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Mortgage ResourcesMortgage Resources and Information

Looking for more information about the mortgage industry?  Use our list of resources to help you better understand everything from industry terminology to the home buying process.


Click the links below to access useful information about the home buying process.

Mortgage Basics

Mortgage Checklist

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a checklist to help get your financial documents in order to prepare you for the loan application process:

All Applications:

Employer information for the last 2 years: names, addresses, phone numbers

Your home addresses for the last 2 years

W-2 forms for all jobs in the last 2 years

Most recent 30 days of pay stubs, including year-to -date earnings

Signed personal tax returns for the last 2 years with all schedules (self-employed only)

Most recent bank statements for all accounts – ALL PAGES

Most recent statement for any stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, 401Ks, etc

Additional Documentation if Applicable

Fully executed copy of sales contract with all riders and attorney information

Gift letter, fully executed

Divorce decree

Renters: Last 2 years landlord(s) name(s), address(es) and phone number(s)

For each other property owned: address, current market value, debt on property, taxes and lease/rental agreements of Schedule E form tax returns

Bankruptcy discharge papers and any credit obtained since bankruptcy

Corporate tax returns – Applicable for Self Employed

Partnership returns – Applicable for Self Employed
Year-to-date profit -and- loss statement – Applicable for Self Employed

Understanding Credit


A credit score or FICO (Fair, Isaac and Company) is a numerical evaluation assessing your credit worthiness based on credit history and current credit accounts. This score, along with your existing debt, income and employment status is a factor of your mortgage approval.


This is one of the most important factors in a FICO® Score. It determines whether or not you’ve consistently paid your past bills and credit accounts on time.


This is based on the outstanding debt you have in comparison to your credit limits. For best results, keep your card balances at 25% or less of their limits.


This comprises accounts opened, specific types of accounts and time since account activity.


This is the number of recently opened accounts and credit inquiries, the time since recent account opening and reestablishment of positive credit history following past payment problems.


This is the number of various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance, etc.) on your report.


It can take time to repair your credit score. In fact, quick fix efforts may backfire. The best plan is to manage your credit responsibly over time.

Pay your bills on time.

Be aware that paying off a collection does not remove it from your credit report. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or meet with a legitimate credit counselor.

Keep balances low on credit cards.

Pay off debt instead of moving it around. Don’t close unused credit cards as a short term strategy to raise your score. Don’t open a number of unnecessary credit lines just to increase your available credit.

If you’ve been managing credit for a short time, don’t open several new accounts.

New accounts will lower your average account age and can appear risky for new credit users.

Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a focused period of time.

If you make casual inquiries, it will look as though you’re searching for numerous credit lines, rather than researching one line.

Open new credit accounts only as needed.

Manage credit cards responsibly. Note that closing an account doesn’t remove it from your credit report.

Credit Management

All lenders pull credit reports from three major national credit repositories: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Review the following credit factors to better understand how your score is determined:

New Credit

When rate shopping for a home loan, do your research within a focused period of time. Making casual inquiries appears to credit reporting agencies as if you’re seeking multiple credit lines – instead of searching for a mortgage.

Account Management

Manage your credit cards and other loans responsibly. Only apply for and open new accounts as needed.


Credit reporting agencies retain information regarding your current balances for all liens and debts. It’s always best to pay off existing credit card debt instead of moving it to other similar creditors.

Payment History

If you’ve missed payments for your mortgage, credit card, student loan, or car get current and stay current. Once you’ve paid off an existing debt or collection, these items remain on your credit report.

Credit History

If you’ve been managing credit for a short period of time, don’t rush to open new accounts. Numerous accounts opened too quickly can lower your average account age. For the same reason, don’t cancel accounts once they’ve been paid.
If you’ve recently pulled your credit report and would like to “clean-up” or address any errors, call PERL to discuss ways to maintain and improve your score. You can also contact credit bureaus directly:

PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013

PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30348

PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022


Excellent. Leads to premium rates and programs.

650 – 720
Very good. Creates ease in obtaining new credit.

620 – 650
Good. Can suggest a second look from some lenders, and may require additional documentation.

620 and below
Challenging. May prevent a borrower from receiving the best interest rates.

