Mortgages and Home Loans:

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchase you are likely to make in your lifetime and a home loan is required.  However, only a few individuals can afford to pay cash outright for a home, so you are likely going to need a mortgage or home loan to buy one!  Before you can organize your mortgage, it is essential to understand precisely how a home loan works, how and where to get your home loan mortgage, as well as how the entire process unfolds.

How Do Mortgages also known as Home Loans Work?     

In general, a mortgage is an agreement which enables a borrower to use a property as collateral in securing a loan. In numerous instances, the term mortgage also represents a home loan: in such case, the agreement is that when you purchase the house, your lender has a right to take action in case you are unable to fulfill on the required payments of the loan. Moreover, the bank has a right to foreclose the property-forcing you to vacate so they can put up the house for sale and the sale proceeds used to pay off debt that you still owe for the property.

Home Loan Rates:    

Like all other transactions that involve large lump sums, mortgages may seem quite complicated especially if you are buying your first home. Nonetheless, similar to other significant complex tasks, acquiring a home loan is manageable provided you work out every single detail from scratch and go a step at a time.

For numerous borrowers, their greatest concern when seeking a mortgage is the home loan interest rates, which is why we will first address it.  There is a justifiably good reason why most individuals give focus on mortgage interest rates as they shop for mortgage-these rates have a significant effect on the total amount of your monthly bill as well as the overall loan amount.

For instance, a difference of 0.5% point on a home loan of $250,000 can mean variance of around $75 each month or roughly $26,000 across the entire time frame of a 30-year loan. Therefore, even the minute differences still add up!

Today, mortgage brokers advertise mortgage rates online making it quite easy to make comparisons.

Individuals typically begin to search for a home loan by looking for the lowest possible interest rate available. Nonetheless, merely focusing on finding the most economical rate can be misguiding. Many at times, lenders usually disguise a loan’s actual cost through requiring that you pay higher fees and closing costs that can significantly surpass savings from a relatively lower loan rate.

As such, it is important that you shift your focus towards the Annual Percentage Rates (APR) as opposed to mortgage rates as you do your home loan evaluation. While the APR is not an entirely perfect measure, it, however, gives you a good reference point. The APR echoes the overall costs of a mortgage inclusive of the fees and rates relative to a mortgage interest rate and is usually encompassed with any offer or advertisement of home loan rates.

Why Do Home Loan Interest Rates Differ for Home Loans?       

Home loan rates are not like ticketed items in the marketplace-they don’t come at a single fixed price for every customer! With home loan rates, every borrower receives a rate that is tailored to their specific circumstance.

Various lenders will offer different rates. While some may decide to charge higher fees in efforts to offer lower rates, others offer different types of home loan programs to provide varied pricing options. Therefore, it is crucial to shop around, evaluate, and compare until you identify the option that best fits your needs.

Discount Points: Simply identified as points in general, they are an approach to purchasing a relatively lower rate. Every point retails at 1 % of your overall loan figure and decreases the rate by a particular amount-usually 1/8 to  of a percentage point. Buying points are a long term savings scheme. Nevertheless, lenders can usually use them in disguising the actual loan cost.

They may list a low loan rate but which is inclusive of several points. With this in mind, it is vital that while evaluating home loan rates that you ensure that you identify the number of points a plan includes-low rates that comprise 2 to 3 points might not be as ow’ as they appear.

Credit Score: Typically, borrowers who have a 740 or more FICO credit score are usually more entitled to the lowest available rates. Contrastingly, lower scores attract higher fees and rates occasionally substantially -this means that a borrower whose FICO credit score is in the 600s and below can be charged relatively higher than their counterparts with excellent credit scores.

Down payment Amount: How much you pay for the down payment also impacts the interest as well. While you can get a typical loan at just 3 or 5 %, you will, however, pay relatively higher rates compared to what you would pay if you give a 20 to 30% or more.

Type of home: finally, the kind of property also helps you determine the interest you pay for a mortgage. Specific properties like townhomes and condominiums come with a higher risk level for a mortgage lender. As such, lenders offer a higher interest rate for condo types of loans, for instance, compared to what you would otherwise pay for a conventional single-family home.

Types Of Home Loans:       

As earlier mentioned home loans are not offered on a one-size-fits-all provision; with lenders availing numerous and varied home loan options as well as loan types to satisfy the different types of customers.

  1. 30-Year Fixed Loan:
    • This is the most prevalent mortgage option. It gives you a combination of low monthly payments since they stretch to 30 years as well as predictability since the rate is constant for the entire loan’s life span.
  2. 15-Year Fixed Rate Loan:
    • There are also some short term loan options such as a 15-year fixed mortgage which affords you relatively lower rates although with higher monthly payments since you are paying the loan quicker. It is because of this that these types of loans boast more popularity especially when refinancing mortgage borrowers have already been paying for some time.
  3. ARMs:
    • ARMs or Adjustable-rate mortgages are other types of loan that offers you a lower initial rate for a fixed-rate mortgage. While you may initially save some funds with this option, the rate ultimately begins to adjust to reflect the market conditions and you may find yourself paying more if the rates surge. These types of loans are popular with borrowers planning to refinance or sell in a few years before the rate begins to adjust.

In fact, besides first-timers getting more attention as well as the construction of more entry-level homes, ARMs is among the top few items on the list of what is trending in mortgages and home loans right now. Why? ARMs offer a lower initial rate on adjustable compared to fixed-rate mortgages. As such, they offer borrowers relatively lower monthly payments in the first few years. Such is their popularity that they have raised from 5.5% to over 8.0% in just 12 months as per Ellie Mae.

