Why Are Mortgage Payments Mostly Interest?

Mortgage Q&A: “Why are mortgage payments mostly interest?”

Here’s an interesting mortgage question – pun sadly intended because I couldn’t help it.

Lots of folks are obsessed with how much interest is paid on a mortgage, often citing the total interest paid over 30 years.

This counters the argument that mortgages are the cheapest debt you can own, which they basically are.

Let’s discuss what they’re getting at to see what all the fuss is about.

Payment Composition Over Time

  • Most homeowners tend to take out fixed-rate mortgages
  • The monthly payments on these types of loans don’t change during the full 15- or 30-year terms
  • But while the mortgage payment remains constant throughout the life of the loan
  • The amount that is allocated to principal and interest changes monthly as the loan is paid off

The way mortgages are set up here in the United States, each monthly payment is the same amount, assuming it’s a fully amortizing fixed-rate mortgage, which most tend to be.

The payment amount after month one is the same as it is during month 360, assuming you take out a 30-year fixed and keep it until maturity.

This makes housing payments more affordable (and predictable) because the balance is paid off evenly over a long period of time, such as 30 years.

However, even though the payment amount is fixed, the composition of the payment will change monthly until the loan term ends.

Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate:

Loan type: 30-year fixed mortgage
Loan amount: $200,000
Mortgage interest rate: 4%

In this common scenario, the monthly mortgage payment would be $954.83 for 360 months in a row. Ouch. That’s a long time.

Each month, the borrower would need to make the same payment to their lender or loan servicer in order to satisfy the entire balance in 30 years.

The amount would never change, though as mentioned, the composition would. In fact, it would change every single month during the loan term.

How Much Goes Where Each Month?

amor 1

  • During the early years of a home loan most of the payment goes toward interest
  • This is the result of a large outstanding balance at the outset of the loan
  • Over time more money shifts toward principal as the loan balance shrinks
  • Unfortunately, most borrowers don’t keep their loans long enough to see this happen

As you can see from this image of the amortization schedule, the first monthly mortgage payment consists of $288.16 in principal and $666.67 in interest.

In short, the first payment on a mortgage is “mostly interest.” In fact, interest accounts for nearly 70% of the first payment. Boohoo.

In the second month, the total payment amount is still $954.83, but the composition of the payment changes slightly.

The principal portion increases to $289.12, while the interest portion drops to $665.71.

Why is this? Well, remember the first month’s principal payment of $288.16? That lowered the outstanding principal balance from $200,000 to $199,711.84.

As a result, the interest due on the second monthly payment dropped, and the principal increased, because as noted earlier, the payment amount stays constant.

Over time, this trend continues. The principal portion of the monthly mortgage payment increases while the interest portion drops.

It’s pretty minimal in the beginning because little principal is paid each month with such a large balance demanding so much interest each month.

This is the “front loaded” argument you hear about – how interest makes up the lion’s share of early payments. It’s not a gimmick, just the way math works.

Principal Surpasses Interest!

amor 2

  • It takes nearly half the loan term for principal payments to exceed interest payments
  • But once this finally happens payments become very principal-heavy
  • This means more of your dollars are actually going toward paying off your home loan
  • And in a few short years the loan balance is paid down pretty fast

In month 153, or nearly 13 years into a 30-year mortgage, the principal portion of the mortgage payment finally surpasses the interest portion.

As seen in the screenshot above, the principal portion of the monthly payment is $477.88, while the interest portion is $476.95, which still equals the original payment amount of $954.83.

Interestingly, the outstanding loan balance remains a hefty $142,608.40, or 71% of the original balance.

It’s not until month 231, or nearly 20 years into the loan term, that the outstanding balance falls below $100,000, or less than half of the original loan amount.

In other words, the bank still very much owns your home, even though you think you’re the king or queen of your castle.

However, this is where the principal really starts to get paid down, as interest finally takes a back seat.

Barely Any Interest Is Paid During the Final Year of the Loan

amor 3

During the final year of the loan term, each monthly payment is more than 96% principal, with very little interest due because the outstanding balance is so low.

A small outstanding balance coupled with a low mortgage rate means associated interest will be pretty insignificant, as seen in the image above.

We’re talking $37 bucks one month, $19 in another, and just over $3 in the final month!

Assuming the loan is paid off in full, as scheduled, a borrower would pay a total of $343,739.21, of which $143,739.21 would be interest.

