Posts Tagged ‘points’

What is an APR and What did it do to my Rate?

March 10, 2011

After discussing some options and various programs with your Loan Officer you reach a plan that works for your situation.  You are satisfied with your interest rate and then you are handed that one piece of paper that shows in large, bold-faced type a number that is not what you recall discussing and the words, “Annual Percentage Rate” next to it.  Where did this number come from?  Did my interest rate change?  What will this do to my payment?

If you know nothing else about home loans and borrowing money, you understand that there is a cost associated with the money you are borrowing, specifically your interest rate.  However when presented with a new percentage and the words Annual Percentage Rate (or APR) next to it, you are left with more questions than answers.  Let us explain.

The interest rate is the cost percentage used to calculate your monthly payment.  However, there are other fees and charges associated with the set-up and origination of a loan.  The APR takes these fees and charges into account and provides the consumer with an effective rate (or total cost) of their loan expressed as a percentage.  The intent of the APR is for consumers to be able to compare competing lenders and various loan programs.

Lenders are required by law to disclose the APR to the borrower within 3 days of applying for a mortgage loan. In late 2008 further regulations were passed (effective in 2010) stating that if the APR changed by more than .125% from this initial disclosure on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), the lender must re-disclose this information to borrower and wait another three business days before closing the loan.

The APR does not change your interest rate; rather it clarifies the true cost of your loan.  It generally includes points, origination fees, mortgage insurance and document prep fees.  It is not however, how your payments are calculated.  Your payments are still based on the interest rate you discussed with your loan officer.  We hope this helps.

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Common Homeowner Tax Deductions

March 23, 2010

Owning a home is the American dream and a source of tremendous pride for you and your family.  Another advantage to buying real estate is the ability to shelter a portion of your income from federal taxes.  Following are some of the more common deductions available to home owners.  Along with some basic information on each are links (bold type) to the IRS website where detailed information can be found.    

As always, consult with the IRS or your tax professional for current guidelines and qualifying criteria on tax related matters.  For information about a home loan to meet your needs and goals, contact one of our licensed Loan Officers.

Mortgage Credit Certificate Program  –  The MCC program is a Federal tax credit of up to 20% of the interest you pay on your home loan over a calendar year, and is available in select states.  While this does not reduce your monthly payment, it is a dollar for dollar reduction in the amount of your Federal income tax liability.  In effect, you are lowering your home loan interest rate by a full percent.  The MCC program will remain in effect for as long as your home remains your primary residence and the original home loan remains in place.  Awareness Home Funding is a lender that does help our clients with this program.    

Home Buyer’s Tax Credit  –  Home buyers may be eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of their newly acquired home.  First-time buyers may be able to claim up to $8,000; existing home owners may qualify for up to $6,500.  We have provided some information on this program in two separate articles (No Time Like the Present and The Other Side of the Coin).

Mortgage interest  –  Interest, in general, is defined as an amount paid for the use of borrowed money.  In order to deduct interest on your home mortgage loan, you must be legally liable for the debt that is secured by your main or secondary home.  This amount is generally reported to you on Form 1098 by the lender you have made payments to.  This form should also detail any prepaid interest you have paid.   

Points or Discount Points  –  Points refer to specific charges you may pay in order to obtain a lower interest rate for your home mortgage loan.  Fees associated with preparation costs, appraisals, inspections or notaries do not typically qualify as points.   

Mortgage insurance premiums  –  These expenses are paid to allow a buyer to pay a lower down payment than the 20-25% requirement of a Conventional loan and also protect the lender in the unfortunate event of default on the loan.  Qualifying mortgage insurance may be provided by:

  • The Federal Housing Administration in both an upfront and annual fee.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs as a one time funding fee
  • The Rural Housing Service as a one time guarantee fee

The amount which can be deducted is reported on Form 1098 by the lender you have made payments to.   

Real estate taxes  –  These are taxes charged on real property based on taxable value.  The IRS highlights what specific taxes associated with your property are deductible.  

Home offices  –  If you use a portion of your home for business purposes, you may be able to deduct certain expenses.  Typical items that may be deductible include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, depreciation, maintenance and/or repairs.   

Moving expenses  –  If you moved due to a change in employer or occupation, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses.  The two qualifiers used to determine whether this deduction applies to your situation are distance and duration.   

Energy improvements  –  Occasionally, government supported programs allow specific home improvements to qualify for a federal tax credit or a partial rebate of the sales price to the homeowner.  These items are usually of an energy efficient nature for products such as appliances, windows or insulation for the home.   

Health related improvements  –  Home improvements made as a result of a health issue are expenses that may be deducted for the tax year they were paid.  The IRS considers these as Capital expenses and explains what may be included and how to claim these items. 

As always, consult with the IRS or your tax professional for all the current guidelines and qualifying criteria in order to take advantage of these tax deductions.  For information about a home loan to meet your needs and goals, contact one of our licensed Loan Officers.