Other Special types of Loans:    

A great deal of USA mortgages and home loans are usually backed by either of the following government-linked institutions mainly: the VA, FHA, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae. While these bodies don’t necessarily make loans, they, however, set rules for those they guarantee.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae backed mortgages are known as conforming or conventional loans and form the highest share of residential mortgages in the USA. These loans usually afford the lowest fees and best rates for borrowers with either a substantial down payment or excellent credit.

As for FHA loans, they are backed by an institution called the Federal Housing Administration. First-time borrowers commonly use FHA loans since they offer down payments going for as less as 3.5% not to mention less rigid credit requirements in comparison to typical mortgages.

When it comes to VA loans, they are mortgages offered to active-duty staff, qualified veterans, not to mention other individuals affiliated to the military. VA loans provide very competitive rates and are the select few options which allow home loans without the need for down payments although to specific purchase limits.

There are also Jumbo loans, and these extend FHA and conventional mortgage lending limits. Limits can range from between $424,100 and $636,150 (for single-family houses) depending on the house’s location in the USA. Lenders usually finance these types of loans outside the standard Freddie/Fannie/FHA arrangement. Without these guarantees, jumbo loan interests are traditionally higher than those guaranteed by these institutions.

Besides jumbo loans, there are other home loan options, and programs which are not government-allied agencies don’t back. These loan types usually need not adhere to the guidelines of those agencies and can as such be more flexible relative to various components like income, credit, as well as property type among many others. Nonetheless, these types of loans are offered by only a select few lenders and are such quite challenging to get.

How To Get A Home Loan:     

When it comes to acquiring home loans, the basics are relatively simple: all you need is to borrow a particular money amount and subsequently repay it within a specified period at a given interest rate. However, the details can usually be quite intricate.

Generally, the procedure of acquiring home loans begins with determining the amount of money you can borrow. Usually, the typical requirements include the fact that you need not to spend over 31% of the total gross monthly income on your loan payments not to mention not over 43% on overall debt payments which include the mortgage although lenders can usually go higher depending on your credit rating.

This, however, is what you can borrow. When it comes to what you can afford it is a whole different scenario. Simply because lenders have approved you for a specific home loan amount isn’t sensible to your financial plan. After all, you don’t want a situation where you spend such a considerable amount on your home; you practically have nothing for other necessary items such as repairs and home maintenance.

The Home Loan Process  

1.  Prequalification:    

Home loan prequalification is the process indicating that a lender has confirmed to you the amount you can comfortably borrow based on various factors such as the personal details you have availed to allow credit score details access, property down payment, as well as your income. While prequalification is not a guarantee that you will be approved for the loan, it, however, informs you about the price range of homes you can begin to search for.

2.  Pre-Approval:      

Pre-Approval for a home loan usually means that lenders have acquired your credit score as well as evaluated your fiscal resources to indicate that you are eligible.        Note: you need not pay any fee for any of these mentioned processes.

After pre-approval, a lender will issue you with a letter outlining that you are now pre-approved for a mortgage of a particular amount. This letter can be presented to home sellers as evidence to indicate that you qualify for a specific home loan as you submit your offer. It demonstrates that you are submitting a legitimate proposal.

3.  Applying for the mortgage:

Pre-Approval doesn’t necessarily indicate automatic approval. After a home seller accepts the offer you present, you now begin the application process for a home mortgage. This process involves submitting an application for a full loan, followed by paying necessary application charges after which the lender starts the process of approval.        The lender can ask for extra documentation as they review your finances as well as assessing the property to ensure it fits its listed value and that it has no concerns such as unpaid taxes among others.  This process usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks. In the event you are approved, the lender schedules a closing where you are required to sign the paperwork, as well as pay all closing costs among other related fees that did not appear in the home loan, and you finally assume full ownership of your home.

Requirements For A Home Loan/Mortgage:  

Different mortgage programs come with different conditions. What’s more, an individual lender can have varying requirements for similar home loan programs. For instance, one lender can require that you have a 650 credit score to get an FHA loan while another may need 600 or less. Nonetheless, there are several basic guidelines.          Usually, income requirements to get a home loan is less focused on your gross income and tend to focus on how much of the total income goes towards the mortgage not to mention other debt payments.

The monthly mortgage payments you make inclusive of hazard insurance and property taxes need not be over 31% of your total gross monthly income. What’s more, as earlier outlined, your overall debt payments inclusive of your home loan need not exceed 43%. However, numerous lenders usually exceed these requirements for any borrower with a good or excellent credit rating.

With credit, the requirements are quite tricky. With a 740 or better FICO credit score, you can access the best terms and rates as well as more flexibility when it comes to your down payments. However, if your score is below 700, the related fees and rates get higher with how low your credit score stands. What’s more, lower credit scores can warrant you to pay relatively larger down payments.

For a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loan, the minimum required FICO credit score is 620 while for an FHA loan, the minimum requirement is 500-although it is tough to get lenders who are willing to get this low. For standard VA loans, there are no minimum requirements for your credit score although many VA lenders tend to offer loans for.


A home is arguably the most significant asset a typical family owns with the corresponding home loan their biggest debt. Since buying a home through a mortgage is both a significant and equally complicated process, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of how the whole mortgage home loan process unfolds and this excerpt can help you learn about the fundamental details about mortgages and home loans. Enjoy!

Andrew Saltman

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