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Understanding Your Loan Estimate: Other Costs

 

Real estate transactions require taxes, certain pre-payments, and escrow funding.

Recording fees are charged by government agencies for keeping legal ownership records, while “transfer taxes” may be imposed by states, counties and municipalities on real estate ownership transfers.

Prepayments may include homeowner’s insurance premiums on the property mortgage insurance, if required property taxes for a period of months in advance, and prepaid interest, typically for the period from closing to the first mortgage payment.

Escrow funding may also be required against future annual charges for homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance and property taxes.

Title insurance on YOUR legal ownership – “Owner’s Title Policy” – may be designated as optional, which only indicates that it is not required by this creditor.

Some of these “Other Costs” may vary substantially between Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure ask your lender about the tolerance rules or watch the video “Could My Loan Cost Exceed The Loan Estimate?”

Can I Pay Off My Loan Ahead Of Schedule?

 

Usually, Yes. Like the guy in the video says, by sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan.

When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal and keep records.

Remember that payment applied to loan principal is not tax-deductible. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, but some loans may have prepayment penalties.

Ask your lender for details.

Understanding Your Loan Estimate: Services You CAN Shop For

 

These costs are paid to outside parties and YOU are free to shop and compare providers for a variety of services. These might include pest inspection, or  a survey to verify property lines or a range of Title-related services.

Title services might include:

  • a Lender’s title policy, which protects their legal interest in their loan collateral- usually the property itself
  • settlement agent fees, paid to the individual or company responsible for facilitating the final transaction
  • Title Search, which clarifies and documents legal ownership of the property
  • a title insurance binder, which allows potential future use of the current title search results, conditions and exclusions for a short period to lower the cost of future title insurance.

If you select service providers from the list provided by the lender, their fees cannot change by more than 10% between the Loan Estimate and the final Loan Disclosure. If you select other providers the lender is not responsible for changes in those costs.

Understanding Your Loan Estimate: Services You Cannot Shop For

 

These costs are paid to outside parties, not the lender, but you don’t get to choose them. They may include:

  • appraisal, which puts a value on your property on the lender’s behalf
  • a credit report on you
  • fees to assess flood risk of your property, or for ongoing monitoring of flood zone changes related to your property
  • tax monitoring to keep track of your property tax payments
  • tax status research to assess the state of tax payments on the property.

While you can’t shop for these services, the price for these services in your final loan disclosure MUST match the price on the Loan Estimate; items in “Cannot Shop” have 0 tolerance for change.

What Is Equity?

 

Equity is the value YOU own in property such as a house. It’s the difference between what’s OWED and what the property is WORTH in the current market.

The example this video shows – you have a house worth $300,000 today and you owe the bank $200,000.  Your equity would be $100,000.

If the house is valued at $500,000 in five years, and you still owe $150,000 your equity will be $350,000.

Equity grows if the property value goes up or if the amount owed goes down.  The key thing to remember, simple as it sounds, is that you “own” increases in value. The bank’s loan doesn’t go up if the home’s value goes up.

Equity in a home can be used as collateral for loans but a house is not a piggy bank. Home equity can become a key financial asset over time; treat it wisely.

What Is A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE?

 

What Is A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE?

The COE is the key document that verifies to lenders that someone is eligible for a VA-backed loan.

Servicemembers, Veterans and National Guard and Reserve members may apply online or through their lender; most lenders have access to the system and can verify eligibility IF the VA has records on file.

The VA also maintains a hotline for assistance.

Surviving Spouses can use VA Form 26-1817 to request determination of their eligibility for VA Loan Guarantees.

Your lender may be able to assist with processing or contact the VA for information this video did not address.

What Are Real Estate Commissions?

 

Like the video says – real estate agents aren’t paid by the hour!They’re paid a percentage of the purchase price in a successful real estate transaction.

When one agent represents the sellers and another represents the buyers the commission is typically split between them.
In the US, real estate commissions are commonly 6% of the transaction usually 3%/3% when split.

No government or industry body sets commission rates.  Legally, commission rates ARE negotiable.  However, remember that agents only earn their commission on successful sales.

Consider the work you want them to do for you to evaluate the value you should put on the commission they earn.

What Is “Prime”?

 

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  – is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.

The video shows  an example.

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%
  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%
  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

How Do I Choose The Right Lender For Me?

 

There are some great tips in this video. Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction.

Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable.

A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area.

Do your research, and ask family and friends.

Understanding Your Loan Estimate: Page 2, Loan Costs

 

Closing costs are fees paid when the title of the property is transferred to the buyer making them the legal owner.

Origination Charges are fees collected by the lender for the loan process. They may including fees for handling the loan application and “Origination Fees”, which are compensation paid by the creditor to the entity that originated your loan.

“Points” are fees paid to lower interest rates; points are considered prepaid interest for the buyer, and are usually tax deductible.

Finally, Underwriting is a payment to the lender for their assessing the risk that the loan might not be repaid, based on the loan specifics and your financial characteristics.