You should treat the mortgage process like you would any other major purchase, such as buying a car. Shop around, compare proposals from multiple lenders and select the one with the best loan terms, which usually means the lowest combination of mortgage rate and closing costs. We recommend that you contact at least five lenders when comparing proposals as the more lenders you shop, the more likely you are to find the lender and mortgage that are right for you. A recent study showed that borrowers that compared at least five mortgage quotes saved an average of $3,000 on their loan as compared to borrowers that compared two lenders, who saved an average of only $1,400. In short, the more lenders you compare, the more money you save on your mortgage.
It takes extra time to review mortgage proposals and negotiate with lenders but spending an extra hour or two can save you thousands of dollars. For example, on a $300,000 30 year loan, reducing your mortgage rate by just 0.125% saves you almost $8,000 in interest expense over the life of your loan. Follow the steps below to learn how to compare mortgage proposals and negotiate the best terms for your loan.
Gathering proposals from at least five lenders including multiple types of lenders ensures that you have a range of options, which puts you in a stronger position when you negotiate your mortgage. There are different types of lenders such as national, regional or local banks, mortgage brokers, mortgage banks and credit unions and they are all competing for your mortgage business.
Some mortgage lenders such as banks, mortgage bankers and credit unions are direct lenders, which means they lend you money directly for your mortgage, potentially allowing them to offer you a lower interest rate. Other lenders such as mortgage brokers do not fund mortgages directly but instead act as a personal mortgage shopper for borrowers and compare rates and fees from multiple funding lenders to find you the best loan terms, so you benefit from lender competition.
When you contact lenders request a Loan Estimate, quote or Lender Fees Worksheet that outlines the key items in their mortgage proposal. You should use the mortgage rate and closing cost information presented in these documents to compare mortgage proposals and select a lender.
Lenders should ask you questions regarding your personal and financial profile as well as the details of your home purchase so that they can provide the most accurate proposal possible. When you contact lenders ask that they not pull your credit report as this can negatively impact your credit score. For most borrowers, they should be able to use your summary credit information to provide you a Loan Estimate, mortgage quote or Lender Fees Worksheet.
We summarize each of these items below. Please note that lenders should provide these documents free of charge.
Use our free personalized mortgage quote feature to compare no obligation quotes from top lenders. Our quote form is easy-to-use and requires minimal personal information. Comparing multiple mortgage quotes is the best way to find the lender and loan that meet your needs.
When comparing mortgage proposals, we recommend that you focus on two key items that have the most impact on your upfront and ongoing mortgage costs: your interest rate and closing costs. You can use the Loan Estimate, mortgage quote or Lender Fees Worksheet to help with the comparison.
If you are using a Loan Estimate, you can find the interest rate at the top of page one and the estimated closing costs at the bottom of page one. Page two provides a detailed, item-by-item breakdown of the all the mortgage closing cost items you are required to pay. You should also use the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on the top of page three of the Loan Estimate to quickly compare and identify excessive closing costs.
In short, the APR represents what your interest rate would be if it included all upfront lender and closing costs so it is a way to use one figure to compare both the mortgage rate and closing costs. If the APR is much higher than your mortgage rate then you know that the closing costs are relatively high and you should negotiate lower costs or select a different lender. Additionally, if you have proposals from two lenders that are offering the same mortgage rate but one APR is lower than the other, then you know the lender with the lower APR is charging lower closing costs. The table at the bottom of the page shows you exactly where on the Loan Estimate you can find the mortgage rate, closing costs and APR.
Some lenders may offer a lower mortgage rate with higher fees while other lenders may offer a higher rate with lower fees. Use this information to your advantage to negotiate the lowest mortgage rate and closing costs for your loan by seeing if a lender is willing to match the terms offered by another lender.
Additionally, you can use the Lender Fees Worksheet to perform a more detailed review and comparison of mortgage closing costs. For example, one lender may charge an origination fee of $1,200 while another lender may only charge $995. Borrowers should use the Lender Fees Worksheet to negotiate specific expenses and reduce your overall closing costs. Comparing mortgage proposals from multiple lenders and doing a little negotiating should enable you to find the mortgage with the lowest mortgage rate and fees, which can save you thousands of dollars.
When you compare mortgage proposals keep in mind that interest rates and closing costs vary by mortgage program and length. For example, a fixed rate mortgage typically has a higher interest rate than an adjustable rate mortgage. In some cases borrowers consider different types and lengths of mortgages so be sure you are comparing similar programs when you select your lender and loan. Additionally, make sure the cost items, including discount points which you may choose to pay to lower your mortgage rate, are the same across all lenders so it is easier to compare proposals.
The table below shows interest rates and fees for leading lenders in your area. We recommend that you contact multiple lenders in the table to request mortgage proposals. Comparing proposals enables you to find the best loan terms including the lowest mortgage rate and costs.
The table below shows you where on the Loan Estimate you can find 1) the interest rate, 2) estimated closing costs, and 3) the APR. These are the most important items to review when you review mortgage proposals.
Your interest rate determines your monthly payment and total interest over the life of your mortgage. Closing costs are the fees you pay when your loan closes and can run thousands of dollars for most mortgages. The APR is basically away to look at your combined interest rate and closing costs using one figure. Comparing these figures for multiple proposals helps you select the mortgage and lender that are right for you. Click on the rectangle icons to see where each figure is located on the Loan Estimate.
Key mortgage costs items
"Looking for the Best Mortgage." FDIC. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, October 4 2016. Web.