hink BEFORE you break the lock on that great mortgage interest rate or switch lenders
Minneapolis, MN: You've locked yourself into a good mortgage interest rate for 30 days and you're happy. You expect to close a month from now on the house you want at a payment you can afford. Suddenly, interest rates start to drop and the rate you've locked in doesn't look quite so good.
Why did you lock in the rate in the first place? Because a rate lock is a form of insurance to keep the interest rate from escalating to the point where monthly payments on your proposed loan become unaffordable. The only time such locks become an issue for cost-conscious consumers is when rates are dropping and each fraction of a percent represents a savings over the locked rate.
For example, take a $200,000 30-year fixed-rate loan. The monthly payment at 4.50% percent interest works out to $1,013.37. At 4.25% percent, it goes down $29.50 per month, to $983.88.
It's a scenario that many mortgage consumers have faced in recent months.
Pause before you break or switch
If you're tempted to break a rate lock and head for another lender, experts warn that you should tread carefully and consider the time and expense that breaking the lock can incur.
Breaking rate locks is easy to do. One simply walks away and does not close the loan. However, there could be expensive repercussions to that action.
The costs involved in chasing a lower interest rate ... could be numerous, from a forfeited application fee to the loss of nonrefundable fees paid up front, to being billed for expenses incurred by the lender, like an appraisal, to a variety of expenses to be reimbursed the seller, the real estate company, or both, as well as other vendors involved in the transaction, to being sued by a lender or other party to the transaction. Review your rate lock form. Most spell out exactly what the lender will do if you break the lock.
Be sure you'll benefit
There are other factors to consider, not the least of which is whether you will pay more in the short term than you'll save over the long haul. Few home buyers will own a house for 30 years. If you own a home for seven years, the $29.50 a month reduction in our example above amounts to only $2478, which could easily be eaten up in time, costs, and fees to break the lock
When purchasing a home, there's also the strong possibility that walking away from a lock can keep you from closing on time and thus may blow the whole deal.
What holds things up is getting verifications again. You have to do verifications to the new lender. You have to redo the appraisal to the new lender (and pay the cost again). There are a number of administrative things that take time, plus the whole file needs to go into underwriting again. You're looking at maybe at least 15 - 30 days or longer to redo everything.
Another issues, if you have good credit and a great overall file, you shouldn't have a problem getting a loan from another lender, but you take the risk of being turned down by a second lender if you have any special needs, weak credit, using a special program, etc.
Is the better deal really better? Over the years I've had plenty of customers switch to a different lender under the belief they were getting a better deal, only to find later it really wasn't. The great interest rate came loaded with a bunch of discount points they didn't want to pay. Maybe the closing costs were significantly higher, or I was quoting a 75 day lock, and the other guy was quoting a 15 day lock. I've even seen people leave for a better quote on a loan product they didn't qualify for, only to come running back weeks later.
Be sure you are comparing apples-to-apples, not apples to bowling balls.
Refinance rate locks
The least-risk scenario for breaking a rate lock is in a refinancing deal where there is no time constraint on the consumer seeking the loan.
In a refinance, the borrower can just wait to see what happens. If rates go down, he can threaten to walk away from the deal unless his rate is reduced ...
When a lot of borrowers start to do that, you're going to see is a rise in rates on refinance transactions relative to rates on purchase transactions. This already has happened. I have found a consistent tendency for refinance transactions to be priced almost a quarter of a percent higher than purchase transactions.
Float down options
For protection on both ends of the scale, some lenders have "float-down" provisions. In these contracts, the consumer locks in a rate, and if rates come down, the consumer has the opportunity to lock in a new lower rate before closing. But, take note, these loans are usually priced a little higher to begin with because the lender's taking that added risk.
From the Lenders Standpoint
The percentage of locked loans that never fund (fallout) is closely monitored. From the moment we lock a loan, we hedge our interest-rate risk to guarantee you that we will have the money to fund your loan at close. If market prices (our cost of money) improves during the lock period, we lose money on the hedge. If the loan never funds (closes), we are totally out the hedge money. This can (and does) add up to millions of dollars of losses that get passed on to you with higher rates.
The bottom line
I'm NOT saying don't shop lenders. I'm simply saying once you've selected the lender, stop shopping around. You have to lock sometime, and no one knows what day or time will have the "best" rates. It is extremely hard for anyone to catch the rock bottom of the interest rate cycles, but it is easy to get near the bottom.
Be realistic. If you are comfortable with the rate, lock. Then don't look back
Be Smart - Get Answers
Mortgages Unlimited is a Full Eagle FHA Lender. We lend in MN, WI only
(C) Copyright 2010 - Joe Metzler. Re-Blog but don't steal.