28 Aug 2015

Renting vs Buying A Home

Renting vs Buying A Home

Buying a home versus renting is a big decision that takes careful consideration.

While there are several biased sources that can make arguments for or against owning a home, we’ve found that most home buyers base their ultimate decision on emotion.

Yes, there are some tax advantages of owning real estate, as well as the potential to earn equity or pay a mortgage note off after several years.

However, let’s address some of the more obvious topics of discussion first.

Benefits Of Renting:

Lower Acquisition Cost –

Unless you’re able to qualify for a mortgage loan with zero down and have your closing costs paid for by the seller, a typical investment to purchase a home is around 3.5% – 7% of the purchase price for down payment and closing costs on an FHA mortgage, and an average of 13% – 23% for a home secured by conventional financing.

Compared to the cost of about 1-3 month’s rent payment, it’s obvious that renting a home makes financial sense in the short-term.

Lower Qualifying Standards –

While the FHA and other government insured mortgage programs have more flexible credit / qualifying guidelines than most traditional home loan programs, there is certainly a lot less paperwork and personally invasive probing required by most landlords and property management companies.

Generally proof of employment / income and a decent credit history (or a good explanation) is needed to rent a home.

Freedom To Move –

It’s easy to find a home through a reputable property management company, move in that weekend and then leave a year later when the rental contract expires.  Not being tied down by a long-term mortgage liability is ideal for people new to a community, in a career that keeps them on the go or for parents with children that prefer a certain school district.

Plus, if you’re planning on moving in the next 3-5 years, then it may become cost-prohibitive due to the amount of equity you’ll have to gain in the short-run just to cover the cost of paying an agent, buyer closing costs, transfer taxes…. so that you can at least break even at closing.

Less Maintenance and Cost –

If something breaks, a simple call to the property management company will generally solve the issue in 48 hours or less.  Plus, renters don’t have to carry expensive homeowners insurance, pay property taxes or worry about interest rates adjusting.

Benefits of Owning:

Pets Are Allowed –

Well, according to the rules and regulations of your county or neighborhood HOA, you can pretty much have as many domestic and exotic pets without having to pay extra deposits.

It may seem like a funny benefit to mention first, but the millions of dog and cat lovers would definitely rank this towards the top of their list.

Pink and Purple Walls –

Yep, you can paint the inside of your house any color you choose.  And depending on whether or not there is an HOA in place, you could probably do the same thing on the home’s exterior.  Landscaping, flooring, built-in shelving… it’s your property to renovate and grow in.

Peace-of-Mind and Security –

The only way you would be forced to move is if the bank forecloses on your property due to a default in mortgage payments.

So basically, you don’t have to worry about a landlord’s financial ability to make mortgage payments on time. Plus, you can stay in your own property as long as you wish.

Tax Benefits -

The US government has created certain tax incentives making it possible for many homeowners to exceed the standard yearly deduction.

*Disclosure – Check with your CPA or Tax Attorney to verify your own unique filing scenario*

The following three components of your home mortgage may be tax deductible:

a) Interest on your home mortgage
b) Property Taxes
c) Origination / Discount Points

Stability -

Remaining in one neighborhood for several years lets you and your family establish lasting friendships, as well as offers your children the benefit of educational continuity.

Appreciation of Property -

Historically, even with other periods of declining value, home prices have exceeded consumer inflation. From 1972 through 2005, home prices increased on average 6.5%, according to the National Association of Realtors ®.

Forced Saving -

The monthly payment helps in repayment of the principal amount. Also when you sell you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.

*Disclosure – Check with your CPA or Tax Attorney to verify your own unique filing scenario*

Increased Net Worth

Few things have a greater impact on net worth than owning a home. In a comparison of renters versus homeowners, the Federal Reserve Board of Consumer Finance found that the average net worth of renters was just $4,000 compared to homeowners at $184,400.

While the available tax advantages and potential for earned equity are generally highlighted by most industry professionals as the top reasons to own real estate, it’s important to remember that markets go through cycles.

