required to pay in advance the interest for the period.
Escrow accounts: Also called reserves, these accounts are required if your lender will be paying your homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. Your lender sets up the escrow account by adding the cost of the insurance and taxes to your monthly mortgage payments. It is kept in reserve until the bills are due. The bills are sent directly to your lender, who makes the payments for you.
MORTGAGEE
The lender in a mortgage agreement.

MORTGAGOR
The borrower in a mortgage agreement.

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.

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NEGATIVE AMORTIZATION
A gradual increase in mortgage debt that occurs when the monthly payment is not large enough to cover the entire principal and interest due. The amount of the shortfall is added to the remaining balance to create “negative” amortization.

NET CASH FLOW
The income that remains for an investment property after the monthly operating income is reduced by the monthly housing expense, which includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) for the mortgage, homeowners’ association dues, leasehold payments, and subordinate financing payments.

NO CASH-OUT REFINANCE
A refinance transaction in which the new mortgage amount is limited to the sum of the remaining balance of the existing first mortgage, closing costs (including prepaid items), points, the amount required to satisfy any mortgage liens that are more than one year old (if the borrower chooses to satisfy them), and other funds for the borrower’s use (as long as the amount does not exceed 1 percent of the principal amount of the new mortgage).

NON-LIQUID ASSET
An asset that cannot easily be converted into cash.

NOTE
A legal document that obligates a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.

One way to think of the mortgage note is that it is a legal “IOU.” Often called the promissory note, it represents your promise to pay the lender according to the agreed upon terms of the loan, including when and where to send your payment.

The note lists any penalties that will be assessed if you don’t make your monthly mortgage payments. It also warns you that the lender can “call” the loan – demand repayment of the entire loan before the end of the term – if you violate the terms of your mortgage.

NOTE RATE
The interest rate stated on a mortgage note.

NOTICE OF DEFAULT
A formal written notice to a borrower that a default has occurred and that legal action may be taken.

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OCCUPANCY DATE
This provision is a good way to help ensure that your home will be ready for occupancy after the closing takes place. As part of your formal purchase offer, consider including a provision that holds the seller responsible for paying you rent should they not move out on or prior to the agreed-upon date. This allows you, for example, to use the money you receive to pay your own rent if you are leasing your current residence.

OFFER
When you make an offer on a house, it means you are making a formal bid to buy a home. You can work with your real estate sales professional to put together a written bid that abides by the laws in your state. Your offer should include such aspects as the address of the home, the sales price, the type of mortgage financing you will use to purchase the home, any personal property that might be included as part of the sale, and a target date for closing and occupancy. An earnest money deposit typically accompanies the offer. Your real estate sales professional can provide guidance on other elements of the offer.

Once you have made an offer, the seller has the opportunity to accept, decline, or make a counter-offer. If your offer is accepted, you have a ratified sales contract. This contract is the starting point for working with an approved lender to get the mortgage that’s right for you.

ONE-YEAR ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE
This adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a low initial interest rate with an interest rate that adjusts annually after the first year. The rate cap per annual adjustment is usually 2 percent; the lifetime adjustment caps can be 5 percent or 6 percent. This type of mortgage may be right for you if you anticipate a rapid increase in income over the first few years of your mortgage. That’s because it lets you maximize your purchasing power immediately. It may also be the right mortgage for you if you plan to live in your home for only a few years.

Advantages:

Maximizes your buying power immediately, especially if you expect your income to rise quickly in the next few years.
A low first-year interest rate and a 2 percent annual rate cap.
Some one-year ARMs let you convert to a fixed-rate loan at certain adjustment intervals.
Ask your approved lender which of their one-year ARMs include this option. Generally, conversions to fixed-rate mortgages are allowed at the third, fourth, or fifth interest rate adjustment dates.

Details:

You can get a one-year ARM with a term from 10 to 30 years. The most typical ones are 10, 15, or 30 years.
The one-year ARM is most often indexed to the weekly average yield of U.S. Treasury securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year.
Can be used to buy one-family, principal residences, including condos, and planned unit developments.
Manufactured homes are also eligible. (Manufactured housing units must be built on a permanent chassis at a factory and then transported to a permanent site and attached to a foundation.)
ONGOING COSTS
Home buyers should not forget that there are on-going costs associated with owning a home. They include, but are not limited to:

Monthly mortgage payment
Mortgage insurance
Homeowner’s insurance
Property taxes
Utilities, such as gas, oil, water and electricity
Another cost home buyers should consider is how much it will cost to maintain their home. These costs include everything from cleaning and minor repairs to yard work and painting.

