Frequently Asked Questions copies

Whether you are getting a mortgage, having trouble paying your mortgage, or want to learn about reverse mortgages, we have answers to your questions.

Mortgages key terms

A 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) or 5-year ARM is a mortgage loan where “5” is the number of years your initial interest rate will stay fixed. The “1” represents how often your interest rate will adjust after the initial five-year period ends. The most common fixed periods are 3, 5, 7, and 10 years and “1,” is the most common adjustment period. It’s important to carefully read the contract and ask questions if you’re considering an ARM.
An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of loan for which the interest rate can change, usually in relation to an index interest rate. Your monthly payment will go up or down depending on the loan’s introductory period, rate caps, and the index interest rate. With an ARM, the interest rate and monthly payment may start out lower than for a fixed-rate mortgage, but both the interest rate and monthly payment can increase substantially.
Amortization means paying off a loan with regular payments over time, so that the amount you owe decreases with each payment. Most home loans amortize, but some mortgage loans do not fully amortize, meaning that you would still owe money after making all of your payments. Some home loans allow payments that cover only the amount of interest due, or an amount less than the interest due. If payments are less than the amount of interest due each month, the mortgage balance will grow rather than decrease. This is called negative amortization. Other loan programs that do not amortize fully during the loan may require a large, lump sum “balloon” payment at the end of the loan term. Be sure you know what type of loan you are getting.
An annual percentage rate (APR) is a broader measure of the cost of borrowing money than the interest rate. The APR reflects the interest rate, any points, mortgage broker fees, and other charges that you pay to get the loan. For that reason, your APR is usually higher than your interest rate.
A Closing Disclosure is a required five-page form that provides final details about the mortgage loan you have selected. It includes the loan terms, your projected monthly payments, and how much you will pay in fees and other costs to get your mortgage.
A conventional loan is any mortgage loan that is not insured or guaranteed by the government (such as under Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or Department of Agriculture loan programs).
A credit history is a record of your credit accounts and your history of paying on time as shown in your credit report. Consumer reporting companies, also known as credit reporting companies, collect and update information about your credit record and provide it to other businesses, which use it make decisions about you. Credit reports have information about your credit activity and current credit situation such as your loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts.
A credit report is a statement that has information about your credit activity and current credit situation such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts. Lenders use your credit scores and the information on your credit report to determine whether you qualify for a loan and what interest rate to offer you.

Loan Types

A conventional loan is any mortgage loan that is not insured or guaranteed by the government (such as under Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or Department of Agriculture loan programs).
A construction loan is usually a short-term loan that provides funds to cover the cost of building or rehabilitating a home.
FHA loans are loans from private lenders that are regulated and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA loans differ from conventional loans because they allow for lower credit scores and down payments as low as 3.5 percent of the total loan amount. Maximum loan amounts vary by county.
A VA loan is a loan program offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help servicemembers, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses buy homes. The VA does not make the loans but sets the rules for who may qualify and the mortgage terms. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan to reduce the risk of loss to the lender. The loans generally are only available for a primary residence.
Each year Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), set a maximum amount for loans that they will buy from lenders.
A fixed-rate mortgage is a type of home loan for which the interest rate is set when you take out the loan and it will not change during the term of the loan.
Unlike the stability of fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) have fluctuating interest rates that can go up or down with market conditions. Many ARM products have a fixed interest rate for a few years before the loan changes to a variable interest rate for the remainder of the term. Look for an ARM that caps how much your interest rate or monthly mortgage rate can increase so you don’t wind up in financial trouble when the loan resets.
A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is a home loan that maintains the same interest rate and monthly principal-and-interest payment over the 30-year loan period. With a rate that lasts the length of the loan, you’ll want the best rate you can get. Since your rate is most directly impacted by your credit score and down payment, you’ll want to make sure your credit file is accurate — and make a down payment that’s as much as you can easily afford.
You can save money and build home equity faster with a 15-year mortgage than with a 30-year mortgage. But the monthly mortgage payment will be higher on a 15-year mortgage because there is less time to pay off the loan.

Loan Fees

An appraisal fee is the cost of a home appraisal of a house you plan to buy or already own. Home appraisals provide an independent assessment of the value of the property. In most cases, the selection of the appraiser and any associated costs is up to your lender.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires an FHA funding fee and a monthly insurance premium (MIP) for most of its single-family programs. This upfront mortgage insurance premium is sometimes called an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP).
Mortgage closing costs are all of the costs you will pay at closing. This includes origination charges, appraisal fees, credit report costs, title insurance fees, and any other fees required by your lender or paid as part of a real estate mortgage transaction. Lenders are required to provide a summary of these costs to you in the Loan Estimate.
An origination fee is what the lender charges the borrower for making the mortgage loan. The origination fee may include processing the application, underwriting and funding the loan, and other administrative services. Origination fees generally can only increase under certain circumstances.

Closing Details

A Closing Disclosure is a required five-page form that provides final details about the mortgage loan you have selected. It includes the loan terms, your projected monthly payments, and how much you will pay in fees and other costs to get your mortgage.
A mortgage closing checklist is a list of steps that you can use to prepare and learn what to expect. It can help you identify key questions to ask ahead of time so that you can close with confidence.
Mortgage closing costs are all of the costs you will pay at closing. This includes origination charges, appraisal fees, credit report costs, title insurance fees, and any other fees required by your lender or paid as part of a real estate mortgage transaction. Lenders are required to provide a summary of these costs to you in the Loan Estimate.