Mortgage Terms



Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
A mortgage for which the interest rate, after a given period of time, is adjusted periodically according to the movement of a pre-selected index.
A payment plan enabling a borrower to reduce debt through gradual monthly principal payments. An “Amortization Schedule” is a timetable for mortgage loan payments.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The total yearly cost of a mortgage including rate of interest paid. Includes the base interest rate, points, and any other add-on loan fees and costs. The APR is higher for the rate of interest than what the lender quotes for the mortgage, because most mortgages are not held for their full 15 or 30-year terms. The effective APR is higher than the quoted APR because points and loan fees are spread out over fewer years.
A licensed appraiser’s professional opinion of a property’s fair market value, based on an appraiser’s knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property.
An increase in the value of a house due to changes in market conditions or other causes.
A monetary value assigned to a property for the strict purpose of taxation. May also refer to a collection of money created by a property for a specific purpose, such as installing a new roof, sewer system, etc.
Any item of monetary value owned by a person. Assets include real property, personal property, and enforceable claims against others (including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, etc.).
The transfer of a mortgage from one person to another.
Assumption of Mortgage
An obligation taken on by a property purchaser, creating legal liability for payment of an existing mortgage. In taking on this liability, the purchaser replaces the original mortgagor – who is released from further liability in the assumption. The current mortgagee’s consent is usually required.


A person, firm, or corporation that, through a court proceeding, is relieved of the payment of all debts after the surrender of all assets to a court-appointed trustee.
A person designated to receive the income from a trust, estate, or a deed of trust.
Binder or “Offer to Purchase”
A preliminary agreement between a buyer and seller to purchase real estate within agreed terms and time. This agreement is secured by the payment of earnest money. If the buyer changes his mind or is unable to purchase, earnest money is forfeited unless otherwise expressed in the binder.
One who receives funds with the expressed or implied intention of repaying the loan in full.
Bridge Loan
A form of second trust collateralized by the borrower’s present home (which is usually for sale) in a manner allowing the proceeds to be used for closing on a new house before the present home is sold.
An individual in the business of arranging or negotiating – but not funding – financing for a client. Brokers typically charge a fee or receive a commission for their services.
Buy Down
Money advanced by an individual (seller, builder, etc.) to reduce monthly payments for a mortgage either during the entire term or for an initial period of years.


A provision of an ARM limiting how much an interest rate or mortgage payments may increase.
Cash-out Refinance
A transaction in which the amount of money received from a new loan exceeds the total required to repay an existing first mortgage, closing costs, points, and the amount required to satisfy any outstanding subordinate mortgage liens.
Certificate of Title
A certificate issued by a title company (or a written opinion rendered by an attorney) attesting that the seller has good marketable and insurable title to the property, which he is offering for sale. A certificate of title offers no protection against any hidden defects in the title, which an examination of the records could not reveal. The issuer of a certificate of title is liable only for damages due to negligence.
Chain of Title
The transfer history of all title documents relating to real property, beginning with the earliest existing document and ending with the most recent.
Clear title
A title that is free of liens, and clear of legal questions regarding property ownership.
The event where a sale is finalized. The buyer signs the mortgage and pays closing costs. The certificate of title, abstract and deed are generally prepared for the closing by an attorney or closing agent, whose service is charged to the buyer. The final closing confirms the original agreement reached in the agreement of sale. Also called “settlement.”
Closing Costs
Expenses (over and above the price of the property) incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property. Also called “Settlement Costs.”
An asset (such as a car or a home) that guarantees the repayment of a loan. A borrower risks losing the asset if the loan is not repaid according to the terms of the loan contract.
The process used to bring a delinquent mortgage current – and by filing foreclosure notices when necessary.
Commitment Letter
A lender’s formal offer stating the terms under which it agrees to loan money to a homebuyer.
Common Areas
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 the common areas’ operation and maintenance.
An abbreviation for comparable properties that have characteristics similar to the property under consideration. Comparables are analyzed to approximate the fair market value of the subject property. Characteristics such as size, location and amenities are considered for the appraisal process.
Individual ownership of a dwelling unit –and an individual interest in the common areas and facilities – which serve the multi-unit project.
Condominium Conversion
Occurs when the ownership changes for an existing building (usually a rental project) to the condominium form of ownership.
Construction Loan
A short-term loan for funding the cost of construction. The lender advances funds to the builder as work progresses.
Consumer Reporting Agency (or Bureau)
An organization that prepares reports used by lenders to determine a potential borrower’s credit history. A credit repository, along with other sources, provides data for these reports.
A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding.
In the construction industry, the individual who contracts to erect buildings or portions of buildings. Contractors are used for each phase of construction: heating, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, road building, bridge and dam erection, and others.
Conventional Mortgage
Any mortgage not insured or guaranteed by the federal government.
Convertibility Clause
A provision in some adjustable rate mortgages (ARM’s) that allows the borrower to change the ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage at a specified time. A Convertible ARM is an adjustable-rate mortgage that can be converted to a fixed-rate mortgage under specified conditions.
Cooperative (co-op)
A type of multiple ownership in which residents of a multi-unit complex own shares in a 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.
Cooperative Housing
An apartment building or a group of dwellings owned by a corporation with the residents acting as stockholders. The dwellings are operated by an elected board of directors for the residents’ benefit.
A written letter of agreement detailing the terms and conditions by which a lender will lend – and a borrower will borrow funds – to finance a home.
Credit History
A record of an individual’s debts (both open and fully repaid). A credit history helps a lender determine whether a potential borrower has a history of repaying debts in a timely manner.
A person to whom money is owed.
Credit Report
A report, prepared by a credit bureau, outlining an individual’s credit history. A lender uses this report to determine a loan applicant’s creditworthiness.
Credit Repository
An organization that gathers, records, updates, and stores financial and public records data about the payment records of individuals under consideration for credit.


Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)
Ratio of aggregate monthly debt to aggregate monthly income.
A deed given by a mortgagor to a mortgagee to satisfy a debt and avoid foreclosure. Also called a “voluntary conveyance.”
Deed of Trust
A transaction where real property is given as security for a debt. The borrower, the trustee and the lender (or beneficiary) are all parties to this transaction. The borrower transfers the legal title for the property to the trustee who holds the property in trust as security for the payment of the debt to the lender. If the borrower pays the debt as agreed, the deed of trust becomes void. If the borrower defaults in the debt payment, the trustee may sell the property at a public sale, under the terms of the deed of trust. Often the borrower is subject to having his property sold without the benefit of legal proceedings. A few states have recently begun to treat the deed of trust as if it were a mortgage.
A failure to make mortgage payments on a timely basis, and/or a failure to comply with other conditions of a mortgage.
A loan in which a payment is overdue but not yet in default.
A decline in the value of property; the opposite of “appreciation.”
Discount Points
Please see [Link to “Points”] Points.
Down Payment
A portion of the purchase price paid for, in cash, by the buyer.


Earnest Money
Deposit money given to the seller (or his agent) by a potential buyer upon signing of an agreement of sale to indicate the buyer’s intention. If a sale goes through, earnest money is applied against the down payment. If a sale does not go through, earnest money will be forfeited or lost unless the binder or offer to purchase expressly provides otherwise.
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 come from more than one source. Salary is generally the principal source, but other income may qualify if significant and stable.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)
A federal law requiring 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.
The difference between the market value of a property and the homeowner’s outstanding mortgage balance.
Equity Loan
A loan originated prior to closing based on the borrower’s equity in his or her home. An equity loan can also act as account into which a homeowner pays money to the lender for taxes and insurance.
Escrow Account
The account in which a mortgage servicer holds the borrower’s escrow payments prior to paying property expenses.
Escrow Collections
Funds collected by the servicing agency 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.
An individual’s ownership interest in real property; the total of all real and personal property owned by an individual at time of death.


Fair Credit Reporting Act
A consumer protection law regulating the disclosure of consumer credit reports by consumer/credit reporting agencies. Established procedures for correcting mistakes on one’s credit record.
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.
FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).
Provides insurance of accounts for institutions whose deposits were formerly covered by the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation. (FSLIC).
Fee Simple
The greatest possible interest a person can hold in real estate.
FHA (Federal Housing Administration)
A division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA’s main activity is to insure residential mortgage loans made by private lenders, and to set standards for construction and underwriting. FHA does not lend money, nor does it plan or construct housing.
FHA Loan
A loan guaranteed or purchased the Federal Housing Administration.
FHLMC (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation or “Freddie Mac”)
A private corporation authorized by Congress, which later became an independent, stockholder-owned government corporation. Freddie Mac promotes the flow of funds into housing markets by purchasing conventional mortgages in the secondary market and selling securities backed by those mortgages in the capital market.
Finance Charge
The total dollar amount a loan will cost, including all interest payments for the life of the loan, any interest paid at closing, origination fee and any other charges paid to the lender and/or broker. Appraisal, credit report and title search fees are not included in the finance charge.
First Mortgage
A mortgage holding first claim in the event of default.
Fixed Installment
The monthly payment due on a mortgage loan.
Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM)
A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change for the life of the loan.
FNMA (Federal National Mortgage Association or “Fannie Mae”)
A government-sponsored corporation, owned solely by private investors, created to provide support to the secondary market for FHA, VA, and conventional mortgages.
Flood Insurance
Insurance compensating for physical property damage resulting from flooding. Required for properties located in federally designated flood areas.
The loss of money, property, rights, or privileges due to a breach of legal obligation.
The process by which a property may be sold when a mortgage is in default.
Fully amortized ARM
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a monthly payment sufficient to amortize the remaining balance, at the interest accrual rate, over the amortization term.


