An agreement with a lender for a property with scheduled payments for the money borrowed

Author: David Bickerton
David Bickerton
David Bickerton
Asset Management | Financial Analysis

Previously a Portfolio Manager for MDH Investment Management, David has been with the firm for nearly a decade, serving as President since 2015. He has extensive experience in wealth management, investments and portfolio management.

David holds a BS from Miami University in Finance.

Reviewed By: Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Elliot currently works as a Private Equity Associate at Greenridge Investment Partners, a middle market fund based in Austin, TX. He was previously an Analyst in Piper Jaffray's Leveraged Finance group, working across all industry verticals on LBOs, acquisition financings, refinancings, and recapitalizations. Prior to Piper Jaffray, he spent 2 years at Citi in the Leveraged Finance Credit Portfolio group focused on origination and ongoing credit monitoring of outstanding loans and was also a member of the Columbia recruiting committee for the Investment Banking Division for incoming summer and full-time analysts.

Elliot has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Columbia University.

Last Updated:October 23, 2023

What Is A Mortgage?

A mortgage is an agreement between the lender and borrower where the lender can seize the property if the borrower fails to make scheduled payments. It can be used either to buy a property or borrow against the value of the property you already own.

It is useful because only a few of us have enough cash on hand to purchase a home. So, instead of paying outright, it helps you afford a home. If you want to sell your home, part of the proceeds can be used to pay off the remaining contract amount due to the lender.

When you take out a loan, you get an amount set by the lender to buy the house or property you desire, where you are liable to pay back the amount borrowed due plus interest over several years. The lender's right to the property continues until it is fully paid off.

If you have trouble making payments, contact the lender and ask about hardship programs such as forbearance, deferment, or modification. These are supposed to give you temporary relief from payments.

If you still struggle, consider selling the house in a short sale if the circumstances do not improve. The parties involved in this agreement are:

  • Lender: The bank or Financial institution that provides you with money
  • Borrower: The person who gets the money
  • Loan servicer: The party who is responsible for making monthly statements or processing payments and so on

Key Takeaways

  • A mortgage is a financial agreement between a lender and a borrower, allowing the borrower to purchase a home without paying the full price upfront.
  • Mortgages involve repaying the borrowed amount along with interest over a specified period, typically through monthly installments.
  • The property itself acts as collateral for the loan. If the borrower fails to make payments, the lender has the right to foreclose, repossess the property, and recover the remaining debt through its sale.
  • Monthly mortgage payments typically consist of four components: the principal (the amount borrowed), property taxes, insurance (homeowner's and/or Private Mortgage Insurance), and interest, which is the cost of borrowing.

How Mortgages Work

Mortgages enable individuals to purchase homes without paying the full price upfront. When securing a mortgage, a borrower borrows money from a lender, agreeing to repay it over a set period with interest.

The property itself serves as collateral. Typically, monthly payments cover both principal (the loan amount) and interest. Fixed-rate mortgages maintain consistent payments, while adjustable-rate mortgages can change over time.

If the borrower fails to make payments, the lender can foreclose, repossess the property, and sell it to recover the remaining debt. Mortgages are complex financial agreements, and the terms vary based on factors like creditworthiness, loan amount, and market conditions.

Suppose Mr. A wants to buy a house worth $200,000. He doesn't have the full amount, so he secures a mortgage from a bank. He makes a down payment of $40,000 and borrows the remaining $160,000. The bank sets an interest rate, say 4%.

Over 30 years, he has made monthly payments covering both the loan and interest, making homeownership affordable.

If he misses payments, the bank can take legal action, including foreclosure, to recover their money. This arrangement allows him to own a home while providing the bank security for the loan they provided.

The Mortgage Process

The mortgage application process starts by requesting a loan from a lender, often a bank or mortgage firm. The lender evaluates the applicant's creditworthiness, income, and financial history to determine the eligible loan amount and interest rate.

Once approved, the applicant chooses an appropriate mortgage type and term. During the home appraisal, the property's value is assessed, and the legal aspects are verified, while the underwriting process involves a detailed review of the financial profile.

Upon final approval, the applicant receives a Loan Estimate outlining the loan terms and closing costs. At the closing stage, official documents are signed, closing costs are paid, and any necessary down payment is made.

The lender then transfers the loan amount to the seller, officially making the applicant a homeowner. Subsequently, monthly payments covering principal, interest, property taxes, and insurance are made by the applicant.

Failure to make payments may lead to legal action and, potentially, foreclosure and property loss.

Types of mortgages

Different types of mortgages can have various features, terms, and conditions. It's essential to understand the differences of each one to make an informed decision.

The various types of mortgages are described below.


These types let you pay a fixed interest rate throughout the entire life of the contract. The most commonly used are 15-year or 30-year fixed terms. Also, some lenders offer other terms. 

