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Things You Should Know About a Mortgage Loan


1. Make sure you get the right loan for you.
You've found your dream house and now all you need is a loan. Hold everything, even if you've been through this drill before. Make sure you get a loan that's appropriate for your needs.

Choose wisely between a variable intereste rate (5/1, 7/1 Arm) and a fixed interest rate. Variable rates are for homeowners who are carrying a small loan amount (less than $200,000), or for savers who have their money invested which are carrying a high return so they don't wish to liquidate at the present time, or homeowners who want to take advatnage of the low interest rates on the ARM to pay an extra monthly payment every month, so that at the end of the fixed period, their loan amount is affordable to be switched to a fixed 30 Year Mortgage or 15 Year Mortgage.

Make sure you ask me to go over the amortization schedule, so we can properly estimate the desired loan amount at the expiration of the fixed period.

If you are a borrower who doesn't fall within the above parameters, then choose a 30 Year Fixed, which is the most conservative loan you can get.


2. You can bargain for a better rate.
Make sure you shop around on your own and ask the 2 famous questions:

1. What is the interest rate? Can you please calculate the monthly payment based on this loan amount?

2. What are the total closing costs?


3. APR may not mean what you think it does.
When lenders advertise their loans, they use annual percentage rates, or APRs. The APR is supposed to help you compare loans on equal terms by combining the fees and points with a year of interest charges to give you a loan's true annual cost.

The problem is, every lender's APR policies differ. Some include their application fees in the APR, some don't. So two loans from different banks may have different APRs even though they have identical rates and points. To complicate things even more, APRs also vary depending on the size of the loan, whether it is adjustable or fixed, and on the lenders' requirements for mortgage and title insurance. As you continue with the shopping around, you will understand how the APR is fairly meaningless.

Usually for the same rate, you will find a lower APR for banks (retail banks) and mortgage bankers. Be aware of the saying "I offer you a loan with the lowest APR": be guarded, most likely it's the most expensive lender and is setting up a trap.

When you deal with Mortgage Brokers (not to confused with Mortgage Bankers), you will find a higher APR but lowest interest rate and points.

4. Be ruthless when examing the costs on your mortgage.
Lenders are required by Respa, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, to give you a good-faith estimate of your closing costs when you hand in your application, and extra charges are a violation of the law.

Always ask for a detailed, itemized list of your estimated closing costs when you hand in your loan application. It's required by law. Then on closing day look carefully at the figure called "amount financed" on your settlement papers. If it does not equal the principal you are borrowing, minus any points or interest paid upfront, ask your loan officer why.

5. Understand the terms of your mortgage insurance obligations.
You need to buy mortgage insurance because you can afford only 15% of your down payment, but your lender assures you it's no big deal. Once your equity grows to 20%, he says, you can bag the insurance payments. Not necessarily. The Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 requires lenders to automatically cancel the mortgage insurance once the homeowner's equity reaches 22%. Before that, it's the lender's prerogative. And the 22% rule only applies to standard mortgages (not high-risk) initiated after July 29, 1999 for which payments are current.

PMI can be expensive. On a mortgage on a $200,000 home, with 15% down, a buyer's mortgage insurance will cost about $43 a month, or $516 a year. With just 5% down, the cost goes up to $120 a month, which is almost three times as much, according to GE Capital Mortgage Insurance. Depending on which insurer you go with, it can cost even more. Some require an additional fee upfront -- on top of the monthly payment -- of as much as 1% of your loan if you put only 5% down. Since your lender typically chooses your insurer, this is probably going to be beyond your control as well.

The key is to understand the terms of your mortgage insurance obligations before you close your loan. Get your lender to explain what conditions you have to fulfill before you can stop paying for insurance. Some lenders simply require an appraisal to prove you've paid down 20% of the home's value.

6. Being “prequalified” doesn’t mean that much.
Lenders will tell you that prequalified borrowers practically have their mortgage in the bag. Sometimes they will preapprove you based on what you have written or verbally stated with no verification. These are called "wastebasket" approvals. When it comes to actually getting a mortgage, they don't mean anything. That final approval is dependent upon your verified income, assets, and property qualifications. So if you are looking for a pre-approval, make sure you submit your income documentation (Paystubs, W2s) and assets documentation (2 months bank statement). But get it in writing before you make any plans based on a lender's word.