So it’s not mostly interest, rather, it’s mostly principal.

The Real World Scenario

  • Most homeowners sell their homes or refinance in less than 10 years
  • For these borrowers their cumulative payments will be mostly interest
  • But technically you should pay more principal than interest on a home loan
  • You just need to hold it for a very long period of time to see that happen

In reality, many homeowners don’t hold their mortgages for the full term. In fact, most are said to hold their loans for a fraction of the loan term, such as seven or eight years.

That’s right – plenty of borrowers refinance, pay off the mortgage earlier, or simply sell their home and move on to another mortgage.

So it’s kind of misleading to look at mortgages as if they’re going to last the full term. But it’s for this very reason that mortgage payments tend to be mostly interest.

Because many borrowers never get to the point where the principal actually surpasses the interest.

When borrowers do refinance, critics will argue that they’re “resetting the clock,” which refers to extending the loan term and starting the process all over again.

For example, if you paid down your existing 30-year loan for 10 years, then refinanced into another 30-year loan, you’d extend the length of your mortgage.

Same loan amount, but longer time period to pay it off, even if your mortgage rate is lower.

As a result, your balance would be paid off over 40 years, as opposed to 30. That’s 10 years from the first loan and 30 years for the refinance loan, meaning it could result in more interest paid.

Again, most borrowers don’t hold their loans that long, so again this fear is overstated and sometimes not even relevant.

However, if you are deep into a 30-year mortgage and looking to take advantage of a lower mortgage rate, consider a shorter term as well, such as a 20-year or 15-year mortgage.

That way you’ll avoid paying extra interest and stay on track to be free and clear on your home as originally intended, assuming that’s your intention.

Read more: Should I Prepay the Mortgage or Invest Instead?

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Rates Not as Low as They Could Be

A new Fed study and associated workshop revealed that mortgage lenders continue to offer inflated mortgage rates to consumers, despite ongoing efforts to reduce such borrowing costs.

Over the past several years, the Fed has pledged to purchase billions in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in an effort to lower consumer mortgage rates.

The plan seems to have worked so far, pushing 30-year fixed mortgage rates from the five-percentage range to around 3.3% today.

However, Federal Reserve Bank of New York researchers Andreas Fuster and David Lucca argue that rates should be even lower.

In fact, the 30-year fixed could be closer to 2.6% if the yield declines in MBS were fully passed on to consumers.

Fat chance.

Lender Profits Clearly Rising

profits

While it’s open for debate, it’s clear that lender profits have risen substantially in recent years, largely because of the widening spread between yields on MBS and primary mortgage rates.

During 2007, this primary-secondary spread was around 45 basis points, but has since risen 70 bps to about 115 bps.

spread

Some of the participants in the workshop attributed the disparity to higher guarantee fees (which are passed on to consumers), costs associated with putback risk (repurchasing bad loans), a decline in the value of mortgage servicing rights, and so on.

But if you look at the mortgage banker profit survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average profit on home loans originated in the third quarter of 2012 was $2,465, up from $1,423 two years earlier.

Profits have nearly doubled in just two years, at a time when banks and lenders have made it appear as if mortgages are no longer cash cows.

Why Won’t They Lower Mortgage Rates More?

You’d think that with profits so high, more competitors would enter the space and offer even lower rates to snag valuable market share. Or that existing lenders would battle one another and force rates lower.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. It seems as if a smaller group of large players essentially control the market.

Just look at Wells Fargo’s share of the mortgage market, which is now more than a third of total volume.

So why are things different this time around? Well, the researchers argue that lenders are increasingly uncertain about the future.

After all, this is an unprecedented time, and the recent mortgage boom could easily go bust at the drop of a hat, or perhaps at the sight of a fiscal cliff.

It’s no secret that loan origination volume is slated to fall tremendously next year, with refinances expected to slide from $1.2 trillion this year to $785 billion in 2013.

And new market entrants would probably think twice about jumping in if business is expected to slow that dramatically.

If things aren’t expected to last, taking larger profits now makes more sense, even if consumers get the short end of the stick.

Additionally, with mortgage rates already at historic lows, why go lower? I’m sure lenders are sitting back and saying, “Hey, these borrowers are already getting ridiculously low rates.”

And if all banks and lenders are in agreement, they can hold rates a bit higher than they otherwise should be.

At the same time, borrowers are probably satisfied with the rates currently available, meaning they shop less and lenders don’t have to worry about being priced out of the market.