Well, in the case of other contracts, the economic factors affect the rates, so opting for a fixed one will not affect the rates. So, no matter what happens, the rate remains the same from the moment you secure a credit till the end of it.

If you plan on staying for more than seven years, this is the preferred option to consider.

Adjustable Rate (ARM)

ARMs are those whose interest rate changes when there is a movement in a corresponding index that is associated with it. For example, the monthly payments go up and down when the index goes up or down. 

ARMs have fixed payments for the first few years that are lower than the average fixed rate being offered during that time and change after the specified period is over. 

If you don't plan to stay there before the initial term is over, you don't need to be concerned about the rate changes after that.


Even though the Government is not the lender, it plays a good role. And if you don't have a good credit score to get conventional ones, these loans may be availed.

  • FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan: It is a Government-backed credit insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These loans require fewer credit scores and lower down payment than conventional contracts, which helps first-time buyers.
  • VA loan: A zero-dollar down payment credit is available for veterans, service members, and select spouses. It was created to help returning veterans buy a house without needing a good credit score or down payment.
  • USDA loan: It is also a zero-down payment credit that allows rural households in the US to get lending that offers fewer interest rates and no down payment. This program was designed to help improve the economy and help rural life in America.

Jumbo loan

This kind is used to finance housing properties that are too expensive and can't be considered for a conforming contract. A home that exceeds the local conforming credit limit requires a jumbo contract.

However, they can have stricter requirements than other contracts. For example, you will have to meet a particular property type, down payment, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio.

If you want to purchase a home from a high-price market, you might need a jumbo one. Now, it is easier to get one through an online application.


An adjustable-rate contract allows borrowers to pay only interest for the first few years. The loan converts to a conventional one after an introductory period of 3 to 10 years.

One of the advantages of these kinds of credits is they have lower monthly payments than the conventional ones. That allows the borrower to afford an expensive home. 

The borrower can pay off Adjustable-rate agreements faster than the other credits and is also very flexible than the other ones. Interest-only contracts can also be called exotic loans.

Average Mortgage Rates (AMR)

Simply put, it is the rate it costs you to finance your property. It is the total amount you must pay to your lender, including both the principal amount and the interest. For example, if your AMR is 3%, you must pay 3% of the loan balance as interest. 

The difference between AMR and Annual Percentage Rate is that AMR is the percentage of the amount you borrowed, whereas the Annual Percentage rate is based on your interest rate, brokerage fees, and other costs.

When looking at APR vs. interest rate, the interest rate reflects the current cost of borrowing expressed as a percentage rate. However, the interest rate does not reflect fees or any other charges you may need to pay for the borrowed amount.

The APR, also expressed as a percentage rate, provides a complete picture by taking the interest rate as a starting point and accounting for lender fees and other charges required to finance the lending.

What is included in a mortgage payment?

The things included in such a payment are:

  1. Principal: It is the amount the borrower has to pay over the contract's life. The borrower typically takes a mortgage loan for a percentage of the property's selling price, commonly ranging from 70% to 95%, depending on various factors such as creditworthiness and lending policies.
  2. Property Taxes: These taxes are what the community levies on the percentage of the property's value. Taxing percentages are based on the location of the property.
  3. Insurance: There are two kinds of insurance: homeowner's insurance and Private Mortgage Insurance(PMI).
    • Homeowner's insurance is a general requirement to get a loan; it ensures the property is against natural calamities, theft, or fire.
    • Whereas PMI protects the lender from the default of monthly payments.
  4. Interest: It is the remuneration the lending institution gets to lend the money to you for buying your house. The interest is charged either monthly or annually on the borrowed amount that needs to be repaid.


A mortgage is a financial commitment that enables individuals to purchase homes by borrowing from lenders. It involves a complex interplay of interest rates, loan terms, and repayment schedules.

Mortgages are essential financial products enabling homeownership by breaking down property costs into manageable installments.

The mortgage process involves careful evaluations, including thorough creditworthiness checks, property appraisals, and income verification. Understanding these components equips individuals to make sound financial decisions, turning homeownership aspirations into achievable realities.

A mortgage represents a long-term commitment, impacting one's budget, lifestyle, and overall financial stability. Responsible management of this commitment involves careful planning, budgeting, and an awareness of market fluctuations.

It also represents more than just a loan; it's a commitment that shapes the trajectory of one's life, influencing savings, investments, and family well-being.

Having a comprehensive understanding of mortgage dynamics enables borrowers to navigate the complexities, fostering responsible financial behavior and ultimately achieving the dream of homeownership with confidence and security.

Research and authored by Khadeeja C Abbas  | LinkedIn

Reviewed and Edited by Aditya Salunke I LinkedIn

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