Condominium owners and people living in planned unit developments should factor in any homeowners’ association fees or similar costs.

ORIGINAL PRINCIPAL BALANCE
The total amount of principal owed on a mortgage before any payments are made.

ORIGINATION FEE
A fee paid to a lender for processing a loan application. The origination fee is stated in the form of points. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount.

The loan origination fee covers the administrative costs of processing the loan. It is often expressed in points. One point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount. For example, a $100,000 mortgage with a loan origination fee of 1 point would mean you pay $1,000.

OTHER BUYER COSTS
There are other costs associated with the closing that are typically paid by the buyer. They often include:

Fees paid to the lender: Loan discount points, loan origination fee, credit report fee, appraisal fee, and assumption fee.
Advance payments or prepaid fees: Interest, mortgage insurance premium, and hazard insurance premium.
Escrow accounts or reserves: State and local law and lenders’ policies vary but these reserves may have to be set up if the lender will be paying property taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard insurance.
Title charges: Closing (or settlement) fee, title insurance premium, title search, document preparation fees, and attorney fees. The fees the buyer pays for a real estate attorney are not part of settlement procedures.
Recording and transfer fees: States often impose a tax on the transfer of property. The payment of a fee for recording the purchasing documents may be required.
Additional charges: Surveyor’s fees, termite and other pet infestation inspection fees, and the cost of other inspections required by the lender.
Adjustments: Items paid by the seller in advance and items yet to be paid for which the seller is responsible. The most common expense is property taxes, but others may have to be addressed.
OTHER CONTINGENCIES
A contingency in a contract states that if a certain requirement is not met, the deal can be canceled. Some of the most common contingencies related to home purchases include:

Professional home inspection: This states that your sales contract is contingent on a satisfactory report by a professional home inspector. You have the right not to proceed with the purchase of the home, or to re-negotiate the terms of purchase, if any major problems are uncovered.
Termite inspection: This states that the property is free of both visible termite infestation and termite damage.
Asbestos: You may choose to hire a qualified professional to inspect the home, take samples for asbestos, and offer solutions to correct any problems.
Formaldehyde: This colorless, gas chemical was used in foam insulation for homes until the early 1980s and is emitted by some construction materials. It is suspected of causing cancer, and it can also irritate the throat, nose, and eyes. A qualified inspector can let you know if the gas is present in the home you wish to purchase.
Radon: Most home buyers require that the house be tested for radon, a naturally occurring, odorless gas that can cause health problems.
Hazardous waste sites: The Environmental Protection Agency has identified contaminated hazardous waste sites across the country. You can contact your EPA regional office for more information.
Lead-based paint: You should also have the house inspected for lead-based paint, which can lead to very serious health problems. If the house was built before 1950, you can be fairly certain lead-based paint was used. For houses built between 1950 and 1978, there is also a chance lead-based paint was used. Lead disclosure regulations can vary from state to state. Health officials in the state where the home you want to buy is located may be able to provide further guidance.
The seller or real estate professional must give you a pamphlet that explains lead hazards and tell you about any lead-based paint of which the seller is aware before a sales contract on a home built before 1978 can be finalized. The seller must also allow 10 days during which you can hire a professional to conduct an inspection for lead-based paint hazards.

OTHER FINANCIAL COMPANIES
Other financial companies include credit unions, mortgage brokers, insurance companies, investment bankers, and housing finance agencies.

Credit unions are cooperative, not-for-profit institutions organized to promote savings and to provide credit, including mortgage loans, to their members. Credit unions either service the mortgages they originate or sell them to other investors.

Mortgage brokers are independent real estate financing professionals who specialize in the origination of residential and/or commercial mortgages. Mortgage brokers originate loans on behalf of other lenders — including banks, thrifts and mortgage banking companies, but do not service loans.

Insurance companies and investment bankers are large institutional investors in mortgages that do not receive deposits from consumers. They use premiums from their clients’ insurance polices and investment packages to fund their mortgage lending activities.

Housing finance agencies are typically associated with state or local governments. They are generally geared toward assisting first-time and low- to moderate-income borrowers. They use tax exempt bonds to fund mortgage lending and as a result are often able to provide interest rates that are below current market rates.