There’s also the thought that it takes time for rates to fall on the consumer-end, as lenders get more and more comfortable with offering such a low rate.

Conversely, lenders will raise rates the second they fear they’re too low to avoid getting burned themselves.

But a more innocent explanation is simply that offering rates too low could overwhelm the banks.

Mortgage volume is already high, and staff is probably still relatively thin thanks to the recent crisis, so lowering rates more would grind things to a halt.

A lack of third-party originators, including mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders, has added to these capacity concerns.

How Low Will They Go?

The researchers summed things up by remarking that mortgage rates probably won’t fall to 2.6% in part because of the higher guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Of course, those guarantee fees should only reflect about a .25% increase in rate for the consumer. As for the remaining .50%, they argued that easing capacity constraints and thereby reducing existing lenders’ pricing power could push rates closer to a more modest 3%.

This could be accomplished by lowering net worth requirements to allow more market participants, extending rep and warranty reliefs to different servicers for streamline refinance programs, such as HARP II, and making more loans already owned by Fannie and Freddie eligible for such programs.

Ironically, the GSEs raised guarantee fees to encourage more private capital in the mortgage market, but instead it appears as if the same banks are just retaining more of the profits.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Why It Could Be a Great Summer for Mortgage Rates

It’s looking like it could be a really good summer for mortgage rates, after a very uncertain spring made it appear as if the best we had seen was gone forever.

Now this isn’t to say that mortgage rates will hit all-time record lows again, but the fact that they’re slipping back to those levels, even as inflation concerns grow, is a positive.

Mortgage Rates Ebb and Flow Throughout the Year

  • The 30-year fixed has fallen back below 3% and is currently averaging 2.96% per Freddie Mac
  • It was as high as 3.18% in early April when it appeared the best levels were a thing of the past
  • Now we seem to be enjoying a low-rate trend that could get even better as summer progresses
  • There are often periods of strength and weakness with mortgage rates (aka opportunities for borrowers)

If you watch mortgage rates for long enough, you’ll notice that they ebb and flow, just like stocks or other investments.

This is because the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that drive these prices are actual investments for the traders who purchase and sell them.

There are periods of strength and weakness, which often last weeks or even months, where it seems they either have nowhere to go but up or down.

It can be emotional and psychological, similar to the stock market where traders rush to close their positions after a bad week , only to panic and buy back in as prices rise again.

When we compare that to mortgage rates, it could be the homeowner who locks their rate after a period of rising rates, only to find that the trend reverses.

Of course, it’s very difficult to time the market, so I don’t fault anyone trying to determine that right time to lock it in, or alternatively float for an even better rate.

The point is that often when all hope is lost, there’s a reversal, which seems to come out of nowhere.

That appears to be the case over the past couple weeks, with the 30-year fixed now averaging 2.96% per Freddie Mac, basically its lowest point since February.

If all goes well, we could see it fall back to those early 2021 levels, where it was as low as 2.65% in January.

Mortgage Lenders Are Going to Get Aggressive as Business Slows

  • The traditional home buying season is now coming to a close as summer begins
  • For mortgage lenders coming off record quarters this means severely reduced loan volume
  • Fewer home purchase loans and dwindling refinances could force them to lower their interest rates to drum up business
  • This means they’ll pass more savings onto consumers while reducing their own margins

While the technicals underpinning mortgage rates have been improving for a few weeks now (10-year bond yield back at its lowest point since March), another seasonal dynamic might be working in our favor.

As we approach summer, everyone slows down, gets fatigued, and goes on vacation. Most businesses don’t look forward to this time of year unless they’re in the tourism industry.

This is especially true of real estate and mortgage, as both tend to peak in spring during the traditional home buying season, before grinding to a halt in the warmer months.

Knowing this, mortgage lenders will be forced to get more competitive if they want to keep volume up, an especially difficult task given their record business in the first quarter of 2021.

Ultimately, it’s going to be very tricky for them to keep up the momentum, especially since most homeowners already refinanced, and home sales are being held back by a major lack of inventory.

So what is a lender to do? Well, lower their mortgage rates obviously!

They’ve got profit margins they can play with, and instead of making a ton of money per loan, they can sacrifice some to keep the business coming in.

This might even be more pronounced than usual because lenders have been busier than ever, which allowed them to keep rates artificially inflated.

