January 20th, 2011 9:50 PM by Robin Bain
How to Shop for a Mortgage Loan.
Annual Percentage Rate, what is APR?
The annual percentage rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different from the note rate. It is commonly used to compare loan programs from different lenders. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires that mortgage companies disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. Typically the APR is found next to the rate.
The APR does NOT affect your monthly payments. Your monthly payments are a function of the interest rate and the length of the loan.
The APR is a very confusing number. Even Loan Officers admit it is confusing. The APR is designed to measure the "true cost of a loan" and is supposed to create a level playing field. The intention of the law to mandate disclosure of APR is to help prevent lenders from advertising a low rate and hiding fees. If you do have the rate and fees to compare your lenders, you don't need the calculated APR % they give you.
If life were easy, all you would have to do is compare APRs from the lenders/brokers you are working with, then pick the lowest one and you would have the right loan. Lenders have different names for their fees, which can make comparing even more confusing. What you have as a result are different lenders who calculate APRs differently. A loan with a lower APR is not necessarily a better rate.
The best way to compare loans is to ask lenders to provide you with a good-faith estimate of their costs or an itemization of all fees on the same type of program (30-year fixed, 5 year ARM, etc.) at the same interest rate. Then delete all fees that are independent of the loan such as homeowners insurance, taxes, etc. Now add up all the loan fees. The lender that has lower loan fees has a cheaper loan than the lender with higher loan fees.
The APR is a result of a complex calculation and not clearly defined. There is no substitute to getting a good-faith estimate from each lender to compare costs. More importantly if the lender will not supply an itemization of all fees upfront before you disclose all your personal information then find another lender. Most important, use a Loan Officer you trust & is Licensed with The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry. http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/
Ask for references. There is no better way determine how your transaction will be handled, then to see how a Loan Officer has handled their **past clients. **http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/PREMIERE.MORTGAGE.SERVICES.INC..978-422-2311/review/list & **http://premieremortgageservicesinc.mortgagexsites.com/xSites/Mortgage/PREMIEREMORTGAGESERVICESINC/Content/UploadedFiles/letter.pdf
The reason why APRs are confusing is that the rules to compute APR are not clearly defined.
What fees are included in the APR?The following fees ARE generally included in the APR:
The following fees are SOMETIMES included in the APR:
The following fees are normally NOT included in the APR:
Calculating APRs on adjustable rate mortgages is even more complex because future rates are unknown. The result is even more confusion about how lenders calculate APRs. You will see with some lenders that their APR on an ARM is actually lower than the note rate!
A lender who offers you a 15-day rate lock may have a lower APR than a lender who offers you a 60-day rate lock. APR does not tell you how long your rate is locked for.
A 15-year loan may have a lower interest rate, but could have a higher APR, since the loan fees are amortized over a shorter period of time. It is not wise to compare a 30-year loan with a 15-year loan using their respective APRs.
Many lenders do not even know what they include in their APR because they use an automated software program to compute their APR. It is quite possible that the same lender with the same fees using two different software programs may arrive at two different APRs.Conclusion:The APR is a result of a complex calculation and not clearly defined. There is no substitute to getting a good-faith estimate from each lender to compare costs.
Other helpful information on this subject see below.
Dana K. Bain
Robin Dunbar Bain
1 Malvern Hill Road
Sterling, MA 01564
Phone: (978) 422-2311
Toll Free: (800) 480-0545
Fax: (978) 422-2313
MA Lic. No. MB1205
Licensed by the State of NH Banking Dept. Lic. No. 5430-MBR