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.
Yes, loan origination involves costs and fees. As you’ll see in the video, when you turn in your application you’ll be required to pay a loan application fee to cover the costs of underwriting the loan. This fee pays for the home appraisal a copy of your credit report and any additional charges that may be necessary.
The application fee is generally non-refundable.
Watch this video and take a few notes!
First, devise a checklist for the information from each lending institution. You should include:
- the company’s name and basic information
- the type of mortgage
- minimum down payment required
- interest rate and points
- closing costs
- loan processing time
- whether prepayment is allowed
Speak with companies by phone or in person. Be sure to call every lender on the list the same day as interest rates can fluctuate daily.
In addition to doing your own research your real estate agent may have access to a database of lender and mortgage options or suggest a variety of different lender options.
To ensure you won’t fall victim to loan fraud, as you’ll see in this video, be sure to follow all of these steps as you apply for a loan:
- Be sure to read and understand everything before you sign.
- Refuse to sign any blank documents.
- Do not buy property for someone else.
- Do not overstate your income.
- Do not overstate how long you have been employed.
- Do not overstate your assets.
- Accurately report your debts.
- Do not change your income tax returns for any reason.
- Tell the whole truth about gifts.
- Do not list fake co-borrowers on your loan application.
- Be truthful about your credit problems, past and present.
- Be honest about your intention to occupy the house
And do not provide false supporting documents.
Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.
Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling financial records and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.
Measuring your existing debts against your existing income is one part of a lender’s required assessment of your ability to repay a loan.
Like the video says: debts are existing financial commitments; a car payment is a debt a grocery bill is not.
To calculate your debt-to-income ratio add up your monthly debt payments and divide them by your GROSS monthly income. (Gross income is generally the amount of money you earn BEFORE taxes and other deductions.) The Federally-established debt-to-income target is a maximum of 43% for Qualified Mortgages.
If your ratio is higher there may be other loans available – however, there may also be additional questions to establish your ability to repay, and the rates may be different than those available for Qualified Mortgages.
Studies suggest that a high debt-to-income ratio puts a homeowner at greater risk of challenges making monthly payments. So consider your situation and risks carefully before exceeding that suggested ratio.
You’ll see some pictures in this video to help you remember later, but the first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application.
To do so, you’ll need the following information.
- Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months.
- W-2 forms for the past 2 years.
- Information on long-term debts.
- Recent bank statements tax returns for the past 2 years.
- Proof of any other income.
- Address and description of the property you wish to buy.
- A sales contract on the home you want to buy.
During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.
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.
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 video shows an example.
- 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.
This video tells you about it all. 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.