We Are Entering the Historically Better Time of Year for Mortgage Rates

  • Mortgage rates tend to be highest in April when consumer demand for home loans is strongest
  • Lenders are often busiest during this time of year and charge a premium as a result
  • Once their business slows down they’re essentially forced to become more competitive
  • Rates usually drop as summer progresses and are cheapest in winter

After some research, I discovered that mortgage rates are highest in April, then tend to cruise lower throughout the second half of the year.

While they seem to be cheapest in winter, specifically the month of December, they get pretty low around late summer and early fall too.

This is yet another reason why the best time to buy a home is in August/September.

Anyway, if this trend holds in 2021, we could see the 30-year fixed fall back to those record low levels seen in January.

As noted, we might see even more improvement than in other years due to a major slowdown in business, which should force lenders to compete more aggressively than usual.

For example, United Wholesale Mortgage, the nation’s largest wholesale mortgage lender, recently announced a price match through the month of June.

This tells me they’re doing their best to pick up the expected slack and other lenders will likely follow suit, including the retail banks.

For borrowers, this is great news. If you missed your chance to refinance, or were on the fence about it, you might get a good opportunity this summer or later in the year.

And those who have yet to purchase a home might be able to offset the sky-high price tag with an ultra-low mortgage rate again.

Of course, low rates might be a bit of a double-edged sword for home buyers as they just stoke the flames of an already red-hot housing market.

Read more: 2021 Mortgage Rate Predictions

(photo: Michael Frascella)

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Why Are Refinance Rates Higher?

Mortgage Q&A: “Why are refinance rates higher?” If you’ve been comparing mortgage rates lately in an effort to save some money on your home loan, you may have noticed that refinance rates are higher than purchase loan rates. This seems to be the case for a lot of big banks out there, including Chase, Citi, [&hellip

The post Why Are Refinance Rates Higher? first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Watch Out for the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Pitch

Over the past couple weeks, mortgage rates have risen roughly 1% across the board.

If you look at Wells Fargo’s mortgage rates, which I highlighted late last week due to their meteoric rise, you’ll notice the 30-year fixed is now pricing at 4.875%, up from 4% about 10 days ago.

Consider the fact that back in early May, a rate in the low 3% range was the norm for the 30-year fixed.

The 15-year fixed has climbed similarly, from 3.125% to 3.875% in about 10 days. A month earlier, it was around 2.5%. In other words, conditions aren’t good in mortgage land, to put it more than mildly.

It’s not much different for adjustable-rate mortgages either – the popular 5/1 ARM is now pricing at 3.125%, up from 2.5% a week or so ago.

Mortgage Payments on the Rise

What this all means is that mortgage payments are rising, even if you’re refinancing your existing mortgage to a much lower rate.

The payment you could have secured earlier this month will now be significantly higher, to the point where your refinance may not even make sense anymore.

[The refinance rule of thumb.]

If you’re looking to purchase a home, your purchasing power has been severely reduced. Check out my mortgage payment chart to see what you can afford based on today’s rates.

And as mortgage rates continue to rise, banks and lenders will increasingly look for ways to soften the blow, of course, without actually lowering rates.

So all those ads touting record-low fixed-rate mortgages will quickly and quietly make the switch to a 5/1 or 7/1 ARM instead.

Why? Because they know rates on ARMs will sound a lot more appealing to homeowners and prospective buyers who have been staring at rates in the 3% range for months now.

Nobody wants to hear that their interest rate is now 4.5%, or worse, somewhere in the 5% range. It’s embarrassing. What will their friends think?

It could even be enough for a prospective home buyer to have a change of heart about buying a property to begin with, especially if it requires getting into a bidding war and paying well over list.

Choose Your Mortgage Wisely

While it may be tempting to go with an ARM instead of a fixed-rate mortgage, there is a whole lot of risk, especially right now.

Everyone pretty much expects mortgage rates to keep rising over the next decade, so your ARM will most likely be more expensive in the near future, once that first adjustment date rears its ugly head.

At the same time, rates on fixed mortgages, despite their recent upward trajectory, are still pretty darn cheap. Just ask anyone over 50 what they think.

And locking in a mortgage at today’s rates isn’t a losing endeavor, it just doesn’t sound as sweet, seeing that rates were a heck of a lot cheaper just weeks ago.

But in hindsight, you might be pretty happy with a 30-year fixed in the 4% range, especially if they make their way past 5% and up in to the 6’s. It’s not unlikely over time.

