Effect of Annual Percentage Rate on Mortage Loan

Annual percentage rate (APR) is the simplified counterpart to the effective interest rate the borrower will pay on a loan. In many countries and jurisdictions, lenders (such as banks) are required to disclose the "cost" of borrowing in some standardized way as a form of consumer protection.

APR is intended to make it easier to compare lenders and loan options. The APR is likely to differ from the "note rate" or "headline rate" advertised by the lender, due to the addition of other fees that may need to be included in the APR. However the APR can be found simply by asking the lender, or reading the section about APR in your contract.

Lenders are required to disclose the APR before the loan (or credit application) is finalized (but note that the definition of APR is not the same in these two countries - see below). Credit card companies can advertise monthly interest rates, but they are required to clearly state the annual percentage rate before an agreement is signed.

APR is a term used with regard to deposit accounts as well. However, when dealing with deposit accounts, annual percentage yield (APY) or annual equivalent rate (AER) is the number to be quoted to consumers for comparison purposes.

This also explains why a 15 year mortgage and a 30 year mortgage with the same APR would have different monthly payments and a different total amount of interest paid. There are many more periods over which to spread the principal, which makes the payment smaller, but there are just as many periods over which to charge interest at the same rate, which makes the total amount of interest paid much greater. For example, $100,000 mortgaged (without fees, since they add into the calculation in a different way) over 15 years costs a total of $193,429.80 (interest is 93.430% of principal), but over 30 years, costs a total of $315,925.20 (interest is 215.925% of principal).

In addition the APR takes costs into account. Suppose for instance that $100,000 is borrowed with $1000 one-time fees paid in advance. If, in the second case, equal monthly payments are made of $946.01 against 9.569% compounded monthly then it takes 240 months to pay the loan back. If the $1000 one-time fees are taken into account then the yearly interest rate paid is effectively equal to 10.31%.

The APR concept can also be applied to savings accounts: imagine a savings account with 1% costs at each withdrawal and again 9.569% interest compounded monthly. Suppose that the complete amount including the interest is withdrawn after exactly one year. Then, taking this 1% fee into account, the savings effectively earned 8.9% interest that year.

Some classes of fees are deliberately not included in the calculation of APR. Because these fees are not included, some consumer advocates claim that the APR does not represent the total cost of borrowing. Excluded fees may include:

Routine one-time fees which are paid to someone other than the lender (such as a real estate attorney's fee)

Penalties such as late fees or service reinstatement fees without regard for the size of the penalty or the likelihood that it will be imposed.

Lenders argue that the real estate attorney's fee, for example, is a pass-through cost, not a cost of the lending. In effect, they are arguing that the attorney's fee is a separate transaction and not a part of the loan. Consumer advocates argue that this would be true if the customer is free to select which attorney is used. If the lender insists on using a specific attorney however, then the cost should be looked at as a component of the total cost of doing business with that lender.

This area is made more complicated by the practice of contingency fees for example, when the lender receives money from the attorney and other agents to be the one used by the lender. Because of this, U.S. regulators require all lenders to produce an affiliated business disclosure form which shows the amounts paid between the lender and the appraisal firms, attorneys, etc.


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