3.1 Don't be intimidated by the jargon used in financing.
Here are a number of key terms you'll see frequently in your loan application process.
- Credit report: Request your lender to order one from a third party credit agency such as Equifax, Experian or Trans Union. A credit report should contain information on all your outstanding loans and repayment history, and will typically cost under fifty dollars.
- Application/processing fee: This is the lender's fee for determining your capacity as a borrower and will usually be charged upon closing of the loan. Expect a price tag of a couple of hundred dollars.
- Annual percentage rate (APR): The APR expresses the sum total of all your borrowing costs as a interest rate percentage charged on the loan balance.
- Indexes: Changes in indexes such as the Federal Funds Rate and the Treasury Bill are used to periodically readjust the interest rates in adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).
- Points: When mortgage companies are competing by offering lower interest rates, they may charge you a "point", a one-time pre-paid interest fee, calculated as a percentage of the loan. Points are considered part of the cost of credit to the borrower, and part of the investment return to the lender. They may range from 0.25% to 2% of the loan balance, and are usually paid up front. One point equals 1%.
- Appraisal cost: This is the fee charged by an independent appraiser who may be hired by your lender to evaluate the property's purchase price, condition and size in relation to similar recent neighborhood sales. This information is necessary to the lender because it ensures repayment in case the borrower defaults, forcing the lender to sell the property.
- Miscellaneous fees: Various costs will be incurred during the processing of your loan request, such as notary, courier, county recording fees and title company escrow fee.
- Pre-payment penalties: A prepayment penalty is a provision of your contract with the lender that states that in the event you pay off the loan early, you will pay a penalty. Penalties are usually expressed as a percent of the outstanding balance at time of prepayment, or a specified number of months of interest. They often decline or disappear altogether with the passage of time.