What is a mortgage?

What is a mortgage?

What is a mortgage? First-time homebuyers have a lot of questions. There is lots to learn. Before you do anything, you should get pre-qualified for a mortgage. But what is a mortgage?



A mortgage is a loan that uses the home you buy as security. This loan is registered as a legal document against the title of your property.

Common terms and aspects of a mortgage that you should understand include:



The principal is the amount of the loan that is actually borrowed.



The interest is the amount the lender charges for the use of funds borrowed. Interest rates vary according to a number of factors including terms and conditions of the mortgage and the borrower’s credit history. Payments are usually comprised of both principal and interest.


Amortization Period 

The amortization period is the number of years that it will take to repay the entire mortgage loan in full. A longer amortization period will result in lower payments but will take longer to pay off the loan which means you will pay more in interest. Amortizations typically range from 15-25 years.



The term is the length of time for which a mortgage agreement exists between you and your lender. A longer term means you will keep the interest rate agreed upon for a longer length of time. Rates and payments vary with the length of the term. Terms usually range from 1-10 years with a five-year term being the most common. Generally a longer term, because of the added security, will be at a higher rate than a shorter term.


Maturity Date

The maturity date marks the end of the term, when you can repay the balance of the principal or renegotiate the mortgage at interest rates in effect at that time. If you choose to repay or renegotiate the mortgage before this time, penalties may be charged. Once your mortgage matures you are free to renew with your current lender or shop around to other lenders for the best rate.


Payment Schedule

The payment schedule is the frequency at which you will make your mortgage payments. These can occur monthly, semi-monthly (twice a month), bi-weekly (every other week) or weekly. Generally, more frequent payments result in lower interest costs over the life of your mortgage as more principal will be paid down per year.


Real estate vocabulary

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