1 An instrument signed, sealed, and given by the borrower (or "mortgagor") to the lender (or "mortgagee"), or to a third party who holds it as trustee for the lender, by which the latter has the right to possess himself, by following proper formalities, of property described in the instrument, in case the borrower does not meet his indebtedness as set forth in the conditions agreed to at the time of creating the debt. In general, a "mortgage" is, to all intents and purposes, a legal transfer of title to property to take effect only in case the money is not paid to secure which the transfer was given. It is a method of securing to the lender certain property, in case of failure to pay on the part of the borrower. A wife must also sign and acknowledge the instrument.
A "mortgage" may be given to secure the performance of other conditions than the payment of a debt, and sometimes is.
The word "mortgage" is used to mean either the act of "mortgaging" or the instrument by which it is effected, called the "mortgage-deed." (See "Extension of Mortgage.")
1 "Many of these documents, preserved in the British Museum, are records of deeds and the partition of real estate, but a few involve loans of silver at interest, and these become more numerous in the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Nabopolassar (625-604 B.c.). Loans secured by mortgage on land and guarantee bonds are among the curious commercial documents of these early times." - " The Principles of Money and Bank ing," Charles A. Conant.
Proper caution should always be taken to ascertain that the title, or legal ownership, to the property to be mortgaged is in the party giving the property as security for the debt, and for this purpose a lawyer is usually engaged. There are, however, " land title companies," also called " title guarantee companies," and "title insurance companies," which make a business of looking up titles and usually guaranteeing their validity. A paper is sometimes given showing the records of the successive ownerships of the property and of any incumbrances thereon, which is called an " abstract of title," or a "search."
If a mortgage is to cover buildings or property subject to destruction by fire, the lender should ascertain that there is sufficient insurance for his protection and that the insurance policy (or policies) are indorsed by the agent or company somewhat as follows: "Payable in case of loss to, mortgagee, as his interest may appear."
After the mortgage has been delivered to the lender of the money, that is to say, the "mortgagee," he should promptly send it to be "recorded" in what is called the Registry of Deeds Office at the county seat. This is to prevent a dishonest "mortgagor" giving a subsequent mortgage upon the property, and which might be recorded ahead of the first one given.