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

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P
PARTIAL PAYMENT
A payment that is not sufficient to cover the scheduled monthly payment on a mortgage loan.

PAYMENT CHANGE DATE
The date when a new monthly payment amount takes effect on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a graduated-payment mortgage (GPM). Generally, the payment change date occurs in the month immediately after the interest rate adjustment date.

PERIODIC PAYMENT CAP
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.

PERIODIC RATE CAP
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period, regardless of how high or low the index might be.

PERMITS
With most major home improvement projects, work permits may be required. Permits provide legal permission to undertake a project and are usually given by local governments agencies.

Some of the most common permits are for general projects or permits that require you to meet specific local building codes.

You may want to check with your local government to determine if there are building restrictions in historic areas or in environmentally-sensitive areas.

PERSONAL PROPERTY
Any property that is not real property.

PITI
Principle, interests, taxes and insurance (PITI) are the four components of a monthly mortgage payment.

The four components of a monthly mortgage payment.

Principal refers to the part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of the mortgage.
Interest is the fee charged for borrowing money.
Taxes and insurance refer to the amounts that are paid into an escrow account each month for property taxes and hazard insurance.
PITI RESERVES
A cash amount that a borrower must have on hand after making a down payment and paying all closing costs for the purchase of a home. The principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) reserves must equal the amount that the borrower would have to pay for PITI for a predefined number of months.

PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT (PUD)
A project or subdivision that includes common property that is owned and maintained by a homeowners’ association for the benefit and use of the individual PUD unit owners.

POINT
A one-time charge by the lender for originating a loan. A point is 1 percent of the amount of the mortgage.

POWER OF ATTORNEY
A legal document that authorizes another person to act on one’s behalf. A power of attorney can grant complete authority or can be limited to certain acts and/or certain periods of time.

PRE-APPROVAL
When you work with your lender to get pre-approved, you are getting an indication of how much money you will be eligible to borrow when you apply for a mortgage. This process occurs before you complete an application for a loan.

Pre-approval includes a screening of a borrower’s credit history, and all information you give to your lender will be verified when you apply for your mortgage.

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

PREARRANGED REFINANCING AGREEMENT
A formal or informal arrangement between a lender and a borrower wherein the lender agrees to offer special terms (such as a reduction in the costs) for a future refinancing of a mortgage being originated as an inducement for the borrower to enter into the original mortgage transaction.

PREFORECLOSURE SALE
A procedure in which the investor allows a mortgagor to avoid foreclosure by selling the property for less than the amount that is owed to the investor.

PREPAYMENT
Any amount paid to reduce the principal balance of a loan before the due date. Payment in full on a mortgage that may result from a sale of the property, the owner’s decision to pay off the loan in full, or a foreclosure. In each case, prepayment means payment occurs before the loan has been fully amortized.

PREPAYMENT PENALTY
A fee that may be charged to a borrower who pays off a loan before it is due.

If you pay off your mortgage before it is due, you may be charged a fee — this is referred to as a prepayment penalty.

Any amount that is paid to reduce the principal balance of a loan before the due date – such as the sale of the property, the owner’s decision to pay the loan in full, the owner’s decision to pay additional money every month to lower the principle or interest – is considered prepayment.

You may want to consider discussing the specifics of this fee as you negotiate the terms of your loan with your lender.

PRIME RATE
The interest rate that banks charge to their preferred customers. Changes in the prime rate influence changes in other rates, including mortgage interest rates.

PRINCIPAL
The amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

One of the terms you’re likely to hear when you talk about a mortgage with your lender is principal. The principal is the amount originally borrowed or the amount that remains to be paid once you have started making payments. It is also the part of the monthly mortgage payment that reduces the remaining balance of a mortgage.

The principal balance is the outstanding amount of principal on a mortgage; it does not include interest or any other charges.

PRINCIPAL BALANCE
The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage. The principal balance does not include interest or any other charges.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI)
Also known as Mortgage Insurance, PMI is provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders generally require PMI for a loan with a loan-to-value (LTV) percentage in excess of 80 percent.

PROMISSORY NOTE
A written promise to repay a specified amount over a specified period of time.

PUBLIC AUCTION
A meeting in an announced public location to sell property to repay a mortgage that is in default.

PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT
A written contract signed by the buyer and seller stating the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold.