However, owning real estate that appreciates more than the rate of inflation may help contribute towards your overall investment portfolio, provided your maintenance and mortgage costs are kept low.

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Related Articles – Home Buying Process:

28 Aug 2015

Calculating The Net Benefit Of A Refinance Transaction

Calculating The Net Benefit Of A Refinance Transaction

Calculating the net benefit of refinancing can be a challenging task if you do not understand what to calculate. We are going to focus on the net benefits of refinancing from the standpoint of lowering your interest rate.

Although there are several reasons to refinance, lowering your mortgage rate to save on interest payments over the term of the loan is the most popular.

Calculating the actual savings can be a tricky chore unless you know the difference between cash flow savings and interest savings. If your refinance objective is to only save on the interest by lowering your rate, then the interest savings should be done with the calculations below.

Calculating Interest Savings:

(Loan Amount x Interest Rate) / Months in year = Interest paid per month

($200,000 x 6% or .06) / 12 = $1,000.00

*Remember to do the calculation in the parentheses first*

We now know that you are paying $1,000.00 per month in interest. You should take the new interest rate you are getting with your refinance and calculate what your new interest payment will be.

($200,000 x 5% or .05) / 12 = $833.34

Now we need to find out the difference between the two interest rates.

Current Interest Payment – Proposed Interest Payment = Interest Savings

$1,000.00 – $833.34 = $166.66

Now you have figured out that by dropping your interest rate 1% on $200,000 you will be saving $166.66 per month or about $2,000 per year.

Awesome!

Anyone would want to save $2,000 per year, where do I sign… right? Not so fast, you’ll want to calculate the break-even point to find out how you will benefit after your closing costs.

Net Benefit Formula (Break-Even):

(Closing Costs – Escrows) / Interest Savings = Month of Break-Even

($6,000 – $1,000) / $166.66 = 30 Months

In other words, it will take 30 months for you to recoup the cost of your refinance. If you plan to keep your mortgage for at least 30 months then you might want to consider this deal.

Okay, now we can calculate your net benefit for refinancing with one more calculation.

(Monthly Savings * Months you plan to keep mortgage) – (Closing Costs –Escrows) = Net Savings

($166.66 * 120 months) – ($6,000 – $1,000) = $14,999.20

If you kept the mortgage for 120 months (10 years) you would save $15,000.

Okay, now you can find out where to sign.

Calculating the net benefits of a refinance is crucial in determining if it is strategic for you to refinance. Keep in mind that each mortgage is slightly different and you may need to adjust calculations accordingly.

……

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  I heard that I should only refinance if I drop 1% on my mortgage is that true?

Some people say ½% , 1% to never. Every mortgage is different.

For Example: A no cost loan can have a 1 month break-even point with only a .25% drop in interest rate. Now that you know how to calculate your net benefit, you are able to figure out what may be best for your situation.

Q:  Why can’t I just compare my current payment to the proposed payment and figure out my net benefit?

You could just compare just the two payments if you wanted to find out your cash flow savings, but the current and proposed loans may have two different amortizations.

Let’s assume you currently have a 15 year mortgage and you’re comparing it to a 30 year mortgage. If both loans have the same interest rate and loan amount but the amortization is different, your interest savings per month would be $0. However, you are going to show a cash flow savings with the 30 year mortgage because of the longer amortization.

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Related Article – Refinance Process:

28 Aug 2015

Refinance Process

Refinance Process

Refinancing a mortgage is the process of acquiring a new loan to pay off an existing lender.

Refinance Articles / Resources:

Four Possible Reasons to Refinance

A mortgage is generally the largest debt most homeowners have to manage, and it is a good idea to give your personal real estate finance portfolio a check-up at least once a year.

Since there are several reasons a homeowner may choose to refinance, we’ll take a look at the top four circumstances.

A drop in mortgage rates, lowering current mortgage payments, debt consolidation or changing mortgage programs are four possible reasons to choose a refinance.

