6 Factors That Determine Your Mortgage Interest Rate
If you’re like most people, you want to get the lowest interest rate that you can find for your mortgage loan. But how is your interest rate determined? Knowing what factors determine your mortgage interest rate can help you better prepare for the homebuying process and for negotiating your mortgage loan.
Here are six key factors that affect your interest rate that you should know
1. Credit scores
Your credit score is one factor that can affect your interest rate. In general, consumers with higher credit scores receive lower interest rates than consumers with lower credit scores.Lenders use your credit scores to predict how reliable you’ll be in paying your loan. Credit scores are calculated based on the information in your credit report, which shows information about your credit history, including your loans, credit cards, and payment history.
Before you start mortgage shopping, your first step should be to check your credit, and review your credit reports for errors. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit reporting company.
2. Home price and loan amount
Homebuyers can pay higher interest rates on loans that are particularly small or large. The amount you’ll need to borrow for your mortgage loan is the home price plus closing costs minus your down payment. Depending on your circumstances or mortgage loan type, your closing costs and mortgage insurance may be included in the amount of your mortgage loan, too.
If you’ve already started shopping for homes, you may have an idea of the price range of the home you hope to buy. If you’re just getting started, real estate websites can help you get a sense of typical prices in the neighborhoods you’re interested in.
3. Down payment
In general, a larger down payment means a lower interest rate, because lenders see a lower level of risk when you have more stake in the property. So if you can comfortably put 20 percent or more down, do it—you’ll usually get a lower interest rate.
If you cannot make a down payment of 20 percent or more, lenders will usually require you to purchase mortgage insurance, sometimes known as private mortgage insurance (PMI). Mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in the event a borrower stops paying their loan, adds to the overall cost of your monthly mortgage loan payment.
As you explore potential interest rates, you may find that you could be offered a slightly lower interest rate with a down payment just under 20 percent, compared with one of 20 percent or higher. That’s because you’re paying mortgage insurance—which lowers the risk for your lender.
4. Loan term
The term, or duration, of your loan is how long you have to repay the loan. In general, shorter term loans have lower interest rates and lower overall costs, but higher monthly payments. A lot depends on the specifics—exactly how much lower the amount you’ll pay in interest and how much higher the monthly payments could be depends on the length of the loans you're looking at as well as the interest rate.
5. Interest rate type
Interest rates come in two basic types: fixed and adjustable. Fixed interest rates don’t change over time. Adjustable rates may have an initial fixed period, after which they go up or down each period based on the market.
Your initial interest rate may be lower with an adjustable-rate loan than with a fixed rate loan, but that rate might increase significantly later on.
6. Loan type
There are several broad categories of mortgage loans, such as conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Lenders decide which products to offer, and loan types have different eligibility requirements. Rates can be significantly different depending on what loan type you choose. Talking to multiple lenders can help you better understand all of the options available to you.
Source: Nicole Shea - consumerfinance.gov
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