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The Most Important Questions You Should Ask Your Mortgage Lender

More than 1/2 of mortgage debtors get their loans through agents.The primary gain of the use of a mortgage dealer, instead of going through a bank, is that the dealer can save amongst numerous creditors to find the exceptional deal. But do you know what are the most important questions you should ask your mortgage lender?
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor


Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is an experienced investor, financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.

Review & Fact Check: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Financial Expert, The Smart Investor CEO


Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is a financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor


Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is an experienced investor, financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.

Review & Fact Check: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Financial Expert, The Smart Investor CEO


Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is a financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

Table Of Content

More than 1/2 of mortgage debtors get their loans through agents. The primary gain of the use of a mortgage dealer, instead of going through a bank, is that the dealer can save amongst numerous creditors to find the exceptional deal. Many mortgage brokerages are small groups.

You might be wondering: small or big lender?

Borrowers regularly sense, whether justified or not, that they could trust huge-call lenders, but they regularly don't experience as confident about small-call brokers with paltry marketing budgets.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer.

What are the Benefits of Shopping Around and Comparing Lenders?

You can identify the most cost-effective alternative by comparing loan estimates and interest rates. Interest rates can have a big impact on the total cost of a loan, especially if you're going to be paying it off for a long time.

You'll want to lock in the best available rates now because this is a loan you'll most likely be working on for the foreseeable future. That way, you won't waste thousands of dollars on things you didn't need. Shopping around and conducting research are the only ways to identify which mortgage provider is best for you. When it comes to lenders, you have a number of options to examine.

Banks, credit unions, and online lenders are all options.

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When it comes to loans, those are the three most popular options. You should inquire about their rates, loan conditions, and closing expenses from each of them. Once you have all of the details, you can start comparing them to see which one best meets your requirements.

The most popular options are banks and credit unions. They have competitive interest rates and make it simple to complete the closing procedure. Online lenders, on the other hand, are growing increasingly popular. Online lenders are typically significantly faster than traditional banks. They may not, however, offer you as much money.

Here are 10 queries to ask to make sure you’re getting the best rate (and a pleasant deal).

1. What is the Interest Rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

Your lender will provide you an interest fee primarily based on the loan and your credit. The interest rate, along with the mortgage balance and loan term, will decide your actual month-to-month charge. A mortgage with a decreased balance or a decreased interest rate will make for a smaller month-to-month charge. In case you’re now not glad about the interest rates offered, work to ease up your credit so that you can qualify for a decreased interest fee.

The once a year percent rate (APR) is derived by using a complex calculation that consists of the interest fee and all of the other related lender fees divided with the aid of the loan's time period.

But, endure in mind that:

  • A few lenders do not compute APR effectively.
  • There's no way to accurately compute an APR price for an adjustable mortgage.
  • An APR does now not account for early payoffs.

2. How Much Can I Afford?

One of the first things you should consider as a house buyer is your budget. Knowing how much house you can afford will help you focus your search and keep your expectations in check. When you ask your mortgage lender how much house you can afford, they will look at your income, assets, and credit history.

Commonly people pick their homes earlier than they select the financing however it should be the alternative way around. Normally, your total housing costs — inclusive of mortgage foremost and interest payments and heating and housing taxes, need not exceed 32% of your gross month-to-month earnings.

Your general debt load, including your property fees and other debts inclusive of credit cards and automobile loans, shouldn’t exceed 40% according to your gross month-to-month income. A mortgage dealer looks at your modern sources of earnings and credit report to help you determine what sort of home you can come up with the money for.

Mortgage debt accounts for the majority of consumer debt. This 2020 NAR Trends chart highlights that the average mortgage loan debt has steadily increased between 2015 and 2019. The total four year increase in this segment is a significant 10%. This suggests a trend of increasing mortgage debt that correlates with the rising house prices.

Average Mortgage Loan Debt

3. What Type of Mortgage Should I Consider?

Fixed-rate loans hold the same rate for the lifestyles of the loan, which could vary between 10 and 30 years. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have interest rates that alternate after an initial length at ordinary intervals. If you don’t plan to live in your private home for a long time period, a hybrid ARM with a preliminary fixed-fee period can be a better desire, on account that this type of mortgage has a tendency to have lower interest costs than constant-fee mortgages. Compare the pros and cons of each method and use an appropriate calculator.

In case you do remember an ARM, make certain you ask (and apprehend!) while the charge will alternate and by means of how a good deal. Ask how regularly the rate will trade after the preliminary interest rate exchange, the index that it’s tied to, and the mortgage’s margin. There are usually caps to how a lot the interest fee can increase.

Borrowers with poorer credit scores, wages, and savings are more likely to be approved for FHA loans (FHA). Most conventional loans have higher credit score minimums and down payment requirements than FHA loans. However, FHA loans have restrictions, and the amount of money you can borrow is limited. In addition, you'll have to pay a premium for mortgage insurance.

VA loans are only available to veterans, active military members, and their surviving spouses because they are backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans feature lower interest rates and no down payment requirements.