…..(read more about Four Possible Reasons to Refinance)

Calculating the Net Benefit of a Refinance

Calculating the net benefit of refinancing can be a challenging task if you do not understand what to calculate.

We are going to focus on the net benefits of refinancing from the standpoint of lowering your interest rate.

Although there are several reasons to refinance, lowering your mortgage rate to save on interest payments over the term of the loan is the most popular.

Calculating the actual savings can be a tricky chore unless you know the difference between cash flow savings and interest savings.

…..(read more about Calculating the Net Benefit of a Refinance)

Should I Get A Home Equity Line of Credit or Cash-Out Refi to Make Home Improvements?

For homeowners interested in making some property improvements without tapping into their savings or investment accounts, the two main options are to either take out a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), or do a cash-out refinance.

A Home Equity Loan is similar to the line of credit, except there is a lump sum given to the borrower at the time of funding and the payment terms are generally fixed.

Both a Line and Loan would hold a subordinate position to the first loan on title, and are typically referred to as a “Second Mortgage.”

Since second mortgages are paid after the first lien holder in the case of default foreclosure or short sale, interest rates are higher in order to justify the risk.

Fees, Interest Rate, and Timeline are the three main factors to consider which option to choose in order to pull equity out of a property.

…..(read more about Cash-Out Refinances )

…..

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  Is there such a thing as a “No Cost” mortgage?

Technically speaking, there are always costs involved with any mortgage transactions.  Appraisal, inspection, underwriting, prepaid taxes, insurance, interest….  the list can go on.

However, there is a way to structure a closing cost and interest rate scenario that will decrease the amount of fees, or how a borrower pays them.

Basically, the costs to produce the new mortgage are either financed into the loan amount, or covered by the lender in exchange for a slightly higher than market interest rate.

Deciding on the best option involves weighing the difference in cost up-front vs the increased monthly payment over a set period of time.

Q:  How long do I have to wait to refinance after a purchase transaction?

The rule-of-thumb is 8-12 months, but there may be exceptions.  It’s important to check with your lender at the time of initial application to make sure there aren’t any short-term penalties for refinancing within the first year.

Another thing to consider is the cost of refinancing.  If you’re watching the market and may want to lock in a lower rate in the near future, it may be more cost effective to pay a discount point for a lower rate vs paying for a full refinance a few months later.

Q:  I heard that I should only refinance if I drop 1% on my mortgage, is that true?

Some people say ½%, 1% to never. Every mortgage is different.

Q:  Why can’t I just compare my current payment to the proposed payment and figure out my net benefit?

You could just compare just the two payments if you wanted to find out your cash flow savings, but the current and proposed loans may have two different amortizations. Let’s say you have a 15 year mortgage currently and you are comparing to a 30 year mortgage.

If everything else is the same (interest rate, loan amount, etc) except for the amortization your interest savings per month would be $0 but, you are going to show a cash flow savings because of the longer amortization.

Q:  Do I have to refinance with my current mortgage company?

No, you may choose any company you wish to refinance your mortgage since the new loan will replace the old mortgage.

Q:  Is it easier to refinance with my current mortgage company?

Sometimes your current company can reduce the documentation that is required, but this usually comes at increased costs and interest rate. Make sure that you check to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Q:  Will I automatically qualify?

No, you will have to qualify for your new refinance. However certain programs will allow for reduced documentation like the FHA to FHA Streamline.

28 Aug 2015

Understanding An Amortization Schedule

Understanding An Amortization Schedule

By committing to a mortgage loan, the borrower is entering into a financial agreement with a lender to pay back the mortgage money, with interest, over a set period of time.

The borrower’s monthly mortgage payment may change over time depending on the type of loan program, however, we’re going to address the typical 30 year fixed Principal and Interest loan program for the sake of breaking down the individual payment components for this particular article about an amortization schedule.

On each payment that is made, a certain amount of interest is taken out to pay the lender back for the opportunity to borrow the money, and the remaining balance is applied to the principal balance.

