Sure, Mortgage Rates Are Lower, But Mandatory Fees Are Not

Mortgage rates are down but mortgage fees are upWith respect to mortgage rates, you can’t always believe what you read in the papers.  Or what you see.

A terrific example is the chart at right.

Published by Freddie Mac, it shows the 30-year fixed mortgage’s “going rate” as reported by the nation’s mortgage lenders. On December 30, 2008, that rate was 5.1 percent.

But 5.1 percent is only half of the relevant information.  There’s a mandated fee schedule that accompanies the Freddie Mac-reported rate survey.

Currently, the published fee required to get a 5.1 percent mortgage rates is 0.7% of the borrowed amount, or $700 per $100,000 borrowed.  This fee is more commonly known as “points” and versus last year, it’s nearly doubled from 0.4 points.

So, yes, conforming mortgage rates are low and they have fallen near all-time lows but there’s more to the story than just the interest rate — there are the fees that go with them, too.

Mortgage rates and loan fees often move in opposite directions so to get lower rates, consider paying additional points.  Conversely, to face fewer fees, accept a higher rate.  It’s a trade-off and your loan officer can help you best understand the choices.

(Image courtesy: The Wall Street Journal)

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