Mortgage in the United States

Mortgage Definition

The conveyance of an estate or property by way of pledge for the security of debt, and to become void on payment of it. 4 Kent, Comm. 136. An estate created by a conveyance absolute in its form, but intended to secure the performance of some act, such as the payment of money, and the like, by the grantor or some other person, and to become void if the act is performed agreeably to the terms prescribed at the time of making such conveyance. 1 Washb. Real Prop. 475. By the law of several states, a mortgage is no longer a conveyance by which an estate passes, but a mere pledge creating only a lien. Holmes, Mortg. § 1. Two general theories prevail as to the nature of the estate created by mortgage. The common-law theory that a mortgage passes title to the mortgagee subject to defeat by the performance of the condition subsequent has been adopted in Alabama (69 Ala. 442), Arkansas (65 Ark. 174), Connecticut (19 Conn. 218), Illinois (1 Scam. 140), Maine (2 Me. 132), Maryland (6 Gill & J. 72), Massachusetts (5 Mass. 120), New Hampshire (5 N. H.) 420), North Carolina (66 N. C. 477), Ohio (10 Ohio, 71), Pennsylvania (77 Pa. St. 250), Rhode Island (6 R. I. 542), Tennessee (10 Humph. 214), and Virginia (4 Rand. 245). The common-law theory, in a somewhat modified form, prevails in Delaware (1 Houst. 320), Mississippi (24 Miss. 368), Missouri (10 Mo. 229), New Jersey (40 N. J. Law, 417), and Vermont (44 Vt. 294). The equitable doctrine that a mortgage conveys only a lien is adopted in California (2 Cal. 491; 64 CaL 514), Colorado (Laws 1887, § 263, p. 174), Florida (17 Fla. 698), Georgia (76 Ga. 384), Idaho (Rev. St. 1887, § 3350), Indiana (27 Ind. 472), Iowa (30 Iowa, 268), Kansas (35 Kan. 120), Kentucky (14 Bush, 788), Michigan (65 Mich. 598), Minnesota (12 Minn. 330), Montana (6 Mont. 596), Nebraska (14 Neb. 246), Nevada (1 Nev. 179), New York (54 N. Y. 599), North Dakota (Rev. Code, § 1733), Oregon (11 Or. 534), South Carolina (27 S. C. 309), South Dakota (Rev. Code 1877, § 1733), Utah (Comp. Laws 1876, p. 478), Washington (3 Wash. T. 318), Wisconsin (7 Wis. 566), 1 Pingrey, Mortg. 16. Both real and personal property may be mortgaged, and in substantially the same manner, except that, a mortgage being in its nature a transfer of title, the laws respecting the necessity of possession of personal property and the nature of instruments of transfer, being different, require the transfer to be made differently in the two cases. See Chattel Mortgage. A mortgage may in form be either a conveyance with provision for a defeasance, or a conveyance absolute in form, with a collateral agreement for a defeasance. 15 Johns. (N. Y.) 555; 2 Me. 152; 12 Mass. 456. An equitable mortgage is one in which the mortgagor does not actually convey the property, but does some act by which he manifests his determination to bind the same as a security. See Equitable Mortgage. A legal mortgage is a conveyance of property intended by the parties at the time of making it to be a security for the performance of some prescribed act. 1 Washb. Real Prop. 479.

(The above definition of Mortgage is based on The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This definition needs to be proofread.

In Plain-English Law, Mortgage, as defined by Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (p. 437-455) is: A loan in which the borrower puts up the title to real estate as security (collateral) for the loan. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the debt on time, the lender can foreclose on the real estate and have it sold to pay off the loan.

Practical Information

A conditional conveyance. A mortgage is given by a borrower or debtor (the mortgagor) to secure the payment of a debt, with a provision that the conveyance will become void on the payment of the debt by the date named. In early English times, the debtor actually turned over his property to the lender (the mortgagee) who would keep the income and profits from it. The land was “dead” to the owner and gave him no return; hence the word mortgage, meaning “dead pledge.” A mortgage may be given on real estate or on personal property, but a mortgage on personal property is referred to as a chattel mortgage, whereas a mortgage on real estate is referred to simply as a mortgage. Some mortgages cover both real and personal property, for example, a mortgage on a furnished apartment building. The word mortgage also refers to the instrument used to make the conveyance. The debt is evidenced by promissory notes; the mortgage is the security instrument that secures payment of the notes. In some states, the debt is evidenced by a bond instead of a promissory note. The bond takes the place of the note. Frequently, the bond and mortgage are combined in one instrument, which is referred to as a bonds and mortgages (see the entry).

Parties to a mortgage

The parties to a conventional mortgage are the mortgagor and the mortgagee (see more)

Designation of the parties

The name of the mortgagor should appear exactly as it appears in the legal instrument (see more). The requirements relative to the grantor (in U.S. law) and the grantee (in U.S. law) in adeed (in U.S. law)apply generally to the mortgagor and mortgagee.

Forms of mortgage

The forms of mortgages most used are the conventional mortgage and the trust deed (see more)

Types of Mortgages

The two most common kinds of mortgages in the United States are the fixed-rate mortgage and the adjustable-rate mortgage. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same over the life of the loan. With an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the interest rate can change at the end of pre-determined intervals, such as every six months or every year. The interest rate is tied to changes in a published index that reflects the current interest rate. One widely-used index is the interest rate of United States Treasury bonds. If the index has gone up at the end of the adjustment period, the mortgage rate goes up, and thus the borrower’s payment also goes up. Conversely, if the index has gone down, the mortgage rate goes down, and the mortgage payment goes down. Neither the lender nor the borrower can influence or predict in which direction the index will move. Most ARMs have a maximum interest rate cap.