The Purchase and Sale Agreement is a written contract that is signed by the buyer and seller. It states the terms and conditions under which a property will be sold. It includes:

description of property
price offered
down payment
earnest money deposit
financing
personal items to be included
closing date
occupancy date
length of time the offer is valid
special contingencies
inspection
PURCHASE MONEY TRANSACTION
The acquisition of property through the payment of money or its equivalent.

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QUALIFYING GUIDELINES
There are two main elements lenders consider when determining whether you and any co-borrowers qualify for a specific mortgage.

The first is your monthly mortgage costs, including mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance. If you’re considering buying a condominium or cooperative, any associated fees are also considered. Your mortgage costs should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly (pre-tax) income.

The second qualifying guideline relates to your total monthly housing costs and other debts you and any co-borrowers have. These costs should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income.

Lenders follow these guidelines because they believe these percentages allow homeowners to pay off their mortgages fairly comfortably without the worry of loan defaults and foreclosures.

However, these guidelines can be exceeded in certain cases, such as borrowers with a good credit history or with a larger down payment.

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.

QUITCLAIM DEED
A deed that transfers without warranty whatever interest or title a grantor may have at the time the conveyance is made.

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RADON
A radioactive gas found in some homes that in sufficient concentrations can cause health problems.

RATE CAPS
Lenders offer caps with their adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) so you can have more control over your monthly mortgage payment. Usually, there are two types of rate caps:

A per-adjustment cap, which specifies the most your interest rate can rise from one adjustment period to the next
A lifetime adjustment cap, which specifies how much your interest rate can rise over the life of your loan
Ask your lender about both caps when evaluating any ARM product.

RATE LOCK
A commitment issued by a lender to a borrower or other mortgage originator guaranteeing a specified interest rate for a specified period of time.

RATE-IMPROVEMENT MORTGAGE
A fixed-rate mortgage that includes a provision that gives the borrower a one-time option to reduce the interest rate (without refinancing) during the early years of the mortgage term.

RATIFIED SALES CONTRACT
A ratified sales contract means both the buyer and the seller have signed off on the final offer. It also acts as a starting point for the loan application interview.

The ratified sales contract specifies the amount of your down payment, the price you will pay for the house, the type of mortgage financing you will seek, your proposed closing and occupancy dates, and other contingencies.

You will give all this information to your loan officer when you meet to discuss your financing options.

REAL ESTATE AGENT
A person licensed to negotiate and transact the sale of real estate on behalf of the property owner.

REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY
Many homeowners hire a real estate attorney to represent them during the loan application process. If you do so, your attorney will review the sales contract and represent you at closing.

There are many questions you can ask a personal attorney before deciding whether to have the attorney represent you at closing. They can include:

What is the attorney’s fee for representing you at closing?
What is the attorney’s experience with real estate transactions?
Are there fees for reading documents relating to the closing?
Are there fees for giving advice?
Remember that your personal attorney’s fee is not part of your closing costs. You must pay for this expense separately.

REAL ESTATE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES ACT (RESPA)
A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.

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 agent, broker or an associate who holds active membership in a local real estate board that is affiliated with the National Association of REALTORS®.

RECORDER
The public official who keeps records of transactions that affect real property in the area. Sometimes known as a “Registrar of Deeds” or “County Clerk.”

RECORDING
The noting in the registrar’s office of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.

REFINANCE TRANSACTION
The process of paying off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan using the same property as security.

REHABILITATION ESCROW ACCOUNT
A contingency reserve will be set up that contains funds borrowed to finance your home improvements. These will be placed into an escrow account upon the closing of your mortgage. Payments to the contractor will be periodically made from this fund as construction occurs.

You will be paid interest on the funds that are in the escrow account that have not been paid to the contractor.

REHABILITATION MORTGAGE
A mortgage created to cover the costs of repairing, improving, and sometimes acquiring an existing property.

REMAINING BALANCE
The amount of principal that has not yet been repaid.

REMAINING TERM
The original amortization term minus the number of payments that have been applied.

RENT LOSS INSURANCE
Insurance that protects a landlord against loss of rent or rental value due to fire or other casualty that renders the leased premises unavailable for use and as a result of which the tenant is excused from paying rent.

