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How are interest rates determined?
What is an adjustable rate mortgage?
Should I pay points in exchange for a lower interest rate?
Is comparing APRs the best way to decide which lender has the lowest rates and fees?
How much money will I save by choosing a 15-year loan rather than a 30-year loan?
Is there a fee charged or any other obligation if I complete the online application?
Are there any prepayment penalties charged for these loan programs?
What is your Rate Lock Policy?
Tell me more about closing fees and how they are determined.
What is mortgage insurance and when is it required?
What is the maximum percentage of my home's value that I can borrow?
Will First Federal sell or transfer your loan to another lender?
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Interest rates fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including inflation, the pace of economic growth, and Federal Reserve policy. Over time, inflation has the largest influence on the level of interest rates. A modest rate of inflation will almost always lead to low interest rates, while concerns about rising inflation normally cause interest rates to increase. Our nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve, implements policies designed to keep inflation and interest rates relatively low and stable.

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An adjustable rate mortgage, or an "ARM" as they are commonly called, is a loan type that offers a lower initial interest rate than most fixed rate loans. The trade off is that the interest rate can change periodically, usually in relation to an index, and the monthly payment will go up or down accordingly.

Against the advantage of the lower payment at the beginning of the loan, you should weigh the risk that an increase in interest rates would lead to higher monthly payments in the future. It's a trade-off. You get a lower rate with an ARM in exchange for assuming more risk.

For many people in a variety of situations, an ARM is the right mortgage choice, particularly if your income is likely to increase in the future or if you only plan on being in the home for three to five years.

Here's some detailed information explaining how ARM's work.

Adjustment Period

With most ARMs, the interest rate and monthly payment are fixed for an initial time period such as one year, three years, five years, or seven years. After the initial fixed period, the interest rate can change every year. For example, one of our most popular adjustable rate mortgages is a five-year ARM. The interest rate will not change for the first five years (the initial adjustment period) but can change every year after the first five years.

Index

Our ARM interest rate changes are tied to changes in an index rate. Using an index to determine future rate adjustments provides you with assurance that rate adjustments will be based on actual market conditions at the time of the adjustment. The current value of most indices is published weekly in the Wall Street Journal. If the index rate moves up so does your mortgage interest rate, and you will probably have to make a higher monthly payment. On the other hand, if the index rate goes down your monthly payment may decrease.

Interest-Rate Caps

An interest-rate cap places a limit on the amount your interest rate can increase or decrease. There are two types of caps:

1. Periodic or adjustment caps, which limit the interest rate increase or decrease from one adjustment period to the next.

2. Overall or lifetime caps, which limit the interest rate increase over the life of the loan.

As you can imagine, interest rate caps are very important since no one knows what can happen in the future. All of the ARMs we offer have both adjustment and lifetime caps. Please see each product description for full details.

Negative Amortization

"Negative Amortization" occurs when your monthly payment changes to an amount less than the amount required to pay interest due. If a loan has negative amortization, you might end up owing more than you originally borrowed. None of the ARMs we offer allow for negative amortization.

Prepayment Penalties

Some lenders may require you to pay special fees or penalties if you pay off the ARM early. We never charge a penalty for prepayment.

Contact a Loan Officer

Selecting a mortgage may be the most important financial decision you will make and you are entitled to all the information you need to make the right decision. Don't hesitate to contact a Loan Officer if you have questions about the features of our adjustable rate mortgages.

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Points are considered a form of interest. Each point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. You pay them, up front, at your loan closing in exchange for a lower interest rate over the life of your loan. This means more money will be required at closing, however, you will have lower monthly payments over the term of your loan.


At the present time, First Federal Savings of Van Wert does not offer the option of paying points up front in exchange for a lower interest rate over the life of your loan.