It’s common to hear industry professionals and homeowners talk about a mortgage payment being front-loaded with interest, especially if they’re referencing an amortization chart to show the numbers. Since there is more interest being paid at the beginning of a mortgage payment term the amount of money applied to interest decreases over time, while the money applied to the principal increases.

We can better understand mortgage payments by looking at a loan amortization chart, which shows the specific payments associated with a loan.

The details will include the interest and principal component of each periodic payment.

For example, let’s look at a scenario where you borrowed a $100,000 loan at 7.5% interest rate, fixed for 30 year term. To ensure full repayment of principal by the end of the 30 years, your payment would need to be $699.21 per month. In the first month, you owe $100,000, which means the interest would be calculated on the full loan amount. To calculate this, we start with $100,000 and multiply it by 7.5% interest rate. This will give you $7,500 of annual interest. However, we only need a monthly amount. So we divide by 12 months to find that the interest equals $625. Now remember, you are paying $699.21. If you only owe interest of $625, then the remainder of the payment, $74.21, will go towards the principal. Thus, your new outstanding balance is now $99,925.79.

In month #2, you make the same payment of $699.21. However, this time, you now owe $99,925.79. Therefore, you will only pay interest on $99,925.79. When running through the calculator in the same process detailed above, you will find that your interest component is $624.54. (It is decreasing!) The remaining $74.68 will be applied towards principal. (This amount is increasing!)

Each month, the same simple mathematic calculation will be made. Because the payments are remaining the same, each month the interest will continue to be reduced and the remainder going towards principal will continue to increase.

An amortization chart runs chronologically through your series of payments until you get to the final payment. The chart can also be a useful tool to determine interest paid to date, principal paid to date, or remaining principal.

Another frequent use of amortization charts is to determine how extra payments toward principal can affect and accelerate the month of final payment of the loan, as well as reduce your total interest payments.

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Related Articles – Mortgage Payments:

28 Aug 2015

How Do I Calculate My Mortgage Payment?

How Do I Calculate My Mortgage Payment?

Calculating an exact mortgage payment without a calculator on a loan is no small task, but there are some simple rules-of-thumb you can use to get a close estimate.

With the exception of the MIT Blackjack Team, performing this type of complex math in your head often leads to frustrating rants.

When coming up with a rough estimate, it is important to understand the individual components that factor into the overall monthly mortgage payment.

Yes, the thousands of dollars you send to your lender every year may cover more than just the mortgage, but referring to one simple formula will help you gauge what the new payment will be as you’re out looking for new properties that may be in your price range.

What’s In A Mortgage Payment?

A mortgage consists of 4-6 parts:

  • Principal – the balance of the loan
  • Interest – the fee paid to borrow the mortgage money
  • Property Taxes – based on county assessed value and residence type
  • Hazard Insurance – in the case of fire or property damage (may include a separate flood policy)
  • Mortgage Insurance – more than 80% LTV on conventional loans, or with FHA financing

Most lenders use the acronym (PITI), which includes Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance.

And in the case where a separate Mortgage Insurance Premium is required, we add another “I” to the end of that creative series of letters.

Another monthly expense that you have to consider is the monthly dues that come with properties that have ahomeowner’s association (common in condominiums and other developments). This isn’t a payment made to your lender, but you will have to qualify with that payment and it is also best practice for you to factor that in the monthly cost of your new home.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, this is slightly easier than most state bar exams.

The Mortgage Payment Cheat Sheet:

Ok, you’ve made it this far and haven’t closed your browser, so that is a good thing.

Please keep in mind, this top secret formula will by no means be exact.

Mortgage Payment Formula:

For every $1000 you borrower, your TOTAL monthly mortgage payment will be $8.

So, if you purchase a home for $250,000 with a $50,000 down payment – borrowing a total of $200,000, then a good estimated total monthly PITI payment would be roughly $1600.

But don’t forget to add your homeowners association dues to that monthly payment.

What If I Pay Taxes and Insurance Separately?

Well now we’re at the easy part. If you elect to pay taxes separate from your mortgage, the cheat sheet is reduced from $8 per $1000 down to $6 per $1000.

