Homebuyers' Glossary

Does home-buying vocabulary make your head spin? Scan through our handy homebuyer's glossary to learn the jargon and talk like a pro.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage - A type of loan where the interest rate changes periodically up or down, usually once or twice a year
Amortization - The process of reducing a loan in equal instalments of principal and interest

Appraisal - An estimate of the fair market value of a land parcel and any improvements at a given point in time

Assessments - Special taxes imposed on a property benefiting from local improvements

Bridge Loan - A loan which enables homebuyers to get financing to make a down payment and pay closing costs on a new home before selling the home they currently own.

Buy Down - An incentive offered by a builder that allows you to lower your interest rate by putting up a certain amount of money

Cap - The limit on an interest rate for an adjustable rate mortgage; applies to each adjustment or over the life of the mortgage

Closing - The final step after a lender approves an application. The homebuyer and lender sign the security-agreement note for the mortgage loan, which states all the terms and conditions of the loan, and the funds for the loan are turned over to the homebuyer's closing agent.

Closing Agent - Usually an attorney or title agency representative who oversees the closing and witnesses the signing of the closing documents.

Closing Costs - Your costs as a buyer such as legal fees, mortgage insurance, homeowner's insurance, prepayments for property taxes, etc. paid at the time of closing.

Closing Date - The day you do a dance of joy, jingling the keys to your new home; officially known as the date that your deed and mortgage are recorded at the registry office.

Closing Document - The financial disclosure statement that accounts for all of the funds received and expected at the close of your home.

Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides mortgage loan insurance to lenders for home buyers with a down payment of less than 20%, to as low as 5%. However, this is not to protect the buyer, it is used to protect the lender. CMHC insurance guarantees the bank or credit union that it will not lose money on this high ratio mortgage.

Commitment Letter - A binding, written pledge, by the lender to a mortgage applicant, to make a loan, usually under certain stated conditions.

Contingency - A condition that must be met, such as selling your current home, before your contract to purchase a new home becomes binding.

Conventional Loan - A mortgage-secured loan that is not insured or guaranteed by a government agency such as CMHC.

Conversion Clause - A provision that allows you to change an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate, usually set at the prevalent interest rate and for an additional fee

Credit Report - A report issued by an independent agency which contains certain information concerning a mortgage applicant's credit history and current credit standing.

Credit Score - A numerical rating that indicates a mortgage applicant's creditworthiness based on a number of criteria. It is one piece of information used in the decision process.

Debt to Income Ratio - A formula lenders use to determine the loan amount for which you may qualify. Guidelines may vary, depending on the loan program.

Deed - A legal document that transfers real property from seller (CountryWide Homes) to buyer (you)

Down Payment - The difference between the sale price and the loan amount, which must be paid in cash by the buyer.

Equity - The value of a property exceeding the amount owed on it

Escrow - A procedure in which a third party acts as a stakeholder for both you and CountryWide Homes carrying out closing instructions and assuming responsibility for paperwork and funds.

Escrow Amount - A holding account for the amount a mortgage borrower pays each month and which the lender uses to pay for the borrower's taxes, other periodic debts against the property, homeowner's insurance and, if applicable, mortgage insurance.

Fixed Rate Mortgage - A loan with an interest rate that remains the same for the entire repayment term.

Floating The Rate - This term is used when a mortgage applicant chooses not to secure a rate lock, but instead allows the interest rate to fluctuate until the applicant decides to lock in, usually no later than five days prior to closing.

Front-End Ratio - Also known as the housing expense-to-income ratio, it compares your proposed housing payment (PITI) to your total household gross monthly income.

Funding Fee - The amount charged on mortgages to cover administrative costs.

Good Faith Estimate - An approximation supplied by the lender of all your closing costs

Grantee - The buyer of a deed (That's you!)

Grantor - The seller of a deed (That's us!)

Home Mortgage Consultant - The home mortgage representative a homebuyer initially consults about a mortgage loan. Sometimes called a loan officer, account executive or sales representative.

Home Owner's Insurance - A real estate insurance policy required of the buyer protecting the property against loss caused by fire, some natural causes, vandalism, etc. May also include coverage such as personal liability and theft.

Home Owner's Orientation - A room-by-room tour of your new CountryWide Home, during which we provide helpful product and warranty information and familiarize you with the working functions of your home

Interest Rate - A percentage of the mortgage amount that is paid to the lender for the use of the money, usually expressed as an annual percentage.

Interim Interest - The interest that accrues, on a per-diem basis, from the day of closing until the end of the month.

Legal Description - A description of real property that usually refers to recorded maps, surveys and other public documents to designate the location of the property

Loan Conditions - These are terms under which the lender agrees to make the loan. They include the interest rate, length of loan agreement and any requirements the borrower must meet prior to closing.

Loan Settlement - The conclusion of the mortgage transaction. This includes the delivery of a deed, the signing of notes and the disbursement of funds necessary to the mortgage loan transaction.

Loan to Value (LTV) - The ratio of the amount borrowed to the appraised value or sales price of real property expressed as a percentage.

Lock in Rate - A benefit CountryWide Homes may offer homebuyers, freezing the interest rate for their loan for a certain period of time.

Mortgage Insurance - An insurance policy which will repay a portion of the loan if the borrower does not make payments as agreed upon in the note. Mortgage insurance may be required in cases where the borrower makes less than a 25% down payment on the home loan.

Mortgage Specialist - The mortgage company employee responsible for collecting the completed application and all supporting documents before the entire loan packet is submitted to underwriting.

Mortgagee – The Lender

Mortgagor – The borrower

Nonconforming Loan - A mortgage-secured loan program that offers approval guidelines which are not industry standards. It may, for example, have different loan limits than conforming loans, but may offer financing in conforming and jumbo amounts.

Note - The agreement which states the home mortgage amount to be borrowed and the terms and conditions of the loan. It also includes a complete description of how the loan should be repaid and the time frame for the repayment.

PITI - Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance; a quick way to reference your combined monthly house payment

Personal Property - Anything you own (such as furniture, stocks, bonds, etc.) that is not land or permanent improvements affixed to the land

Power of Attorney - A written authorization allowing a selected individual to perform specified acts on your behalf

Preliminary Title Report - A report from the title company regarding the current condition of title on the property you intend to purchase

Pre-payment Penalty - A fee imposed for paying off part or all of a loan before its maturity

Principal - The amount of a loan, excluding interest; or the remaining balance of a loan, excluding interest.

Purchase Agreement - A written document confirming your decision to buy your new home and CountryWide Home's decision to sell under stated terms and conditions.

Rate Cap - The limit of how much the interest rate may increase on an ARM at each adjustment and over the life of the loan.

Rate Lock - The borrower and the lender agree to protect the interest rate, points and term of the loan while it is processed.

Settlement Statement - A list of the money paid out and received by the buyer (you) and seller (CountryWide Homes) at closing

Tarion - The Regulator of the new home building industry in Ontario, and in this role, we license all new home and condominium builders in the province and ensure that all new homeowners receive the new home warranty coverage that they are entitled to by the law.

Title - Evidence of a person's right to ownership in real property

Underwriting - The process of a lender reviewing the application, documentation and property prior to rendering a loan decision.