Some Common Mortgage Loan and Finance Terms Explained

The common terms used to describe a mortgage involve the “creditor,” the “debtor,” and “mortgage broker.” It may be self-explanatory as to what those terms mean, but there are other terms involved with a mortgage as well that a homeowner may not be completely familiar with. Let’s cover some of them here:

Creditor

The creditor is the financial institution, typically a bank, who provides the money in the form of a loan for the mortgage amount. The creditor is sometimes referred to as the mortgagee or lender.

Debtor

The debtor is the person or party who owes the mortgage or the loan. They may be referred to as the mortgagor.

Many homes are owned by more than one person, such as a husband and wife, or sometimes two close friends will purchase a home together, or a child with their parent, and so on. If this is the case, both persons become debtors for that loan, and not just owners of the property.

In other words, be careful of having your name put on the deed or title to any house, as this makes you legally responsible for the mortgage or loan attached to that house as well.

Mortgage broker, financial advisor

Mortgages are not always easy to come by, however, because of the demand for homes in most countries, there are many financial institutions that offer them. Banks, credit unions, Savings & Loan, and other types of institutions may offer mortgages. A mortgage broker can be used by the prospective debtor to find the best mortgage at the lowest interest rate for them; the mortgage broker also acts as an agent of the lender to find persons willing to take on these mortgages, to handle the paperwork, etc.

There are typically other parties involved in closing or obtaining a mortgage, from lawyers to financial advisors. Because a mortgage for a private home is typically the largest debt that any one person will have over the course of his or her life, they often seek out whatever legal and financial advice is available to them in order to make the right decision. A financial advisor is someone who can become very familiar with your own particular needs, income, long-term goals, etc., and then give you the best advice on what your loan needs may be.

Foreclosure

When the debtor cannot or does not meet the financial obligations of the mortgage, the property can be foreclosed on, meaning that the creditor seizes the property to recoup the remaining cost of the loan.

Typically, a home that is foreclosed upon will be sold at auction and that sale price applied to the outstanding amount of the mortgage; the debtor may still be liable for the remaining amount if the property sold for less than the outstanding balance of the mortgage.

For example, suppose a person still owes $50,000 toward their mortgage, and their home is foreclosed. At auction, the home is sold for only $45,000. The debtor is still responsible for that remaining $5,000 difference.

Most banks and financial institutions will try to avoid foreclosing on any of their debtor’s property if at all possible. Not only do they run the risk of not being able to sell the home at auction for any price, but there are also additional costs and risks incurred when the home is vacated by the previous owners. This includes vandalism, squatters (persons who trespass onto vacant land or into vacant homes and stay there until forcibly removed), fines from cities for unkempt yards, and so on.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR is not to be confused with a mortgage’s interest rate.

The APR is a loan’s interest rate plus the added costs of obtaining the loan, such as points, origination fees, and mortgage insurance premiums (if applicable).

If there were no costs involved in obtaining a loan other than the interest rate, the APR would then equal the interest rate.

Breakeven Point

The breakeven point is the length of time it will take to recover the costs incurred to refinance a mortgage. It is calculated by dividing the amount of closing costs for refinancing by the difference between the old and new monthly payment.

For example, if it costs you $5,000 in fees, penalties, etc., to refinance your mortgage, but you save $300 per month on your payments with your new mortgage, the break-even point is after 17 months (17 months x $300 per month = $5,100).

ARM

This refers to an Adjustable Rate Mortgage; a mortgage that permits the lender to adjust its interest rate periodically.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the term of the loan.

Cap

ARMs have fluctuating interest rates, but those fluctuations are usually limited by law to a certain amount.

Those limitations may apply to how much the loan may adjust over a six month period, an annual period, and over the life of the loan, and are referred to as “caps.”

Index

A number used to compute the interest rate for an ARM. The index is generally a published number or percentage, such as the average interest rate or yield on U.S. Treasury Bills. A margin is added to the index to determine the interest rate that will be charged on the ARM.

