The Bare Bones of a Mortgage Loan

With the numerous mortgage options being offered by mortgage lenders today, newcomers to the arena may find the scenery just plain confusing. If you’re planning to get a mortgage loan, and you don’t know where to start, here is a list of the basics that you need to know about.

Mortgage Defined

A lot of people tend to use mortgage to mean a mortgage loan. A mortgage refers to the document that you, as a borrower, sign and entrust to a mortgage lender in return for a mortgage loan. If you default on your mortgage payments, the mortgage lender, through the document called mortgage, has the right to take possession of your property. The borrower, the one who applies for a mortgage loan, is referred to as the mortgagor since it is the borrower who hands the mortgage over to the mortgage lender.

Mortgage Loan

The basic premise of a mortgage loan is that it is a type of loan used to pay the difference between the purchase price and the cash available for a down payment. When mortgage lenders let you use their money, they will charge you a fee for it. The biggest fee is called the interest, which is expressed as an annual percentage of the loan. Usually, it is in the range of a low 5% and a high 12%. When you apply for a mortgage loan at one of these financial institutions, they will also charge you with an origination fee, which may include application fees, credit report fees and appraisal fees. The annual percentage rate (APR) consists of the base interest rate with points and other fees.

Mortgage Loan Rates

The mortgage loan comes in a fixed rate and adjustable rate. A fixed rate mortgage loan refers to a loan that features a fixed interest rate and fixed monthly payments for the entire life of a loan. Mortgage lenders typically offer 15- and 30-year fixed rate mortgage loans. An adjustable rate mortgage loan features lower initial rates, which may change as frequently as every six months. Borrowers who prefer going the least expensive way can opt for the 15-year mortgage loan. However, this type of loan is suitable for those who can afford the higher monthly mortgage payments. For people who plan on moving to another home in less than eight years, may find it more appropriate to settle for a 30-year mortgage loan, with its lower monthly mortgage payments.

Mortgage Loan and Down Payment

The down payment made on a house is usually in the range of five to 20 percent. The down payment precedes the mortgage loan, or the amount borrowed on the residual cost of the house. Thus a house that’s worth $450,000, you will require a down payment of $90,000 and a mortgage of $360,000.

Basic Mortgage Interest

Interest rates are prone to fluctuations, which make them highly unpredictable. There are two popular indices of short-term interest rates. The first one is the rate banks offer for six-month certificates of deposits (CDs). The second one is the interest on Treasury Bills, or T-bills. Mortgage lenders operate by charging around 2.5% over the publicly quoted interest rate. Compared to short-term rates, long-term rates are higher since they expose lenders to greater risk when lending money for a long time.

How Are Mortgage Rates Determined?

How mortgage loan rates are determined and what causes them to move is an absolute mystery to most folks – and those who think they know are usually wrong. As a former mortgage banker I can tell you that a lot of people in the mortgage industry can’t even give you an accurate answer to that question. So what’s the mystery and misinformation all about? Let’s take a simple look, in plain English, at what moves mortgage rates and (just as importantly) what does not.

Ask a bunch of your friends what mortgage rates are based on and they will tell you they are not sure but it has something to do with Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. Some of your more financially savvy friends may tell you that rates are based on the 10 year treasury yield. Both answers are incorrect. The simple truth is that mortgage rates are based on the mortgage backed securities (MBS) market. I know – this is starting to sound scary. I promise to keep it simple – here’s a quick explanation of what a mortgage backed security is. Banks and mortgage lenders take large bundles of their mortgage loans and pool them together to be sold as investments. These debt obligations trade as bonds (mortgage backed securities). An investor can invest in a pool of mortgage loans and receive income based on how those loans perform (do they pay on time etc…). The mortgage backed securities market is a segment of the overall bond market. The MBS market reacts and moves based on economic news and indicators similar to how the overall bond market works.

To take this one step further, here’s the technical explanation for those of you who are knowledgeable in matters of finance. MBS rates, and consequently mortgage rates, are directly determined by variances (or spreads) between it (MBS Rates) and a financial derivative instrument called interest rate swaps. These swaps are used by investors to manage, hedge, or speculate on risk. The rate on a swap rate is a fixed interest rate that one would receive in exchange for the uncertainty of having to pay the short-term LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) rate over time. Additionally, mortgage rates are influenced by relative spreads between interest rate swaps and treasury notes.

