Mortgage Series

This series is for those just starting the home buying process.

What Is A Rate Lock?

Mortgage rates change constantly through an unpredictable combination of government policies and economic conditions. This video explains the common term ‘rate lock.’

A “Rate Lock” is a guarantee that a lender will honor a specific combination of interest rates and points for a given period of time. A lock protects a buyer from rate increases but commits them to a higher rate if mortgage rates fall below the locked rate.

As of 2014, rate locks aren’t usually an option until a purchase offer for a specific property – new-home or resale – has been accepted by the seller. The borrower’s credit score, the loan-to-value ratio property type, location and other factors plus, of course, market rates and market conditions will also affect rate-lock decisions.

Decide whether to lock or “float” based on your capacity for risk and your best rational knowledge about construction and closing schedules. If your rate lock expires an extension might be available but both you and the lender will be looking at current mortgage rates to decide the best option.

What Is A Mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan obtained to purchase real estate.


The “mortgage” itself is a lien – a legal claim on the home or property that secures the promise to pay the debt.

All mortgages have two features in common: principal and interest.

The principal is the amount you are borrowing which is “secured” by the lender’s claim on the property.

The interest, usually stated as the percentage rate is the additional amount paid for borrowing. Mortgage interest is ‘compounded’ – interest on interest, over time.

What Is A Qualified Mortgage?

Federal laws put into effect in 2014 and supervised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau define lending practices and loan terms for a new category called “Qualified Mortgages.”

They provide stable loan features for consumers and improve legal protection for lenders who follow the guidelines.
 

These guidelines require lenders to assess each borrower’s ability to repay their mortgage loan.

As of 2014, guidelines require that a borrower’s monthly DEBT – including mortgage – be no higher than 43% of their monthly gross INCOME

The laws also define unacceptable loan terms:
 

  • interest-only loans

  • terms over 30 years

  • negative-amortization loans that increase principal over time

  • most balloon loans
     

do not meet the Qualified Mortgage guidelines.

The laws aim to provide consumers with objective guidance  about reasonable debt from the CFPB and in return, to grant lenders who follow that guidance with higher levels of protection from lawsuits.

Ask your lender about Qualified Mortgage options for your home purchase.

What Is Loan To Value (LTV) And How Does It Affect The Size Of My Loan?

The loan to value ratio is the amount of money you borrow compared with the price or appraised value of the home you are purchasing.

Each loan has a specific LTV limit. For example: With a 75% LTV loan on a home priced at $100,000 you could borrow up to $75,000 (75% of $100,000) and would have to pay $25000 as a down payment.

The LTV ratio reflects the amount of equity borrowers have in their homes. The higher the LTV the less cash homebuyers are required to pay out of their own funds.

So, to protect lenders against potential loss in case of default, higher LTV loans (80% or more) usually require mortgage insurance policies.

What Does Ability To Repay Mean?

What are the “Ability to repay” rules about?

In a nutshell, new laws require lenders to make a good-faith assessment of a borrower’s capacity to pay back their loan over time.

It’s a longer-term view that goes beyond immediate income, debt and credit rating.

These new Federal laws- supervised by the CFPB - require lenders to ask more questions –

about income, assets, employment, credit history, and monthly expenses –

as they relate to the proposed loan.

For example, a lender offering a mortgage with a low initial rate must try to assess how a borrower will handle the later, higher rate as well.

If you’re applying to borrow ask whether the program you’re considering is a Qualified Mortgage

Ability-to-repay rules are built in to loans that meet Qualified Mortgage guidelines.

What Does Ability To Repay Mean?

What are the “Ability to repay” rules about?

In a nutshell, new laws require lenders to make a good-faith assessment of a borrower’s capacity to pay back their loan over time.

It’s a longer-term view that goes beyond immediate income, debt and credit rating.

These new Federal laws- supervised by the CFPB - require lenders to ask more questions –

about income, assets, employment, credit history, and monthly expenses –

as they relate to the proposed loan.

For example, a lender offering a mortgage with a low initial rate must try to assess how a borrower will handle the later, higher rate as well.

If you’re applying to borrow ask whether the program you’re considering is a Qualified Mortgage

Ability-to-repay rules are built in to loans that meet Qualified Mortgage guidelines.

Are There Special Mortgages For First-Time Homebuyers?

Lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options which can help first-time homebuyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past.

Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or a poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or who have experienced income irregularities.