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The Federal Truth in Lending law requires that all financial institutions disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. The APR is designed to present the actual cost of obtaining financing, by requiring that some, but not all, closing fees are included in the APR calculation. These fees in addition to the interest rate determine the estimated cost of financing over the full term of the loan. Since most people do not keep the mortgage for the entire loan term, it may be misleading to spread the effect of some of these up front costs over the entire loan term.

Also, unfortunately, the APR doesn't include all the closing fees and lenders are allowed to interpret which fees they include. Fees for things like appraisals, title work, and document preparation are not included even though you'll probably have to pay them.

For adjustable rate mortgages, the APR can be even more confusing. Since no one knows exactly what market conditions will be in the future, assumptions must be made regarding future rate adjustments.

You can use the APR as a guideline to shop for loans but you should not depend solely on the APR in choosing the loan program that's best for you. Look at total fees, possible rate adjustments in the future if you're comparing adjustable rate mortgages, and consider the length of time that you plan on having the mortgage.

Don't forget that the APR is an effective interest rate--not the actual interest rate. Your monthly payments will be based on the actual interest rate, the amount you borrow, and the term of your loan.

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A 15-year fixed rate mortgage gives you the ability to own your home free and clear in 15 years. And, while the monthly payments are somewhat higher than a 30-year loan, the interest rate on the 15-year mortgage is usually a little lower, and more important - you'll pay less than half the total interest cost of the traditional 30-year mortgage.

However, if you can't afford the higher monthly payment of a 15-year mortgage don't feel alone. Many borrowers find the higher payment out of reach and choose a 30-year mortgage. It still makes sense to use a 30-year mortgage for most people.

Who Should Consider a 15-Year Mortgage?

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage is most popular among younger homebuyers with sufficient income to meet the higher monthly payments to pay off the house before their children start college. They own more of their home faster with this kind of mortgage, and can then begin to consider the cost of higher education for their children without having a mortgage payment to make as well. Other homebuyers, who are more established in their careers, have higher incomes and whose desire is to own their homes before they retire, may also prefer this mortgage.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a 15-Year Mortgage

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage offers two big advantages for most borrowers:

  • You own your home in half the time it would take with a traditional 30-year mortgage.
  • You save more than half the amount of interest of a 30-year mortgage. Lenders usually offer this mortgage at a slightly lower interest rate than with 30-year loans - typically up to .5% lower. It is this lower interest rate added to the shorter loan life that creates real savings for 15-year fixed rate borrowers.

The possible disadvantages associated with a 15-year fixed rate mortgage are:

  • The monthly payments for this type of loan are roughly 10 percent to 15 percent higher per month than the payment for a 30-year.
  • Because you'll pay less total interest on the 15-year fixed rate mortgage, you won't have the maximum mortgage interest tax deduction possible.

Compare Them Yourself

Use the "How much can I save with a 15 year mortgage?" calculator in our Resource Center to help decide which loan term is best for you.

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There's no cost at all for completing our application.  Closing costs are due at the time the loan closes.  After your loan application is approved, we may ask that you pay the cost of the appraisal.  The cost for having the home appraised is due regardless of whether the loan ultimately closes or not.

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None of the loan programs we offer have penalties for prepayment. You can pay off your mortgage any time with no additional charges.

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General Statement

The interest rate market is subject to movements without advance notice. Locking in a rate protects you from the time that your lock is confirmed to the day that your lock period expires.

Lock-In Policy

A lock is an agreement by the borrower and the lender and specifies the number of days for which a loan's interest rate and points are guaranteed. Should interest rates rise during that period, we are obligated to honor the committed rate. Should interest rates fall during that period, the borrower must honor the lock.  First Federal will consider your loan rate to be locked at the time your formal application is submitted.  At the present time, our lock period is 45 days.

Fees

We do not charge a fee for locking in your interest rate.

Lock Period

This means your loan must close and disburse within this number of days from the day your lock is confirmed by us.

