Why the Lowest Mortgage Rate Could Cost You Thousands
As a loan officer, many borrowers tell me they want the lowest possible interest rate. I listen carefully, and then I begin to ask questions. Experience has shown me that the lowest possible interest rate could actually end up costing borrowers thousands of dollars!
Many borrowers will scour the internet for the lowest possible mortgage rates. Low rates will indeed pop up, but most often they won’t apply to most borrowers. The rates may assume a very high credit score, a large down payment, or even the cost of paying discount points to get the advertised rates. Many of the low rates that are advertised are also coming from mortgage brokers. Typically, mortgage brokers are third parties that have relationships with multiple investors. This means they can “shop around” for the lowest rates when it is time to lock in. Because the broker is a third party, they don’t control the processing and underwriting aspects of the loan. If something unusual is found during the loan process, many times the issue is not communicated immediately and causes loans to close late. Once a sale is postponed due to loan issues, the buyer can face the possibility of losing their earnest money deposit and can be sued for damages by the seller. This is why lower rates aren’t always the best way to go for a borrower.
ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE
Generally, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) will offer lower rates than a 30 year fixed rate mortgage with the shortest term on the ARM offering the lowest rate. For example, a 5/1 ARM may have a rate of 3.375% while a 30 year fixed loan may be at 3.75%. The monthly payment for the ARM will be less than the 30 year fixed rate for the first 5 years. After five years, the rate will adjust based on the then current market. Since rates today are close to the lowest ever, it is likely that in five years the interest rate will soar – causing the monthly payment to skyrocket!
FHA loans also offer lower rates than a conventional loan. Currently, a conforming FHA loan may offer a rate of 3.375% with the corresponding conventional loan offering the same 3.75% as in the previous example. The difference is the FHA loan adds an additional 1.75% to the loan amount in what is referred to as an “Upfront Mortgage Insurance” premium. The FHA loan also has a monthly mortgage insurance premium that remains on the loan for as long as you own it. The rate for this monthly mortgage insurance payment is most often much higher than a corresponding monthly mortgage payment on a conventional loan. The result: a higher monthly payment on a loan with a lower interest rate.
Another thing to factor in is Mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance comes into play when a purchaser is putting less than 20% down on their desired home. There are a couple of ways in which the mortgage insurance can be paid. One way is to make monthly mortgage insurance payments. If making the minimum payment required each month by the lender, these mortgage insurance payments continue until the loan-to-value reaches 78%. In the case of a beginning loan-to-value of 95%, these payments may take as much as 9 years before reaching the 78% threshold where the payments stop. The second method of dealing with mortgage insurance is to have the lender pay for the mortgage insurance premium. This results in a higher interest rate – but no mortgage insurance payment. The overall monthly payment will be lower on this option even though the rate may be up to .5% higher. Paying even $25 more each month for 9 years will cost the borrower $2,700!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It is always important to let a lender help you determine the best possible loan solution. Some of the most important factors for the loan officer to know are:
- Monthly Income
- Monthly debt
- Credit score
- Credit history
- Cash available for down payments and closing costs
- Length of time you expect to own the loan
With this information, your loan officer should be able to provide multiple loan options. In addition, they should provide explanations as to why one would be preferred over another. And more often than not the loan with the higher interest rate becomes the best long term solution!
Thinking about buying or refinancing a home? Make sure you speak to a lender first! You can reach Keith Harris, Senior Loan Officer at Intercoastal Mortgage Company online or by calling 703.259.0788.
Keith Harris at Intercoastal Mortgage Company
NMLS ID # 838973
Company NMLS ID # 56323
Intercoastal Mortgage Company is an Equal Housing Lender.