Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
To pledge an asset as collateral on a loan without the lender taking possession of the collateral. It especially applies to mortgages: the borrower hypothecates when he/she pledges the house as collateral for payment of the mortgage, or he/she may hypothecate the mortgage in order to borrow against the value of the house. In both situations the borrower retains the house, but the lender has the right to take possession if the borrower does not service the debt. Hypothecation also occurs in trading: a broker will allow an investor to borrow money to purchase securities with those securities as collateral. The investor owns the securities but the broker may take them if the debt is not serviced, or if the value of the securities falls below a certain level. See also: Foreclosure, Margin account.
An asset that a borrower transfers to the possession of a lender as collateral for a loan. The borrower maintains ownership and all associated rights of the pledged asset. When the loan is repaid, the lender transfers possession back to the borrower. The pledged asset reduces the risk to the lender that the borrower will default, therefore possibly qualifying the borrower for some benefit, such as a lower interest rate. When buying a house, some mortgage borrowers will pledge an asset, such as stock, to the lender to qualify for a lower down payment. See also: Secured loan.