14 Sep 2015

So, What Does THAT Mean?! Mortgage Terms Explained

So, What Does THAT Mean? Mortgage Terms ExplainedWhat does all that technical mumbo jumbo mean? Here are some common mortgage related terms.

Getting a mortgage can be a daunting task. There is so much to know and understand including some pretty confusing language. Borrowers are often confused by terminology like the difference between amortization and term.

And by the way,


The period of time you are under contract with a specific lender at the interest rate that they are providing for that time period


A term used to describe the period of time over which the entire mortgage is to be paid assuming regular payments. Usually 25 or 30 years.

Here are some other mortgage related definitions.


An independent assessment of the property by a qualified individual.

Closed mortgage

A mortgage that cannot be repaid or prepaid, renegotiated or refinanced prior to maturity, unless stated in the agreed upon terms.

Closing costs

Costs that are in addition to the purchase price of a property and which must be paid on the closing date. Examples include legal fees, land transfer taxes, and disbursements.

Closing date

The date on which the mortgage closes either in the case of a refinance or new purchase.

Debt service ratio

The percentage of the borrower’s income used for monthly payments of principal, interest, taxes, heating costs, condo fees (if applicable) and debts. GDS is gross debt service – how much you spend on Principal, Interest, Taxes and Heating. TDS is total debt service – GDS plus all other debt payment obligations.


A homeowner is ‘in default’ when he or she breaks the terms of a mortgage agreement, usually by not making required mortgage payments or by not making payments on time.

Down payment

The money that you pay up-front for a house. Down payments typically range from 5%-20% of the total value of the home, but can be anything above 5%, if you qualify.

Early Discharge Penalty

A penalty you may pay your lending institution for breaking the mortgage contract early. This is usually 3 months interest or the Interest Rate Differential (IRD), whichever is larger. See below for IRD.


The difference between the market value of a property and the amount owed on the property. This difference is the amount a homeowner actually owns outright.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A loan that is secured against your house, like your mortgage, but you obtain a maximum amount that you may borrow but only borrow in the amounts that are needed. You only make payments, minimum is interest only, on what you have borrowed at any given time.

High ratio mortgage

A mortgage where the borrower is contributing less than 20% of the value of the property as the down payment. The borrower may have to pay a mortgage default insurance premium such as CMHC insurance, usually tacked onto the mortgage amount.

Interest Rate Differential

A way lenders calculate the penalty for discharging a mortgage before the end of a closed mortgage contract.

The difference between the interest that the financial institution will make if you continued your mortgage to the end of the contract and what they will make by loaning it to someone else at the current interest rate.

Land transfer tax

A tax that is levied (in some provinces) on any property that changes hands.

Lump sum payment

An extra payment that you make to reduce the amount of your mortgage, usually as stipulated in your mortgage contract.


A loan that you take out using property as the collateral.

Mortgage broker

A company or individual that finds mortgage financing for individuals and companies whether for purchase, refinance, lender switches, etc. A broker does not actually lend money but seeks out a lender and arranges the mortgage terms.

Mortgage default insurance

Required if you are contributing between 5% and 20% of the value of the property as the down payment or to satisfy lender requirements, when necessary.


Mortgagee is the lender; mortgagor is the borrower.

Mortgage life insurance

This form of insurance pays the outstanding balance of your mortgage in full if you die or become disabled. This is different from home or property insurance, which insures your home and its contents.

Mortgage interest rate

The percentage of interest that you pay on top of the principal amount of the loan.

Open mortgage

A mortgage which you can pay off, renew or refinance at any time. The interest rate for an open mortgage is usually higher than a closed mortgage rate.


Transferring an existing mortgage from one home to a new home when you move. This is known as a “portable” mortgage.


Usually renegotiating the terms of your mortgage, often increasing the amount of your current mortgage, usually at a new interest rate. The term of the new mortgage is usually equal to or greater than the term remaining on your current mortgage. Often the existing mortgage is paid out and a new one is established with a different lender.

Variable rate mortgage

A mortgage with an interest rate that changes with prime rate, usually expressed as an amount plus or minus prime rate.

Anne Martin

Anne Martin

Dominion Lending Centres - Accredited Mortgage Professional
Anne is part of Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres based in Barrie, ON.

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