Terms and Definitions

Regions Mortgage is dedicated to providing you will all of the information you may need in considering your new home purchase, refinance or home equity financing. Our Information Center provides you with an important resource to assist you in making the right decision.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

- A -

    The voluntary relinquishment of rights of ownership or other interest (such as an easement) by failure to use the property, coupled with an intent to abandon (give up the interest).
    A reduction or decrease. Usually applies to a decrease of assessed valuation of ad valorem taxes after the assessment and levy.
Abstract Of Title
    A compilation of the recorded documents relating to a parcel of land, from which an attorney may give an opinion as to the condition of title. Still in use in some states, but giving way to the use of title insurance.
Acceleration Clause
    Clause used in an installment note and mortgage (or deed of trust), which gives the lender the right to demand payment in full upon the happening of a certain event, such as failure to pay an installment by a certain date, change of ownership without the lender's consent, destruction of the property, or other event which endangers the security of the loan.
Access Rights
    A right to ingress and egress from one’s property. May be implied or expressed.
    A build-up of land by natural forces, such as wind, waters, or the flow of water.
    A formal declaration attached to or part of an instrument, made before an officer authorized to give an oath (usually a notary public), stating that the execution is of his own volition.
Acquisition Costs
    Costs of acquiring property other than purchase price: escrow fees, title insurance, lenders fees, etc.
Act Of God
    Damage caused by nature (floods, winds, etc.) rather than destruction by man.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM's)
    A mortgage loan or deed of trust which allows the lender to adjust the interest rate in accordance with a specified index periodically and as agreed to at the inception of the loan. Also called “variable rate mortgages” (VRMs).
Ad Valorem
    "According to value." A method of taxation using the value of the object taxed to determine the amount of tax. Taxes can be either "Ad Valorem" or "Specific." Example: A tax of $5.00 per $1000.00 of value per house is "Ad Valorem," A tax of $5.00 per house (irrespective of value) is "Specific."
    Federal or quasi-federal organization involved in mortgage lending, such as Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae.
American Land Title Association (ALTA)
    A national association of title insurance companies, abstractors, and agents. The association adopts standard title policy forms.
    Repayment of mortgage debt with periodic payments of both principal and interest, calculated to retire the obligation at the end of a fixed period of time.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
    A term defined in the federal Truth-in-Lending Act (15 USC 1606), which expresses on an annualized basis the charges imposed on the borrower to obtain a loan (defined in the Act as “finance charges”), including interest, discount and other costs.
    An opinion or estimate of value based upon a factual analysis. Legally, an estimation of value by two disinterested persons of suitable qualifications.
Appraisal Methods
    Generally, three major methods of appraisal: Cost Approach, Income Approach, Market Value (comparables) Approach.
    (1) Payment made after it is due is in arrears. (2) Interest is said to be paid in arrears since it is paid to the date of payment rather than in advance, as is rent. Example: A rental payment made July 1 pays the rent to August 1. An interest payment made July 1 pays the interest to July 1.
    A mortgage loan which can be transferred to another person without a change in the terms of the loan. VA and FHA loans are assumable, FHLMC and FNMA are not.
Assumption of Mortgage
    A buyer’s acceptance of primary liability for payment of an existing note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust. The seller remains secondarily liable, unless specifically released by the lender.
Avigation Easement
    An easement over private property abutting an airport runway, which limits the height of crops, trees, structures, etc., in the aircraft's take off and landing path.
[back to top]

