Finding a home loan lender, or mortgage lender, is the easy part. Deciding which lender to use isn’t. Since your home is probably the single largest purchase you will make, it only makes since to shop around for the lowest cost home loan.
There are many costs of getting a home loan. When many people think of the cost of a home loan, they think of the interest rate, which is one cost, but many other costs are involved. Although various lenders may have different names for some fees, be on the lookout for these types of fees and compare what different lenders may be charging you.
The interest rate can be fixed or variable. A fixed rate is just that, fixed for the life of the loan. Variable, or adjustable, means the rate will be fixed for a certain time and then adjust up or down with a certain index. Your lender should be able to provide you the name of the index they use. The period that a variable rate loan is fixed varies from 1 month to a number of years. Read the fine print to see how much your payment could jump after the fixed rate period is over. Remember that when the interest rate climbs, the payment of your home loan will also.
The APR is sometimes different than the interest rate quoted for the loan. This is the annual percentage rate after all costs are financed. Compare the APR from various lenders.
Lock-in fees are what some lenders charge you to “lock in” the interest rate you were quoted. This is usually for a set amount of time. If the time expires before your home loan goes through, you may not be able to get the same interest rate.
Application fees may be charged by lenders or brokers. These are usually a set amount. You may have to pay this fee before they even process your home loan, which could be several hundred dollars in some cases, so ask if any part of it is refundable if the home loan doesn’t go through. This fee may also include the cost of running your credit reports. You may not get charged an application fee, but get hit with an origination fee, or visa-versa, or a combination of both. So shop around.
Origination fees or broker fees could be a flat amount or they may charge you points as a fee, which are actually a percentage of the home loan amount. One point is usually 1% of the loan amount. (Could also be called “discount points” in which they will lower the interest rate of your 30 yr loan by ¼% for each point you pay.) Some brokers don’t charge points because they are paid directly by the lender.
Processing or underwriting fees are usually charged by the lender to cover the costs of actually processing the home loan. These may vary greatly from lender to lender and should be compared.
If you don’t have 20% equity in the property, by putting up a large down payment, you may be required to pay PMI on your home loan, which is private mortgage insurance.
There are other fees that will be charged like appraisal and surveyor fees, title insurance, homeowners insurance, inspection fees, escrow fees and taxes. You may also be required to pre-pay a certain amount of interest on your home loan.
There certainly are a lot of costs involved when applying for a home loan, but do your homework and compare the costs from different lenders and I think you will walk away with an experience that will be personally satisfying for a long time.
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