Looking For Loans In All The Wrong Places

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No, I'm not turning into a country western singer. Just got a search for "no closing costs no points loan cheapest rates loan". The visit (to this article) lasted less than a full second. The obvious implication was that it wasn't what that person was looking for.

One of the reasons consumers get mercilessly taken advantage of in mortgage and real estate is because they assume they know everything they need to. Unfortunately, the vast majority don't know everything they need to. Most of the time there are gaps in their knowledge that the unscrupulous can sail the Queen Mary through - sideways. Hence the fundamental dishonesty of almost all mortgage advertising.

As I have said before on many occasions, lowest rates do not go with no points or no closing costs loans. Period. One of these things does not go with the others. Rate and total cost of the loan are always a tradeoff. Nobody is going to give you money, of all things, for less than the cost of money.

This is not to say that one loan with no closing costs may not be cheaper than another loan with no closing costs. The point is that there will be lower rates available with some closing costs, progressively more so as you get higher closing costs. Then if you start paying points, there will be still lower rates available. There is a reason why they are paying all of your closing costs - you're choosing a loan with a higher rate than you otherwise could have gotten.

No cost loans can be and often are the smart thing to do (Unfortunately, the Congress of 2009-10 effectively outlawed the loans by outlawing yield spread which was the only funding mechanism for it) . Because they are the only loans where there are no costs to recover, they are the only loan that can possibly put you ahead from day one. Consider the zero cost loan as a baseline, and compute what lower rates will cost you in closing costs. Consider: If the zero cost loan is 6.75 percent and you currently owe $270,000, your new balance should be $270,000. If you can get 6.5 at par with closing costs of $3500, your new balance is $273,500. Your monthly interest in the first instance is $1518.75 to start. Your interest charges in the second case are 1481.46. The lower rate cost you $3500, but saves you 37.29 per month. Divide the cost by the savings, and you break even in the ninety-fourth month - not quite eight years. So in this example, if you think you're likely to refinance or sell within eight years (in other words, practically everyone), you'll be ahead with the zero cost loan.

If the loan has a fixed period of less than the break even time (any loan that goes adjustable in less than 94 months in this example), you also know that the costs are not a good investment. If this loan were only fixed for five or seven years the rates go to precisely the same rate after adjustment, underlying index plus the same margin. If you haven't broken even by then, you never will, even if you decide you want to keep the loan.

So whereas a true zero cost loan is often the best and smartest way to go, it will never be the lowest rate available. You need to choose carefully where on the spectrum you choose, because there's no going back once the loan has funded. All of the up-front costs are sunk, and you don't get your money back just because you don't keep the loan long enough to break even.

Caveat Emptor

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on March 28, 2014 7:00 AM.

Facts Of Life On Buying and Selling "Without an Agent" was the previous entry in this blog.

Straw Buyers and Straw Purchases are Always Fraud is the next entry in this blog.

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