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Types of Mortgage Loans in the United States

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Interesting facts in articles from the financial community.

What is a Mortgage?

Mortgage as a legal concept is a type of real estate pledge. At the same time real estate property itself remains at the disposal of a debtor provided that the latter fulfills the obligations. Otherwise, the property transfers to a lender. Thus, a mortgage protects interests of both parties.

But in ordinary life we are used to calling a mortgage as a type of loan issued for purchasing a dwelling at a certain percentage for several years.

Important! An owner does not have the right to dispose of property (convey, re-register) until a mortgage loan is fully paid off.

What is the Difference between a Mortgage and Other Types of Loan?

A mortgage feature is that this loan type is targeted so that the money can be used for buying an apartment or a house. In this case the bank acting as a lender must approve purchased property.

A payout period also differs. Unlike a loan that is issued, for example, for 5 years, a mortgage term to maturity can be 30 years.

Note! There are different types of mortgages depending on the status of a borrower. For instance, in the USA special conditions are provided for war veterans (VA loan), those who purchase housing for the first time (FHA loan) as well as special programs for retired, disaster victims and those who are ready to use energy-saving devices in the purchased housing.

Mortgage interest can be paid at a fixed (FRM) or adjustable (ARM) rate.

Important! Variable or adjustable rates change depending on the market situation. Accordingly, the mortgage payment amount may decrease or increase during certain time periods.

What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

The term “percentage rate” means the amount of profit in percentage terms that a lender receives from a borrower as payment for the loan provided.

The annual percentage rate (APR) most accurately determines the amount of overpayment and takes into account all administrative and other expenses. This is the total cost paid for the use of credit funds during a calendar year.

Types of Mortgage Rates

There are several types of loans in the US mortgage market. Let’s consider the main ones.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM)

This is the most common type of loan as it is considered less risky. When entering into a loan agreement the interest rate is set forth and does not change during the entire period. The borrower does not depend on the fluctuations of the economy and can calculate expenses in advance.

Important! You should remember that the borrower may not claim a decrease in payments if the market rate indicator decreases.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

This type of loan is subject to market fluctuations. It is attractive for clients because adjustable rates are usually lower than fixed ones. But such a loan is much more difficult for understanding as it implies to an initial period within which the rate cannot be changed.

At the end of this period regular payments will either increase or decrease in accordance with the reference to certain market indices. In case of ARM, an upper limit is set and percentage rate cannot exceed it.

Note! The most common mortgage option in the USA is a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Types of Mortgage Programs

In the United States there are two main types of mortgage products: commercial and government.

Commercial loans can be conforming and non-conforming depending on whether they meet the requirements of standard lending. Non-conforming loans include, for example, large loans (jumbo mortgages).

Government mortgages are loans obtained through government agencies and insured by the state.

Non-Conforming Mortgage

A jumbo mortgage is a loan that exceeds the appropriate limits. This means prices of purchased housing exceed the norms of the federal loan. Standards for mortgage loan limits are set by the Federal National Mortgage Association or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation of the United States.

The established limit size depends on the state and even the county. Such a loan carries additional risks for lenders so an interest rate in case of a jumbo mortgage is higher in comparison with other options. You should be ready for increased requirements for documentation as well.

Note! The maximum loan amount for buying a single-family home in most states is about $510,000.

Mortgage with Government Support

In the USA there are mortgage programs aimed to support certain population categories. Such loans are provided by the state with the help of 3 agencies: Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA loans) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans).

Important! Requirements for such loans are less strict. Insured by the state they can appear a good help for people who buy property for the first time or for such categories of citizens as war veterans.

Current Mortgage Rates

Today mortgage interest rates remain consistently below 3%.

The fixed rate for a period of 15 years is 1.875%. This is the lowest figure for the last few months.

The fixed rate for a period of 20 years is 2.375%. This is the lowest figure in recent times.

What Factors Affect a Mortgage Rate?

Indicators affecting a mortgage rate can be divided into two types depending on whether you can personally influence the change in this factor or not.

External economic factors:

  • features of economic development;
  • inflation rate;
  • issues of employment and unemployment;
  • consumer spending;
  • conditions for housing construction;
  • equity and bond markets;
  • 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield;
  • the Federal Reserve’s policy.

Personal factors;

  • credit score;
  • credit history;
  • credit term and amount;
  • amount of permanent income;
  • credit security;
  • availability of benefits;
  • property location.

How to Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate?

First of all, you should pay attention to personal economic factors. A good credit history is the main guarantee of banks' trust.

To choose the most preferential mortgage conditions it is worth paying attention to analysis and comparison of various options borrowers offer. Subsequently, the time spent can save an amount equivalent to a monthly payment.

Current Mortgage Rates

According to the information provided by the largest US mortgage lenders:

  1. The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 2.92% with an annual percentage rate of 3.24%.
  2. The average fixed rate for 15 years is 2.5% per annum with 3.31% per annum.
  3. The rate on a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is 3.01% with an annual percentage rate of 4.06%.

How are Mortgage Rates Formed?

Mortgage rates are affected by economic forces that cannot be influenced, from political cataclysms to the peculiarities of the domestic mortgage-backed securities market development. According to an occurred event, positive or negative, the indicators may decrease or increase.

Lenders analyze and determine their risk levels based on the market situation. Banks allow a margin which should cover the risks as well as all operating expenses in case of a loan default. All of this cause certain possible losses and expenses for each individual case.

Important! Accordingly, the lower the risk for a particular lender is, the lower rate will be offered.

You can influence your credit score by taking care of your credit history and calculating the amount of down payment that is feasible for your budget. Accurate calculations and a serious approach to each factor that you can influence yourself will help to increase the chances of getting minimum loan interest.