Mortgage Glossary


Prime mortgage: A real estate loan in which the borrower meets the underwriting standards set by federal home loan agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie and Freddie buy mortgages from lenders to sell as bundled mortgage bonds, but the lenders have to make sure their mortgages meet the federal underwriting guidelines to be eligible.

Subprime mortgage: Type of loan aimed at giving more buyers a chance to own a home, particularly buyers with less money for a down payment, less income and checkered credit histories. Once the adjustable rates reset, subprime mortgages required substantially higher interest rates than prime mortgages, which made them attractive to investors who bought bundles of these mortgages from lenders.
Alt-A mortgage: Short for “alternative-A.” These loans form a class of mortgage between prime and subprime.
ARM: An adjustable-rate mortgage.
Statement loans: When a buyer didn’t want to bother with documenting income and credit history, some lenders offered statement loans that required nothing more than the buyer’s word that he was good for the loan.
A typical prime mortgage requires a 20 percent down payment. Both mortgages were tax-deductible, which made piggybacks more attractive to buyers than PMI. Many borrowers who took out piggyback mortgages did so without telling the lender making the first mortgage. This compromised the lender’s credit check.
Neg-ams: Negative- amortization mortgages.

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (, he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
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