So if your loan officer or mortgage broker tells you they can put you in a 5/1 or 7/1 ARM instead of a fixed product (and save you lots of money!), question their motives.

They want the loan to sound more attractive to you, and a lower rate with a lower payment will certainly accomplish that.

But don’t discount the fact that the rate will eventually rise, once the fixed period comes to an end in five or seven short years (they go by faster than you think).

Read more: How long do you plan to keep your mortgage?

(photo: Hasan Diwan)

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Origination Volume Up 34 Percent in 2012

What a difference a year makes. As I reported back in September, 2011 was the worst year in mortgage lending since 1995.

Just 365 days later, we experienced the best year since 2007, according to data from Lender Processing Services, yet another sign things are getting back to normal.

In 2012, loan origination volume increased 34% year-over-year to 8.6 million loans, up from 6.4 million a year earlier, per the company’s 2012 December Mortgage Monitor released today.

Much of the volume increase could probably be attributed to the record low mortgage rates on offer for much of 2012.

In fact, rates on the 30-year fixed were below 4% for much of the year, making it nearly irresistible for just about anyone who could to refinance.

While volume was up, it still pales in comparison to lending levels seen as recently as 2007.

Take a look at this snapshot of the past eight years and you’ll get a better idea of where we stand:

origination volume

Sure, origination volume from 2005 to 2007 was absurd, but we’re still below historic levels, even with the latest uptick.

Also note that the share of government-backed originations was 84%, which while very high, is down from 91% three years earlier.

But we’ve still got a long way to go to get closer to a healthier mix of government and conventional mortgages.

Low Rates Will Boost HARP, Refis, Purchases in 2013

Fortunately, rates remain low and are expected to stay near current levels, meaning plenty more borrowers will be tempted to refinance or purchase new homes.

LPS believes an additional 2.6 million loans may be eligible for HARP under current guidelines.

That’s more than the current total of completed HARP loans, which is around two million at last glance.

And if HARP 3 or reHARPing or whatever they want to call it comes along, millions more might become eligible for a high loan-to-value refinance.

Additionally, as home prices continue to rise, more borrowers will become eligible for traditional refinancing as their levels of home equity rise.

Apparently about four million loans with non-conforming LTV ratios may now qualify for a mortgage today.

negative equity

The report indicated that negative equity is down 35% since the start of 2012, though sand states continue to struggle with a large number of underwater loans.

Still, the company noted that nearly 20% of mortgages have “refinancible” characteristics.

Back in December 2011, 7.2 million loans were deemed “refinancible,” with approximately 5.5 million refinances carried out since.

Delinquencies and foreclosure sales have also continued to fall, meaning we may finally be working through all the bad that preceded the housing crisis.

So there is certainly plenty to be excited about in 2013, despite a forecast for an overall slowdown in volume.

Qualified Mortgage Impact Expected to Be Low

LPS also investigated the potential impact of the recently released qualified mortgage rules.

They noted that at least two percent of 2012 originations would have been designated as “non-QM,” compared to 23% back in 2005, when option arms and interest-only loans were king.

So basically the QM rules just solidify the direction of mortgage underwriting over the past several years, and don’t really inhibit it.

Again, this should all make for a healthier housing market going forward, that is, until the next round of “creative financing” rears it ugly head when home prices become unaffordable.

Until then, enjoy the ride up.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Everyone I Know Is Trying to Refinance

There’s been a lot of talk (and worry) that the higher mortgage rates of late might derail the apparent housing market recovery.

After all, many believe the only reason things were improving was because of the ultra-low rates the Fed facilitated with the likes of QE3.

Without them, some argue, home prices would have to come back to more realistic levels. And optimism would probably also be somewhat deflated.

Unfortunately, such a scenario was not feasible, seeing that foreclosures were getting out of control, and lower prices would have meant so many more would have lost their homes, either involuntarily or by choice.

Higher Rates Are Motivational

Interestingly, I’ve seen a different reaction, albeit an early one. Many individuals I know who own homes are seeking to refinance their mortgages. Why they didn’t do it last year or even last month is beyond me, but we all know people procrastinate.

Many also grew complacent with the low rates, as it got to a point where one just assumed rates would keep on falling. I’m sure most people figured there was more downside in store, and if rates did happen to rise, they probably would do so slowly.

But now that mortgage rates have shot up in no time at all, it seems to have given many people a kick in the rear to finally go about getting that refinance, even if rates are significantly higher than they were just weeks ago.