RENT WITH OPTION TO BUY
There are two different Rent With Option to Buy options:

Lease-Purchase Mortgage Loan: An alternative financing option that allows low- and moderate-income home buyers to lease a home from a nonprofit organization with an option to buy. Each month’s rent payment consists of principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) payments on the first mortgage plus an extra amount that is earmarked for deposit to a savings account in which money for a downpayment will accumulate.

Lease-Purchase Option: Nonprofit organizations may use the lease-purchase option to purchase a home that they then rent to a consumer, or “leaseholder.” The leaseholder has the option to buy the home after a designated period of time (usually three or five years). Part of each rent payment is put aside toward savings for the purpose of accumulating the down payment and closing costs.

REO (REAL ESTATE OWNED)
This is Real Estate that is owned by the lender. This status indicates the property is owned by a lender or bank as a result of a foreclosure.

REPAYMENT PLAN
An arrangement made to repay delinquent installments or advances. Lenders’ formal repayment plans are called “relief provisions.”

REPLACEMENT RESERVE FUND
A fund set aside for replacement of common property in a condominium, PUD, or cooperative project – particularly that which has a short life expectancy, such as carpeting, furniture, etc.

RESCISSION
The cancellation or annulment of a transaction or contract by the operation of a law or by mutual consent. Borrowers usually have the option to cancel a refinance transaction within three business days after it has closed.

REVERSE MORTGAGE COUNSELING
In order to get a Home Keeper® reverse mortgage or a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), you must receive counseling that explains how the financing option works.

During your counseling, you will receive an estimate of your loan advances and an explanation of your responsibilities as a borrower. Other sources of unbiased information education may also be provided. A non-profit agency or a local lender typically conducts the counseling.

REVOLVING LIABILITY
A credit arrangement, such as a credit card, that allows a customer to borrow against a preapproved line of credit when purchasing goods and services. The borrower is billed for the amount that is actually borrowed plus any interest due.

RHS LOANS
The Rural Housing Service (RHS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers low-interest-rate homeownership loans with no down payment requirements to low- and moderate-income persons who live in rural areas or small towns. Check with your local RHS office or a local lender for eligibility requirements. For the location of RHS State Offices and details on RHS loans, see the RHS home page.

RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL
A provision in an agreement that requires the owner of a property to give another party the first opportunity to purchase or lease the property before he or she offers it for sale or lease to others.

RIGHT OF INGRESS OR ENGRESS
The right to enter or leave designated premises.

RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP
In joint tenancy, the right of survivors to acquire the interest of a deceased joint tenant.

RURAL HOUSING SERVICE (RHS)
An agency within the Department of Agriculture, which operates principally under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act of 1921 and Title V of the Housing Act of 1949. This agency provides financing to farmers and other qualified borrowers buying property in rural areas who are unable to obtain loans elsewhere. Funds are borrowed from the U.S. Treasury.

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SALE-LEASEBACK
A technique in which a seller deeds property to a buyer for a consideration, and the buyer simultaneously leases the property back to the seller.

SAVINGS AND LOANS
Among the customers of Savings and Loans (S&Ls) are individual savers and residential and commercial property mortgage borrowers. Their traditional role for savings and loans is to accept deposits and make mortgage loans, but it has expanded recently to a focus on one- to four-family residential mortgages, multifamily mortgages and commercial mortgages.

These institutions are growing bigger, and the lines between S&Ls and commercial banks are not as defined as in the past.

Deposit insurance is provided through the Savings Association Insurance Fund, a subsidiary of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

SECOND MORTGAGE
A mortgage that has a lien position subordinate to the first mortgage.

SECONDARY MORTGAGE MARKET
The buying and selling of existing mortgages.

SECURED LOAN
A loan that is backed by collateral.

SECURITY
The property that will be pledged as collateral for a loan.

SELLER TAKE-BACK
An agreement in which the owner of a property provides financing, often in combination with an assumable mortgage.

SELLER VERSUS BUYER CLOSING COSTS
Buyers and sellers often negotiate who will pay certain closing costs, and the results vary depending on the negotiated deal. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a sales agreement to state that either the buyer or seller pays all closing costs. The agreement that you and the seller reach must be specified in the sales contract.

Your negotiations could depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of the home, how long the home has been on the market, whether there are any other interested buyers, and how motivated the seller is to sell the home.

SERVICER
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.

SERVICING
The collection of mortgage payments from borrowers and related responsibilities of a loan servicer.

