What to Look for in a House Loan

By: Escapeso Austin Real Estate

When you decide to buy a house, one of the first tasks is to talk to a couple lenders and choose which lender & loan is best for you. With all the loan variables, it's tough to compare one lender to another. In this blog, we'll go through each of the loan variables. In Part I, we will discuss the loan components that you can determine independently of a lender. These include down payment, loan life, property taxes, and insurance rates. In Part II, we'll continue to discuss the components that depend on lender quotes and input.

1. Down Payment:
In general, the more you can put down, the better interest rate you can get. There is a point at which it does not matter how much more you put down, and that point is usually either 20% or 30%, depending on the loan program. If you are looking for the best rate possible and can put down more, ask your lender about this option.

2. Loan Life:
The longer the term, the more total interest you will pay. This is partly because you will have a better interest rate with the 15 year; for instance, today's rate from a large bank is 6.375% for a 15 year and 6.75% for a 30 year. The other reason you pay less interest over the life of the loan with a 15 year term is because you pay down your principle faster. Instead of getting a shorter life term on the loan up front, another option to pay less total interest is to pay more into your mortgage each month to pay the loan down quicker. For example, on a 30-year $240,000 loan at 6.5%, if you pay $272 more per month, you can end up paying the loan off in 15 years instead of 30.

3. Property Taxes:
When comparing lenders, this number should not vary because your property taxes are paid to the city, county, and state, not the lender. So, this number should be constant across all lenders. But, when you look at estimated payments from different lenders, the estimated taxes will vary because it is their best guesses at what the tax bill will be at the end of the year. The easiest way to compare the lenders is to just compare the principal plus interest and add in the same number for taxes. Essentially, you are standarizing the estimated payments between the lenders so that you can compare the actual rates. Another way of doing this comparison is to ignore the estimated payments and rather concentrate on the actual interest rate they are quoting you.

4. Insurance Rate:
Again, the insurance is an estimate that the lenders will make. They may estimate differently, so be sure to normalize this number across all the estimated payments.

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