Mortgage Terminology FAQ

Mortgage Terminology FAQ

What is APR?
Annual percentage rate (APR) is an estimate of the full costs of a loan, including the interest rate. APR is a more accurate tool than the interest rate alone in determining the total cost of a loan. APR estimates what you’ll pay over the course of an entire year based on additional fees and costs associated with the loan, such as points, mortgage insurance premiums and origination fees. To help consumers compare the full costs of a loan, the federal Truth in Lending law requires mortgage companies to list the APR of their loans when they advertise an interest rate.

What are points?
Mortgage points are charges that are paid in order to obtain a mortgage on a home. One mortgage point is a fee equal to 1% of the total amount of the loan. There are two different kinds of points. Discount points are an optional amount of money paid to a lender that enables the borrower to obtain a loan at a lower interest rate. Origination points are a fee used to pay for the costs of obtaining the loan. To determine whether paying points makes sense for your individual situation, it is important to talk with an experienced mortgage professional.

What is a rate lock?
A rate lock is an interest rate guarantee that a lender makes to a borrower for an agreed-upon period of time to protect the borrower against interest rate fluctuations. The borrower decides when it makes sense to lock the interest rate.

What is private mortgage insurance?
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is insurance designed to protect the lender from losses in the event that the borrower defaults on a mortgage. Purchased by the buyer from a private insurance company, PMI is usually required when the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less.

What is an origination fee?
An origination fee is the fee a lender charges the borrower, at the time of closing, for services provided in processing the loan.

What are closing costs?
Closing costs are the fees paid by the borrower in connection with completion of the property sale and closing of the mortgage loan. Closing costs often include items such as loan origination fees, credit reports, appraisal fees, inspection fees, title insurance, prepaid tax and insurance payments, origination fees, discount points and recording fees. Federal law requires that all residential transactions financed by a mortgage have all closing costs itemized and documented in detail using the standard Closing Disclosure.

What is a loan prepayment penalty?
A prepayment penalty is a provision in a loan contract that allows the lender to charge a borrower a predetermined fee if the loan is paid off in full during a designated penalty period, which is usually between three and five years.


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