Gift Letter
A letter or affidavit indicating that a portion of the down payment is supplied by the borrower’s relatives or friends in the form of a gift, which does not have to be repaid.
Good Faith Estimate
The estimate of charges a borrower is likely to incur in connection with a loan closing.
Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM)
A mortgage where payments are scheduled to increase, usually annually, for a set number of years, and then level off. A GPM can be used with a fixed or adjustable interest rate, and usually carries a 30-year term.
The buyer or recipient of a deed.
The seller or provider of a deed.
Gross Monthly Income
The total dollar amount a borrower earns per month, excluding any taxes or expenses. Often used in calculations to determine whether a borrower qualifies for a particular loan.


Hazard Insurance
Insurance protecting both homeowner and lender against physical damage to a property from fire, wind, vandalism, or other hazards.
Homeowner’s Insurance
An insurance policy combining liability coverage with hazard insurance.
Homeowner’s Warranty
A type of insurance covering repairs to specified parts of a house for a specific period of time.
Housing Ratio
The ratio of a monthly housing payment to total gross monthly income. Also called “Payment-to-Income Ratio” or “Front-End Ratio.”
HUD (Department of Housing & Urban Development)
Cabinet department responsible for the implementation and administration of government housing and urban development programs.


IAMB (Illinois Association of Mortgage Brokers)
Membership organization providing oversight and licensure to mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers in the State of Illinois.
Income Property
Real estate developed or improved with the intent to produce income.
Index (a.k.a. “Rate Index”)
A regularly published rate, which is independent of the lending institution. Used to measure the prevailing cost of funds and set accrual rates with the “margin.”
An increase in the general price level of goods and services as a result of an increase in the amount of money or credit available. As a result, a dollar’s purchasing power is reduced.
Initial Interest Rate
The original interest rate of a mortgage at the time of closing.
Installment loan
A loan repaid in equal payments, known as installments.
A contract providing compensation for specific losses in exchange for a periodic payment. An individual contract is known as the insurance policy, and the periodic payment is known as the insurance premium.
The fee charged for borrowing money.
Interest-Only Loan
A loan in which the borrower pays only the interest due on a loan. When possible, the borrower may pay down the principal as well.
Interest Accrual Rate
The percentage rate at which interest accrues on a mortgage. Also often used to calculate monthly payments, although not for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) with payment change limitations.
Interest Rate
The percentage of a loan amount which is repaid for its use over a specified time.
Interest Rate Cap
A provision for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) limiting the amount an interest rate may increase during an adjustment period.
Interest Rate Floor
For an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), the minimum interest rate, as specified in the mortgage note.
Investment Property
A property not occupied by the owner.
IRA (Individual Retirement Account)
A personal retirement fund account allowing tax-deferred contributions into bank accounts or other forms of investments such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.


Joint Tenancy
Co-ownership giving each tenant equal interest and rights to a property. Also includes the right of survivorship, for which, in the event of death of one party, the survivor owns the property in its entirety.
A decision made by a court of law. For judgments requiring debt repayment, the court may place a lien against the debtor’s real property as collateral for the judgment’s creditor.
Judgment Lien
A lien on a debtor’s property resulting from a court decree.
Jumbo Loan (Non-Conforming Loan)
Any loan whose amount exceeds the amount eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.


Late Charge
A penalty a borrower must pay a lender when a payment is received after a stated number of days (usually 15) after the agreed-upon due date.
A written agreement between a property owner and a tenant stipulating conditions under which the tenant may possess real estate for a specified period of time.
Legal Description
A lawfully recognized property description. Sufficient to locate and identify the property without oral testimony.
An institution providing loans to borrowers for real estate acquisition.
Financial obligations including long-term debt, short-term debt, and any other amounts owed to others.
Liability Insurance
Insurance coverage offering protection against claims alleging a property owner’s negligence or inappropriate action resulted in bodily injury or property damage to another party.
A legal claim against a property. Must be paid when the property is sold.
Lifetime Cap
A provision of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) limiting the total increase in interest rates over the life of the loan.
Lifetime Payment Cap
A provision of an ARM limiting a payment’s increase or decrease over the life of a loan.
Line of Credit
An agreement by a commercial bank or other financial institution to extend credit for a specified amount and time to a specified borrower.
Liquid Asset
A cash asset, or an asset easily converted into cash.
A sum of money borrowed (also known as “principal”). Generally repaid with interest.
Loan Commitment
A lender’s formal offer stating terms for a loan to a homebuyer.
Loan Origination
The process by which a mortgage lender secures a mortgage for real property.
Loan Servicing
Tasks a lender performs to protect a mortgage investment, including collecting monthly payments from borrowers and dealing with delinquencies.
Loan-To-Value (LTV)
The ratio of the original loan amount to the lesser of 1.) the sales price or, 2.) the appraised value.
The period, expressed in days, during which a lender will guarantee an interest rate.


