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.
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