The number of new home sales in the US reached 811,000 in 2020. According to the US Census Bureau, more than two-thirds of house purchases were financed through conventional mortgage at 561, 000. Homes purchases through cash only account for less than 5% of all the new homes purchased in 2020.
Chart: Number of New Home Sales in the U.S. 2020, by Financing Type (in thousands)

4. Should I Buy Mortgage Points?

One-time charges, commonly known as “mortgage points,” are due at closing. For every factor you pay, your lender will decrease your interest fee by means of 1%. You may additionally inquire approximately whether you may have the choice of paying less fees in trade for a better interest rate. You can mortgage points calculator to see if it can be relevant for you.

Every “point” is equal to one percent of the loan quantity. Consequently, 2 points on a $10,000 loan fee cost $200. Every now and then lenders charge origination costs in addition to points. Points “buy down” the interest fee, which means the more points you pay, the lower the interest price. Points are also tax-deductible, even though the seller will pay some or all of the factors.

5. How Do You Handle Rate Locks?

A few brokers gamble with fee locks. You inform the dealer to fasten a surcharge on a sure date, and the broker tells you over the telephone that your rate is locked. Secretly, the broker would not lock the charge, hoping that prices will drop earlier than your last day. If costs drop — even supposing they dip for only a day- the broker can lock at that decrease rate. You pay the higher rate that you locked at. The dealer can make an earning at the distinction.

If rates don't drop, and rather increase, the broker may let you know that there was a glitch on your documentation, or that the mortgage process was in any other case delayed, and that it is impossible to close your mortgage earlier than your price lock expires. Or the broking would possibly inform you that you are improper, and that you never surely did lock your charge.

But beware:

The most secure manner to head is to ask your broker for a mortgage commitment letter from the lender. It must have the lender's call and specify the interest fee, the date the rate became locked, and when the lock expires.

6. What is the Minimum Down Payment Required for this Loan?

Try to put down at least 20% of the purchase price to get the best rate and terms on your loan. Although a lower down payment will not automatically disqualify you, if your down payment is less than 20%, you may be required to pay monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI). Other factors, such as your interest rate, terms, and monthly payments, will be influenced by your down payment. Request more information from your lender regarding the minimum down payment required for your loan, as well as if you might be eligible for any down payment or cost-saving assistance programs, and then determine what's best for you.

Extraordinary mortgage products have one-of-a-kind down fee necessities. Maximum mortgages require a 20% down payment, but in case you qualify for an FHA loan, as an instance, your down payment will be as low as 3.5%. In standard, loans with lower down payments price greater.

This chart shows that repeat buyers in the United States have consistently paid a higher down payment than new home owners. According to NAR research, new home owners paid at least 4% down payment, with the highest being 7% in 2018. Repeat buyers paid a down payment of at least 13%, and the highest payment was 16%.Chart: Down Payment of First-Time and Repeat Buyers in the U.S. 2010-2019

7. What Are My Closing Costs & Other Fees?

Remember to account for all of the expenditures associated with buying a home, especially closing charges. Loan origination fees, appraisal fees, and attorney fees (if any) are just a few of the closing costs. Your lender should supply you with a loan the estimated costs of your loan so you can plan ahead.

The more information you can gather ahead of time, the more prepared you'll be if you run into any unexpected costs. Your lender should provide you with a Closing Disclosure that details all of the fees associated with your loan to assist you understand them. Comparing the Closing Disclosure to the Loan Estimate is a smart idea.

8. Are You Provide Pre-Approval or Pre-Qualification?

Inquire with your lender about the difference between prequalification and preapproval, as the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Then, choose which one is best for you. Depending on how serious you are about buying a home at the time you apply, the answer will change.

  • Preapproval – Your lender verifies your income, assets, and credit information during a preapproval by asking official documents like as W-2s, bank statements, and tax returns. This enables your lender to provide you with a precise home loan amount.
  • Prequalification – A lender will ask you questions about your income, credit score, and assets during a prequalification to give you an estimate of how much money you can borrow. They do not, however, check any of this information, thus the number you receive during prequalification can readily alter if you provide false information.

Prequalification and preapproval might take various lengths of time depending on their responsibilities in the homebuying process. Prequalifying at Bank of America is a simple online process that can yield results in as little as an hour. You'll need to provide additional information for mortgage preapproval, so the process will take longer. After you've submitted all of the needed information, you should receive your preapproval letter within 10 business days.

Other Relevant Questions:

  • Do I have to pay for Mortgage Insurance, and How Much Will this Cost?

Placing down less than 20% to your buy calls for paying mortgage insurance till your loan-to-value, or LTV, the ratio falls below 80%. Mortgage coverage charges can be pricey, once in a while costing up to $100 consistent per month for every $100,000 borrowed.

  • Do You Handle Underwriting In-House?