So there you have it. $8 for every $1000 borrowed.

Again, please keep in mind that this is not going to give you an EXACT payment. You may be purchasing a property with higher real estate taxes or your insurance premiums may be higher than average depending on the state you live in.

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Related Articles – Mortgage Payments:

28 Aug 2015

Making Sure Your Cash-To-Close Comes From The Proper Source

Making Sure Your Cash-To-Close Comes From The Proper Source

Providing proper asset documentation and the actual source of the funds is a critical element of the loan closing process.

There’s nothing worse in a real estate purchase than making it all the way through the hoops and hurdles just to have a loan denied after the final documents have been signed due to the borrower using the wrong checking account for the down payment.

Seasoning of the down payment money is just as important as the source, which is why underwriters typically require at least two months bank / asset statements in the initial mortgage approval process.

A Few Acceptable Sources Of Down Payment Include:

  • Bank Accounts – checking / savings
  • Investment Accounts – money market, mutual funds
  • Retirement Funds – keep in mind that borrowing against a 401K plan will require a repayment, which will be calculated in the Debt-to-Income Ratio
  • Life Insurance – Cash value and face amount
  • Gifts – Family members can gift down payment funds with certain restrictions
  • Inheritance / Trust Funds
  • Government Grants – Many state, county and city agencies offer special down payment assistance programs

It is extremely important to make sure your loan officer is aware of the exact source of your down payment as early in the process as possible so that all necessary questions, documentation and explanations can be reviewed / approved by an underwriter.

A good rule-of-thumb to remember is that whatever funds you’re using as a down payment have to be pre-approved by an underwriter at the beginning of the mortgage approval process.

Basically, if you accidentally forget to deposit money in your checking account on the way to the closing appointment, it is not acceptable to get a cashier’s check from a friend’s account until you have a chance to pay them back later.

……

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  What if I don’t have a bank account and cannot properly source my funds to close?

Cash on hand is an acceptable source of funds for some loan programs, but make sure you bring that detail up at the application stage

Q:  Can I use a bonus from my employer for my down payment?

Yes, but generally this needs to be a bonus you regularly receive

Q:  Can I borrow the money from a friend?

No, any money that needs to be repaid is typically an unacceptable source of funds

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Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs

28 Aug 2015

What Does Title Insurance Protect Me From?

By including title insurance when purchasing property, your title insurer takes on accountability for legal expenses to defend your property title, should it ever be challenged.

Many different occurrences can come into play to warrant the need for title insurance.

The title company responsible will then take on the legal expenses to defend the property for as long as you are in possession of an interest in the property under the title.

If the defense is not successful, you will be reimbursed for any loss of value of the property.

Common Things Title Insurance Covers:

1. UNDISCLOSED HEIRS, FORGED DEEDS, MORTGAGE, WILLS, RELEASES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

2. FALSE IMPRISONMENT OF THE TRUE LAND OWNER

3. DEEDS BY MINORS

4. DOCUMENTS EXECUTED BY A REVOKED OR EXPIRED POWER OF ATTORNEY

5. PROBATE MATTERS

6. FRAUD

7. DEEDS AND WILLS BY PERSON OF UNSOUND MIND

8. CONVEYANCES BY UNDISCLOSED DIVORCED SPOUSES

9. RIGHTS OF DIVORCED PARTIES

10. ADVERSE POSSESSION

11. DEFECTIVE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DUE TO IMPROPER OR EXPIRED NOTARIZATION

12. FORFEITURES OF REAL PROPERTY DUE TO CRIMINAL ACTS

13. MISTAKES AND OMISSIONS RESULTING IN IMPROPER ABSTRACTING

14. ERRORS IN TAX RECORDS

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Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs

28 Aug 2015

Talk the Talk – Know the Mortgage Lingo at Closing

Talk the Talk – Know the Mortgage Lingo at Closing

What the heck are they talking about?