So why does everyone think that the Federal Reserve controls mortgage rates? Your guess is as good as mine. The most likely cause is that misinformed people in the media just keep talking about the fact that the fed lowered interest rates and mortgage rates will follow suit – and we keep listening. The fact of the matter is that the actions of the Federal Reserve do have an impact on mortgage rates but it is indirect and often extremely delayed. When the fed announces that they are lowering short term interest rates, this has an immediate impact on some types of consumer loans such as home equity loans and credit cards. It also has a negative affect on the interest rates on saving vehicles like money market accounts and certificates of deposit (because those rates go down as well). It does not however, have an immediate or direct impact on mortgage rates. The indirect impact on mortgage rates of the fed easing (lowering) short term rates is that it causes investors to flee investments like money markets and CDs and put more money into the stock and bond markets. When people buy more bonds (including mortgage backed securities) this causes bond prices to rise. When bond prices rise, the yields of those bonds go down. Lower yields on mortgage backed securities equal lower rates. This chain of events that started with the fed lowering rates and ended with mortgage rates going down could take months to unfold and dozens of other economic events could intervene and keep that chain of events from happening as predicted.

The other common misconception is that mortgage rates are tied to the long term Treasury notes. Not true. If you look at long term charts for mortgage rates and long term treasuries side by side you will see that they trend together over a long period of time. As mentioned above, the spread between interest rate swaps and treasury notes do influence mortgage rates – but it is inaccurate to say that there is a direct link between the two.

We’ve just covered the basics on how long term mortgage loan rates such as the 30 year fixed rate are determined. Short term mortgages like 5 year ARMs and 7 year ARMs can be based on a number of different indices.

Homeowners Lowest Mortgage Rate Dilemma

The Lowest Mortgage Rate in Decades

Homeowners are today missing out on some the lowest fixed mortgage rate deals available in the last twenty four years. On the 9th March 2009 the Bank of England first reduced the base rate to 0.5% where it has remained for the last 31 months and homeowners have become complacent about changing their mortgage arrangements as the mortgage rate has remained static.

Lowest Mortgage Rate Dilemma Faced By Homeowners

Homeowners have preferred to remain on the standard variable rate (SVR) rather than change to any other type of mortgage deal around. In the past the standard variable rate was known as the worst mortgage rate a borrower could be acquire as it was always more costly than any of the other mortgage rates available.

Many homeowners have chosen not to review their mortgages in the last 31 months and one in six homeowners with mortgages does not believe they needed to review their mortgages until the base rate starts to rise. Waiting until the base rate starts to rise is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. We have never seen interest rates this low and it is now that homeowners should be seeking the best mortgage deal for their personal circumstances.

Many homeowners have seen their monthly mortgage payments reduce considerably as they have come off previous mortgage deals. The extra money they are saving by remaining on the standard variable rate (SVR) has lessened the effects of the recession on their household income and expenditure. All householders have seen an increase in fuel and food costs and many employees have not had a pay rise for the last three or four years and homeowners don’t want to pay more for a new mortgage arrangement

Mortgage Rate Dilemma Facing Homeowners

Currently the Best 5-year fixed mortgage rate for first-time buyer and remortgages is 4.39% from the Nationwide for a 70% loan-to-value or a 30% deposit plus lenders arrangement fees of £999, you can make over payments of £500 per month and early repayment penalties do apply. Furthermore if you are remortgaging then this great 5-year fixed mortgage rate deal comes with free valuation fees and legal fees which will save you thousands.

Surely every serious homeowner who is worried about the future of their mortgage payments would want to tie themselves into a great mortgage deal that would provide them with 5 years of stability and the knowledge that they had a fixed affordable monthly mortgage payment? But unfortunately that is not the case when you have the cheapest mortgage deal from HSBC – a 2-year discount mortgage rate deal that is linked to their Standard Variable rate (SVR) which currently stands at 3.94% plus a 1% product fee. Please note that you will need a perfect credit history and be able to meet their strict lending criteria to obtain this mortgage

The Mortgage Rate Will Rise

Homeowners are out of touch with the current mortgage market conditions and they have a belief that the Bank of England base rate will remain low for ever. It’s similar to the belief that everybody had that property prices would just keep going up and then the boom time went bust in August 2007.

The mortgage rates we currently have are unprecedented and there are winners and losers. The winners at the moment are the mortgage borrowers who were reported to have saved fifty one billion pounds whilst the savers had lost some forty three billion pounds. This discrepancy will need readjusting at sometime in the very near future without doubt. As inflation rises higher then the bank of England will want the mechanism of being able to increase interest rates to control the inflation.

However homeowners still have the lowest mortgage rate dilemma and they will need to be sure that they are able to move quickly and secure another great rate before the rates increase.