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Mortgage Glossary

Additional Principal Payment
A way to reduce the remaining balance on the loan by paying more than the scheduled principal amount due.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage with an interest rate that changes during the life of the loan according to movements in an index rate. Sometimes called AMLs (adjustable mortgage loans) or VRMs (variable-rate mortgages).

Adjustment Date
The date that the interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Adjustment Period
The period elapsing between adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Affordability Analysis
An analysis of a buyer’s ability to afford the purchase of a home. Reviews income, liabilities, and available funds, and considers the type of mortgage you plan to use, the area where you want to purchase a home, and the closing costs that are likely.

Amortization
The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan, both principle and interest, by installments.

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

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The cost of credit, expressed as a yearly rate including interest, mortgage insurance, and loan origination fees. This allows the buyer to compare loans; however APR should not be confused with the actual note rate.

Appraisal
A written analysis prepared by a qualified appraiser and estimating the value of a property.

Appraised Value
An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.

Asset
Anything owned of monetary value including real property, personal property, and enforceable claims against others (including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, etc.).

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

Assumability
An assumable mortgage can be transferred from the seller to the new buyer. Generally requires a credit review of the new borrower and lenders may charge a fee for the assumption. If a mortgage contains a due-on-sale clause, it may not be assumed by a new buyer.

Balance Sheet
A financial statement that shows assets, liabilities, and net worth as of a specific date.

Balloon Mortgage
A mortgage with level monthly payments that amortizes over a stated term but also requires that a lump sum payment be paid at the end of an earlier specified term.

Balloon Payment
The final lump sum paid at the maturity date of a balloon mortgage.

Buy down
When the seller, builder or buyer pays an amount of money up front to the lender to reduce monthly payments during the first few years of a mortgage. Buy downs can occur in both fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

Cap
Limits how much the interest rate or the monthly payment can increase, either at each adjustment or during the life of the mortgage. Payment caps don't limit the amount of interest the lender is earning and may cause negative amortization.

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.

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

Closing
A meeting held to finalize the sale of a property. The buyer signs the mortgage documents and pays closing costs. Also called "settlement."

Closing Costs
These are expenses - over and above the price of the property- that are incurred by buyers and sellers when transferring ownership of a property. Closing costs normally include an origination fee, property taxes, charges for title insurance and escrow costs, appraisal fees, etc. Closing costs will vary according to the area country and the lenders used.

Closing Disclosure
A form that itemizes the closing costs associated with purchasing a home.

Closing Statement
A financial disclosure statement that lists the funds received and expected at the closing.

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

Consumer Reporting Agency (or Bureau)
An organization that handles the preparation of reports used by lenders to determine a potential borrower's credit history. The agency gets data for these reports from a credit repository and from other sources.

Conversion Clause
A provision in an ARM allowing the loan to be converted to a fixed-rate at some point during the term. Usually conversion is allowed at the end of the first adjustment period. The conversion feature may cost extra.

Credit Report
A report detailing an individual's credit history that is prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender to determine a loan applicant's creditworthiness.

Credit Risk Score
A credit score measures a consumer's credit risk relative to the rest of the U.S. population, based on the individual's credit usage history. The credit score most widely used by lenders is the FICO® score, developed by Fair Isaac and Company. This 3-digit number, ranging from 300 to 850, is calculated by a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of information that are on your credit report. Higher FICO® scores represents lower credit risks, which typically equate to better loan terms. In general, credit scores are critical in the mortgage loan underwriting process.

Deed of Trust
The document used in some states instead of a mortgage. Title is conveyed to a trustee.

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 on time.

Deposit
This is 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.

Down Payment
Part of the purchase price of a property that is paid in cash and not financed with a mortgage.

Effective Gross Income
A borrower’s normal annual income, including overtime that is regular or guaranteed. Salary is usually the principal source, but other income may qualify if it is significant and stable.

Equity
The amount of financial interest in a property. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on the mortgage.

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 part 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.

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

FICO Score
FICO® scores are the most widely used credit score in U.S. mortgage loan underwriting. This 3-digit number, ranging from 300 to 850, is calculated by a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of information that are on your credit report. Higher FICO® scores represent lower credit risks, which typically equate to better loan terms.

