Rate vs. APR

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What is the difference between a loan’s interest rate and the APR?

You’ll see an interest rate and an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for each mortgage loan you see advertised. The easy answer to “why” is that federal law requires the lender to tell you both.

The APR is a tool for comparing different loans, which will include different interest rates but also different points and other terms. The APR is designed to represent the “true cost of a loan” to the borrower, expressed in the form of a yearly rate. This way, lenders can’t “hide” fees and upfront costs behind low advertised rates.

While it’s designed to make it easier to compare loans, it’s sometimes confusing because the APR includes some, but not all, of the various fees and insurance premiums that accompany a mortgage. And since the federal law that requires lenders to disclose the APR does not clearly define what goes into the calculation, APRs can vary from lender to lender and loan to loan.

The APR on a loan tied to a market index, like a 5/1 ARM, assumes the market index will never change. But ARMs were invented because the market index changes and makes fixed rate loans cheaper or more expensive to make. Also, the costs are amortized over the term of the loan. If a borrower plans to keep the loan for a shorter period, the APR calculation would be inaccurate. The APR also does not reflect lender credits, such as the Title Fee Credit (TFC)

So, APRs are at best inexact. Although the APR comparison is a great tool when comparing traditionally structured mortgages, on more complex mortgage transactions, it is less effective. The lesson is that APR can be a guide, but you need a mortgage professional to help you find the truly best loan for you.

Note when you’re browsing for loan terms that the APR will not tell you about balloon payments or prepayment penalties, or how long your rate is locked. Also, you’ll see that APRs on 15-year loans will carry a higher relative rate due to the fact that points are amortized over a shorter period of time.

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The FHA streamline refinance program helps borrowers lower mortgage payments. CBC National Bank specializes in FHA streamline refinancing transactions that lower interest rates and reduce mortgage payments without appraisals or income verification. FHA Streamline Refinances may be possible without increasing existing loan balances. No cost programs may result in a slightly higher interest rate. FHA Streamline Refinances may close in as few as 15 days, depending on date submitted. CBC National Bank specializes in VA Streamline Interest Rate Reductions with no income verification. VA Streamline Refinances may be possible without increasing existing loan balances. VA Streamline Refinances may close in as few as 10 days, depending on date submitted.

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Kwe Parker (NMLS#49165) is a professional mortgage specialist for CBC National Bank that specializes in showing FHA and VA borrowers how to use seldom publicized methods to lower FHA and VA mortgage rates without the normal hassles associated with refinancing. Kwe "Clay" Parker and his team have helped thousands of FHA and VA borrowers reduce their mortgage payments.