Since the index may vary with ARMs, many people considering refinancing do well to keep aware of the standard interest rate as set by the federal government, as this is typically used by lending institutions to calculate that index.

Prime Rate

The interest rate that banks charge to their preferred customers. Changes in the prime rate influence changes in other rates, including mortgage interest rates.

Equity

A homeowner’s financial interest in or value of a property. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage and other liens, if that value is higher.

In other words, if the fair market value of the home is $200,000, and your mortgage (and other liens, if applicable) is only $150,000, then the home has $50,000 in equity.

Home Equity Loan

Loans secured by a specific property that were made against the “equity” of the property after it was purchased.

Using the illustration above of a home that has $50,000 in equity, a homeowner may take out a loan up to that amount, using the home as collateral for that loan. A lending institution knows that if the homeowner defaults on the loan, they can seize the property and sell it for at least that much, getting back their loan amount.

Amortization

The gradual repayment of a mortgage loan, usually by monthly installments of principal and interest.

An amortization table shows the payment amount broken out by interest, principal, and unpaid balance for the entire term of the loan. These tables are useful because when a payment is made toward a mortgage, the same amount does not get applied to the principal and interest month after month, even when the payment amount is the same. This is often a difficult concept for those not in the real estate or banking business to understand, so an amortization table that spells out how each payment is applied to the debt over the life of the loan can be very helpful.

Cash-Out Refinance

When a borrower refinances his mortgage at a higher amount than the current loan balance with the intention of pulling out money for personal use, it is referred to as a “cash out refinance.” In other words, the mortgage is not simply for the home itself but an additional amount of money is being financed as well.

Appraised Value

An opinion of a property’s fair market value, based on an appraiser’s knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property. The appraised value of the home is a key factor in how much the home can or will be mortgaged for.

Appreciation

The increase in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions, inflation, or other causes.

Depreciation

A decline in the value of property; the opposite of appreciation.

Appreciation and depreciation are important concepts to remember; as we’ve just mentioned, the appraised value of the home is a determining factor in the home’s mortgage. When refinancing, it’s important to understand that your home may have appreciated or depreciated in value since the original or first mortgage was obtained.

Lock-in

An agreement in which the lender guarantees a specified interest rate for a certain amount of time at a certain cost.

Lock-in Period

The time period during which the lender has guaranteed an interest rate to a borrower.

This is a different concept than a fixed rate mortgage, as the lock-in period for a mortgage may be temporary rather than over the life of the loan.

As we said previously, many of these terms you may already be familiar with, but it doesn’t hurt to review them and see how they are all tied in together with your mortgage and the refinancing process.

So now that you have these basic terms in mind when it comes to a mortgage and the lending process, let’s discuss the process of refinancing in greater detail.

October 2007 – Mortgage Rates in Australia

Mortgage rates are a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Two issues are at the forefront of any discussion on mortgage rates today.

Firstly there is general concern amongst borrowers in Australia that mortgage rates may further increase over the short term. The Reserve Bank has increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) a number of times this year and it is currently sitting at 6.50% p.a. These increases immediately impact on the cost of funds for lending institutions, both bank and non-bank, and as a result mortgage rates have also increased, with the banks standard variable rate now at 8.32% p.a. and the non-bank lenders generally in the market with mortgage rates around 7.75% p.a. By increasing the OCR the Reserve Bank is well aware that mortgage rates will follow suit. Under its charter, the Reserve Bank is responsible for formulating and implementing monetary policy that will contribute to:

(a) the stability of the currency of Australia;

(b) the maintenance of full employment in Australia; and

(c) the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.

These objectives have found practical expression in a target for consumer price inflation, of 2-3 per cent per annum. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and is the main way in which monetary policy can help to form a sound basis for long-term growth in the economy.

