Shopping for Mortgages & Shopping for Interest Rates Smartly
You now want to buy a home and need a mortgage. You would think it would be easy to call around to mortgage companies and ask, “What is today’s interest rate”. Sounds simple, right? Au contraire mon frere…. On the contrary.
There are a few misconceptions that many have when shopping for interest rates.
- That all lenders have one basic rate to offer
- That big lenders or big banks have better rates than smaller lenders and can give discounts
- That referrals will get you a better interest rate
All lenders have many different types of interest rates, which is dependent on many different factors. The end result, all rates should be relatively close, as long as you aren’t being deceived or that your rate will be baited and switched. Why should interest rates be the same or very close? Because we all get the rates from basically the same place, which are dictated by investors on Wall Street.
Larger Banks/lenders vs smaller lenders – I just heard from a potential client shopping for a mortgage that her realtor told her that BofA can give her discounts on the rates. First off, this coming from a realtor that is speculating. This is a blanket statement, because again, way too many factors involved when determining interest rates. Food for thought… Just because a bank or lender might be servicing your loan from the get go, doesn’t mean that is how they can offer lower rates. In reality, even that bank or lender that is servicing your loan, has sold bits and pieces of it to other investors. Big Bank A might own 70 percent of your loan, even though they are servicing it, yet two other investors might own the rest of the loan. Hence why some foreclosures were becoming difficult at times, trying to determine who owned how much of the primary mortgage.
When it comes to getting a referral from a friend, co-worker, realtor, etc; one just can’t assume that all will go well and that you will get the best deal. I have three new stories just from the last several weeks that would make you cringe. Story A – My sister referred me to a friend of hers after hearing of her most recent mortgage story. Back in December, this couple tried refinancing and was promised an interest rate of 4.5 percent. After about 2 months, they finally found out that this loan officer never locked in their interest rate. And this was a referral from a friend. Just recently, they got another referral from someone at their church. I happened to get the call 3 days later and after reviewing the different cost sheets, I was about $5,500 more in total costs. But wait, the other loan officer was very misleading in what they estimated. This person didn’t calculate their 30 days of interest in the pay off, was $100 lower per month on the property taxes, only escrowed 3 months worth of taxes when I estimated 5 months, and two other items. All of these items aren’t lender related, but 3rd party estimates. After it was all said and done, I was about $48 off. Yet this person had an interest rate that was 1/8 percent lower in me. And guess what, there was one important question that wasn’t asked by the other loan officer, in which carried a pricing penalty from any lender/bank for this particular loan.
Many different factors involved when shopping for a mortgage or shopping for an interest rate
Goals – What are your goals, for the next 3, 5, 7, and 10 years. This could help a good loan officer determine if you should pay points or not, or what mortgage program to put you into.
Credit scores- Your credit scores are a huge factor when it comes to determining your interest rate and or the penalties because of your credit scores, aka fico scores. – Understanding credit scores – Read the series at the bottom
Interest Rate Lock-In Period- Such an important detail that is usually not mentioned to borrowers when shopping for that all almighty interest rate. How long is my interest rate good for and when can I lock it in should be talked about. I once lost a deal to another loan officer who was beating me out by 1/8% and $500, but found out that he couldn’t lock his rate in until the appraisal came back. This could be a difference of 3 to 7 days, and interest rates could get worse. Besides, the loan officer in a few days could just raise the rate an 1/8% and say that rates got worse, but did they? Key Point – You need to shop on the same day, because rates change daily, sometimes twice in one day.
Loan Amount – Believe it or not, the size of the loan amount will have some impact on your interest rate. All lenders have a basic profit margin that needs to be met on each loan. The lower the loan amount, the more points it may require or a higher rate that pays more premium back to the lender.
Size of down payment – This holds more true for conventional loans, because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have pricing hits depending on how much you put down and what your credit scores are. Please read : Conventional pricing hits
Conclusion – One size does not fit all. It might seem simple, like when buying a new television, as long as you know the model that you want. Then all you have to do is pick the 3 nearest stores and see who has the lowest price. As you can see, when shopping for an interest rate, there is a lot more involved. Something that I have witnessed 3 times in the last 2 weeks are borrowers that weren’t locked into their rate and then rates changed on them. The moral to this story is that any loan officer can bait you with a little better rate at first, if they aren’t going to lock you in at time of shopping or mortgage application.
Lastly, just because one has advertised a low rate, doesn’t mean it’s true. All of the factors that I mentioned above need to be found out before offering any such rate.
On another note, I have included some very important articles below that should help you better understand the mortgage shopping process.
- All Mortgages should cost the same – by : Ken Cook