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.


How to deal with collections on your credit report

Minneapolis, MN: No one likes having dings on their credit report, but let’s face it, sometimes it is impossible to avoid. When credit dings happen, it is important to work on getting back into the credit good graces, as it effect so many things in your life, from ability to get a mortgage loan, the interest rate you pay on mortgage, credit cards,  car loans, and even you paying more for your car insurance.Collection accounts

Next to basic late payments, small collection accounts are some of the most common negative item we see on credit reports. We see a lot for medical items, and old utility bills.  We see a lot over disputes with a company that never got resolved.

While some of theses collection accounts may be small, and even long forgotten, they can be real credit score killers.

The main things you need to know about collection accounts

First, is that simply paying them off doesn’t mean they go away. It still happened, and it is still on your credit report.  You can always try to leverage paying the creditor contingent on having the creditor completely remove the item from your report, and sometimes this works. I suggest everyone at least try it. But there is nothing mandating a company remove the negative item once paid.

Paying them off also doesn’t magically improve your credit score like people think. You should usually see at least a small improvement to your credit score, especially if the account being paid is a more recent collection account.

If the collection sits on your credit report for a really long time, and you now pay it off, you may temporarily LOWER your credit score because you may have turned the DLA, or Date of Last Activity to a current date.  The basic premise being that the older a negative item is, the less it hurts your score. By paying it off, the account for example went from 5-year old unpaid account (which still hurts), to a one month old paid collection, which may hurt more because it is now recent activity.

Most credit repair experts will tell you to pay off collections starting at the newest account, and working back to the oldest, and that sometimes, it is best to just leave an old account alone.

Over time, it is ALWAYS better to pay a collection account. An unpaid collection account hurts credit more and longer than a paid collection account.

Credit score factors

Finally, while some unpaid bill becoming collection may be inevitable, most collections are avoidable. Dealing with the situation up-front is best so it never becomes a collection account. I understand the frustration of a medical bill that should have been paid by insurance, and fighting with the hospital or clinic. But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away, and it will probably come back to haunt you years later.


2014 Interest Rate Predictions

Minneapolis, MN:  It has come that time of year again where I make my mortgage interest rate prediction for the coming year. My long range forecast is based on multiple indexes, theories, past industry experience, and a little bit of guessing. The bulk of the weight this year goes towards the continuing reduction in the easing of the current Federal Reserve bond buying program, which started this month.  If the economy falters, and the Fed delays their easing, the anticipated increase in rates could be pushed back.

Below is my prediction for the average 30-year conventional fixed rate mortgage loan:

Month / 2014
Rate
January 4.875%
February 4.750%
March 5.080%
April 5.200%
May 5.300%
June 5.400%
July 5.500%
August 5.550%
September 5.625%
October 5.750%
November 5.860%
December 5.875%