Are a mortgage and promissory note the same?

No. The term mortgage is many times used by consumers and others to refer to both a note and a mortgage but they are not the same. A note is a promise to pay. An 'I owe you' committing the borrower to pay the lenders and setting out the terms of the loan. A mortgage is one form of a security agreement. The document sets out the terms of the security provided by the borrower to the lender to protect the note. A person has to own the property before they can provide a security agreement that will create a lien or charge on the property. Technically that means a home buyer will need to go on title before the mortgage can be used to put a lien on the property. A little chicken and egg but generally handled through escrow by a lawyer, solicitor or escrow agent. Many times there will be one physical document that contains the note and the mortgage. In some US states a borrowers will sign a note and a trust agreement. Trust deed states is a term for them. Rather than use a mortgage that requires court action a trust agreement will allow a third party to sell off the asset, the house, without court action. Cheaper and faster so the lenders are more open to making the loan in the first place. Less risk to the lender, lower costs to the borrower. No, they are not the same, but they work together. A promissory note says, "I am borrowing $X from you and promise to pay you back $Y per month which includes interest of Z% per year. On DATE, the loan will mature and I will pay you the outstanding balance at that time." But that is just a promise. What does the lender do if the borrower doesn't perform according to the terms of the note? That's where the mortgage comes in. The mortgage document (or Deed of Trust in some states) pledges ownership in a property as collateral for the promissory note. It says, "Here is the legal description of a property I own. If I don't pay this note on time and in full amounts due at each time, then you can foreclose the note and accept this property as payment."