First Mortgage
The primary lien against a property.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM)
A mortgage interest that are fixed throughout the entire term of the loan.

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.

GNMA
A government-owned corporation that assumed responsibility for the special assistance loan program formerly administered by Fannie Mae. Popularly known as Ginnie Mae.

Housing Expense Ratio
The percentage of gross monthly income budgeted to pay housing expenses.

Index
The index is the measure of interest rate changes a lender uses to decide the amount an interest rate on an ARM will change over time. The index is generally a published number or percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on Treasury bills. Some index rates tend to be higher than others and some more volatile.

Initial Interest Rate
This refers to the original interest rate of the mortgage at the time of closing. This rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). It's also known as "start rate" or "teaser."

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

Insured Mortgage
A mortgage that is protected by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or by private mortgage insurance (MI).

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.

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.

Late Charge
The penalty a borrower must pay when a payment is made a stated number of days (usually 15) after the due date.

Liabilities
A person's financial obligations. Liabilities include long-term and short-term debt.

Lifetime Payment Cap
For an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), a limit on the amount that payments 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. See cap.

Liquid Asset
A cash asset or an asset that is easily converted into cash.

Loan
A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.

Loan Estimate
This document sets out the costs associated with a mortgage, including the interest rate, lender fees, title charges, pre-paid interest and insurance. The government requires that your lender give you a Loan Estimate within three days of receiving your loan application. The Loan Estimate is only an estimate; some fees can change before closing. Lender fees and the interest rate (if you have locked your rate) may not increase, and certain other costs may not increase by more than 10 percent.

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 an LTV of 80 percent.

Lock-In Period
The guarantee of an interest rate for a specified period of time by a lender, including loan term and points, if any, to be paid at closing. Short term locks (less than 21 days), are usually available after lender loan approval only. However, many lenders may permit a borrower to lock a loan for 30 days or more prior to submission of the loan application.

Margin
The number of percentage points the lender adds to the index rate to calculate the ARM interest rate at each adjustment.

Maturity
The date on which the principal balance of a loan becomes due and payable.

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 and doesn't cover all of the interest. The loan balance therefore increases instead of decreasing.

Mortgage Banker
A company that originates mortgages exclusively for resale in the secondary mortgage market.

Mortgage Broker
An individual or company that brings borrowers and lenders together for the purpose of loan origination.

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.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)
The amount paid by a mortgagor for mortgage insurance.

Mortgagor
The borrower in a mortgage agreement.

Net Worth
The value of all of a person's assets, including cash.

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.

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.

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 adjustment date.

Periodic Payment Cap
A limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.

Periodic Rate Cap
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.

Points
A point is equal to one percent of the principal amount of your mortgage. For example, if you get a mortgage for $165,000 one point means $1,650 to the lender. Points usually are collected at closing and may be paid by the borrower or the home seller, or may be split between them.

Principal Balance
The outstanding balance of principal on a mortgage not including interest or any other charges.

Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (PITI)
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 monthly cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance, whether these amounts that are paid into an escrow account each month or not.

Qualifying Ratios
Calculations used to determine if 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.

Rate Lock
A commitment issued by a lender to a borrower or other mortgage originator guaranteeing a specified interest rate and lender costs for a specified period of time.

Real Estate Agent
A person licensed to negotiate and transact the sale of real estate on behalf of the property owner.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.

Real Estate Agent®
A real estate broker or an associate who is an active member in a local real estate board that is affiliated with the National Association of Real Estate Agents.

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
Paying off one loan with the proceeds from a new loan using the same property as security.

Revolving Liability
A credit arrangement, such as a credit card, that allows a customer to borrow against a pre-approved line of credit when purchasing goods and services.

Servicer
An organization that collects principle 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.

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.

Total Expense Ratio
Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income including monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts.

Treasury Index
An index used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) plans. Based on the results of auctions that the U.S. Treasury holds for its Treasury bills and securities or 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.

Truth-in-Lending Act
A federal law requiring written disclosure of the terms of a mortgage (including APR and other charges) by a lender to a borrower after application.

Two-step Mortgage
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with one interest rate for the first five or seven years of its mortgage term and a different interest rate for the remainder of the amortization term.

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.

VA Mortgage
A mortgage that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Also known as a government mortgage.

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