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A plain-English guide to mortgage jargon

- August 10, 2021 5 MIN READ
Mortgage jargon

Bamboozled by all the mortgage jargon in your home loan contract? Fear not. We’ve got you sorted with our A-Z of mortgage-speak.

Is there anything worse than trying to get your finances sorted but stumbling over all the mortgage jargon that flows effortlessly off the lender’s tongue? Chattels, what now? And what on earth is an LVR?

Settle in, because interpreting mortgage jargon is what we live for. Well, not live live for, but we really like it. Here’s the plain-English interpretation of all that mortgage-speak.

A-Z guide to mortgage jargon

Amortisation period

This is a fancy way of saying the term of the loan. It’s the agreed amount of time a borrower has to pay off their debt. The amortisation period is set out when a loan is applied for and approved. For example, a 25-year term.

Appraised value

This is the value a property is estimated to be worth.

Breach of contract

This occurs when someone breaks the conditions set out in a contract.

Break costs

Now, this mortgage jargon is especially important to check out. It is the penalty charges for ‘breaking’ or ending a fixed term loan before the agreed date.

Bridging finance

This is a type of loan a buyer may use when they purchase a new property and their old property is still on the market awaiting a sale. They use ‘bridging finance’ to bridge the gap. Higher interest rates usually apply.

Capital gains

You’ve bought an investment property and then sold it for three times its original cost. That’s a capital gain. It’s the capital (money) gained from selling an asset for more than its original price. Capital gains are subject to capital gains tax (there is an exception for owner-occupied property).

More on this here: 3 tax mistakes investment property owners make

Capital gains tax

A federal tax on the monetary gain made on the sale of an asset bought after September 1985.

Capped loan

This is a loan where the interest rates cannot exceed a set value. However, unlike fixed rate loans, if interest rates fall, the rate change will apply.


When a caveat is lodged on a piece of land or a property title it means a third party that is not the owner claims some right over it – examples would be an easement allowing access to the property.

Certificate of Title

This is a record of all the pertinent information for a property, including owner details, lot or plan details and any registered caveat. This document is usually held by the lender until the loan is paid out.


Are personal property such as furnishings, appliances etc, that may or may not be included as part of a property sale.

Contract of Sale

A written agreement outlining the terms and conditions for the purchase or sale of a property.


The legal process for the transfer of ownership of real estate.

Cover note

An insurer will supply a cover note to guarantee cover before a formal policy is implemented.


This is mortgage jargon for title. It’s a legal document that states all information regarding the ownership of a property or piece of land.


When you default on a mortgage or loan agreement you have failed to make a minimum loan repayment. Defaulting on a loan can have severe consequences.

Deposit bond

A guarantee from your financial institution that a deposit will be paid to a seller. The buyer must still pay the full purchase price of the property, including the amount of the deposit, at settlement.


Miscellaneous fees and charges incurred during the conveyancing process, including search fees and charges paid to government authorities.

Further info: Look out for the extra costs of buying a home

Discharge fees

An administration fee to cover the costs of terminating a loan account.

Discharge of Mortgage

Mortgage jargon for “WOOHOO!” You’ve finally paid off your mortgage. Now your lender will provide a signed document stating your loan has been paid in full.


A right to use a part of land owned by another person or organisation, for example to access another property.


An outstanding liability or charge on a property.

Exit or early repayment fees

While we all dream of paying off our mortgage early, remember to look out for loan conditions such as exit fees or early repayment fees which penalise borrowers for paying off a loan before the end of its term.


These are the items in a property such as carpets, light fixtures, cooktops and stoves that are not intended to be removed from a property when its’s sold.

Fixed rate

An interest rate that applies to a loan for a set time period The rate of interest and payments remain the same for this fixed agreed time period, regardless of any interest rate variations in the home loan market.


Complete ownership of a property and the land that it’s built on.


A person or organisation that agrees to be responsible for the payment of a loan – if the actual borrower defaults or is unable to pay.

Related: Why you should be careful when going guarantor for a loved one

Home equity

The equity in your home is the amount of property you actually own at any given time in a home loan. It’s the current property value, less the amount still owed on the mortgage. Your equity will increase as you pay off your loan or as the property market rises.


The regular payment that a borrower agrees to make to a lender.


This is the amount charged by a lender for the money borrowed.

Interest rate

The percentage of the loan amount, used to calculate the interest to be paid for a loan.

Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

Usually a requirement if the amount borrowed for a property is over 80 per cent of its value as the loan is deemed to be risky. LMI covers the lender if a borrower defaults on a loan and the sale of the property doesn’t cover the outstanding debt. Only the lender is covered by this insurance.


The LVR or Loan to Value ratio is the percentage of the loan amount compared to the value of that property. So if a house is worth $200,000, and the mortgage is $100,000, then the LVR is 50%.


The date when a debt loan must be paid out in full.

Mortgage Protection Insurance

Borrowers should consider this insurance as it covers loan repayments if a borrower become sick, injured or redundant and unable to work.

Passed in

When a property is ‘passed in’ at auction it means the highest bid did not meet the reserve price set by the seller.


The amount owing on a loan, on which interest must be paid.

Redraw facility

A component of a variable rate loan which allows a borrower to make extra repayments on the loan which can be drawn out later if needed.


You can sometimes negotiate a better deal for your home loan if you switch mortgage providers. By switching to a new mortgage provider you ‘refinance’ your loan on the same property at a new rate.

Some tips: 5 ways to negotiate a better deal and save plenty of money


No, not a night club bouncer, but rather an asset that a borrower gives a lender the rights to should the borrower fail to pay their loan as agreed.


This occurs when the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller and the buyer becomes the new legal owner of the property and receives the keys. Yippee!

Stamp duty

A tax imposed by the state government on the purchase price of a property. Each state and territory has different laws regarding the payment of stamp duty.


The duration of a loan, or a specific period within that loan. This is usually written in months, for example 300 months equals 25 years.

Title deed

A document outlining the legal description and ownership of a property.


The value given to a property attributable to a professional valuer (such as a bank or property valuation expert)

Variable rate

An interest rate set by the reserve bank that moves up or down depending on the market.


A change to any part of a loan contract.


The allowable uses of land as set out by local councils or planning authorities, such as residential, commercial or mixed use.

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Hopefully we’ve covered every utterance of mortgage jargon you’re going to come across. Just remember, if you don’t understand something your lender or legal team is telling you, ask them to explain it. Taking out a mortgage is one of the most important journeys of your life. You want to be sure to get to know every part of this mysterious land as you travel.