Mortgage (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A legal document by which the owner (i.e., the buyer) transfers to the lender an interest in real estate to secure the repayment of a debt, evidenced by a mortgage note. When the debt is repaid, the mortgage is discharged, and a satisfaction of mortgage is recorded with the register or recorder of deeds in the county where the mortgage was recorded. Because most people cannot afford to buy real estate with cash, nearly every real estate transaction involves a mortgage.
The party who borrows the money and gives the mortgage (the debtor) is the mortgagor; the party who pays the money and receives the mortgage (the lender) is the mortgagee. Under early English and U.S. law, the mortgage was treated as a complete transfer of title from the borrower to the lender. The lender was entitled not only to payments of interest on the debt but also to the rents and profits of the real estate. This meant that as far as the borrower was concerned, the real estate was of no value, that is, "dead," until the debt was paid in fullence the Norman-English name "mort" (dead), "gage" (pledge).
The mortgage must be executed according to the formalities required by the laws of the state where the property is located. It must describe the real estate and must be signed by all owners, including non-owner spouses if the property is a homestead. Some states require witnesses as well as acknowledgement...
(The entire section is 2543 words.)
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