Second Mortgage

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Second mortgage

A second mortgage typically refers to a secured loan (or mortgage) that is subordinate to another loan against the same property.

In real estate, a property can have multiple loans or liens against it. The loan which is registered with county or city registry first is called the first mortgage or first position trust deed. The lien registered second is called the second mortgage. A property can have a third or even fourth mortgage, but those are rarer.

Second mortgages are called subordinate because, if the loan goes into default, the first mortgage gets paid off first before the second mortgage gets any money. Thus, second mortgages are riskier for the lender, who generally charges a higher interest rate.

In most cases, a second mortgage takes the form of a home equity loan and the two are synonymous, from a financial standpoint. The difference in terminology is that a mortgage traditionally refers to the legal lien instrument, rather than the debt itself



Legal systems tend to share certain concepts but vary in the terminology and jargon used.

In general terms the main participants in a mortgage are:


The creditor has legal rights to the debt or other obligation secured by the mortgage. That debt is often the obligation to repay the loan by the creditor (or its predecessor lender) who provided the purchase money to acquire the property mortgaged. Typically, creditors are banks, insurers or other financial institutions who make loans available for the purpose of real estate purchase.

A creditor is sometimes referred to as the mortgagee or lender.


The debtor is the person or entity who owes the obligation secured by the mortgage, and may be multiple parties. Generally, the debtor must meet the conditions of the underlying loan or other obligation and the conditions of the mortgage. Otherwise, the debtor usually runs the risk of foreclosure of the mortgage by the creditor to recover the debt. Typically the debtors will be the individual home-owners, landlords or businesses who are purchasing their property by way of a loan.

A debtor is sometimes referred to as the mortgagor, borrower, or obligor.

Other participants

Due to the complicated legal exchange, or conveyance, of the property, one or both of the main participants are likely to require legal representation. The terminology varies with legal jurisdiction; see lawyer, solicitor and conveyancer.

Because of the complex nature of many markets the debtor may approach a mortgage broker or financial adviser to help them source an appropriate creditor typically by finding the most competitive loan. Recently, many US consumers (particularly higher income borrowers) are choosing to work with Certified Mortgage Planners, industry experts that work closely with Certified Financial Planners to align the home finance position(s) of homeowners with their larger financial portfolio(s).

The debt is, in civil law jurisdictions, referred to as hypothecation, which may make use of the services of a hypothecary to assist in the hypothecation; that is, in obtaining a legal hypothec.

In addition to borrowers, lenders, government sponsored agencies, private agencies; there is also a fifth class of participants who are the source of funds - the Life Insurers, Pension Funds, etc.