SETTLEMENT
The final step before you get the keys to your home is a formal meeting called the closing. It is at this meeting in which ownership of the home is transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Also called a settlement in some parts of the country, the meeting is typically attended by the buyer(s), the seller(s), their attorneys if they have them, both real estate sales professionals, a representative of the lender, and the closing agent. The purpose is to make sure the property is physically and legally ready to be transferred to you.

Several closing costs will be paid at this meeting. These expenses are over and above the price of the property and are incurred when ownership of a property is transferred. Closing costs generally include a loan origination fee, an attorney’s fee, taxes, an amount placed in escrow, and charges for obtaining title insurance, and a survey. Closing costs vary according to the area of the country.

SETTLEMENT SHEET
The HUD-1 Settlement Statement itemizes the amounts to be paid by the buyer and the seller at closing. The (blank) form is published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Items on the statement include:

real estate commissions
loan fees
points
escrow amounts
The form is filled out by your closing agent and must be signed by the buyer and the seller. The buyer should be allowed to review the HUD-1 Settlement Statement on the business day before the closing meeting to know the closing costs in advance.

The HUD-1 Settlement Statement is also known as the “closing statement” or “settlement sheet.”

SHORT SALE
A property sale negotiated with a mortgage company in which a lender takes less than the total amount due.

SINGLE-FAMILY PROPERTIES
One- to four-unit properties including detached homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives.

SIX-MONTH ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE
This adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a low initial interest rate for the first six months with an interest rate that adjusts every six months thereafter. The rate caps per adjustment can be 1 percent or 2 percent; the lifetime adjustment caps can be 4 percent, 5 percent, or 6 percent. This type of mortgage may be right for you if you anticipate a rapid increase in income over the first few years of your mortgage. That’s because it lets you maximize your purchasing power immediately. It may also be the right mortgage for you if you plan to live in your home for only a few years.

The interest rate is tied to a published financial index. When comparing ARMs that have different indexes, look at how the index has performed recently. Your an approved lender can provide information on how to track a specific index and how to review a 15-year history of the index.

Advantages:

Maximizes your buying power immediately, especially if you expect your income to rise quickly in the next few years.
Lets you select an index that meets your financial needs.
Easier to qualify for due to a low interest rate and a 1 or 2 percent annual rate cap.
Some six-month ARMs let you convert to a fixed-rate loan at certain adjustment intervals. Ask your Fannie Mae approved lender which of their six-month ARMs include this option. Your lender can also provide further specifics about this mortgage option.
Details:

You can get a six-month ARM with a term of 10 to 30 years. Typically, they are 10, 15, or 30 years.
Can be used to buy one- to four-family, owner-occupied principal residences including second homes, investment properties, and condos, co-ops and planned unit developments.
Manufactured homes are also eligible. (Manufactured housing units must be built on a permanent chassis at a factory and then transported to a permanent site and attached to a foundation.)
SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT
An account that is established for rehabilitation mortgages to hold the funds needed for the rehabilitation work so they can be disbursed from time to time as particular portions of the work are completed.

STANDARD PAYMENT CALCULATION
The method used to determine the monthly payment required to repay the remaining balance of a mortgage in substantially equal installments over the remaining term of the mortgage at the current interest rate.

STEP-RATE MORTGAGE
A mortgage that allows for the interest rate to increase according to a specified schedule (i.e. seven years), resulting in increased payments as well. At the end of the specified period, the rate and payments will remain constant for the remainder of the loan.

SUBDIVISION
A housing development that is created by dividing a tract of land into individual lots for sale or lease.

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

SUBPRIME
Designating a loan (typically at a greater than usual rate of interest) offered to a borrower who is not qualified for other loans (e.g. because of poor credit history).

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.

SURVEY
A drawing or map showing the precise legal boundaries of a property, the location of improvements, easements, rights of way, encroachments, and other physical features.

Your lender may require you to have a survey of the property performed. This process confirms that the property’s boundaries are correctly described in the purchase and sale agreement.

Also called a plot plan, the survey may show a neighbor’s fence is located on the seller’s property or more serious violations may be discovered. These violations must be addressed before the lender will proceed.

The buyer usually pays to have the survey done, but some cost savings may be found by requesting an “update” from the company that previously surveyed the property.

SWEAT EQUITY
Contribution to the construction or rehabilitation of a property in the form of labor or services rather than cash.