One friend of mine seemed content locking in a rate of 4.5% on a 30-year fixed, even though he may have been able to snag a rate of around 3.75% last month.

He didn’t even seem that upset about missing the lower rates, and instead looked at the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, a 4.5% 30-year fixed mortgage is still a great deal.

Another pal of mine used the recent rise in rates as motivation to finally start calling around and inquiring about a refinance.

For him, there were home equity issues that made it difficult to refinance (he’s not eligible for HARP). So you can’t blame him for waiting for his home to appreciate a bit more, and alleviate some LTV concerns.

He too seemed happy enough to snag a rate at current levels. He’s even looking at a 15-year mortgage instead of his current 30-year as a way to take advantage of a lower rate and pay down his mortgage faster, without too much of a cost burden.

Possible Mortgage Rate Easing Ahead?

All said, it seems everyone is keeping things in perspective, despite the less attractive pricing of late.

And who knows, we may even see rates fall a bit over the next couple weeks, seeing that they increased so much so fast.

The market probably overreacted to the Fed news, so there’s definitely a chance things could improve in the near-term.

Additionally, the Fed owns a ton of the mortgage-backed securities out there, so they can control the price to some degree, even if everyone else wants to bail.

Whatever direction mortgage rates go in the next month or so, loan originators should stand to benefit from all the last-minute refinancers.

Banks and lenders will probably receive a flurry of refinance applications in coming weeks as more borrowers get off the fence and take advantage before it’s seemingly too late.

Unfortunately, borrowers might have to contend with sizable delays, so if you’re refinancing, get your ducks in a row to avoid any potential mishaps.

As far as home purchases go, the rate increase alone shouldn’t deter too many folks. It may disqualify some if their proposed payments rise too much, but I doubt it would completely dictate one’s decision to buy a home.

Remember, rates would have to rise to about 7% for the median priced home to fall out of reach for the average American family, so there’s still plenty of room.

Read more: Do higher mortgage rates lead to lower home prices?

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Jobs on the Line as Rates Rise

There’s been plenty of debate lately about the potential consequences of rising mortgage rates, with an outright housing recovery derailment topping the list of concerns.

However, most economists have been quick to downplay the risks of rising rates, which have shot up from near-record lows to two-year highs in a matter of months.

In fact, many of these pundits simply expect refinance activity to slow, while the housing market recovery continues on its merry way, in spite of decreased affordability.

Of course, the experts have made some concessions along the way; most recently, Fannie Mae’s Vice President of Applied Economic and Housing Research argued that higher mortgage rates should slow purchase volume and result in a larger adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share.

At the same time, Fannie’s researcher didn’t think higher interest rates would lower home prices, but rather only slow the speed of appreciation, which has been on a tear lately.

Then there’s Ara Hovnanian of K. Hovnanian Homes, who argues that higher mortgage rates will just lead to smaller home purchases, and at worst, the purchase of a townhouse if affordability takes a serious dive. Don’t worry, he’s got a smaller home design in the pipeline…

Here Come the Layoffs

All that debate aside, one thing is for certain. There will be fewer mortgage jobs going forward. I anticipated this in my 10 predictions for mortgage and housing in 2013.

It wasn’t hard – I knew mortgage origination forecasts were being slashed going into the year, with refinance volume expected to fall from $1.2 trillion last year to $785 billion in 2013, per the MBA.

Meanwhile, purchase-money mortgage volume was only slated to rise from $503 billion to $585 billion, probably not enough to add many new positions, or offset the fallout in the refinance department.

With volume predicted to be well off recent levels, it didn’t take a genius.

And seeing that rates have increased a lot more than projected, those numbers may turn out to be even worse. For the record, I was wrong about mortgage rates. I expected sideways movement for much of the year. I concede.

Anyway, the mortgage layoffs have already begun, with Wells Fargo announcing late last week that it was cutting 350 employees nationwide as a result of higher home loan rates.

Wells Fargo spokesperson Angie Kaipust said increased demand during the low interest rate environment enjoyed over the past few years meant it could “staff up,” but now that rates are a bit more realistic, headcount must align.

The San Francisco-based bank plans to cut jobs in a number of cities, including Des Moines and Minneapolis.

Then there’s Citi, which reportedly opened a sales facility in Danville, Illinois after demand for mortgage refinances surged. Sadly, the unit is being shuttered, and roughly 120 employees will be laid off.

