Back to Title Articles

Homebuying Lingo 101

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage in which the interest rate is adjustable, meaning the rate can go up or down according to current financial market conditions.

Adjustment Frequency

How often the interest rate changes or resets on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Typically, the adjustment frequency is once a year, but it can be as often as once a month or as infrequently as once every five years.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The actual cost of borrowing money, shown in the form of a yearly rate. The APR may be higher than the interest rate stated in the note due to the fact that it may include the interest, loan discount points, fees, and/or mortgage insurance.


An agreement between a buyer and seller in which the buyer assumes responsibility for the seller’s existing mortgage. This agreement usually saves the buyer money because closing costs and current interest rates, which could be higher, do not apply.


In exchange for more money upfront, lenders are willing to lower the interest rate they charge, thereby lowering the borrower’s payments.


The highest rate an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can rise to in a specified period of time.


At the conclusion of a real estate sale, the meeting in which the property and funds are exchanged between the two parties involved.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

This ratio is calculated by dividing a borrower’s monthly payments, including credit cards and other loans, by the borrower’s gross monthly income. It is used by lending institutions to determine whether a person qualifies for a mortgage.

Discount Points

Fees paid to a lender at closing in order to lower the mortgage interest rate. A point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. One discount point for $100,000 would cost $1,000.

Down Payment

The amount of money allocated by the buyer toward the purchase price of a home.

Earnest Money

A modest cash deposit paid by a prospective buyer to prove good faith to bind the sale of real estate. Typically, earnest money becomes part of the down payment if the offer is accepted. It is generally returned if the offer is rejected or forfeited if the buyer backs out of the deal.


The value an owner has in real estate above the amount of debt on the property. For example, a homeowner with a house worth $100,000 and an $80,000 mortgage has $20,000 in equity.

Escrow Account

An account in which money for property taxes and insurance is held until paid. Money is added to the account each time a mortgage payment is made.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

A federal agency established to advance homeownership opportunities. The FHA assists homebuyers by providing mortgage insurance to lenders to cover losses that may occur when a borrower defaults. As a result, lenders are encouraged to make loans to borrowers who might not qualify for conventional mortgages.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which your loan payment and interest rate are fixed for the life of the loan.

Interest Only Loan

A loan in which only the interest is paid for a stated term (usually a short period of one to five years) or during a construction period.

Loan-to-Value Ratio

The ratio between the amount of the mortgage loan and the appraised value of the property.

Market Value

In a competitive and open market, this is the probable sale price of a property.

Mortgage Insurance

Insurance designed to cover the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan. Depending on the mortgage and the loan-to-value ratio, mortgage insurance may be required by the lender.

Origination Fee

A lender fee for work involved in preparing and servicing a mortgage application (usually one percent of the loan amount).


Stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance - the components of a monthly mortgage payment.


The decision-making process of granting a loan to a potential homebuyer.


Back to Title Articles

Security Service Title Company (SSTC) is a subsidiary of Security Service Federal Credit Union.