Frequently Asked Questions

Click any of the questions below to reveal the answer.

Mortgage FAQs (15)

What is the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification?

The pre-approval process is much more complete than pre-qualification. For pre-qualification, the loan officer asks you a few questions and provides you with a pre-qual letter. Pre-approval includes all the steps of a full approval, except for the appraisal and title search. Pre-approval can put you in a better negotiating position, much like a cash buyer.

What is a rate lock?

A rate lock is a contractual agreement between the lender and buyer. There are four components to a rate lock: loan program, interest rate, points, and the length of the lock.

What are points?

It is an upfront cash payment required by the lender as part of the charge for the loan, expressed as a percent of the loan amount; e.g., “2 points” means a charge equal to 2% of the loan balance.

What is private mortgage insurance (PMI)?

Private mortgage insurance or “PMI” policies are designed to reimburse a mortgage lender up to a certain amount if you default on your loan and your house isn’t worth enough to entirely repay the lender through a foreclosure sale. Most lenders require PMI on loans where the borrower makes a down payment of less than 20%.

Premiums are usually paid monthly or you can pay them off completely with a single premium. You can normally cancel the PMI once your equity in the house reaches 20% equity, so long as you’ve made timely mortgage payments. You would need to contact your lender to request this. They may require you to have an appraisal done to show the 20% equity.

What is a home equity loan?

It is a closed-end home loan secured by the borrower’s residential asset. The reasons to usually get a home equity loanare to pay off debt or to make home improvements.

What is a home equity line of credit or HELOC?

A HELOC is simply an open-end loan set up as a line of revolving credit for some maximum draw, instead of a fixed loan amount in which your home is collateral. This is an open-end loan that permits the borrower to repay and re-borrow the funds available. HELOCs can be used to pay for several important items such as college education tuition, private school education, high interest debt, home improvements, home renovation, and major medical bills.

How do you calculate LTV or loan-to-value ratio?

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of your home is calculated by dividing the fair market value of your home by the amount of your home loan.

What is APR and how is it calculated?

APR stands for annual percentage rate and its purpose is to give borrowers a truer representation of the effective interest rate on their mortgage. APR factors in certain closing costs and fees and spreads these costs over the life of the mortgage, along with the note rate, to arrive at a more accurate annualized percentage rate than the note rate alone represents.

What is the difference between a zero point and a no cost mortgage?

With a zero point mortgage, a borrower has opted not to pay points to buy their interest rate down but will still be paying for their base closing costs (i.e. appraisal, credit report, lender doc fees, title and escrow, etc.). With a no cost mortgage, a borrower has accepted a higher interest rate, (typically .25%- 375% higher than on a zero point mortgage) with the trade off that the lender or broker will pay for all their non-recurring closing costs (all base closing fees except for interest, taxes and insurance due).

When refinancing investment or rental property, what is the difference in rate for non-owner occupied vs. owner occupied financing?

Conforming non-owner occupied rates are typically 3/8% higher than owner occupied interest rates. The equity requirement is usually higher for non-owner occupied mortgages as well, typically 20-30%+.

What is a super jumbo mortgage and how much higher (than the average jumbo mortgage) is the interest rate typically?

A super jumbo mortgage is a mortgage request exceeding $729,750. A super jumbo mortgage typically has a rate .375% higher than your average jumbo mortgage.

Is it possible to obtain a no cost mortgage when refinancing your mortgage?

Yes. In fact no cost mortgages are extremely popular among refinanciers. Because a borrower pays no non-recurring closing costs, it is easy to analyze how soon money is saved on a monthly mortgage payment by refinancing. Many homeowners will consider refinancing for as little as .25% improvement to their mortgage rate with no-cost mortgage financing.

Will the lender require a fee to lock in my interest rate?

For a traditional 30-90 day rate lock, the lender will not require the borrower to pay a lock fee, but for the privilege of locking for a period beyond 90 days they may. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock and then float the rate down one time during the mortgage process, typically a borrower is required to bring in a fee of ½-1% of the mortgage amount which is then credited (or refunded) to them at closing. It is a lock fee the lender requires to insure the transaction will in fact close.

If I decide to lock my interest rate and rates go down, will the lender give me the current lower rate?

It depends upon the lender involved and how much of a rate decline has occurred. Some lenders may re-price the mortgage at a rate close to market if there has been a substantial rate decline (i.e. = or >3/8%) and some may prefer that a mortgage is canceled rather than re-price it at a market rate. Some lenders allow borrowers to lock and then float the rate down one time during the mortgage process, typically a borrower is required to bring in a fee of ½-1% of the mortgage amount which is then credited (or refunded) to them at closing. It is a lock fee the lender requires to insure the transaction will in fact close.

I’ve always heard about the 2% rule when refinancing, is it important?

This rule is somewhat obsolete due to the variety of closing cost options that exist today. With the proliferation of no cost and zero point mortgages, a potential refinancier can recoup the costs of refinancing very rapidly if not immediately. The 2% rule may be a helpful tool when paying both points and closing costs in order to refinance.

Google