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T
TAXES AND INSURANCE
You’ll hear many terms as you work with your mortgage lender, and one of the most frequently mentioned is “PITI.” This abbreviation stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

The tax and insurance components of a mortgage payment are generally held by the lender in an escrow account. The lender pays any property tax and homeowner’s insurance bills as they are due, ensuring they are paid on time.

A home buyer’s monthly mortgage payment generally covers expenses through the escrow account. If you don’t have your homeowner’s insurance and property taxes paid out of a lender escrow account, your local government and your property insurance company will send payment notices directly to you. It is your responsibility to make sure you pay these bills on time.

If you’re planning to purchase a condominium or cooperative, talk to your lender about how they view condo and co-op fees. Most likely, they are considered housing costs and not a part of PITI. However, this can vary from lender to lender.

TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY
A type of joint tenancy of property that provides right of survivorship and is available only to a husband and wife. Contrast with tenancy in common.

TENANCY IN COMMON
A type of joint tenancy in a property without right of survivorship. Contrast with tenancy by the entirety and with joint tenacy.

TENANT-STOCKHOLDER
The obligee for a cooperative share loan, who is both a stockholder in a cooperative corporation and a tenant of the unit under a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement.

TERMITE INSPECTION
Homes in many parts of the country must be inspected for termites before they can be sold. You should receive a certificate from a termite inspection firm stating that the property is free of both visible termite infestation and termite damage.

The cost of the termite inspection is usually paid by the seller, and the seller’s real estate sales professional orders the inspection. You need to make sure that the original certificate is delivered to your lender at least three days before closing.

This allows the lender to review the certificate and address any potential problems.

THIRD-PARTY ORIGINATION
A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package the mortgages it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage market.

THRIFTS
Thrifts are depository institutions that primarily serve consumers and include both savings banks and savings and loan (S&L) institutions. These institutions originate and service mortgage loans. A thrift may choose to hold a loan in its own portfolio or sell the loan to an investor.

TITLE
A legal document evidencing a person’s right to or ownership of a property.

TITLE COMPANY
A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.

TITLE INSURANCE
Insurance that protects the lender (lender’s policy) or the buyer (owner’s policy) against loss arising from disputes over ownership of a property.

Your lender will require that you buy title insurance to ensure that you are receiving a “marketable title”. There are two types of title insurance policies:

Lender’s policy (mandatory): This protects the lender should a flaw in the title be detected after the property has been purchased.
Owner’s policy (optional, but recommended): This protects you should a flaw in the title be detected after the property has been purchased.
Generally, the buyer pays the cost of both policies. Check with your insurer, because you may receive a price break if you seek a combined lender/owner policy or if you purchase a “reissue” policy from the company that previously insured the title.

TITLE SEARCH
A check of the title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no liens or other claims outstanding.

In order to make sure the borrower will receive clear title to the property, lenders require a title search. It attempts to uncover any “encumbrances” on the title and makes sure the seller is the actual owner of the property.

Encumbrances include any liens – legal claims against a property filed by creditors as a means to collect unpaid bills. Liens can also be filed by the Internal Revenue Service for nonpayment of taxes. Any such claims must be paid by the seller – this often occurs either before or at the closing.

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

TOWNHOUSE
A townhouse is similar to a condominium in that it’s a type of joint real estate where each housing unit is individually owned. However, it has two or more stories, rather than the typical one floor found in a condominium.

Townhouses are available in many shapes and sizes, and most may have yards or common spaces that can be used by the owners.

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 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.

TRANSFER TAX
State or local tax payable when title passes from one owner to another.

TREASURY INDEX
An index that is used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans. It is based on the results of auctions that the U.S. Treasury holds for its Treasury bills and securities or is derived from the U.S. Treasury’s daily yield curve, which is based on the closing market bid yields on actively traded Treasury securities in the over-the-counter market.

TRUSTEE
A fiduciary who holds or controls property for the benefit of another.

TRUTH-IN-LENDING
A federal law that requires lenders to fully disclose, in writing, the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the annual percentage rate (APR) and other charges.

Your lender should provide you with the Truth-in-Lending (TIL) Statement within three business days of your loan application. This document outlines the costs of your loan, and it is given to you so you can compare the costs with those of other lenders. Among the costs listed:

The annual percentage rate (APR), which is the cost of your mortgage compiled as a yearly rate. It may be higher than the interest rate stated in your mortgage because it includes points and other costs of credit.
The finance charge.
The amount financed.
The payment amount.
The total payments required.
The lender is required to give you the final version of your TIL Statement at or prior to the closing meeting because it is possible that the APR calculated at your loan application will change at closing.

