APR: The Real Mortgage Rate?
Advertised mortgage rates look tempting, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s the rate you’ll pay. You have to qualify to receive the best rates with excellent credit and work histories. According to BankofAmerica.com, interest rates are the annual cost of a loan to the borrower expressed as a percentage. The annual percentage rate or APR, is the annual percentage plus other fees, including mortgage insurance, many closing costs, discount points and loan origination fees.
The Federal Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to disclose the APR in advertising and in loan agreements. When you apply for a mortgage loan, the APR will be listed in the loan estimate your lender is required to give you. ConsumerFinance.gov recommends that you get estimates from other lenders for the same loan, so you can compare fees. Compare the loan estimates by looking at page one under loan terms. You’ll find the APR on page 3 under “Comparisons.”
APR comparisons are easiest to understand if you’re applying for a fixed-rate mortgage. For adjustable rate loans or ARMs, APR estimates are based on the initial fixed rate period of the loan. While ARMs have rate-hike ceilings, the APR is much higher when interest rates rise during adjustment periods.
Lenders can charge consumers high or low interest rates, and they have flexibility in which fees they include or exclude in the APR, so compare interest rates and APRs carefully. If you don’t understand the purpose of any fee, ask your lender to explain.