- B -

Balloon Mortgage
    A mortgage with periodic installments of principal and interest that do not fully amortize the loan. The balance of the mortgage is due in a lump sum at a specified date, usually at the end of the term.
Balloon Payment
    The unpaid principal amount of a loan due on a specific date in the future. Usually the amount that must be paid in a lump sum at the end of the term.
    One who is adjudicated a bankrupt by a court having proper jurisdiction. The bankruptcy may be voluntary (petitioned by the bankrupt) or involuntary (petitioned by the creditors of the bankrupt).
    Proceedings under federal bankruptcy statutes to relieve a debtor (bankrupt) from insurmountable debt. The bankrupt's property is distributed by the court to the creditors as full satisfactions of the debts, in accordance with certain priorities and exemptions. Voluntary bankruptcy is petitioned by the debtor for, involuntary by the creditors.
    The Person who is entitled to receive funds of property under the terms and provisions of a will, trust, insurance policy or security instrument. In connection with a mortgage loan the beneficiary is the lender.
Bill Of Sale
    An instrument by which title to personal property is transferred or conveyed.
    Also known as accelerated mortgages. Biweeklies reduce interest expense and build home equity faster than monthly payments.
Bona Fide Purchaser
    A purchaser in good faith. for valuable consideration, without notice or knowledge of adverse claims of others. Sometimes abbreviated B.F.P.
Breach Of Warranty
    In real property, the failure of the seller to pass title as either expressed or implied (by law) in the conveyancing document.
Broker, Real Estate
    One who is licensed by the state to carry on the business of dealing in real estate. A broker may receive a commission for his or her part in bringing together a buyer and seller, landlord and tenant, or parties to an exchange.
    A payment to the lender from the seller, buyer, third party, or some combination of these, causing the lender to reduce the interest rate during the early years of a loan. The buydown is usually for the first 1 to 5 years of the loan.
Buy-Sell Offer
    An offer by one owner of a business or real estate to buy out the interest of another owner of the same business or real estate (a partner or other shareholder), or to sell the offeror's interest at the same price or proportionate price if unequal ownership. Example: A and B each own a 112 interest in Lot 1. A offers to buy B's interest for $10,000 or to sell A's interest to B for $10,000. Theoretically very fair, since B has the option to buy or sell. However, B's interest may be worth $12,000, but B is financially unable to buy A's interest (also worth $12,000).
[back to top]

- C -

    In a metes and bounds description, the angle and distance of a given line or arc. Each call is usually preceded by the word then or thence. Example: N 220 E 100' (lst. call), thence N 800 E 1W (2nd. call).
Cancellation Clause
    A clause in a lease or other contract, setting forth the conditions under which each party may cancel or terminate the agreement. The conditions may be as simple as giving notice or complex and require payment by the party desiring to cancel.
    The maximum which an adjustable rate mortgage may increase, regardless of index changes.
Capital Assets
    Assets of a permanent nature used to produce income, such as machinery, buildings, equipment, land, etc. Must be distinguished from inventory. A machine which makes pencils, for example, would be a capital asset to a pencil manufacturer, but inventory to the company whose business is to sell such machines.
Capital Gains
    Gains realized from the sale of capital assets. Generally, the difference between cost and selling price, less certain deductible expenses. Used mainly for income tax purposes.
Carrying Charges
    The costs involved in keeping a property which is intended to produce income (either by sale or rent) but has not yet done so.
CC and Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions)
    Limitations placed on the use and enjoyment of real property. These are found most often in condominiums and planned unit developments.
Certificate Of Title
    In areas where attorneys examine abstractor chains of title, a written opinion, executed by the examining attorney, stating that title is vested as stated in the abstract.
Chain of Title
    A chronological list of recorded instruments tracing title to land, from the original owner to the present owner.
Chains And Links
    Measurements. In real estate measurements(surveying) a chain is 66' long or 100 links, each link being 7.92". The measurement may change when used in fields other than surveying.
Classified Property Tax
    Property tax which varies in rate depending on the use (zoning classification) of the property.
Clear Title
    Title to property which is free from liens, defects or other encumbrances.
    (1) In real estate sales, the final procedure in which documents are executed and/or recorded, and the sale (or loan) is completed. (2) A selling term meaning the point at which the client or customer is asked to agree to the sale or purchase and sign the contract. (3) The final call in a metes and bounds legal description which "closes" the boundaries of the property.
Closing Costs
    Expenses, beyond the selling price, such as loan fees, title fees, etc. Paid when documents are executed and/or recorded and the sale is complete.
Closing Statement
    A financial disclosure giving an account of all funds received and expected at closing, including escrow deposits for taxes, hazard insurance, and mortgage insurance. All FHA, VA and most conventionally financed loans use a uniform settlement statement called the Closing Disclosure.
Cloud On Title
    An invalid encumbrance on real property, which, if valid, would affect the rights of the owner. For example: A sells Lot 1, tract 1, to B. The deed is mistakenly drawn to read Lot 2 by the recording of the erroneous deed. The cloud may be removed by quit claim deed, or, if necessary, by court action.
    To mix funds held in trust with other funds. For example: A broker or builder mixes deposits (should be in a trust account) with his funds by putting the deposits in his general account. Although commingling is in itself a violation for which a broker may lose his license, it does not mean that, by commingling, the broker or builder intended to misappropriate the funds.
    Compensation due a real estate lender for acting on behalf of the principal.
Community Property
    Property acquired during a marriage by either a husband or wife, or both, which is not separate property.
Comparables (Comps)
    An abbreviation for comparable properties used for comparative purposes in the appraisal process.
Conditional Sales Contract
    A sale in which the title to property or goods remains with the seller until the purchaser has fulfilled the terms of the contract, usually payment in full.
    A structure of two or more units, the interior space of which are individually owned: the balance of the property (both land and building) is owned in common by the owners of the individual units. The size of each unit is measured from the interior surfaces (exclusive of paint or other finishes) of the exterior walls, floors, and ceiling. The balance of the property is called the common area.
Conforming Mortgage Loan
    A mortgage loan which meets all requirements (size, type, and age) to be eligible for purchase and securitization by federal agencies.
    A required element in all contracts by which something of value, including a promise, is exchanged for the act or promise of another.
    Action conditioned upon a certain event. Acceptance of the terms of a contract based on something else happening or certain conditions being met.
    The transfer of title or an interest in real property by means of a written instrument such as a deed of trust.
    Financial status – the ability of borrowers to meet the terms of their obligations.
Credit Life
    Term life insurance paid by the borrower in which the amount of coverage decreases as the mortgage balance declines.  In the event the borrower dies while the policy is in force, the debt is automatically satisfied by insurance proceeds.
Credit Rating
    A rating given to a person or company that establishes creditworthiness based upon present financial condition, experience and past credit history.
Credit Report
    A report run by an independent credit agency which verifies certain information concerning an applicant’s credit standing.
[back to top]

