5 Easy-to-Understand Mortgage Terms Every Home Buyer Should Know

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When you are attempting to purchase a home, chances are you will need to get financing. While some can afford to pay cash for their home, in reality, most homeowners will need to obtain a mortgage loan. There are many things to understand about mortgages before obtaining one.

There are contracts, calculations, and negotiations. However, before anything can be finalized, once you have found the home of your dreams, it is essential to understand the terminology. Here are five easy-to-understand mortgage terms every potential homeowner needs to know. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers


When paying a mortgage, you are paying the interest and the principal (the actual amount of the loan.) Amortization is the term for how those payments are split into monthly payments for the loan length. The first few years of the mortgage, most of the payments are going towards interest.

Once the interest is paid down, the payments will be going towards the loan balance. The amortization has to be adhered to at a minimum to maintain good credit and payment history. However, if you pay more than the set payments, you can reduce the interest and pay less for your home.

Down Payment

The money you pay upfront to lower the principal amount of the loan is known as the down payment. Some mortgage companies, banks, or lenders will require a minimum amount as a down payment. At the same time, others will not require a down payment to secure a loan.

Your credit score can affect the minimum required down payment as well. You can also lower the mortgage payments by making a larger down payment. The more you can pay upfront; the less the home will cost you overall. Therefore, you must put as much down on your home as possible. Most financial advisors and lenders will recommend you put at least 20% of the principal down, if possible, and some lenders will require that amount as a minimum. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers


Escrow is an amount of the mortgage that is not accruing interest. Your lender sets up an escrow account to gather funds to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA dues on the homeowner’s behalf. Though this account is not accruing or charged interest, it is added to the monthly mortgage payment.

Mortgages do not automatically have an escrow account. Escrow is negotiated, and if your mortgage does not include an escrow account, you will be responsible for property taxes, homeowners insurance, and other fees that the escrow account would cover. These fees are subject to change over the life of the loan; therefore, if you have an escrow account to cover these payments, your mortgage payments can fluctuate up or down accordingly.

Interest Rate

An interest rate is a percentage determined by the loan amount, your credit score, and the lender’s predetermined rates. Whether a mortgage, a car loan or a credit card, every type of credit generally has interest attached.

When negotiating a mortgage, the interest rate must be an essential part of the negotiations. The interest is where the lender makes their money. Therefore, the lender will want to get the highest interest possible to maximize their profits.

Here are the two types of mortgage interest rates to help when negotiating your mortgage. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Fixed Rates

Fixed interest rates do not change for the entirety of the mortgage loan. For example, your interest rate is a 5% interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan; you will never pay more than 5% interest on the loan.

Having a fixed interest rate is a benefit when creating your budget, as it will give you a fixed monthly payment for the lifetime of the loan. However, it does not benefit you if you are making higher than minimum payments. 

Adjustable Rates

Adjustable interest rates will fluctuate depending on the current market. Many adjustable interest rate mortgages have a fixed interest rate for the first five to ten years. After this fixed interest rate period, your interest rate will be adjusted every six months to a year.

The adjustable rate can benefit if you make more significant than your monthly payments because you will be paying more of the principal. The other advantage of this type of interest rate is that there is still a fixed interest period. During this time, it can be beneficial if you refinance or sell.

Loan Servicer

The loan servicer is the company that is accepting your mortgage payments. The loan servicer will be responsible for providing your mortgage statements every month, managing an escrow account if you have one, and processing your payments.

The loan servicer will also be the company you will direct all mortgage questions and concerns to for the loan’s lifetime. If you have an issue with your mortgage, are looking to sell, or have questions about interest, payments, or escrow, you will contact the loan servicer.


While there are other terms that you may experience when purchasing a home through a lender, these terms are the most vital to know and understand. If you have a strong understanding of your mortgage and all it entails, you will get the best rates possible.

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