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In today's real estate market there is a lot of uncertainty. The sub-prime mortgage crisis is the buzz word phrase that has a lot of people talking. One lesson that can be learned from this situation, is that it is so important for prospective homeowners to know what they are getting themselves into. Buying a home can be stressful, and overwhelming, but knowing what you are signing on for is paramount to securing an investment that will serve you well. A little education can go a long way. Below is a glossary of key terms associated with all things real estate. If you are a "newbie", familiarize yourself with these as you begin your real estate search:

We'll begin in the middle of the alphabet with "M" words, as "mortgages" seem to be the hot topic these days.

Mortgage: is a lien on the property that secures the Promise to repay a loan. A loan to finance the purchase of real estate, usually with specified payment periods and interest rates.

Mortgage broker: Is a professional who works for a firm that originates and processes loans for a number of lenders.

Mortgage banker: Is a company that originates loans and resells them to secondary mortgage lenders such as:Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac."Who????", you ask. Just, read on.

Fannie Mae: Is a sort of acronym which stands for Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA); a federally-chartered enterprise owned by private stockholder. This enterprise purchases residential mortgages and converts them into securities for sale to investors;by purchasing mortgages, Fannie Mae supplies funds that lenders may loan to potential home buyers.

Freddie Mac: Is another acronym of sorts is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLM); a federally-chartered corporation that purchases residential mortgages, coverts them into securities,and sells them to investors, providing lenders with funds for new home buyers.

Mortgage insurance: Is a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that can occur when a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan. Mortgage insurance is required primarily for borrowers with a down payment of less than 20% of the home's purchase price.

ARM: Adjustable Rate Mortgage is a mortgage loan subject to changes in interest rates. When rates adjust, ARM monthly payments increase or decrease at intervals determined by the lender. The change in monthly -payment amount, however, is usually subject to a Cap. "What is Cap in this case?", you ponder. Again, just read on...

Cap: Is a limit, such as that placed on an adjustable rate mortgage, on how much a monthly payment or interest rate can increase or decrease.

Assumable mortgage: Is a mortgage that can be transferred from a seller to a buyer; once the loan is assumed by the buyer the seller is no longer responsible for repaying it; there may be a fee and/or a credit package involved in the transfer of an assumable mortgage.

Amortization: Is the repayment of a mortgage loan through monthly installments of principal and interest. The monthly payment amount is based on a schedule that will allow you to own your home at the end of a specific time period.

Appraisal: Is a document that gives an estimate of a property's fair market value; an appraisal is generally required by a lender before loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property.

Balloon Mortgage: Is a mortgage that typically offers low rates for an initial period of time, after the said time period elapses, the balance is due or is refinanced by the borrower.

Bankruptcy: Is a federal law whereby a person's assets are turned over to a trustee and used to pay off outstanding debts. This typically occurs when someone owes more than they have the ability to repay.

Building code: Is based on a set of agreed upon safety standards within a specific area. A building code is a regulation that determines the design,construction, and materials used in building.

Credit bureau score: a number representing the likelihood a borrower may default. This number is based upon credit history and is used to determine ability to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Debt-to-income ratio: a comparison of gross income to housing and non-housing expenses. With the FHA, the-monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 29% of monthly gross income (before taxes) and the mortgage payment combined with non-housing debts should not exceed 41% of income.

EEM: Is short for an Energy Efficient Mortgage. This is an FHA program that helps home buyers save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to a new or existing home as part of the home purchase

Fair Housing Act: Is a law that prohibits discrimination in all facets of the home buying process on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

Home Inspection: Is an examination of the structure and mechanical systems to determine a home's safety; makes the potential home buyer aware of any repairs that may be needed.

Interest rate: Is the amount of interest charged on a monthly loan payment. This is usually expressed as a percentage.

Lease purchase: This exits to assist low- to moderate-income home buyers in purchasing a home. It allows them to lease a home with an option to buy. The rent payment is made up of the monthly rental payment plus an additional amount that is credited to an account for use as a down payment.

Lien: Is a legal claim against property that must be satisfied When the property is sold

PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. These are the four elements of a monthly mortgage payment. The payments of principal and interest go directly towards repaying the loan while the portion that covers taxes and insurance goes into an escrow account to cover the fees when they are due.

Pre-qualify: This is when a lender informally determines the maximum amount an individual is eligible to borrow.

Pre-payment: This is a payment of the mortgage loan before the scheduled due date; maybe Subject to a prepayment penalty.

Principal: The amount borrowed from a lender. The principal doesn't include interest or additional fees.

Real estate agent: Is an individual who is licensed to negotiate and arrange real estate sales; works for a real estate broker.

REALTOR ®: Is a real estate agent or broker who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATIONOF REALTORS, and its local and state associations.

Refinancing: Means paying off one loan by obtaining another. refinancing is generally done to secure better loan terms such as a lower interest rate on a loan.

Rehabilitation mortgage: Is a mortgage that covers the costs of rehabilitating (repairing or Improving) a property. Some rehabilitation mortgages, allow a borrower to roll the costs of rehabilitation and home purchase into one mortgage loan.

Sweat equity: Using your own labor to build or improve a property as part of the down payment

Title insurance: This is insurance that protects the lender against any claims that arise from arguments about ownership of the property;also available for home buyers.

Title search: Is a check of public records to be sure that the seller is the recognized owner of the real estate and that there are no unsettled liens or other claims against the property.

Of course, there are many more terms and different types of mortgage situations to explore and educate yourself on. But, the above definitions are a good start toward becoming acquainted with the language, lingo and important concepts in real estate.

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