- D -

Declaration Of Trust
    A written acknowledgement by one holding legal title to property that the property is held in trust for the benefit of another.
    Actually, any one of many conveyancing or financing instruments, but generally a conveyancing instrument, given to pass fee title to property upon sale.
    A deed given by a borrower/mortgage to a lender/mortgagee to satisfy a debt and avoid foreclosure.
Deed Of Trust
    An instrument used in many states in place of a mortgage. Property is transferred to a trustee by the borrower (trustor) in favor of the lender (beneficiary), and reconveyed upon payment in full.
Deficiency Judgment
    Commonly the amount for which the borrower is personally liable on a note and mortgage if the foreclosure sale does not bring enough to cover the debt. Actually, the judgment is for the total amount and not for the deficiency, the recovery from the foreclosure sale being deducted from this amount.
    In conveyancing, the placing of the property in the actual or constructive possession of the grantee. Usually accomplished by delivery of a deed to the buyer, or by recording said deed.
Demand Letter
    Correspondence sent to the borrower indicating that unless the loan is made current within a certain time frame, the lender can, by virtue of default, declare the entire principal balance outstanding as well as all interest due under the note to be due and payable.
    (1) Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase. Shows good faith. Also called earnest money. (2) A natural accumulation of resources (oil, gold, etc.) which may be commercially recovered and marketed.
    (1) Decrease in value to real property improvements caused by deterioration or obsolescence. (2) A loss in value as an accounting procedure to use as a deduction for income tax purposes.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
    A cabinet –level agency of the federal government. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 authorized the agency to administer a variety of benefit programs designed to facilitate the adjustment of returning veterans to civilian life. Among the benefit programs is the VA Home Loan Guaranty program, which encourages mortgage lenders to offer long-term, low down payment financing to eligible veterans by partially guaranteeing the lender against loss upon foreclosure.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
    A governmental entity responsible for the implementation and administration of housing and urban development programs. HUD was established by the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 to supersede the Housing and Home Finance Authority.
Discount Points
    The fee associated with the note rate for your loan. The more discount points you pay, the lower the rate you can buy. The fewer you pay, the higher your rate.
Disposition of Real Estate Statement
    A statement that the buyer will occupy the property being purchased even though the buyer owns other property. The buyer states that the other property will be sold or rented. Particulars must be given as to any loan on the property and the equity or rent to payment amounts.
Documentary Transfer Tax
    The tax, based on sales price, less loans which are being assumed, which is charged by the city and/or county on the transfer of real property.
Due on-Sale-Clause
    A clause in a mortgage loan which gives the lender the right to demand payment in full when the property changes ownership. Not applicable to FHA or VA loans.
[back to top]