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A home loan often involves many fees, such as the origination fee, appraisal fee, title charges, and other miscellaneous fees. These fees vary from state to state and also from lender to lender. Any lender or broker should be able to give you an estimate of their fees, but it is more difficult to tell which lenders have done their homework and are providing a complete and accurate estimate. We take quotes very seriously. We've completed the research necessary to make sure that our fee quotes are accurate to the city level - and that is no easy task!

To assist you in evaluating our fees, we've grouped them as follows:

Third Party Fees

Fees that we consider third party fees include the appraisal fee, the credit report fee, title charges, flood certification fees, and courier/mailing fees.

Third party fees are fees that we'll collect and pass on to the person who actually performed the service. For example, an appraiser is paid the appraisal fee, a credit bureau is paid the credit report fee, and an attorney is paid the title charge fees.

Typically, you'll see some minor variances in third party fees from lender to lender since a lender may have negotiated a special charge from a provider they use often or chooses a provider that offers coverage at a lower rate.


Taxes and other unavoidable fees

Fees that we consider to be taxes and other unavoidable fees include: State/Local Taxes, if applicable, and recording fees. These fees will most likely have to be paid regardless of the lender you choose. If some lenders don't quote you fees that include taxes and other unavoidable fees, don't assume that you won't have to pay it. It probably means that the lender who doesn't tell you about the fee hasn't done the research necessary to provide accurate closing costs.

Lender Fees

Fees such as points, document preparation fees, and loan processing fees are retained by the lender and are used to provide you with the lowest rates possible.

This is the category of fees that you should compare very closely from lender to lender before making a decision.

Required Advances

You may be asked to prepay some items at closing that will actually be due in the future. These fees are sometimes referred to as prepaid items.

One of the more common required advances is called "per diem interest" or "interest due at closing." All of our mortgages have payment due dates of the 1st of the month. If your loan is closed on any day other than the first of the month, you'll pay interest, from the date of closing through the end of the month, at closing. For example, if the loan is closed on June 15, we'll collect interest from June 15 through June 30 at closing. This also means that you won't make your first mortgage payment until August 1. This type of charge should not vary from lender to lender, and does not need to be considered when comparing lenders. All lenders will charge you interest beginning on the day the loan funds are disbursed. It is simply a matter of when it will be collected.

If an escrow or impound account will be established, you will make an initial deposit into the escrow account at closing so that sufficient funds are available to pay the bills when they become due.

If your loan is a purchase, you'll also need to pay for your first year's homeowner's insurance premium prior to closing. We consider this to be a required advance.

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First of all, let's make sure that we mean the same thing when we discuss "mortgage insurance." Mortgage insurance should not be confused with mortgage life insurance, which is designed to pay off a mortgage in the event of a borrower's death. Mortgage insurance makes it possible for you to buy a home with less than a 20% down payment by protecting the lender against the additional risk associated with low down payment lending.

At the present time, First Federal of Van Wert does not require mortgage insurance on loans with a loan-to-value ratio in excess of 80%. Under normal conditions, our minimum down-payment is 15%.  Loans with a loan-to-value ratio between 81% and 85% will be written with an increase of one half percent above the normal interest rates that are being offered at that time.

Our First Time Home Buyer Program allows a 10% down-payment, with no increase in the standard interest rates, to well qualified applicants without requiring "mortgage insurance".

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The maximum percentage of your home's value depends on the purpose of your loan, how you use the property, and the loan type you choose, so the best way to determine what loan amount we can offer is to complete our online application!

For our best rates on owner occupied properties, First Federal will lend 85% of the home's value or selling price.  We will lend up to 90% of the home's value or selling price with an increase of one quarter percent above the standard interest rates.  Private Mortgage Insurance is not required.

Our First Time Home Buyer Program allows financing of up to 90% of the selling price, with no increase in the standard interest rates, to well qualified applicants.  Private Mortgage Insurance is not required.

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No.  First Federal maintains all loans that are originated in our portfolio.  We service all of our loans locally.  You can have confidence that our staff will always provide prompt and timely personal service.