Friday, May 4, 2012

Locking in peace of mind

Locking in peace of mind
Mortgage rates are near historic lows, but they are rising, leading some borrowers to consider locking in their rate.  When borrowers lock in their interest rate, it freezes the terms of the loan while it is being processed, potentially saving borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

Making sense of the story

  • Locking in a rate may be especially important for those who are refinancing, where even a quarter of a percentage point could skew a borrower’s calculations and make a refinancing less financially desirable.
  • Rate locks can provide buyers with some peace of mind, not to mention one less thing to think about in an otherwise onerous application process.
  • Lenders typically will give loan rate guarantee agreements when a borrower has a purchase agreement, but a few will provide them to those who are preapproved for a mortgage.
  • The cost of reserving an interest rate depends both on the duration of the lock and the amount of the loan.  The longer the lock, the more costly it is.  Most locks are for 30, 45, or 60 days, but some lenders will go as long as six months.
  • Most lenders offer some version of a free lock, though it may be only for 30 days. Others charge points – or fractions thereof – based on the loan size, which could amount to several hundred dollars.  One point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.  Sometimes these charges are refundable at closing.
  • Borrowers may want to skip a rate lock, or delay taking one, if they are unsure when their home purchase will close.
  •  Knowing how long to lock in a rate requires a clear picture of the mortgage process, and a good estimate from the lender on how long it will take to approve the loan and complete all the paperwork and other requirements. For some lenders handling refinancing, this can be 15 or 20 days; others take longer…

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