What is an Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
annual percentage rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different
from the note rate. It is commonly used to compare loan programs from
different lenders. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires mortgage companies to disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. Typically
the APR is found next to the rate. The APR does not affect your monthly
payments. Your monthly payments are a function of the interest rate
and the length of the loan.
APR can sometimes be a very confusing number! Even mortgage bankers
and brokers admit it's confusing. The APR is designed to measure the
"true cost of a loan." It creates a level playing field for lenders.
It's intention is to prevent lenders from advertising a low rate and
a perfect world, all you would have to do is compare APRs from the
different lenders/brokers whom you are working with. The lowest one
would be the best loan. Right? Wrong!
lenders calculate APRs differently! So a loan with a lower APR is
not necessarily a better rate. The best way to compare loans is to
ask each lender to provide you with a good-faith estimate of their
costs on the same type of program (ex. 30-year fixed) at the same
interest rate. Then delete all fees that are 3rd party or independent
fees such as homeowners insurance, title fees, escrow fees, attorney
fees, etc. Now add up what is remaining. The lender that has lower
loan fees has a cheaper loan than the lender with higher loan fees.
reason why APRs are confusing is because the rules to compute APRs
are not clearly defined. Let's look at some of the problems:
fees are included in the APR?
Points - both discount points and origination points
Pre-paid interest. The interest paid from the date the loan closes
to the end of the month. Most mortgage companies assume 15 days of
interest in their calculations. However, companies may use any number
between 1 and 30! So be cautious of thus lenders that include only
1 day of pre-paid interest.
problem is that APR does not tell you how long your rate is locked
for. A lender who offers you a 7-day rate lock may have a lower APR
than a lender who offers you a 60-day rate lock!
APRs on adjustable and balloon loans is even more complex because
future rates are unknown. Many companies assume future rates to be quite low when they compute their APR.
don't attempt to compare a 30-year loan with a 15-year loan using
their respective APRs. A 15-year loan may have a lower interest rate,
but could have a higher APR, since the loan fees are amortized over
a shorter period of time.
many lenders do not even know what they include in their APR because
they use software programs to compute them. It is quite possible that
the same lender with the same fees using two different software programs
may arrive at two different APRs!
good suggestion is to use APR as a starting point to compare loans.
However, APR is a result of a complex calculation and not clearly
defined. There is no substitute to getting a good-faith estimate from
each lender to compare costs. Remember to exclude those costs that
are independent of the loan. And as always, contact Allie Mae for