Understanding Mortgage Rate Locks

Mortgage rates locked down / fixed concept

Understanding Mortgage Rates Locks

There is no reason any buyer should settle for anything less than the lowest rate possible. But understanding how rates work and also that sometimes the best price on a loan isn’t always the best rate on a loan. Let’s understand how you can get the best possible overall terms and how that affects your mortgage rate.

Mortgage Rate Locks

A mortgage rate lock occurs when a mortgage lender makes a commitment to honor a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. Mortgage rate locks are stated in 15-day increments with the two most common rate lock periods at 30 days and 45 days. Usually, the longer a lender has to lock your rate the higher your mortgage rate. Rates should be locked for the number of days required to close your purchase or refinance your loan.

Here are important guiding principles when understanding mortgage rate locks.

  • Always get your rate lock agreement in writing
  • Understand your rate lock policy
  • Ask about rate-lock fees

All borrowers needs a rate lock in order to close their loan or refinance.

Mortgage Rate Lock Expiration

When a mortgage rate expires lenders are under no obligation to the original locked rate.

A rate lock extension can be acquired and is exactly what it sounds like, an extension to the original rate lock. The terms of the extension are agreed upon by the lender and the borrower and come at an expense leading to the importance of choosing your rate lock terms wisely.

If mortgage rates rise or drop, you don’t have the ability to get a new rate.

Floating Your Mortgage Rate

Prior to closing, if you chose to float your rate, you are assigned a mortgage rate at the prevailing market rate of that particular day. This can be risky as the unknown and availability of rates can fluctuate.

It is always important to make sure you are working with someone who you trust and is a great communicator. Understanding what rates are available to you and what your home buying or refinancing timeline is can play a huge role in your monthly payments. Ask as many questions as you can and make sure you are confident when you make the decision to lock, extend or float your mortgage rate.

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