Differences Between Loans Look Smaller Than They Are

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One of the things I keep getting told by people is that my loans are the same as everybody else's. When I originally wrote this, I had quoted a 5.625% with no points, and got told, "That's the same rate someone else quoted me!"

Rate, yes, but what's the cost of getting that loan? There's always a tradeoff between rate and cost, and focusing only on the rate ignores half of that very important equation.

It turned out that they other folks wanted to charge him more than a point for the exact same loan I was able to do for no points. Seeing as this was a $340,000 balance payoff, it was the difference between a new balance of $343,000, with a payment of $1974.50 and monthly cost of interest of $1607.81, versus about $346,500 with a payment of $1994.64 and monthly cost of interest of $1624.22. Don't think that's a lot? Then consider the difference of $3500 in what you owe and $16.41 per month in cost of interest, every month you keep the loan.

I've heard similar things from people I was offering a lower rate to, for less money. For instance, that was a 5.375% loan with a bit less than a point at that time. So for actually a bit less than a balance of $346,500, he could have had an interest rate of 5.375. In the interest of keeping things simple, I'll even use the same balance when it would have been a little less. That drops the payments to $1940.30 and the monthly cost of interest drops to $1552.03, saving over $70 per month! If you keep it a statistical average 28 months, that saves you $1960! If you keep it the full 30 years, that's a difference of over $19,000! But I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Is that all you can save me?" Hello! Do you really need a better reason than thousands of dollars?

It just doesn't seem like all that much, because people think in terms of payment. Clever salesfolk will seize upon this as a method of selling inferior loans to people who don't know any better. Salesfolk, after all, get the difference in pay for the loan right away. Therefore, they understand in their bones what a big difference those small differences make over time. If you multiply it out, you should understand as well. This is all real money coming out of your pocket!

Far and away the biggest component of any new loan is what you already owe, or what you've agreed to pay to acquire the property. The fact that the base loan is for $300,000 or so can make differences seem small, but I guarantee it wouldn't seem small if someone was asking you for $3500 cash out of your pocket (not to mention most providers lying about cost)! I've said this before, but don't let cash make you stupid. $70 per month is $70 per month, every month for as long as you keep the loan, and money added to what you owe with this loan will quite likely still be there when you sell or refinance, converting it into a strict liability. That's money you won't have, and additional interest you'll pay because you don't have it! The fact that the base loan is a hundred times bigger may make the costs of doing the loan seem minor, but it doesn't make them any smaller in actual size.

The differences may appear to be marginal, but they're not. Would you rather add $3500 to what you owe, where you'll pay interest on it, or keep it in your pocket, or at least out of your mortgage balance? No, it's not paying off your mortgage entirely, but it is saving you money. Over time - and most people will have mortgages for the rest of their working lives - it makes a substantial difference. If you refinance every three years like most people have been doing for the last generation, this makes a difference of $35,000 over thirty years. Would you like that money in your pocket? If not, well I can certainly always charge you more than my normal costs - it never hurts my feelings to be paid extra. Don't like that idea? Then perhaps that money is important to you, after all.

Caveat Emptor

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on May 5, 2014 7:00 AM.

Can You Get A Mortgage On a Condemned House? was the previous entry in this blog.

Never Choose A Loan (or a Property) Based Upon Payment is the next entry in this blog.

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