How is my interest rate determined?

Two challenging questions that surround every loan are – How does a lender determine my interest rate? What can I do to ensure I get the best possible rate? To answer these questions, we must consider three criteria on which a lender bases their decision.

Credit Rating – The credit score is the most important point in mortgage lending. The credit score is not the only aspect considered in lending, however in most cases it is the most crucial. