How to get the best interest rates or closing costs

How to get the best interest rates or closing costs probably isn’t what you think.
Minneapolis, MN: Buying or refinancing a home? What mortgage company should you work with? What lender offers the best interest rate? Sadly, so much of what you see out there is simple advertising smoke and mirrors designed to capture your attention. 
For example, did you realize you can pretty much pick any interest rate or closing costs you want on your mortgage loan?

HOW THE BEST INTEREST RATES WORK

Want a super low interest rate? No problem.  best interest rates

In many cases, you have the option to pay more money upfront in exchange for a lower rate.  Some refer to this as “paying points,” buts that’s a bit of an archaic term.  Self-annointed gurus used to say “never pay points!” But that’s not necessarily good advice.  Discount (or “discount points”) offers a perfectly legitimate and objective choice to pay more money upfront in exchange for a lower interest rate.   Whether or not the trade-off makes sense to you is fairly subjective.  

In the more intelligent conversations, discount is discussed in terms of “breaking even” or “break even months.”  In other words, if I pay extra cash today, how long will it take for me to break even due to lower monthly payments.  Closer to 10 years?  That doesn’t make sense for most people.  5 year or less, however, and it can start to make better sense.  

All this to say that the discount points required to move down to 1/8% are fairly low for most lenders at the moment.  For instance, paying an extra .5% of the loan amount could get you another eighth of a point lower interest rate, and it would take just over 4 years to break even on that extra expense.  Of course, if you plan to sell or refinance in 3-5 years, this makes no sense. If this is the last house and mortgage you want for the foreseeable future, it’s something to consider.  

Lowest closing costs

HOW THE LOWEST CLOSING COSTS WORK

A similar conversation can be had for paying less in closing costs up-front today. You can choose to pay lower closing costs today, but understand this is simply achieved by the lender raising the interest rate you would get.  Small reduction in costs equal small rate increases, while large reduction in closing costs equal large interest rate increases.

This trade off is know as ‘Lender Credits’

So again, what is the math, and does it make sense? A common lower closing cost quote is a “No Loan Origination” quote. On most fixed-rate loans, you can eliminate loan origination costs, which is 1% of the loan amount by roughly increasing the interest rate 1/4%.

On a $200,000 loan, eliminating loan origination would save you $2,000 today, but a 1/4% higher interest rate will cost you $29 more per month on that $200,000 loan. Simple math gives you a 69 month break even period. If you are in the loan less than 69 months, you win.  Each month after 69, you pay an additional $29.

What is the math calculation on your loan amount?

But wait, even this is too simple. Do you have the money today? Do you want to keep some of that money in your pocket today to use for something else? So again,  Whether or not the trade-off makes sense to you is fairly subjective. 

Lower closing costs in exchange for higher interest rates is also a perfectly legitimate tool for home owners.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t fall for advertising gimmicks. Rates way lower than everyone else, you are buying discount points, but may not know it. Anyone offering ‘no lender fees’, rebates, or any other sort of reduced closing costs are simply increasing the interest rate to pay for it.

The bottom line is simply this. A good conversation with a licensed, experienced, professional Loan Officer over your long-term, short-term, payment and equity objectives, is the only way to determine what is best interest rate for you and your situation.


AmeriSave Mortgage Class Action Lawsuit

Minneapolis, MN: If you are on the internet, you are bound to see multiple ads from Amerisave Mortgage. They are everywhere!  Thier advertisements always proclaim to have what would be the best interest rates in the market.

To any industry insider, there were, and continue to be, serious reservations about those claims, and the practices of the company. Assuming they really could offer those amazing interest rates, every other company offering mortgage loans – banks, brokers, and lenders, would all be out of business!

Finally, someone has taken them to task.  Mehri & Skalet, in conjunction with co-counsel, filed a class action lawsuit against Amerisave Mortgage Corporation for violating the Truth in Lending Act and state consumer protection statutes. Plaintiffs allege that Amerisave engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in the selling of residential mortgages.

The lawsuit alleges that Amerisave promises customers they can quickly obtain a “lock-in” of a low interest rate, and requires the customer to pay upfront fees in order to obtain it. The Amerisave class action complaint contends that the company does not actually provide the rate lock and/or does not approve the loan, for reasons unrelated to the credit-worthiness of the customer.

READ THE WHOLE STORY and visit www.amerisavemortgagesettlement.com if you feel you are a victim of Amerisave

Word of advice? Never use some out-state internet based lender. There is NOTHING they can offer that you can’t get from the local mortgage company down the street. Go visit the local lender for a face-to-face visist when getting the largest financial transaction of your life!

 


Shopping for a mortgage loan? Beware of bad lenders, bait-n-switch, and outright fraud

Are you searching for the lowest refinance mortgage rates?

Have you shopped and think you’ve found the lowest refinance mortgage rates and closing costs?

Are you sure you found a deal, or did you find the crooked bait-n-switch lender?

A lot of consumers like to “shop around” to find the best interest rate they can for their loan. As a result, white lies, factual omissions, and out-and-out misleading statements are commonplace among loan officers in today’s insanely competitive lending market. That’s why it’s important for you, as a consumer, to understand the classic bait-and-switch technique of many lenders and loan officers. It’s basic economics—if a bank or lending institution offers consistently uncompetitive interest rates, they won’t make any loans and they won’t make any money. Last time I checked, mortgage lenders and banks are not charitable organizations. What does this mean for borrowers? This means that if one lender is quoting you significantly better than everyone one else, buyer beware!

Bait & Switch is alive and well and still living in the mortgage industry, especially from the big online internet lenders. Wasted time, lost real interest rates, and money spent on upfront fees are some of the costs of dealing with the wrong lender – and that is if you DON’T use them.

THE REALITY: Shop til you drop. All mortgage lenders are basically the same. They all get their money from the same sources, the interest rates are based on the same bond market, transfer the loan to Fannie Mae Freddie Mac or FHA, and the third parties fees they need to collect and pass through (appraisal, credit report, underwriting, title company, etc) are all the same. True mortgage interest rate differences will never be more than 1/8th (0.125%) to 1/4 (0.25%) difference between all lender across the country.

THE GAME: If lenders advertised “We are the same as everyone else”, who would you use? Therefore the game is to capture your attention and get you to call them. This is done primarily with two claims.

  • Super low rate. To quote the super low rate, these bad lenders usually are hiding in discount points and other fees in order to buy down the interest rate they are quoting, or the small print says you need a credit score over 800 something.
  • Super low closing costs. To quote super low closing costs, they simply forget to tell you how much higher the interest rate will be to offset those low closing costs.

Here’s a classic example of how it works at the less-than-respectable mortgage company or bank. The bank simply takes advantage of YOUR IGNORANCE when you’ve “shopped” for the best mortgage rates.

The company (or loan officer) scans today’s REAL interest rates and sees that they can realistically offer a 4.25% rate at par (no points paid by borrower) and they know this is approximately what the competition is offering. The lender see’s that if the borrower pays 2.25 points (2.25% of the loan amount), the borrower could get a 3.75% interest rate. So the loan officer or the companies automated web site quote system will tell a consumer that is shopping interest rates that he can do 3.75%. Beating all others. The lender tells the client they can’t lock the interest rate until they get an appraisal and all their documents.

Excited, the borrower believes he or she has found a diamond in the rough and agrees to do business with that lender. The lender asks for the borrower’s credit card information and takes a $500 deposit for the appraisal and gets started. The borrower sends in all their documents.

Awesome… You think you are getting an amazing deal.  A week later, the appraisal has already been done, and your paperwork shows up to be signed.  Wait a minute. The closing costs are nowhere near the original quote.  Usually thousand of dollars higher. Then when the client is ready to lock his or her interest rate, the loan officer apologizes and says that the 3.75% rate is no longer available because interest rates have changed since the quote was made (the lender is not legally obliged to give any interest rate until a GFE has been produced and a rate lock has been entered into).

Pissed off borrowers usually at this point start calling other lenders again, only to find out that they are all quoting about the same as the company they are already working with is now really quoting. Since the borrower has already paid a $500 deposit, has made a tedious loan application, and has likely already produced documents for processing and underwriting, the borrower almost always grudgingly accepts that rates have simply risen and agrees to finish the loan process with that lender.

The classic bait-and-switch. Mislead the person shopping, rope him in with a ridiculous rate quote, and lock the person in with a substantial deposit for an appraisal. This bait-and-switch tactic is used thousands of times each day by lenders nationwide. 

CLUES: Most people don’t find out they are working with a predatory lender until well into the transaction, and usually after they’ve spend money on an appraisal, or non-refundable application fee.  There are some clues to look for:

  • Requiring up-front money other than appraisal or a small amount for a credit report
  • Not being able to lock your interest rate until AFTER you send in paperwork and the loan is approved
  • Relying on ANY ONLINE SYSTEM that gives you any rate quote as a real quote

AVOID THE PERILS of mortgage rate shopping with a little homework.

  • Get off the internet. No internet lender has anything better than the mortgage company down the street
  • Google the name of the company plus the word fraud or scam. What do you find?
  • Contact a local lender with an office you can drive to and do business with them.
  • Check their reputation. Not just their advertised interest rates.

Want to see something scary? All over the internet are advertisements for amazing interest rates from an internet company called AmeriSave. Best mortgage rates anywhere that completely blow away the competition.  But before you jump, read this about them, and take my advice to Google their name plus the word fraud. Still want to work with them?

 


Refinancing? Common mistakes to avoid

Mortgage Interest Rates are near historic lows. You want to refinance?
Common mistakes, and what NOT To Do

There are a lot of things “not to do”. I will point out only the 3 most common mistakes I see people make.

  1. Setting an unrealistic goal. I always get inquiries from people who say something like, “I have a 30 year fixed rate loan at 5.875% and I will refinance ONLY when rates get to 4.0% with no closing costs”. Sometimes I call people back and say, “Why 4%? why not 3% or 2%? They say, “Well rates are not going to go that low”. Right and they are unlikely to go to 4% with no closing costs also (“no closing cost” loans typically cost anywhere from 1/2% to .75% higher than the going interest rate) You should first succumb to the fact that once you can lower your rate with no out of pocket expense, you should probably refinance. Don’t draw unrealistic interest rate lines in the sand. They get blown away too easily.
  2. The “Once rates start dropping, they are going to continue to drop and I’m smart and I am going to lock when rates hit the bottom of the market” syndrome. It is very hard to guess the interest-rate cycle, and pretty hard to catch the bottom. Remember that rates can rise fairly quickly.
  3. “If the rate goes down just another 1/8th percent, then I’ll lock” This one just kills me! I see people lose all the time over this theory. If your current rate is 5.875% and today’s rate is 4.875%. LOCK & CLOSE! Most people have what I call “interest rate block”. They get a rate stuck in their head, and that is the rate they want, no matter what. Most people fail to realize (and most loan officers fail to show them), that the difference on the average loan over 1/8th a percent is usually less than $15 per month. If you can save $150 per month on your loan at today’s rate, why gamble? Why hold out for another $15 when the odds are against you?

Don’t get piggy. Work with us. Set a goal and lock when it gets there. Are we going to hit the bottom? Probably not. Are we going to save you money? Yes. If you can save money with no out of pocket costs, than you have nothing to lose. If you want to gamble go to Las Vegas. It’s a heck of a lot more fun. Apply Now

Extra Tricks to Save Money When Refinancing

The purpose of most refinance loans is simply to save money. The goal is to minimize your expense over the life of the loan or to minimize your monthly payment in the near future.

If you can swing it, don’t roll every cost of refinancing into your new loan. Most people escrow for taxes and insurance. If you do, your current lender must give you escrow refund within 30 days of paying off their loan. Your new lender, be it us or someone else, must take the equivalent amount of money (or more) at closing to start the new escrow account.

Remember that you always get to skip a month of payments. If you close June 5th, your first new payment is August 1st.

Knowing this, paying some of your closing costs out-of-pocket will save you even more money in the long run. Why roll in $4000 in closing costs, when you really only need to roll in $2000 ($1000 escrow refund + $1000 missed payment = $2000). Paying that $2000 over 30 years doesn’t make sense if you don’t have too.

On the other hand, some people love the fact that they didn’t pay anything out of pocket to refinance, got a nice escrow refund check, then got to miss a mortgage payment. They use the ‘extra’ money to pay bills, go on vacation, etc.

Picking a Lender & Closing Costs

Shopping for a home loan is confusing. No matter what we’re looking for — from cars to refrigerators’ — there’s a built-in element of confusion. Why? Lack of knowledge. An unfortunate rule of thumb is that the less we know about something we need to buy, the more we can expect to pay for it.

Shopping for a mortgage in Minneapolis, St Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Madison, Milwaukee, and throughout all of Minnesota and Wisconsin is complex at best — even for the savvy previous home owner. Daily rate changes, time-sensitive lock-in periods, points, lender’s fees… plus the emotional element of probably the largest financial deal any of us will ever make. Throw in to this already murky stew the ingredients of tricky internet mortgage rate advertising, commissions for every officer, agent and broker who ‘helps’ in your transaction, and the obscure differences between ‘rates’ and ‘fees.’ It’s no mystery that many buyers settle for a home loan that exceeds their monetary means out of sheer exasperation!

Please review our information on closing costs and “BAD Good Faith Estimates“. There is currently a large number of fly-by-night lenders doing some incredibly misleading rate & closing cost advertising. Remember, if it sounds too good, it probably is! Also check out my article “Best Rate or Lowest Cost” for more loan comparison information.

The Bottom Line
Remember, the first rule is that there are no rules. You should refinance if it makes sense for you. Every person & situation is different. What makes sense for one family, may not make sense for you. Call me today to discuss your wants, needs, and goals. Together we’ll determine if refinancing makes sense for YOU.

Click here for more information on the actual loan process.
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10 Tips to a Smooth Closing
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10 Mistakes to Avoid