Some financial services do, and in doing so, offer benefits like:

  • Quicker loan processing, possibly as fast as five days.
  • Faster closing time, often in less than 20 days, making for a smoother experience all around.
  • Quick and accurate pre-approvals, making it easier for you to budget your expenses and plan.
  • Better communication, ensuring a smoother process between you and the lender.
  • One-on-one dealings, allowing for better communication and a more personable experience.
  • Is there a Prepayment Penalty?

In a few states, prepayment consequences are no longer allowed, so ask. Usually, prepayment penalties let the lender acquire a further six months of “unearned interest” if you pay the loan off early through a refinance of sale of the assets. What are the terms of the prepay? A few are in impact simply throughout the first 2 to five years of the loan. Would the prepayment penalty observe if I refinanced through you at a later date?

  • How Much Time Do You Need to Fund?

Average mortgage processing time intervals fall between 21 and 45 days. To properly write a Purchase agreement, you will need to consist of the last date, and that date has to be coordinated along with your lender. Find out:

    • What is your anticipated turnaround time?
    • What barriers may want to likely preserve up remaining?
    • How long after very last application approval will the mortgage fund?

What Else Should I Do Before Applying?

Besides asking the right questions, here are a couple of tips that can help with to get the best mortgage for your needs:

  • Use JD Power, Trustpilot and BBB Ratings

Before you accept an offer, make sure to check out the lender's Trustpilot and BBB ratings. These resources can give you a lot of information about whether or not a firm is trustworthy and worth your time. 

We recommend that you look for mortgage lenders on the Better Business Bureau's website. You'll be able to examine how each company stacks up against the competition and whether or not they're BBB accredited; never accept an offer from a lender who isn't.

Furthermore, Trustpilot is the place to go to see what other people have to say. You'll be able to discover how satisfied customers are with the company's services and whether they would recommend it to others. You should go with someone else if you observe an excessive lot of negative feedback.

J.D. Power U.S. Consumer Satisfaction Study 2020

  • Use Mortgage Shopping Worksheet

You may use a mortgage shopping worksheet to figure out which mortgages are best for you. Filling it out while you investigate lenders and shop around will make it much easier to choose a high-quality loan that best meets your needs.

The FTC even provides a free mortgage shopping worksheet that allows you to assess your lenders and the overall mortgage scenario.

To thoroughly fill out the loan application, you will need to learn all of the necessary information. As long as you don't leave any portions of the page blank, they'll be quite useful in establishing which mortgages will benefit you the most.

  • Negotiate With Your Lender

After receiving various bids, you may determine that one lender is preferable than another. You can negotiate a lower mortgage rate if the lender you like does not provide the lowest rate.

Inquire with the lender if the rate they provided might be improved. You can even inform them that you have received a lower rate from another bank and ask if they can match or beat it. Some lenders may be prepared to cut their rates in order to win your business — or keep it if you cooperate with your current lender.


For most mortgages, brokers are free. What’s more, the cost of using a broker is actually less than going directly to the bank because they can usually negotiate better mortgage transactions for you.

The only situations where brokerage fees can be charged in advance are commercial loans, small loans, or unique complex situations. All fees charged by the broker must be listed in their credit quote, so just ask for a copy.

Avoid making sizable withdrawals or deposits. Doing so can raise flags with the lender and cause your application to get rejected. Also, don’t switch jobs during this period. You want your income stream to stay the same to show stability and reliability.

Furthermore, avoid running up a line of credit with home equity, and don’t close out your credit accounts. Lastly, avoid making payments on any collections. Doing so can cause your credit score to dip.

Mortgage origination fees are the prepayment fees charged by the lender in order to process the new loan application. This fee serves as compensation for the execution of the loan. Moreover, a loan origination fee is quoted as a portion of the loan total. This percentage is usually around 0.5% and 1% of mortgage loans.

Sometimes called “points” or “discount fees,” especially when they are equal to 1% of the borrowed amount, origination fees apply to services like payment financing, processing, and underwriting.

Prequalification is an early step in your home buying journey. When you are pre-qualified for a home loan, you will estimate the amount you may be able to borrow based on the financial information you provide and your credit check.

Pre-approval is as close as possible to confirm your credibility without a purchase contract. You will complete the mortgage application, and the lender will verify the information you provided. They will also conduct a credit check.

The more cash you deposit, the fewer loans you need and the less interest you pay. In addition, lenders like to see a 20% down payment, as this may indicate that you have a strong cash flow and the ability to save continuously over a period of time. In reality, however, it is often difficult for homebuyers to come up with a 20% down payment and may not even be necessary.

You should have very little contact with your lender after the closing period. This is because the actual closing process gets handed off to the lawyers. But don’t let that deter you from getting in touch with your lender should you have any questions.

They are still there to assist you and should be happy to answer any questions you might have after closing. You can trust that your lender will provide direction and guidance if requested.

In the event that your appraisal comes back low, it could result in the buyer withdrawing or losing funds. Oftentimes, however, the buyer is likely to come back to try negotiating a reduced price.

If you and the buyer cannot reach a compromise or the buyer isn’t able to pay you the difference, there’s a chance that the sale may ultimately fail. If you are the one who is trying to purchase a house, this could result in you having less buying power.