Many borrowers go through the closing process in a haze, nodding, smiling, and signing through a bunch of noise that sounds like Greek.

Even though you may have put your trust in your real estate and mortgage team, it helps to understand some of the terminology so that you can pay attention to specific details that may impact the decisions you need to make.

Common Closing Terms / Processes:

1. Docs Sent

Buyers sit on pins and needles through the approval process, waiting to find out if they meet the lender’s qualification requirements (which include items such as total expense to income, maximum loan amounts, loan-to-value ratios, credit, etc).

The term “docs sent” generally means you made it!! The lender’s closing department has sent the approved loan paperwork to the closing agent, which is usually an attorney or title company.

Keep in mind that there may be some prior to funding conditions the underwriter will need to verify before the deal can be considered fully approved.

2. Docs Signed –

Just what it implies.  All documentation is signed, including the paperwork between the borrower and the lender which details the terms of the loan, and the contracts between the seller and buyer of the property.

This usually occurs at closing in the presence of the closing agent, bank representative, buyer and seller.

3. Funded –

Show me some money!

The actual funds are transferred from the lender to the closing agent, along with all applicable disclosures.

For a home purchase, if the closing occurs in the morning, the funds are generally sent the same day. If the closing occurs in the afternoon, the funds are usually transferred the next day.

The timing is different for refinancing transactions due to the right of rescission. This is the right (given automatically by law to the borrower) to back out of the transaction within three days of signing the loan documents. As a result, funds are not transferred until after the rescission period in a refinancing transaction, and are generally received on the fourth day after the paperwork is signed.

(Note – Saturdays are counted in the three day period, while Sundays are not). The right of rescission only applies to a property the borrower will live in, not investment properties.

4. Recorded –

Let’s make it official. The recording of the deed transfers title (legal ownership) of the property to the buyer. The title company or the attorney records the transaction in the county register where the property is located, usually immediately after closing.

…..

There you have it – an official translation of closing lingo.

As with any other important financial transaction, there are many steps, some of which are dictated by law, which must be followed.

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Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs

28 Aug 2015

How Do Mortgage Rates Move When The Fed Lowers Rates?

How Do Mortgage Rates Move When The Fed Lowers Rates?

Lower mortgage rates is a common misconception that is perpetuated by the mainstream media when the Fed makes an announcement of lowering rates.

However, when the Fed cuts interest rates, mortgage rates can actually increase.

Fed 101:

According to Wikipedia:

The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States.

This system was conceived by several of the world’s leading bankers in 1910 and enacted in 1913, with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act. The passing of the Federal Reserve Act was largely a response to prior financial panics and bank runs, the most severe of which being the Panic of 1907.

Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure has evolved. Events such as the Great Depression were some of the major factors leading to changes in the system.

Its duties today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, fall into four general areas:

  1. Conducting the nation’s monetary policy by influencing monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
  2. Supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system, and protect the credit rights of consumers.
  3. Maintaining stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.

The Federal Reserve controls two key interest rates in this country:

1) The Federal Funds Rate

2) The Discount Rate

These are overnight lending rates used by banks when they lend money to each other.

When these rates are low, money is cheaper for banks to borrow, and that “cheap” money spreads throughout the economy.

The aim of the Federal Reserve in its interest rate policy is to either speed up or slow down the economy. In times of economic downturn, the Federal Reserve will cut rates to help create a boost. Conversely, in times of heavy inflation, the Fed will raise rates to help slow down the economy.

That’s it; speed up or slow down….no tricks.

When the credit crisis began to spiral in 2007, the Fed cut rates dramatically in hopes of jump-starting the economy. The Fed keeping rates near zero is an indication that the economy is moving along at a steady pace. If the economy improves to the point where inflation starts to creep up the Fed will begin hiking rates.

The Fed and Mortgage Rates:

Mortgage rates are tied to mortgage bonds, which are traded every day on the secondary market just like stocks.

Bonds are often considered a safer investment than stocks since they yield a constant rate of return.

During times of market turmoil, investors sell their stock holdings and move into bonds (called a “flight to safety” in financial jargon).

