This article is about real estate mortgage lending. For mortgages in general and their legal structure, see Mortgage law. For mortgage loans secured on ships, see Ship mortgage. For other uses, see Mortgage (disambiguation).
A mortgage loan, also referred to as a mortgage, is used by purchasers of real property to raise funds to buy real estate; by existing property owners to raise funds for any purpose while putting a lien on the property being mortgaged. The loan is "secured" on the borrower's property. This means that a legal mechanism is put in place which allows the lender to take possession and sell the secured property ("foreclosure" or "repossession") to pay off the loan in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan or otherwise fails to abide by its terms. The word mortgage isderived from a "Law French" term used by English lawyers in the Middle Ages meaning "death pledge", and refers to the pledge ending (dying)
Mortgage borrowers can be individuals mortgaging their home or they can be businesses mortgaging commercial property (for example, their own business premises, residential property let to tenants or an investment portfolio). The lender will typically be a financial institution, such as a bank, credit union or building society, depending on the country concerned, and the loan arrangements can be made either directly or indirectly through intermediaries. Features of mortgage loans such as the size of the loan, maturity of the loan, interest rate, method of paying off the loan, and other characteristics can vary considerably. The lender's rights over the secured property take priority over the borrower's other creditors which means that if the borrower becomes bankruptor insolvent, the other creditors will only be repaid the debts owed to them from a sale of the secured property if the mortgage lender is repaid in full first.
In many jurisdictions, it is normal for home purchases to be funded by a mortgage loan. Few individuals have enough savings or liquid funds to enable them to purchase property outright. In countries where the demand for home ownership is highest, strong domestic markets for mortgages have developed. An alternative to mortgages that meets the requirements of Sharia (Islamic law), is the Islamic mortgage. Sharia prohibits interest, so Islamic mortgages are structured to avoid it by using other strategies such as markup of the purchase price.