Loan Rate Sheets: The Games Lenders Play With Rate and Cost Adjustments

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This is part and parcel of the system that's abused. Here are sample rates from one A paper lender, picked at random, that were in effect when I originally wrote this. Rates are lower now, but it's a good example nonetheless. These were Fannie and Freddie conforming 30 year fixed rate mortgages with full documentation of the loan. The first number is the cost for a 15 day lock, the second for a 30 day lock, and the third for a 45 day lock. A positive number means it costs that number of discount points to get the rate. A negative number means that the lender will pay that many discount points for a loan done on those terms. I want to make the point that these are wholesale rates, but I didn't feel like translating them to retail. I don't work for free any more than you do, nor does any other loan provider.

5.625% 1.50 1.75 2.00
5.750% 1.00 1.25 1.50
5.875% .375 .625 .875
6.000% 0.00 0.25 0.50
6.125%-0.50-0.25 0.00

As you should notice throughout, there is a 0.25 spread in costs between locking in any particular rate for 15 days as opposed to 30, or 30 days as opposed to 45. This is because it costs them money to have the money standing around doing nothing waiting for your loan to fund. The difference in costs between a 15 day lock and a 45 day lock at the same rate is half a point. When I wrote this, the column you wanted to pay attention to was the thirty day column. Due to regulatory changes and market changes, that's not the case any longer. In point of fact, nobody actually locks the loan with a lender any longer until they have at least every 'prior to documents' condition satisfied with the underwriter, meaning the lender has agreed that there appear to be nothing in the borrower's financial condition that would result in them rejecting the loan, and are prepared to draw up a final loan contract for signature. It costs the loan officer - and their company - too much if a loan is locked but not delivered.

When I started in this business, I locked every loan as soon as the customer said they wanted it. That meant a thirty day lock if you (the loan officer) were on the ball. You can't do that any more without losing your shirt, because if you don't fund at least seventy percent of what you lock, the lenders are going to refuse to do business with that loan officer, and they have surcharges on the loan officer if they fail to actually fund at least eighty percent of what they lock. Given how paranoid lenders have gotten, you're going to have a certain number of applicants who flat out cannot qualify, and in at least one case out of ten, that failure is unpredictable just because nobody is the cookie cutter picture of an ideal underwriting scenario any longer.

Given regulatory changes, a loan officer has to be on the ball to get a refinance funded in two weeks from lock. Even if everything is ready to go, the lenders want a final redisclosure 7 days before signing documents, and with the three day right of rescission on refinances it takes another week after signing to actually fund the loan. That's once everything else is ready to go. You want the rate locked as early as practical, or you really have no idea whether it will be available when you get to the end of the process but other changes to the business make it prohibitively expensive to lock your loan at all before you have an underwriting commitment. Many providers work on a "promise the moon and wait and hope" basis, hoping the rates will drop. They get one loan for sure, when they lure you in with a low quote they cannot currently deliver, and if they get lucky and rates drop, you think they walk on water.

Now this is a fairly broad spread rate sheet, as the company was willing to take clients through a large range. On the other hand, at a 5/8ths of an additional point hit for 1/8th percent rate below 5.875, they were telling you that they really would prefer to keep their customer's rates locked in for 30 years above that. On the other hand, since most people dispose of their old loans about every two years, most folks shouldn't want to pay those costs, which will take much more than two years to recoup from the lower rate. It's much the same phenomenon as insurance companies guarding against adverse selection (only those folks who have major health problems buying health insurance, for example).

Which loan is the best for you? Don't know without more specifics. It depends on approximate loan amount, your life plans, your proclivities, and your financial situation.

But the devil is in the details, and one of the worst and most common devils is details is a provider "forgetting" the adjustments. Adjustments generally mean that the loan will be more costly than the basic rate/cost tradeoff outlined above, so "forgetting" to post the adjustments on a Good Faith Estimate is one of the easiest and most effective ways to lie in order to make your loan look more attractive by comparison. Since most providers don't guarantee their estimates, they can do this with basic impunity, but make no mistake - they know what the price is really going to be. If they won't guarantee their estimates, ask them why not. Here are the possibly applicable adjustments for this category:

Loan amount under $60,000: half a point
Loan amount $60k up to $100k: quarter of a point
cash out loan, 70-80% LTV: half a point
cash out loan, 80-90% LTV: three quarters of a point
Investment property 50-75% LTV: one and a half points
Investment property 75-80% LTV: two points
Investment property 80-90% LTV: two and a half points
No Impounds fee: quarter point
2 units 90-95% LTV: half a point
Manufactured home: three quarters of a point (they also have an absolute maximum CLTV of 80%)
Loan distribution
80/15/5 quarter of a point
75/20/5 quarter of a point
Interest only one and one eighths points
if CLTV over 90%: additional quarter point
97 percent of purchase price financed: three quarters of a point
100 percent of purchase price financed: one and a half points
2/1 Buydown two and a half points
Stated income FICO 680-699: half a point
Stated income FICO 700+: quarter of a point
(Stated Income loans are not available from any provider I'm aware of at this update)

So let's see. If you are doing a cash out to 75 percent loan stated income and have a credit score of 690, you add one point to the costs listed above. (half a point for stated income at 690, half a point for cash out to 75%)

If you have an investment property duplex at 90 percent LTV, you would add three points (investment property loans are relatively expensive, as you can see, and it isn't restricted to this lender. They are riskier loans)

Doing 100% financing on a $50,000 home: Two points. (when it was available)

One hopes you get the idea. To leave these out is a tempting omission for the less ethical providers. Just because they are left out does not mean you won't pay them. You will. Usually they will spring them on you with the final closing documents and hope you don't notice. Surprise!

(Between this profession and being a controller for twelve years, people should not wonder why I think that's one of the ugliest words in the language).

Indeed, during my six weeks at the Company Which Shall Remain Nameless, I had no fewer than three screaming arguments with my supervisor over telling prospective clients the truth about adjustments. They didn't want me to. I have this thing about telling clients the truth as best I know it.

Why do they do this? At signup, you have little emotional buy-in. At final loan docs, you are signing so much stuff that even a marginally skilled person who's trying to distract you will be successful a lot of the time. The industry statistics say that over fifty percent literally never notice, at least until much later, after the transaction is irrevocable. And somewhere around eighty five percent of those who notice do just want the process to be over so badly that they will sign anyway, not to mention the fact that in the case of a purchase, they probably don't have any choice at that point. They need the loan to get the house, without which they lose the deposit, and there is no more time remaining in the contract with which to go out and get another loan.

Caveat Emptor

Original here


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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on May 25, 2019 7:00 AM.

Why Buyers and Refinancers Should Think About a 5/1 ARM was the previous entry in this blog.

What Happens If I Don't Sign Mortgage Documents? is the next entry in this blog.

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