Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, the terminology of mortgages can be confusing. Since buying a home is such a huge financial decision, you’re also going to want to make sure you understand every step of the process and all of the conditions and fees along the way.
In this article, we’re going to explain some of the common terms you might come across when applying for a home loan, be it online or over the phone. By learning the basic meaning of these terms you’ll feel more confident and prepared going into the application process.
We’ll cover the acronyms, like APRs and ARMs, and the scary sounding terms like “amortization” so that you know everything you need to about the terminology of home loans.
ARM and FRM, or adjustable rate vs fixed rate mortgages. Lenders make their money by charging you interest on your home loan that you pay back over the length of your loan period. Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs are loans that have interest rates which change over the lifespan of your loan. You may start off at a low, “introductory rate” and later start paying higher amounts depending on the predetermined rate index. Fixed rate mortgages, on the other hand, remain at the same rate throughout the life of the loan. However, refinancing on your loan allows you to receive a different interest rate later down the road.
Amortization. It sounds like a medieval torture technique, but in reality amortization is the process of making your life easier by setting up a fixed repayment schedule. This schedule includes both the interest and the principal loan balance, allowing you to understand how long and how much money will go toward repaying your mortgage.
Equity. Simply state, your equity is the the amount of the home you have paid off. In a sense, it’s the amount of the home that you really own. Your equity increases as you make payments, and having equity can help you buy a new home, or see a return on investment with your current home if the home increases in value.
Assumption and assumability. It isn’t the title of a Jane Austen novel. It’s all about the process of a mortgage changing hands. An assumable mortgage can be transferred to a new buyer, and assumption is the actual transfer of the loan. Assuming a loan can be financially beneficial if the home as increased in value since the mortgage was created.
Escrow. There are a lot of legal implications that come along with buying a home. An escrow is designed to make sure the loan process runs smoothly. It acts as a holding tank for your documents, payments, as well as property taxes and insurance. An escrow performs an important function in the home buying process, and, as a result, charges you a percentage of the home for its services.
Origination fee. Basically a fancy way of saying “processing fee,” the origination covers the cost of processing your mortgage application. It’s one of the many “closing costs” you’ll encounter when buying a home and accounts for all of the legwork your loan officer does to make your mortgage a reality--running credit reports, reviewing income history, and so on.
Although location is one of the most important factors that will impact the marketability of your home, it's not the only thing prospective buyers are thinking about.
If they're organized, focused, and serious about finding the right property for their needs, they've probably developed a detailed checklist of "must haves" and a "wish list."
In all likelihood, those who are working with a real estate agent are being shown properties that conform to their requirements and many of their wish-list items. A comprehensive list would include everything from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want to square footage and the quality of the school district.
Many people also have specific preferences about features like floor plans, amount of storage space, the size of the backyard, architectural style, and the availability of a fireplace, patio, porch, deck, eat-in kitchen, two-car garage, and privacy features. Some are even looking for the traditional white picket fence in front of the house!
While your home can't be "all things to all people," it is highly recommended to target the widest possible audience. Your agent, a home staging consultant, or a home decorator can provide you with valuable tips on how to achieve that outcome.
Stand Out and Get Noticed
Just looking good on paper, though, is not always enough to attract motivated buyers. Prospects need to love what they see and be inspired to envision themselves living in your house. Doing what you can to create irresistible curb appeal is one vital aspect of making a great first impression. A manicured lawn, a fresh coat of paint (if needed), and some strategic home staging -- inside and out -- can make all the difference in your results!
Curb appeal is vitally important because that sets the stage, so to speak, for creating high expectations in your prospects. Once you get them in a positive frame of mind, they'll be more inclined to notice all the positive aspects of your home. If your house meets all or most of their requirements and is arranged in a way that's pleasing to them, a purchase offer and negotiations may be right around the corner.
One of the most crucial hurdles to clear in getting prospects to consider buying your house is to help them imagine living, relaxing, raising a family, and pursuing their interests in your home. Your real estate agent can help you effectively stage the interior and exterior of your home to make it inviting and appealing to the widest range of potential buyers.
You can support their sales and marketing efforts by making sure your home is always clean, fresh smelling, and ready to be shown at a moment's notice to house hunters. Doing your best to eliminate clutter, keeping counter tops neat, and making sure pets are on their best behavior (or happily frolicking at the local "doggie daycare" center) can play a key role in winning over interested buyers and successfully selling your home!
If you plan to submit an offer to purchase a home, there is no need to leave anything to chance. And in most instances, it is a good idea to put your best foot forward with your offer to purchase. That way, you can boost the likelihood of receiving an instant "Yes" from a seller and moving one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.
1. Study the Housing Market
The current state of the housing market may impact the definition of a competitive offer to purchase. For instance, if the housing market favors buyers, you may face limited competition to acquire your ideal residence and can craft your offer to purchase accordingly. On the other hand, if the housing market favors sellers, you may need to submit an offer to purchase at or above a seller's initial asking price to secure your dream home.
Take a close look at the housing market and analyze market data. Then, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market and determine how much to offer for a house.
2. Weigh a House's Pros and Cons
A home has its strengths and weaknesses, and as a property buyer, you should dedicate time and resources to learn about all aspects of a residence. By doing so, you can determine whether a residence is right for you and submit an offer to purchase based on a house's age and condition.
