Residential Mortgage Law and Legal Definition

A residential mortgage is a document in which the owner uses the title to residential property as security for a loan described in a promissory note. The mortgage must be signed by the owner (borrower/mortgagor), acknowledged before a notary public, and recorded with the County Recorder or Recorder of Deeds. If the owner fails to make payments on the promissory note then the lender can foreclose on the mortgage to force a sale of the real property and receive the proceeds, or receive the property itself at a public sheriff's sale.

Before the property is sold, the mortgagor must be noticed and offered an opportunity to pay all delinquent payments and costs of foreclosure to save the property. In some states the property can be redeemed by such payment even after foreclosure. When the mortgage is paid in full, the lender is required to execute a "satisfaction of mortgage" (sometimes called a "discharge of mortgage") and record it to clear the title to the property.

A purchase-money mortgage is one given by a purchaser to a seller of real property as partial payment. A mortgagor may sell the property either "subject to a mortgage" in which the property is still security and the seller is still liable for payment, or the buyer "assumes the mortgage" and becomes personally responsible for payment of the loan. Most states using mortgages treat them as liens on the property. Some states use a "deed of trust" (or "trust deed") as a mortgage. Under the deed of trust system title is technically given to a trustee to hold for the lender, who is called a beneficiary.