So, how does an increase in the OCR and mortgage rates generally help achieve these inflation targets? As the mortgage rates increase across Australia, borrowers have less surplus cash to spend, there is less demand for consumables, businesses have less money to invest and as a result the economy is slowed down and the inflation rate is held in check. If the economy is too slow the Reserve bank can effectively reduce mortgage rates (by reducing the OCR) and thereby provide borrowers with more surplus funds. This increases demand for consumables and one sees greater economic activity.

It is ironical that because in Australia we are enjoying strong economic growth and have employment at an all time high we end up finding our mortgage rates increasing. If we were to save more rather than spend and borrow, inflation would not be increasing at the level it is and mortgage rates would remain steady.

But would they? This brings me to the second issue which has had a significant impact on mortgage rates and has made headlines in newspapers in Australia over the past few months. In the past mortgage rates in Australia have been pretty much domestically driven (i.e. by the Reserve Bank) but more recently we have seen mortgage rates influenced by problems occurring in international financial markets. The main culprit is the United States where there have been unprecedented mortgage defaults which have frightened off would be global lenders and investors in mortgage securities. Even though mortgage rates in Australia remain relatively low and defaults here are not a significant problem (in other words they remain a sound investment), the US default crisis has scared off potential investors. As a result mortgages are no longer flavour of the month and those that are still prepared invest are seeking a higher rate of return. Consequently the cost of funds world wide increases for debt securities and mortgage rates across the world increase as result. As noted earlier the banks current standard mortgage rates sit at 8.32% p.a. variable which is up to .50% more than the non bank mortgage rates of 7.75% p.a. Because the banks’ mortgage rates were considerably higher than the non-banks before the impact of the US situation, to date they have been able to hold their rates. The non-bank lenders, who have historically priced their mortgage rates below the banks, have had to move their mortgage rates sooner because they simply don’t have the profit margins, the “fat” in their pricing, which most banks enjoy.

The banks are endeavouring to gain market share with claims that they are holding their mortgage rates (8.32% p.a.) but hopefully borrowers will recognise that the mortgage rates of the non-bank mortgage manager lenders remain competitive. They might also want to consider where mortgage rates would be without the mortgage manager competing with the banks for their business. Prior to the non- bank mortgage manager entering the market, the banks’ mortgage rates contained profit margins of up to 3 % p.a. Back in the 1990s the non-bank lender was able to enter the market and compete aggressively for business because they were not trying to maximise profit at the expense of borrowers but rather offered mortgage rates that were well below the major banks. The banks were initially quite arrogant, holding their mortgage rates and profit margins, thinking that lower mortgage rates would not be enough to woo borrowers. Little did they realise that the non-bank sector not only offered lower mortgage rates but also professional and friendly service. It took around 3 years before the banks finally reduced their margins and offered mortgage rates that were somewhat more competitive.

The next few months will determine whether the US mortgage crisis will be a short term problem for mortgage rates or whether the meltdown in America will have a long term impact on mortgage rates in Australia. In the meantime keep an eye on mortgage rates across the market, sit tight because no matter which lender you are with, mortgage rates over the next few months will be a little unpredictable but inevitably are likely to settle down again.

What Type Of Mortgage Loan Is Right For You?

Homebuyers and homeowners need to decide which home Mortgage loan is right for them. Then, the next step in getting a mortgage loan is to submit an application ( Uniform Residential Loan Application ). Although we try to make the loan simple and easy for you, getting a mortgage loan is not an insignificant process.

Below is a short synopsis of some loan types that are currently available.

CONVENTIONAL OR CONFORMING MORTGAGE Loans are the most common types of mortgages. These include a fixed rate mortgage loan which is the most commonly sought of the various loan programs. If your mortgage loan is conforming, you will likely have an easier time finding a lender than if the loan is non-conforming. For conforming mortgage loans, it does not matter whether the mortgage loan is an adjustable rate mortgage or a fixed-rate loan. We find that more borrowers are choosing fixed mortgage rate than other loan products.