Consider any home repairs that may need to be completed as well. If you understand the costs of potential home improvements, you can craft an offer to purchase that accounts for these tasks.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Submitting a competitive offer to purchase sometimes can be difficult for experienced and first-time homebuyers alike. Fortunately, if you work with a real estate agent, you can get the help you need to create an aggressive offer to purchase.
A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of buying a house and can offer expert insights into the property buying journey. He or she will teach you about the real estate market and respond to your homebuying concerns or questions. In addition, a real estate agent will help you find your dream home, set up house showings and keep you informed about residences that become available and fit your homebuying criteria.
Furthermore, a real estate agent can provide in-depth housing market data and insights. He or she ultimately can help you take the guesswork out of crafting a competitive homebuying proposal. And as a result, a real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure your offer to purchase matches a seller's expectations.
Ready to submit an offer to purchase your dream residence? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can bolster your chances of acquiring your ideal residence in the foreseeable future.
A home listing often introduces a homebuyer to a residence. It may include home photos, a brief home description and details about various home features and amenities. As such, an effective home listing is a must-have, particularly for a home seller who wants to stir up plenty of interest in a residence.
Ultimately, there are several best practices to consider when you create a home listing, and these include:
1. Provide Accurate Information
Learn about your home, and you can provide accurate information about your residence in your home listing.
If you're unsure about your home's condition, it often pays to complete a home appraisal. That way, a property appraiser can evaluate your residence both inside and out, identify any problem areas and offer a property valuation.
Furthermore, if you recently completed assorted home improvements, you should include information about these upgrades in your home listing.
Whether it's new windows that you installed throughout your residence or an updated home air conditioning system, including details about various home upgrades in your home listing could help your residence stand out to potential buyers.
2. Include High-Quality Photos
You don't need to be a professional photographer to capture high-quality photos of your house. In fact, many smartphones and tablets feature first-rate cameras, and you can use these mobile devices to take photos of your house's interior or exterior.
As you photograph your home, remember the homebuyer's perspective. For instance, a homebuyer likely wants to see photos of a clean, pristine kitchen and other awe-inspiring images of your house. If you clean and declutter your house before a photo shoot, you can increase the likelihood that your home photos will capture homebuyers' attention.
On the other hand, if you want professional assistance, you can always reach out to a real estate photographer as well. A real estate photographer can offer home photo recommendations and suggestions and help you capture photos that show off the true size and beauty of your residence.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent knows what it takes to craft an effective home listing. Therefore, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you should have no trouble creating a home listing that hits the mark with homebuyers.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you, learn about your home selling goals and plan accordingly. He or she then will use the information that you provide to develop an engaging home listing.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can seamlessly navigate the home selling journey too.
For instance, a real estate agent will host open houses and set up home showings to promote your residence to homebuyers. Plus, he or she will keep you up to date about any home offers and provide expert advice at each stage of the home selling journey.
Creating an effective home listing may seem difficult. Fortunately, if you use the aforementioned best practices, you can craft a home listing that can help you generate substantial interest in your residence.
If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future and are confused about many of the terms associated with mortgages, you’re not alone. Real estate is its own industry with its own set of processes, terms, and acronyms. If you’re new to the home buying process, there can be somewhat of a learning curve to understand what each of these terms means.
Since buying a home is such a huge investment and life decision, there’s a lot of pressure on home buyers to make sure they get everything right. This makes for a stressful situation for buyers who don’t feel like they understand the terminology of things like mortgages, appraisals, credit reports, and other factors that contribute to the home buying process.
To alleviate some of those concerns and to make the home buying process run more smoothly, we’ve compiled a list of the most common, and most commonly confused, real estate words, terms, and acronyms. That way, when you’re talking things over with your real estate agent or your mortgage lender, you’ll be confident that you understand exactly what’s being considered.
Read on for our real estate terminology glossary.
Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) - This is one type of home loan. Mortgage rates with this type of loan fluctuate throughout the repayment term of the loan. The fluctuation is based on a market indicator.
Fixed rate mortgage (FRM) - Another type of home loan, a fixed rate mortgage has a rate which does not fluctuate, remaining constant for the life of the term, most commonly 15 or 30 years.
Appraisal - An appraisal is the determination of the value of a property. Appraisals are used when purchasing and selling a home, as well as when refinancing a home loan. Appraisers are required to be licensed or certified in each state and are usually paid for by the lender.
Appreciation - An increase in a property’s value, most commonly due to market inflation, or the general increase in home prices over time.
Depreciation - A decrease in a property’s value, due to either market deflation (uncommon) or the wear and tear on a home that comes with age.
Closing costs - The costs and fees that a buyer is responsible for when purchasing a home or taking out a mortgage. These include underwriting fees, inspections, appraisals, transfer taxes, and more. Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the total loan amount.
Contingency - Home purchases have contracts to protect the interest of the buyer, seller, and lender. Contingencies are provisions designed to protect the buyer or lender should something occur in the time leading up to closing on (or purchasing) the home. One common contingency is the buyer’s right to have a final inspection of the home before closing to ensure no new issues with the home have occurred.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) - Buyers who cannot afford a down payment of %20 typically are required to take out a private mortgage insurance policy. This policy protects the lender should the borrower default (fail to repay or meet the conditions of their loan).