These are but two examples. Many smaller shops are probably slashing their workforces as well, though such news won’t make the headlines.

2014 Mortgage Origination Forecasts Point to Even Fewer Jobs

The outlook isn’t exactly bright for 2014 either, according to the latest housing forecast from Fannie Mae, so expect more heads to roll as volume continues to dwindle.

Yesterday, the GSE noted that residential lenders are expected to originate just $1.07 trillion in loan volume in 2014, down from $1.65 trillion this year, and about half the $2.03 trillion seen in 2012.

The refinance share, which was 73% in 2012, is expected to fall to 62% this year, and to just 31% in 2014. Only the advent of HARP 3 could make a meaningful impact at this point, and it doesn’t seem likely now.

Fannie expects purchase activity to rise from $619 billion this year to $741 billion in 2014, while refinance activity is forecast to plummet from just over $1 trillion to $331 billion.

Clearly few loan officers will be needed to handle that sharp drop in demand.

Update: It’s starting to feel like 2007 all over again – I’m receiving tips again about branch closures and layoffs. The latest being, “Residential Finance of Columbus Ohio hacked 19 branches yesterday and a regional manager.”

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

The LendingTree Mortgage Negotiator Makes Home Loan Shopping Anonymous

Last updated on January 13th, 2020

Everyone’s heard of the Priceline Negotiator, but what about LendingTree Mortgage Negotiator?

I hadn’t heard about it until last week, when a commercial popped up on my television pitching the new system. I love scrutinizing mortgage companies and their products because they’re often full of hot air.

When it comes down to it, mortgages just aren’t that exciting, and there aren’t many ways to differentiate them, other than via clever marketing tactics.

Still, it sounded interesting, so I decided to take a closer look. From what I remember, LendingTree basically asked for a borrower’s vital information, and then sent it off to a handful of lenders who proceeded to bombard the customer.

The idea was that they would fight for your business, though my guess is consumers didn’t want four banks calling them, let alone one. This was the classic model. Perhaps it’s still in use today, I’m not sure.

Anyway, this is probably why Zillow created its Mortgage Marketplace, which relies on borrower anonymity first and foremost.

How the LendingTree Mortgage Negotiator Works

current offer
  • First you enter in basic home loan details
  • Including loan amount, loan type, interest rate
  • And what the origination charges are
  • The form tells you where to look on your GFE to ensure you enter accurate information

It looks like LendingTree may have learned something from Zillow’s successful pricing model, seeing that their new tool allows borrowers to shop anonymously while using a Good Faith Estimate for accuracy.

To start, you indicate whether the transaction is a purchase or a refinance, and enter in your property and loan information. Pretty standard stuff for a mortgage lead…

However, what makes the form a little bit more robust is that it asks for your origination charges, and even tells you where to find them using your GFE.

In other words, you should have shopped elsewhere before using the Mortgage Negotiator, seeing that you’ll be using the tool to see how your offer(s) stacks up against LendingTree’s mortgage partners.

Once you fill in the loan type, loan amount, interest rate, and origination charges, your data will be analyzed and you’ll be presented with the “best offers” from the company’s lenders.

You’ll also be shown how your offer compares to the one associated with your GFE, with the interest rate, origination charges, and monthly payment all shown on a sliding scale.

As you can see from the screenshots below, when I entered a rate of 4.75% for a 30-year fixed and origination charges of $3,000, I was told both were higher than average, compared to what their lenders were offering.

Find Out If Your Mortgage Offer Is Good, Bad, or Ugly

how it compares

See how your interest rate compares to lenders in their network.

higher than average

Quickly determine if your origination charges and monthly payment are too high or just right.

To the right of these comparison boxes, I was shown a list of lenders with corresponding rates and fees.

Of course, these were listed as the “best offers,” and who knows if you actually qualify for the best offer. If your credit score isn’t top notch and your LTV is higher than 80%, the best offers may not be applicable.

So you’ll still have to negotiate with their lenders, assuming you bother contacting them after seeing their rates and fees.

Still, it might be a big improvement from the old system, which probably resulted in a lot of less-than-happy consumers.

I like this trend toward transparency and homeowner education. It’s nice to see companies explain to customers how to read their disclosures so they can accurately compare offers among different lenders.

By the way, their research indicates that only 51% of consumers comparison shop for mortgages, which appears to be up from 40% back in 2010.