TWO-STEP MORTGAGE
The Two-Step Mortgage is a special type of adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that adjusts only once. Depending on whether you select a five-year or seven-year Two-Step Mortgage, your interest rate will adjust once at the end of either five or seven years. Then, your interest rate stays the same for the remaining 25 or 23 years of your 30-year loan.

Advantages:

You can qualify with a low starting interest rate. Your initial interest rate is only slightly higher than a balloon loan and is often lower than a 30-year fixed rate loan.
You get stable, predictable payments for five or seven years and, after adjustment, for the remaining 25 or 23 years of the loan.
You are protected from rising interest rates during the early years of homeownership.
You do not have to re-qualify or pay refinance costs at the time the interest rate adjusts.
You have time to increase your earnings or accumulate additional assets before the interest rate adjusts at the end of five or seven years.
Details:

Your interest rate cap can be no more than 6 percent above your initial interest rate.
You can use this mortgage to buy one- to four-family residences including second homes and condos, co-ops and planned unit developments.
Manufactured homes are also eligible. (Manufactured housing units must be built on a permanent chassis at a factory and then transported to a permanent site and attached to a foundation.)
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.

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U
UNDERWRITING
The process of evaluating a loan application to determine the risk involved for the lender. Underwriting involves an analysis of the borrower’s creditworthiness and the quality of the property itself.

UNSECURED LOAN
A loan that is not backed by collateral.

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V
VA MORTGAGE
A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VESTED
Having the right to use a portion of a fund such as an individual retirement fund. For example, individuals who are 100 percent vested can withdraw all of the funds that are set aside for them in a retirement fund. However, taxes may be due on any funds that are actually withdrawn.

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION (VA)
The Veterans Administration is a federal government agency authorized to guarantee loans made to eligible veterans under certain conditions. To obtain more information, you can contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA loans are more flexible than those for either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or conventional loans.

If you are a qualified veteran, this can be an attractive mortgage program. To determine whether you are eligible, check with your nearest VA regional office.

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W
WAYS OF OBTAINING A LOAN
You have several ways to get a mortgage. Your loan interview can take place, in whole or in part, over the telephone, over the Internet, or in person.

Approved lenders have a variety of options when it comes to helping you get the mortgage that’s right for you. Many lenders have Web sites that let you fill out an application online, which can save you time. Other lenders may work with you over the telephone.

Review our approved lenders list in the Find a Lender section to locate the lender that provides the services you prefer.

WHAT-IF ANALYSIS
An affordability analysis that is based on a what-if scenario. A what-if analysis is useful if you do not have complete data or if you want to explore the effect of various changes to your income, liabilities, or available funds or to the qualifying ratios or down payment expenses that are used in the analysis.

WHAT-IF SCENARIO
A change in the amounts that is used as the basis of an affordability analysis. A what-if scenario can include changes to monthly income, debts, or down payment funds or to the qualifying ratios or down payment expenses that are used in the analysis. You can use a what-if scenario to explore different ways to improve your ability to afford a house.

WRAPAROUND MORTGAGE
A mortgage that includes the remaining balance on an existing first mortgage plus an additional amount requested by the mortgagor. Full payments on both mortgages are made to the wraparound mortgagee, who then forwards the payments on the first mortgage to the first mortgagee.

I have bought and sold four houses with Cindy. No property ever took longer than two weeks to sell, Cindy knows the local market and attacks it aggressively. Her company is professional and polished. They know how to market their properties and do an all over professional job. And Cindy's a really nice person to boot. Very ethical. I would not use anyone else in the Central Valley if you are a serious buyer or seller.

– D.K. Ford

Cindy responded to our needs immediately. Whenever my husband and I had questions, Cindy never kept us waiting for an answer for long. She always made us feel like we were her only clients when we knew Cindy was very busy. The gal is truly amazing, never breaking under pressure and able to deal with so many different issues that would arise with her clients. Cindy gives 110% to accomplishing her job as a Realtor.

– R. & J. VV.

Connected Real Estate

P.O. Box 563

Ripon, CA  95366

Phone:  (209) 324-2311

Email: info@connected-real-estate.com

 

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