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What Is A Rate Lock?

 

Mortgage rates change constantly through an unpredictable combination of government policies and economic conditions. This video explains the common term ‘rate lock.’

A “Rate Lock” is a guarantee that a lender will honor a specific combination of interest rates and points for a given period of time. A lock protects a buyer from rate increases but commits them to a higher rate if mortgage rates fall below the locked rate.

As of 2014, rate locks aren’t usually an option until a purchase offer for a specific property – new-home or resale – has been accepted by the seller. The borrower’s credit score, the loan-to-value ratio property type, location and other factors plus, of course, market rates and market conditions will also affect rate-lock decisions.

Decide whether to lock or “float” based on your capacity for risk and your best rational knowledge about construction and closing schedules. If your rate lock expires an extension might be available but both you and the lender will be looking at current mortgage rates to decide the best option.

 

How Can I Determine My Housing Needs Before I Begin The Search?

 

Like the video shows, your home should fit the way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the whole family.

Before you begin looking at homes make a list of your priorities – things like location and size.

  • Should the house be close to certain schools? your job? to public transportation?
  • How large should the house be?
  • What type of lot do you prefer?
  • What kinds of amenities are you looking for?

Establish a set of minimum requirements and a ‘wish list.” Minimum requirements are things that a house must have for you to consider it while a “wish list” covers things that you’d like to have but that aren’t essential.

 

Can Creditors Collect Information Beyond The 6 Required Pieces?

 

In addition to the required pieces:

  • Name
  • Income
  • Social Security Number
  • Property Address
  • Estimated Property Value
  • Mortgage Amount Sought

a creditor may collect whatever additional information they deem necessary.

However, as soon as you have provided the 6 required pieces, the creditor has 3 business days to provide a Loan Estimate for approved loans.

Understanding Your Loan: Additional Information Can Be Important

 

Page 4 of your Closing Disclosure is important. It is NOT just standardized form information that is identical for every loan.

Review these terms:

  • Assumption: can this loan be transferred to another person if you sell or transfer the property?
  • Demand: can the lender require early repayment of the loan?
  • Late Payments: what penalty, after what period, applies?
  • Negative Amortization: does this loan schedule or allow payments that do NOT fully cover the interest due, resulting in increased loan principal?
  • Partial Payments: what is THIS lender’s policy?

You should also review Escrow Account details to understand whether you will pay additional property costs via regular Escrow Account payments or handle them yourself directly.

Understanding Your Loan: Cash And Transaction Summaries

 

Page 3 of your Closing Disclosure will compare cash requirements from your Loan Estimate to your actual final charges. If “Did this change?” is “YES” notes for changed sections should be provided.

The bottom line final “Cash to Close” is the money you will need in-hand in three business days.

If your transaction has a Seller the summary table will show a line by line comparison of Borrower to Seller transaction details.

If there is no Seller you may see a Payoffs and Payments table instead.

Review the summary tables to understand the transaction and your financial commitments at loan consummation.

Understanding Your Loan: Closing Cost Details

 

Page 2 of your Closing Disclosure details specific closing costs.

Section A includes: Origination charges collected by the lender Origination fees paid to brokers, loan officers or other parties and Discount Points – prepaid interest. These figures should match your original Loan Estimate.

Section B covers services for which you could NOT shop. The total of these should be within 10% of the total from your Loan Estimate.

Section C covers services you could shop. If you chose providers from the lender’s written list, costs should be within 10% of Loan Estimate. The set of services you can shop may vary on different loans.

The Recording Fees in Section E should be within 10%; other costs in E, plus F, G and H, may vary from your Loan Estimate without tolerance limits.

This page will also break out the costs YOU will pay, before or at closing; the costs the Seller will pay, any costs paid by others and any credits from your Lender.

Understanding Your Loan: Closing Disclosure Page 1

 

The first page of your Closing Disclosure documents:

  • The Loan Amount – the total you will actually borrow
  • The Interest Rate – which does NOT include the fees factored into the APR on Page 5

If this loan has a penalty for pre-payment or includes a balloon payment Page 1 will summarize the terms.

Projected Payments will show the chief cost components – Principal & Interest, Mortgage Insurance and estimates of your Escrow Payments over the life of the loan. You may see different columns for different periods if changes in terms such as mortgage insurance change payment totals.

Closing Costs summarizes your loan closing expenses, and Cash To Close adds the additional amounts due to give you the cash balance you will need in 3 business days.

Your Rights And Rules For Closing Disclosures

 

The Closing Disclosure documents the actual terms of your loan transaction. You should receive it no later than 3 business days before consummation. It must be in writing – paper or digital.

If the loan terms or costs change prior to consummation, your lender must provide a corrected disclosure AND an additional 3-business-day waiting period until loan consummation.

Waiving the 3-day waiting period is only permitted in certain circumstances, and only when the waiting period would cause a bona fide personal financial emergency.

Understanding Loan Estimate Comparisons

 

Page 3 of your Loan Estimate includes measures to help you compare loans.

“In X Years” shows the total amount you will have paid in that time, and the dollar amount applied to your loan principal. The ratio between total paid and principal reduced may change over time.

The APR shows interest PLUS fees as an annual ratio – APR is the actual percentage this loan costs per year.

The TIP figure relates the interest you will pay over the life of the loan to the loan amount. For example – a TIP value of 25% on a $100,000 loan means you will pay $125,000 – $100K principal plus $25K interest – over the life of the loan.

Calculating Your Cash To Close

 

Page 2 of the Loan Estimate provides the current ESTIMATED cash to close. Some costs will stay the same between estimate and closing. Some will change.

  • A – Origination Charges – should match.
  • B – Can’t Shop – 10% Tolerance
  • C – Can Shop – no tolerance limit, BUT IF you select a provider from your lender’s list their actual cost should be no more than 10% greater than the estimate.
  • E – Recording Fees are also subject to 10% tolerance
  • F – Prepaids, G – Initial Escrow and H – Other, such as Owner’s Title may vary from the Loan Estimate without tolerance limits.

These estimates of closing costs plus loan details, Down Payment, Deposits Credits and Adjustments are used to calculate your estimated cash requirements when the loan finally closes. Consider the possible changes and tolerances when evaluating a loan decision.