First, you need to decide on which loan program you’re going to compare. You need to decide between a fixed, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and a hybrid. A fixed rate is fixed throughout the life of the loan, so it costs a little more. An ARM has an interest rate that can vary throughout the life of the loan, which would be cheaper now, but might cost more down the road. A hybrid is an ARM that is fixed for a predetermined period, such as five years, then it morphs into an ARM.
With interest rates still near historical lows, most people select a fixed rate because it’s safest and protects you better the longer you stay in your home. An ARM or a hybrid loan is best if you plan to move in five years or less, but most people stay in their homes as long as nine years or more.
Next, you need to select a loan term, which refers to its amortization period. The most common fixed-rate term is the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Lenders also offer fixed rate loans in five-year increments beginning with ten-year loans, so you can select a 15, 20, and 25-year fixed rate. The advantage to doing that is that you’ll pay the loan off faster, but you should know that the loan will cost more monthly because you’re paying down more interest and principal at a time, even with a lower interest rate.
How do you decide which loan is best? By what you can afford. If you want the best rates, conventional loan-to debt-ratios prevent you from having more than 41% of your gross income used toward debt payments and mortgage payments. The ceiling for mortgages is about 28% of your income, with the rest of your debt payments going toward a car payment, student loan, or revolving credit card charges. If you have low debt, or are buying a modest home compared to your means, it’s a good idea to get a shorter term.
- Your Name
- Your Income
- Your Social Security Number
- The Property Address
- The Contract Price of the Property
- The Mortgage Loan Amount
The lenders have to return a good faith estimate of what your closing costs will be within three business days. Then you can compare and choose the loan with the most favorable costs to you.
Written by Blanche Evans