Conventional mortgage loans come with several lives. The most common life or term of a
mortgage loan is 30 years. The one major benefit of a 30 year home mortgage loan is that one pays lower monthly payments over its life. 30 year mortgage loans are available for Conventional, Jumbo, FHA and VA Loans. A 15 year mortgage loan is usually the least expensive way to go, but only for those who can afford the larger monthly payments. 15 year mortgage loans are available for Conventional, Jumbo, FHA and VA Loans. Remember that you will pay more interest on a 30 year loan, but your monthly payments are lower. For 15 year mortgage loans your monthly payments are higher, but you pay more principal and less interest. New 40 year mortgage loans are available and are some of the the newest programs used to finance a residential purchase. 40 year mortgage loans are available in both Conventional and Jumbo. If you are a 40 year mortgage borrower, you can expect to pay more interest over the life of the loan.

A Fixed Rate Mortgage Loan is a type of loan where the interest rate remains fixed
over life of the loan. Whereas a Variable Rate Mortgage will fluctuate over the life
of the loan. More specifically the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage loan is a loan that has a
fluctuating interest rate. First time homebuyers may take a risk on a variable rate for qualification purposes, but this should be refinanced to a fixed rate as soon as possible.

A Balloon Mortgage loan is a short-term loan that contains some risk for the borrower. Balloon mortgages can help you get into a mortgage loan, but again should be financed into a more reliable or stable payment product as soon as financially feasible. The Balloon Mortgage should be well thought out with a plan in place when getting this product. For example, you may plan on being in the home for only three years.

Despite the bad rap Sub-Prime Mortgage loans are getting as of late, the market for this kind of mortgage loan is still active, viable and necessary. Subprime loans will be here for the duration, but because they are not government backed, stricter approval requirements will most likely occur.

Refinance Mortgage loans are popular and can help to increase your monthly disposable income. But more importantly, you should refinance only when you are looking to lower the interest rate of your mortgage. The loan process for refinancing your mortgage loan is easier and faster then when you received the first loan to purchase your home. Because closing costs and points are collected each and every time a mortgage loan is closed, it is generally not a good idea to refinance often. Wait, but stay regularly informed on the interest rates and when they are attractive enough, do it and act fast to lock the rate.

A Fixed Rate Second Mortgage loan is perfect for those financial moments such as home improvements, college tuition, or other large expenses. A Second Mortgage loan is a mortgage granted only when there is a first mortgage registered against the property. This Second Mortgage loan is one that is secured by the equity in your home. Typically, you can expect the interest rate on the second mortgage loan to be higher than the interest rate of the first loan.

An Interest Only Mortgage loan is not the right choice for everyone, but it can be very effective choice for some individuals. This is yet another loan that must be thought out carefully. Consider the amount of time that you will be in the home. You take a calculated risk that property values will increase by the time you sell and this is your monies or capital gain for your next home purchase. If plans change and you end up staying in the home longer, consider a strategy that includes a new mortgage. Again pay attention to the rates.

A Reverse mortgage loan is designed for people that are 62 years of age or older and already have a mortgage. The reverse mortgage loan is based mostly on the equity in the home. This loan type provides you a monthly income, but you are reducing your equity ownership. This is a very attractive loan product and should be seriously considered by all who qualify. It can make the twilight years more manageable.

The easiest way to qualify for a Poor Credit Mortgage loan or Bad Credit Mortgage loan is to fill out a two minute loan application. By far the easiest way to qualify for any home mortgage loan is by establishing a good credit history. Another loan vehicle available is a Bad Credit Re-Mortgage loan product and basically it’s for refinancing your current loan.

Another factor when considering applying for a mortgage loan is the rate lock-in. We discuss this at length in our mortgage loan primer. Remember that getting the right mortgage loan is getting the keys to your new home. It can sometimes be difficult to determine which mortgage loan is applicable to you. How do you know which mortgage loan is right for you? In short, when considering what mortgage loan is right for you, your personal financial situation needs to be considered in full detail. Complete that first step, fill out an application, and you are on your way!