Premium set by a lender for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). The margin, when added to the “index,” delivers the fully indexed rate.
The date on which the principal balance of a loan, bond, or other financial instrument becomes due and payable.
Merged Credit Report
A credit report containing data from three national credit repositories (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union), which are combined to provide a credit summary.
The amount the lender adds to the “index” to determine the Fully Indexed Accrual Rate.
Monthly Housing Expense
Total principal, interest, taxes, and insurance paid by a borrower on a monthly basis. With gross income, used to determine a borrower’s ability to afford real estate.
Monthly Payment Mortgage
A mortgage requiring monthly payments to reduce a loan.
A legal document pledging real estate to the lender as security for repayment of a loan.
Mortgage Banker
A company originating mortgages exclusively for resale in the secondary market.
Mortgage Broker
A company paid to match borrowers with lenders.
The lender in a mortgage agreement.
Mortgage Commitment
A written notice from a bank or other lending institution indicating an advance of mortgage funds in a specified amount to enable a buyer to purchase real estate.
Mortgage Insurance Premium
A payment made by a borrower to a lender for transmittal to HUD. This payments helps defray the cost of the FHA mortgage insurance program, and provides a reserve fund to protect lenders against loss in insured mortgage transactions.
Mortgage Note
A written agreement, secured by a mortgage, to repay a loan. Serves as proof of indebtedness, and states the loan amount – and terms under which the loan shall be repaid.
The borrower in a mortgage agreement.
Multi-Dwelling Units
Single-mortgage properties providing separate housing units for more than one family.
Multifamily Mortgage
A residential mortgage on a dwelling designed to house more than four families, such as a high-rise apartment complex.


Negative Amortization (“Deferred Interest”)
A gradual increase in mortgage debt as a result of a monthly payment lower than the cost of the principal and interest due.
Net Cash Flow
An investment property’s monthly operating income. Calculated after monthly housing expenses are paid, including principal, interest, taxes, insurance (PITI) for mortgage, homeowners’ association dues, leasehold payments, and subordinate financing payments.
Net Effective Income
Gross income less federal income tax.
Net Worth
Value of all assets (including cash) less total liabilities.
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% of the principal amount of the new mortgage).
Non-Conforming Loan
A loan whose amount exceeds the amount eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. All loans above this amount are considered non-conforming or “Jumbo” loans.
Non-Liquid Asset
An asset that cannot be easily converted into cash.
A legal document obligating a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.
Note Rate
A mortgage note’s stated interest rate.
Notice of Default
A formal written notice to a borrower indicating that a default has occurred, and that legal action may be taken.


OBRE (Office of Banks and Real Estate)
State chartered oversight division regulating mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers in the State of Illinois.
Original Principal Balance
The total amount of principal owed on a mortgage before payments are made.
Owner Financing
A transaction wherein a property seller provides all (or a portion) of the financing.
Owner Occupied
A property serving as the owner’s primary residence.


Payment Adjustment Period
The length of time (typically a year) between changes to the borrower’s P&I (Principal & Interest) payment.
Payment Buy Down
A payment made by a third party (typically a builder) towards the initial P&I to provide a borrower with smaller monthly payments for a specified amount of time.
Payment Cap
A limit on the amount a payment can be changed at the end of each Payment Adjustment Period.
Payment Discount
A decrease of the first year’s interest rate as an incentive for borrowers.
Periodic Rate Cap
A limit on the amount that an interest rate can increase or decrease during a single adjustment period, regardless of how high or low the index might be.
Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance are components of a mortgage payment.
A map or chart of a lot, subdivision or community drawn by a surveyor showing boundary lines, buildings, improvements on the land, and easements.
A one-time charge by the lender to increase the yield of the loan; a point is 1% of the amount of the mortgage.
Power of Attorney
A legal document authorizing an individual to act on another’s behalf – either completely or in a limited capacity and/or amount of time.
Payment of mortgage loan, or part of it, before its due date.
Statement issued by an underwriter to a borrower pre-approving the loan application, which provides debt, income and savings information to the underwriter.
Process of determining the dollar amount a prospective homebuyer will be eligible to borrow prior to completing a mortgage application.
Prime Rate
The interest rates that banks charge to their preferred customers.
The borrowed or remaining unpaid portion of a loan.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Insurance provided by nongovernmental insurers protecting lenders against loss, should a borrower default. Typically charged to the borrower when the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is less than 80%.
Promissory Note
A promise, in writing, 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.
Planned Unit Development (PUD)
A project or subdivision including common property that is owned and maintained by a homeowners’ association for the benefit and use of the individual PUD unit owners.
Purchase Agreement
Agreement between the seller of real estate and a potential buyer.
Purchase Transaction
The acquisition of property through the payment of money or its equivalent.