Conversely, when the economy is booming, investors move their money away from bonds and into stocks to take advantage of the upswing in the economy.

Remember, The Fed cuts interest rates to boost the economy.

When investors see this boost, they sell their bond holdings and move into stocks.

This movement causes the rates on those bonds to increase naturally as the bonds have to attract new investors with higher rates of return.

As a result, we see mortgage rates increase.

…..

So, the next time you hear the Fed cutting interest rates, don’t assume mortgage rates will simply follow suit. The rate cut is simply meant to boost the economy, which moves money from bonds to stocks, and causes mortgage rates to rise.

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Related Mortgage Rate Articles:

28 Aug 2015

What’s The Difference Between Interest Rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

What’s The Difference Between Interest Rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

The difference between APR and actual note rate is very confusing, especially for First-Time Home Buyers who haven’t been through the entire closing process before.

When shopping for a new mortgage loan, you may notice an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) advertised next to the note rate.  The inclusion of an APR is actually mandated by federal law in order to help give borrowers a standard rule of measurement for comparing the total cost of each loan.

The APR is designed to represent the “true cost of a loan” to the borrower, expressed in the form of a yearly rate to prevent lenders from “hiding” fees and up-front costs behind low advertised rates.

According to Wikipedia:

The terms annual percentage of rate (APR) and nominal APR describe the interest rate for a whole year (annualized), rather than just a monthly fee/rate, as applied on a loan, mortgage, credit card, etc. It is a finance charge expressed as an annual rate.

  • The nominal APR is the simple-interest rate (for a year).
  • The effective APR is the fee+compound interest rate (calculated across a year)

The nominal APR is calculated as: the rate, for a payment period, multiplied by the number of payment periods in a year.

However, the exact legal definition of “effective APR” can vary greatly, depending on the type of fees included, such as participation fees, loan origination fees, monthly service charges, or late fees.

The effective APR has been called the “mathematically-true” interest rate for each year. The computation for the effective APR, as the fee+compound interest rate, can also vary depending on whether the up-front fees, such as origination or participation fees, are added to the entire amount, or treated as a short-term loan due in the first payment.

What Fees Are Typically Included In APR?

  • Origination Fee
  • Discount Points
  • Buydown funds from the buyer
  • Prepaid Mortgage Interest
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums
  • Other lender fees (application, underwriting, tax service, etc.)

Since origination fees, discount points, mortgage insurance premiums, prepaid interest and other items may also be required to obtain a mortgage, they need to be included when calculating the APR. Fees such as title insurance, appraisal and credit are not included in calculating the APR.

The APR can vary between lenders and programs due to the fact that the federal law does not clearly define specifically what goes into the calculation.

What Does APR Not Disclose?

  • APR on a loan tied to a market index, like a 5/1 ARM, assumes the market index will never change.  But Adjustable Rate Mortgages always change over the course of 30 years.
  • Balloon Payments
  • Prepayment Penalties
  • Length of Rate Lock
  • Comparison between loan terms – EX:  A 15-year term will have a higher APR simply because the fees are amortized over a shorter period of time compared to a similar rate / cost scenario on a 30-year term.

APR Comparing Examples:

  • Bank (A) is offering a 30 year fixed mortgage at 8.00% APR
  • Bank (B) is offering a 30 year fixed mortgage at 7.00% Note Rate

Easy choice, right?

While Bank (B) is advertising the lowest Note Rate, they’re not factoring in the origination points, underwriting / processing fees and prepaid mortgage interest (first month’s mortgage payment), which could essentially make the APR much higher than the one Bank (A) is advertising. So Bank (A) may show a higher rate due to the APR, but they could actually be charging a lot less in total fees than Bank (B).

…..

Before lenders and mortgage brokers were required to state the APR, it was more difficult to find the truth about the total borrowing costs of one loan vs another. When comparing mortgage rates, it’s a good idea to ask your lender which fees are included in their APR quote.

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Related Mortgage Rate Articles: