DEFINITION of 'Mortgage Credit Certificates'

A certificate provided by the originating mortgage lender to the borrower that directly converts a portion of the mortgage interest paid by the borrower into a non-refundable tax credit. Mortgage credit certificates can be issued by either loan brokers or the lenders themselves, and are typically available only to low- or moderate-income buyers. These certificates are designed to help first-time homebuyers qualify for a home loan by reducing their tax liabilities below what they would otherwise have to pay.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mortgage Credit Certificates'

Procedurally speaking, mortgage credit certificates are applied for with the originating lender after the purchase contract has been signed, but before the time of closing. A non-refundable fee is charged for this service by the party administering the program. The state or local approval that is granted can be valid for up to 120 days and is usually transferable to another property if the current loan does not close.

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