Qualifying Ratios
Two ratios used to determine whether a borrower qualifies for a mortgage. The “top” or “front” ratio calculates the borrower’s monthly housing costs (principle, interest, taxes and insurance) as a percentage of monthly income. The “back” or “bottom” ratio includes housing costs as well as other monthly debt.
Quitclaim Deed
A deed transferring, without warranty, interest or title a grantor may have at the time conveyance is made.


Rate Caps
Also called “Interest Rate Caps.” A limit on the amount of change allowed to a borrower’s interest rate.
Rate Lock
Commitment made by a lender to a borrower (or other mortgage originator) guaranteeing a specific interest rate for a specific period of time at a specific cost.
Real Estate Broker
An agent buying or selling real estate for a company, firm, or individual for a commission. A broker does not hold title to the property, but generally represents the owner.
RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act)
A Federal law requiring lenders to provide mortgage borrowers with information about known (or estimated) settlement costs.
Real Property
Land and appurtenances, including anything of a permanent nature (such as structures, trees, and minerals) and the interest, benefits, and inherent rights thereof.
A real estate broker or associate who holds active membership in a local real estate board affiliated with the National Association of Realtors.
The cancellation or annulment of a transaction or contract by law or mutual consent.
A public official who maintains public records of executed legal property documents (such as a deed, mortgage note, satisfaction of a mortgage or an extension of a mortgage) affecting real property in an area.
Rehabilitation Mortgage (Rehab Loan)
A mortgage created to cover costs of improving or acquiring existing property.
Remaining Balance
The amount of loan principal remaining to be repaid.
Remaining Term
The original amortization term minus the number of payments applied to the loan.
Repayment Plan
A borrower’s arrangement to repay delinquent installments or advances. Also called “relief provisions.”
Replacement Reserve Fund
A fund set aside for replacement of common property in a condominium, PUD, or cooperative project – particularly for items carrying a short life expectancy (carpeting, furniture, etc.).
Revolving Liability
A credit arrangement (such as a credit card) allowing a customer to borrow against a pre-approved line of credit when purchasing goods and services. The borrower is billed for the amount actually borrowed, plus any interest due.
Right of First Refusal
A provision in an agreement requiring a property owner to provide another party with the first opportunity to purchase or lease real estate before the owner offers it to others.
Right of Survivorship
In joint tenancy, the right of survivors to acquire the interest of a deceased joint tenant.


Second Mortgage
A secondary lien subordinating to the rights of the first mortgage holders. Can be originated to replace a lender’s requirement for Mortgage Insurance for loans carrying a loan-to-value ratio less than 80%. Second mortgages may carry fixed or adjustable rates.
Secondary Mortgage Market
Buying and selling of existing mortgages.
Seller-Provided Funds (“Seller Contributions”)
Transaction costs paid by a seller, excluding a real estate agent’s (or broker’s) fee.
The party who has entered into an agreement to service a loan.
Single Premium
A premium providing insurance coverage for more than one year.
Special Assessments
Special taxes imposed on property, individual lots or all property in an immediate area for road construction, sidewalks, sewers, streetlights, etc.
Special Warranty Deed
A deed in which a grantor conveys title to a grantee, and agrees to protect the grantee against title defects or claims asserted by the grantor and those persons whose right to assert a claim against the title may have arisen during a period in which the grantor held title to the property.
A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor displaying a property’s elevations, improvements, boundaries, and relationship to surrounding tracts of land.


A charge on persons, property or income used to support the State, which in turn utilizes the funds in the best interest of the general public.
Tax Lien
A claim against real estate for a specific amount of unpaid taxes.
Teaser Rate
A large initial rate discount offered by a lender to a qualified borrower for the purpose of securing real estate financing.
Tenancy by the Entirety
A type of joint tenancy. Provides the right of survivorship to a husband and wife.
Tenancy in Common
A type of ownership. Does not pass ownership to other owners in the event of death.
Third Party Origination
A process by which a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund, or package a mortgage it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage market.
The rights of ownership and possession of particular property. May refer to instruments or documents by which right of ownership is established. May also refer to an individual’s ownership interest in real estate.
Title Company
A company specializing in examining and insuring real estate titles.
Title Insurance
Protects lenders or homeowners against loss of interest in property due to a title’s legal defects. Benefits are paid to the “named insured” in the title policy. Accordingly, the owner must purchase an “owner’s title policy” for title insurance protection.
Title Search or Examination
A search of title records (generally at a local courthouse) to ensure a buyer is purchasing real estate from a legal owner without liens, overdue special assessments, or other claims or outstanding restrictive covenants filed in the record.
Total Debt Ratio
The ratio of monthly debt and housing payments to the gross monthly income.
Total Expense Ratio
A percentage of gross monthly including monthly housing expenses and other monthly debts.
Trade Equity
Equity resulting from a property purchaser providing existing property (or another asset) as trade for all or a portion of the down payment for the subject property.
Transfer of Ownership
Means by which the ownership of a property changes hands.
Transfer Tax
State or local tax payable when title passes from one owner to another.
Treasury Index
Index used to determine interest rate changes for certain adjustable rate mortgages (ARM’s).
A party placed in a position of legally enforced responsibility to hold property in the best interest of or “for the benefit of” another.
Truth-In-Lending (TIL)
A Federal Law requiring lenders to fully disclose, in writing, the terms and conditions of a mortgage, including the APR and other charges, on a Truth-In-Lending form, or “TIL.”
Two- to Four-Family Property
A single-deeded property consisting of a structure with living space (dwelling units) for two to four families.


