Use lender credits to pay closing costs

Minneapolis, MN:  The biggest challenge for most home buyers, especially first time home buyers, is coming up with the required down payment.  While most people understand down payment, they are shocked to learn their are mortgage closing costs. Wose yet, is discovering how much closing costs can add up to.

Mortgage loan closing costs cover many items, including appraisal, credit report, state deed taxes, title company costs, title insurance, lender costs, and more.  Plus you also have something known as pre-paid expenses which need to be paid too, including buying your first years home owners insurance policy, and one time pro-rated property taxes, which are based on when property taxes are due, and what month you close on your new home.

While closing costs and pre-paid items are actually separate, it is very common for people to combine both of them together, and simply say ‘closing costs’.

CLOSING COSTS ARE NOT 3%

I hear it day after day after day, that closing costs are around 3% of the purchase price. This generalized statement couldn’t be more wrong!

Closing costs vary based on many factors, including the homes purchase price, state, property taxes, loan program, and the buyers choice of how to pay for them.

This misinformation comes from the fact that conventional loans only allow for a home buyer to roll into the loan closing costs up to 3% of the purchase price.

Many loan closing costs are based on the loan amount, and the rest are the same regardless of the homes price.  For example, standard loan origination costs are 1%.  So 1% of a $100,000 loan is just $1,000, while a $400,000 loan of course equals $4,000.

Items like the appraisal may be the same for both the $100,000 home or the $400,000 home. While the cost is the same for either house, the $400 appraisal fee is 1% of a $40,000 home, but only 0.10% of the $400,000 home.

Another good example are Title Company charges. Standard Title Company closing fee is usually a flat fee, but the required title insurance varies based on purchase price.

HOW TO PAY FOR CLOSING COSTS

Mathmatically, the best way to pay for your loans closing costs will always be to pay cash out-of-pocket. Realistically, especially for first time home buyers, this makes the amount needed out of reach.

Mortgage loan programs always require you bring your down payment, but closing costs can be rolled into the loan a few different way.

  1. Seller paid closing costs
  2. Lender Credit
  3. Combination of both

I dislike the term ‘Seller paid closing costs’, as many people thing the seller is paying it, and therefore it is free. The reality is that while the purchase agreement says the seller is paying, the person actually paying is the buyer. You are just paying over time.

For example, assume the seller has listed the home for $200,000. You make a full priced offer at $200,000, but your offer also asks the seller to pay the maximum conventional loan allowed closing costs of 3% ($6,000).

If the seller says YES, many people think you got closing costs for free. But think about it.  The seller actually netted just $194,000 in their pocket. So you could have made an offer for $194,000 and paid your own closing costs. The seller got $194,000 either way, but you rolled your closing costs into the loan, opting to pay the costs over time, versus up-front today.

Lender credits is another tool. With lender credits, the lender will increase your loans interest rate in exchange for reducing your out-of-pocket closing costs today.  You can choose a small rate increase with a small lender credit, all the way to absolutely no closing costs whatsoever with a much larger rate increase.

You may also see lender credits employed in a different way too.  For example, many lenders will scream things like ‘no lender fee’, or maybe ‘free appraisal’ if you use them. All they are doing is increasing the interest rate a bit to offset normal costs – but not telling you.

The most common one we see is no loan origination options, which will generally increase a 30-year fixed rate loan by 0.25%.

ARE LENDER CREDITS GOOD OR BAD?

Increasing your loans interest rate never sounds good, but does thing make lender credits bad? Think of them as a financing tool, and your personal situation?  Do you have the cash to pay your own closing costs? Maybe you have the money, but would rather use it to improve the home.  Lenders credits might still be a good choice.

Do you not have the money? Then it may be a matter of using lender credits, or not buying the home at all. In this case, a small amount all the way to complete no closing costs via lender credits may be your sole option.

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Lender credits


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.