What Types Of Mortgage Loans Are Available?

There are four types of mortgage loans, Fixed Rate, ARM, Balloon and 2-Step.

First, Fixed Rate Mortgages: Payments remain the same for the life of the loan generally 15 years or 30 years. Interest rates remain the same, so payments are predictable.

A second common type is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage, or ARM. ARM Payments increase or decrease on a regular schedule with changes in interest rates increases are typically subject to limits.

Third, Balloon Mortgage: These offers very low rates for an Initial period of time usually 5, 7, or 10 years when time has elapsed, the balance is due or refinanced though not automatically.

Finally, a Two-Step Mortgage- Interest rates adjusts only once and remains the same for the life of the loan.

Many other types are available, including government-insured mortgages and VA loans for veterans. Talk to lenders and real estate professionals to assess your situation.

What Are The Advantages Of 15- And 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages?

For both, compared with other options,  with fixed rates, housing costs won’t be affected by interest rate changes and inflation.

With A 30-Year Term: In the first 23 years of the loan more interest is paid off than principal meaning larger tax deductions. As inflation and costs of living increase mortgage payments become a smaller part of overall expenses.

With A 15-year Term: Loan is usually made at a lower interest rate. Equity is built faster because early payments pay more principal. And the loan is paid off earlier.

Compare payments, principal and interest totals to make a decision.

What Factors Affect Mortgage Payments?

the amount of the down payment the size of the mortgage loan, the interest rate the length of the repayment term and payment schedule will all affect the size of your mortgage payment.


In bullets:

  • down payment

  • loan size

  • interest rate – fixed or adjustable

  • repayment term – how long

  • payment schedule – how often
     

all affect the size of your payment.

What Is Included In A Monthly Mortgage Payment?

The monthly mortgage payment mainly pays off principal and interest. But most lenders also include local real estate taxes homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance, if applicable.


If you are refinancing compare what is and isn’t included in your financing options. Watch this video and it’ll make sense.

What Are Discount Points?

Discount points allow you to lower your interest rate. While this video simplifies things to help you remember, “points” are essentially prepaid interest with each point equaling 1% of the total loan amount.

Generally, for each point paid on a 30-year mortgage the interest rate is reduced by 1/8 (or.125) of a percentage point. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases with each point paid. Discount points are smart if you plan to stay in a home for some time since they can lower the monthly loan payment.

Points are tax deductible when you purchase a home and you may be able to negotiate for the seller to pay for some of them.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance is a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that result from defaults on home mortgages. Like home or auto insurance, mortgage insurance requires payment of a premium, is for protection against loss, and is used in the event of an emergency.

If a borrower can’t repay an insured mortgage loan as agreed, the lender may foreclose on the property and file a claim with the mortgage insurer for some or most of the total losses.

You generally need mortgage insurance only if you plan to make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price of the home. The FHA offers several loan programs that may meet your needs.

What Is PMI?

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance or Insurer. These are privately-owned companies that provide mortgage insurance.

 

They offer both standard and special affordable programs for borrowers. These companies provide guidelines to lenders that detail the types of loans they will insure. Lenders use these guidelines to determine borrower eligibility.

PMI’s usually have stricter qualifying ratios and larger down payment requirements than the FHA but their premiums are often lower and they insure loans that exceed the FHA limit.

What Is “Prime”?

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  - is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.
 

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%

  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%

  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.
     

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

What Is “Prime”?

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  - is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.
 

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%

  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%

  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.
     

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

What Is Equity?

Equity is the value YOU own in property such as a house. It’s the difference between what’s OWED and what the property is WORTH in the current market.

For example, you have a house worth $300,000 today and you owe the bank $200,000.  Your equity would be $100,000. If the house is valued at $500,000 in five years, and you still owe $150,000 your equity will be $350,000.

Equity grows if the property value goes up or if the amount owed goes down.  The key thing to remember, simple as it sounds, is that you “own” increases in value. The bank’s loan doesn’t go up if the home’s value goes up.

Equity in a home can be used as collateral for loans but a house is not a piggy bank. Home equity can become a key financial asset over time; treat it wisely.

Can I Pay Off My Loan Ahead Of Schedule?

Usually, Yes. Like the guy in the video says, by sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan.

When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal and keep records.

Remember that payment applied to loan principal is not tax-deductible. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, but some loans may have prepayment penalties. Ask your lender for details.