An evaluation of a loan application used to determine risk involved for a lender, depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness, ability to repay the debt, and the quality of the property.
Unsecured Loan
A loan not supported by collateral.


Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Agency of the Federal Government guaranteeing residential mortgages to eligible veterans of the military services. The guarantee protects the lender against loss, and encourages lenders to make mortgages to veterans.
VA Loan
Government loan guaranteed or purchased by the Veteran’s Administration.


Wraparound Mortgage
A mortgage carrying 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 payments of the first mortgage to the first mortgagee.

First Time Home Buyers

Home Buyers Guide

The process of obtaining a home loan is simple, but contains several important steps. Cross County Mortgage promises to make the loan process smooth and stress-free. Since Cross Country Mortgage is set up with in-house processing, underwriting, document production, funding, and closing departments, we maintain full control over your loan from beginning to end. You never have to wait on third-party approvals or underwriting delays.
We hope you find this overview of home financing to be informative, and we look forward to guiding you on your journey to home ownership!

The Cross Country Mortgage Advantage

Access to the most competitive mortgage rates and innovative mortgage products available in the market
Fast processing and underwriting, secure loan management, and reliable and friendly loan closings.
An experienced, licensed mortgage professionals dedicated to the immediate health of your mortgage and long-term success of your financial strategy.
Learn more about the home buying process:
5 Things to Know When Shopping for a Home
Home Loan Process Fees

Getting Started

Finding your dream home might be challenging, but obtaining the perfect financing is simple when you work with Cross Country Mortgage. As you probably know, a mortgage is a loan used to purchase a home – and selecting the right mortgage involves working with an experienced professional who knows how to lead you through the process. When you meet with your Cross Country Mortgage advisor, you’ll discuss your financial background, employment, current financial goals, and future plans.
The pre-approval process is the first step in the home buying process. A pre-approval document is generated by Cross Country Mortgage supporting your ability, as a buyer, to repay your forthcoming mortgage. It often involves a complete loan application and a summary providing valuable information to your real estate agent relating to the amount you can afford and other applicable conditions.

5 Things to Know When Shopping for a Home

Credit History

Your credit score will play a big factor not only in your mortgage approval but also the rate you receive. This score is influenced by your responsibility: Do you have a consistent history of paying your bills on time? A lower credit score does not automatically disqualify you – there are options for every type of borrower. We will help you review your credit report and help you repair your score during the pre-approval process.

Monthly Debt

The total amount of money you owe to creditors factors into your eligibility for different types of mortgage programs. We will review your monthly debt obligations, as well as the proposed mortgage payment. When assessed alongside your monthly income, these produce a monthly debt ratio, which is used as the benchmark for mortgage approval.


Job and income stability are as important as the debt you carry, since they speak directly to your ability to pay back your mortgage. We will review all of your usable income, including salaries, commissions, collected rent, and any other supplemental money you may make throughout the year, and determine whether you can afford the mortgage you are looking to receive.


Your assets describe the savings you have now. How much can you afford to put down as an initial payment? Do you have reserves in other, less liquid instruments, such as retirement programs or money market accounts? Note that although having a large asset base will help you qualify for the loan, there are options that may allow you to move forward even without money down. We can help advise you on usable assets and whether or not any of your funds should be moved or adjusted in order to give you the easiest possible path to approval.


Any large purchases or major fund transfers between the start of the process and closing the sale could change your credit and asset levels, and affect your ability to qualify for the mortgage. Consult with us before making any such purchases.

Home Loan Process Fees

A home purchase requires you to budget and organize your finances very specifically. There are several different fees associated with the process, and having the funds available to pay those fees when they occur will be crucial towards your goal of owning a home.

Down Payment

The formula here is simple: The more money you can pay up-front, the less you will need to borrow, and the less you need to borrow, the less you need to pay each month for your mortgage. Under some circumstances, you may still qualify for a mortgage with little to no money down, so make sure to discuss your options with us.

Closing Costs

There are several individuals and organizations involved with any home purchase, and their services incur fees. You will need to prepare your budget for appraisal costs, attorney fees, lender fees, and costs related to title company services. We will help you estimate the total for these additional fees.


By law, any homeowner must attain an insurance policy to safeguard against losses due to fire, flood, or storm damage. You can either pay this premium separately, or use escrow to include your premium payment along with your mortgage payment. Shop around to get the best possible price.

Home Inspections

You will obviously want to know your new home inside and out before you make a purchase, and the best way to get a full picture is to employ the services of a professional home inspector. This cost is separate from the mortgage lending process; it is paid to the inspection company and is not refundable, even if the home purchase itself does not go through.


There are many legal matters involved with a new home purchase, and they can be confusing to navigate without the aid of an attorney. You may wish to contract this legal help to review contracts, resolve any disputes between yourself and the seller, and make sure all of your documentation is properly filled out and processed.


The final and most exciting event of the home buying process is the closing. At the closing, you’ll sign a closing package containing numerous documents including your final mortgage note and settlement sheet outlining your agreement with the
seller. Before you dash out the door to close the deal, make sure you have the following items and information:

Required Funds

Bring a cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs. Make the check out to yourself – you’ll endorse the check to the title company at the closing.


Write down the time and address of the title company – along with the phone number. If you’re running late, call the title company and ask them to inform the closer of your situation.

Extra Time

Cross Country Mortgage strives to streamline the loan process – and is always on time. However, third parties can cause delays. Don’t plan any major events – especially a moving deadline – too soon after your closing, unless you’ve arranged for an alternate person to supervise your move.

Power of Attorney

Many clients plan to sign their documents on behalf of themselves AND their co-owners. This can ONLY be done with a Power of Attorney document stating that the absent borrower gives the present borrower signatory privileges for the closing.


Bring at least one form of picture identification such as a driver’s license, state ID or U.S. Passport. Please ensure that this documentation has not expired.

Loan Programs & Products

Loan Programs And Products

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

A mortgage in which the interest rate is fixed for a specified period of time, and then adjusts after the fixed period expires (payment could then increase or decrease). For example, for a 5/1 ARM, the rate will stay the same for the first 5 years – and will then adjust in year 6. ARM products generally range from 3, 5, 7 and 10 years, and is an alternative to a fixed rate mortgage. These products typically offer lower interest rates than you’d be able to obtain with a fixed rate mortgage.

FHA Loan

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loans were created to make it easier for home owners to qualify for a loan – whether you are buying a home or refinancing your mortgage. They are also ideal for people who desire a secure government-insured home loan, and need to finance more that 80% of their home value. With an FHA mortgage, you can buy a home with a down payment as little as 3.5% and lower credit scores.

Fixed Rates Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change for the life of the loan. These are available for 30, 20, 15 and 10 year terms, and the payment amount will remain fixed throughout the term of the loan. The most common fixed-rate mortgages have a 15- or 30-year duration.

Jumbo Loan

If you require a home loan that’s over the conforming limit of $417,000, you will probably need a Jumbo mortgage. Jumbo loans offer the same flexibility as conforming loans (fixed and ARM products), however they are not eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and must be sold in the secondary market. This means that the rates for Jumbo loans will be slightly higher than home loans with similar terms that are conforming loans. Jumbo loans are often referred to as non-conforming loans.

VA Loan

VA, or Veteran’s Affairs loan, is a specific loan program authorized by the US Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs to help veterans, active-duty service members and their families purchase a home. This loan option allows military families to qualify for a home loan with fewer restrictions, and little-to-no money down.

At Cross Country, we offer all types of loan programs, and we’re constantly expanding our guidelines to accommodate the changing needs of today’s mortgage customer. From first-time homebuyers to experienced investors, we create innovative solutions for our valued clients.

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At Mark Meader with Cross Country Mortgage we are experienced in all kinds of home buying experiences, including first homes, moving, vacation homes, and investments. Learn More

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The process of obtaining a home loan is simple, but contains several important steps.  We promise to make the loan process smooth and stress-free. Learn more

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Mark Meader  with Cross Country Mortgage | 4505 White Bear Parkway, Suite 1300 | White Bear Lake, MN 55110 | Phone: 651-653-7667 | Fax: 651-689-0641 | | License 47763

The information contained on this site is complete to the best of our knowledge and ability. While we will strive to update our website as often as we can, we are not responsible for any inadvertent inaccuracies, errors, typos or omissions. If you believe that there is an error on our site or you have any questions regarding our products, please contact us. We value your business and want to hear from you.

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