Update: LendingTree reached out to me and resolved my credit score concern – borrowers with GFEs most likely had their credit pulled elsewhere, so information is probably entered accurately. The same goes for the LTV ratio being inputted correctly.  And the results that appear are in “real time.”

Read more: How many mortgage quotes should you get?

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Higher Mortgage Rates May Exacerbate Already White-Hot Housing Market

Posted on March 25th, 2021

You’ve seen the headlines – mortgage rates have jumped from recent all-time lows. And they’re seemingly on an upward spiral that can’t be stopped.

Except, they’ve actually seen some improvement over the past few days, thanks in part to the recent stock market rout, coupled with an easing in the 10-year bond yield.

Still, the 30-year fixed is pricing about .50% higher than it did at the start of 2021, when it was closer to 2.65%.

Today, your quoted rate might be closer to 3%, though some lenders are back to offering sub-3% rates too with limited or no lender fees.

Higher Mortgage Rates May Just Make Matters Worse

  • There’s already a record low supply of homes for sale
  • And intense bidding wars are becoming all too common these days
  • The threat of even higher mortgage rates may just compel more buyers to enter the fray
  • That could result in even higher home prices as more buyers clamor over what’s out there

Let’s face it, there aren’t many available homes on the market at the moment. This has been the case for a while now, and hasn’t improved one bit lately.

Meanwhile, home prices are on a tear and record home purchase activity is expected in 2021 despite higher rates.

The median home price has already increased 17% year over year to $330,250, an all-time high, per Redfin.

That also happens to be the biggest increase on record, which goes back through 2016.

On top of that, asking prices of newly-listed properties hit an all-time high of $350,972, up 10% from the same period a year ago.

Oh, and new listings haven fallen 17% from a year earlier. Good luck.

In other words, if you thought homes were expensive last year, don’t look now! And if you thought competition was intense in 2020, well, hmm…yeah.

The good news is mortgage rates are still lower today than they were a year ago, with the 30-year fixed averaging 3.17% at last glance, down from 3.50% during the same week in 2020.

The bad news is that the threat of increasing rates may actually be pushing more prospective buyers off the fence and into the mix.

If more folks think the end of the low mortgage rate era is upon us, they might finally take action.

In the past when this type of thing has happened, the housing market has held up just fine.

Don’t buy into the idea that home prices and mortgage rates have an inverse relationship. In many cases, both can rise or fall in tandem.

Ultimately, you want to pay attention to the economy to determine the direction of the mortgage rates, not home prices.

What Happens When Mortgage Rates Go Higher?

  • Home prices may also increase because there’s no inverse relationship
  • Bidding wars may become even more intense as urgency rises among buyers
  • Mortgage lenders may loosen underwriting guidelines to facilitate home sales
  • Home builders may build smaller homes and/or cheaper ones to maintain some sense of affordability

If and when mortgage rates do increase, and actually stay elevated for a sustained period of time, a variety of things may happen.

For one, home prices may increase, for a couple different reasons. For one, there will be more urgency to lock in that low mortgage rate before they worsen even further.

Compounding that will be even more bidders on each home out there, which will further drive up the final sales price.

Additionally, higher interest rates are a sign of an improving economy, so if things are looking up, so too might home prices.

At the same time, mortgage lenders may ease up and loosen underwriting guidelines to ensure borrowers can obtain a home loan.

And home builders may take notice and make adjustments to the new homes they build by making them smaller and/or cheaper.

They might also ramp up their volume to satisfy the intense demand from prospective buyers. This is usually where things go wrong and we overshoot the mark.

Why It Might Be Good to Wait for a Pullback

While there’s a sense mortgage rates may never revisit their recent all-time lows, it’s also foolish to believe that.

Why can’t they go back to where they were just a few months ago? I liken it to the stock market, where human psychology plays a big role.

One day, stocks are flying high and everyone is piling in. The next day, it’s doom and gloom and everyone’s thinking about selling.

This mentality is exactly how/why many retail investors get burned, assuming they attempt to time the market.

With the recent rise in mortgage rates, you might think it’s best just to accept the higher rate before things get even worse.

And while that’s not imprudent, it’s time like these where we often see reversals. When all hope is gone, things suddenly improve.

Of course, this won’t do the hot housing market any favors. Either way, it’s not going to get any easier to submit a winning bid on a home, whether mortgage rates go up or down.

Read more: 2021 Home Buying Tips to Help You Win

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com