What Does APR Mean and How Is It Calculated?

When you hear mortgage ads, apply for a mortgage, see a mortgage rate advertised, you will always see the APR right next to the interest rate.  Why is that, and what is the APR?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate.  The APR is a calculation that determines what your interest rate would be if you removed the fees from your loan.  The higher the fees the further your APR will be away from your actual interest rate.  The lower the fees the closer your rate and APR will be.

The Annual Percentage Rate is more a measurement of Fees than it is rate.

TIL or the Truth in Lending Law requires that the APR must be displayed with any advertised rate. This is so companies cannot advertise extremely low rates and then tack on high amounts of fees you would then be required to pay to get that rate.

Go ahead and look.  You will never see an add or hear a radio commercial for a mortgage rate without also getting the APR.  Just like you will never see someone in a television commercial actually drinking beer (or any alcohol for that matter), they cannot show the consumption of alcohol.  I guess that is a different article for a different blog though.  Back to APR.

How is APR Calculated?

APR is calculated by first determining the payment of your loan then removing certain fees like points, application fee, closing cost, processing fee, title fee, etc, from the total loan amount and recalculating a new rate from the remaining balance and original payment.

Here is an example.

Let’s say your loan looks like this

  • $100,000 Loan Size
  • 4% Rate
  • 30 year term

In this scenario your mortgage payment would be $477.42.

The closing costs included in the $100,000 were $1,500.

APR would be determined by first removing the fees from the loan size.

  • 100,000 – 1,500 = $98,500

Now calculate a new rate (the APR) using

  • $98,500 Loan Size
  • $477.42 payment
  • 30 year term

The rate calculated here is 4.1257% which would be your APR.

So the whole scenario would be

  • Loan Size: $100,000
  • 30 Year Term
  • $477.42 payment
  • 4% rate with a 4.126% APR

This is how you can see the APR is more a measurement of fees than it is rate.

You can use this information to help determine what advertised loans are better than others.  If you see a 3.5% rate with a 4.5% APR compared to a 4% rate with a 4.2% apr you know which loan is going to be much cheaper and probably the better deal.  Even though option one may have had a lower rate.

What is an FHA Loan?

What is an FHA loan and what are the benefits and cons of one?

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  There are some certain rules and benefits that come with FHA loans.

Here are the details you will need to know about an FHA loan.

Benefits of an FHA Loan:

  • Low Down Payment – FHA only requires 3.5% down payment on purchases.  Compare this with 5% on conventional loans. (5% if you are lucky, most likely the down payment will be no less than 10%.)
  • Lower Closing Cost Fees – This is one of the rules for the broker. There are certain fees that cannot be charged into an FHA loan which makes your closing costs less expensive.  Now most brokers and banks will try to make this up somewhere else so they do not have to pay those fees.  This is okay because those fees need to be paid, but you can ask them where they are making up the money for the fees that cannot be covered.  It will either be more points on the front or in the YSP.
  • Lighter Credit Requirements – This means your credit score can be lower and still qualify for a FHA loan.

Cons of an FHA Loan:

  • Up Front Mortgage Insurance – FHA loans charge an upfront mortgage insurance fee of 1.5%.  You will have to pay this on the front of your loan making it more expensive than a conforming loan.  The fees cost less but mortgage insurance ads more.
  • PMI – Most people that opt for an FHA loan do so because of the 3.5% down payment.  This means you will have to pay a monthly mortgage insurance.  For mortgages with terms 15 years and less and with Loan to Value ratios 90 percent and greater, annual premiums will be canceled when the Loan to Value ratio reaches 78 percent regardless of the amount of time the mortgagor has paid the premiums.

If you are in the market for a mortgage be sure to ask your broker about an FHA loan. An FHA Loan could be the answer you are looking for.

What are Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)?

Many people are unaware that taking on an adjustable mortgage rate can significantly lower mortgage rates. These loans, otherwise known as ARMs, are basically special types of mortgage loans. Often, homeowners can find lower rates on mortgage payments in the beginning years of their loans.

Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Most mortgages operate as fixed rate mortgages. This means the interest rate stays the same for the duration of the mortgage. You’ll pay the same amount every month on your premium, unless you refinance or pay off your loans early.

The interest rates on ARMs will change depending on prevailing interest rates. Many adjustable rate mortgages are tied to the LIBOR index, the Treasury Securities Index, the Cost of Funds Index, or a variety of other indexes.

Term Fluctuation
Your rate will adjust depending on the terms of your adjustable rate mortgage. These rates are adjustable every six months, every year, or even every several years.  Adjustable rates are usually good for people who are paying off a condo or a short term home - if you plan to keep the home for 5-10 years you can refinance once and pay back the loan when you sell the house. This allows you to pay a lower interest rate throughout the life of your loan while not incurring the higher interest rate that kicks in after the initial 5 years.

A Good Short Term Option
Remember that adjustable rates will benefit you in the short term, but if interest rates rise, you could end up paying more than you bargained for.

Analyze all your options to determine if a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage would be better for you.