Other, less common mortgages include the balloon mortgage and the graduated payment mortgage. A balloon mortgage is a short-term loan. The borrower makes payments for some period of time and then makes one large payment at the end. The graduated payment mortgage starts out with low monthly payments, which gradually increase over time before stabilizing.

In the United States certain government programs make it easier for borrowers to obtain a mortgage by lessening the risks for the lenders. Programs administered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) help low- and moderate-income borrowers obtain loans for housing by providing insurance for lenders against borrower default. The borrower pays for the mortgage insurance by paying a fee to the FHA. If the borrower defaults, the FHA will compensate the lender should the house sell for less than the amount of the mortgage debt. The Veterans Administration (VA) administers programs that guarantee loans made to qualified veterans. If the borrower defaults, the VA repays the lender a specified part of the mortgage loan. Other agencies buy mortgages from lenders and sell them to investors. The money the lender receives from the sale can be used to issue additional mortgages. These agencies include the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or “Fannie Mae”), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or “Freddie Mac”), and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA or “Ginnie Mae”).” (1)

First Mortgage, Second Mortgage, Purchase Money Mortgage, Open End Mortgage (see more)(Revised by Ann De Vries)

A legal mortgage is a conveyance of property intended by the parties at the time of making it to be a security.

What is Mortgage?

For a meaning of it, read Mortgage in the Legal Dictionary here.

Mortgage in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

For starting research in the law of a foreign country:

Link Description
Mortgage Mortgage in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Mortgage Mortgage in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Mortgage Mortgage in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Mortgage Mortgage in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Mortgage Mortgage in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Basic Meaning of Mortgage

Mortgage means: a secured loan on a parcel of real estate.

Proof that Grantor Intended Deed As Mortgage

This section discusses generally the subject of Proof that Grantor Intended Deed As Mortgage, how to determine the facts essential to Proof that Grantor Intended Deed As Mortgage, and, to some extent, how to prove it in litigation and defense. Related topics are also addressed.

Finding the law: Mortgage in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to mortgage, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines mortgage topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


See Also

  • Amortization
  • Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
  • Federal National Mortgage Association
  • Mortgages

Basic Meaning of Mortgage

Mortgage means: a secured loan on a parcel of real estate.


Notes and References

  1. Information about Mortgage in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia

Further Reading (Articles)

Top Mortgage Brokers. Broker Magazine; November 1, 2000

Mortgage Banking Mergers and Acquisitions Announced in 1998.(Illustration), American Banker; April 20, 1999

Mortgage Servicing Business Draws Entrants, American Banker; May 7, 1984; Cacace, L. Michael

MORTGAGES: Shady brokers feel FSA force. Money Marketing; July 17, 2008

12010810 Mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.(5: Citations)(Recommended readings), Foundations and Trends in Finance; September 1, 2005; Lim, Terence Lo, Andrew W. Merton, Robert C. Scholes, Myron S.

Online Mortgages Gaining Ground, The Washington Post; June 2, 2001; Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and Rachel Schmutter

Mortgage volume Ranked by B&C Production.(1999)(Brief Article)(Illustration)(Statistical Data Included), Broker Magazine; January 1, 2000

Mortgage Bankers Fear Boom in Adjustable-Rate Loans Could Boomerang on the Industry If Borrowers Go Bust, American Banker; April 10, 1984

Mortgage System under Pressure as New Finance Forms Alter Market, American Banker; January 25, 1985; Jacobe, Dennis J.

Mortgage Banking Mergers and Acquisitions Announced in 2000, American Banker; October 23, 2000

MORTGAGES: The flight of the first-time buyer. Money Marketing; December 8, 2005

Mortgage Brokers and Their Marketing Budgets. Broker Magazine; December 1, 2005

Mortgage Banking Takes a Tumultuous Turn in the Twin Cities; Deregulation and Diversification Add Players and Complexities, American Banker; October 29, 1984

Mortgage-Related Merger Activity in 2001, American Banker; October 10, 2001

Mortgages Break Free of Chains, The Mail on Sunday (London, England); August 25, 1996

Mortgage lending war heats up: demise of U.S. Mortgage Allows for rise of Pulaski Mortgage. Arkansas Business; October 19, 1998; Waldon, George

Mortgage Lenders.(mortgage lender directory for Florida)(Directory)(Illustration)(Statistical Data Included), Florida Trend; December 1, 2001

Top Producers at Mortgage Brokerage Firms. Broker Magazine; September 1, 2005

Pricing Mortgage-Backed Securities, The Washington Post; March 15, 1992; JAMES E. LEBHERZ

Mortgage Marvel Lenders Benefit from Jump in Online Rate Searches and Applications, Mortgage Banking; June 1, 2010

Arm (adjustable Rate Mortgage) in the context of Real Estate


See Also

  • Adjustable Mortgage Loans

Pmi in the context of Real Estate


See Also

  • Private Mortgage Insurance

Seller Take Back Mortgage in the context of Real Estate


See Also

  • Purchase Money Mortgage (1)

Vom in the context of Real Estate


See Also

  • Verification Of Mortgage

Mortgage in Mortgage Law

In the field of mortgage refinancing, a concept of Mortgage may be the following: A contract, signed by a borrower when a home loan is made, that gives the lender the right to take possession of the property if the borrower fails to pay off, or defaults on, the loan.

Mortgage in Mortgage Law

In the field of mortgage refinancing, a concept of Mortgage may be the following: A contract, signed by a borrower when a home loan is made, that gives the lender the right to take possession of the property if the borrower fails to pay off, or defaults on, the loan.



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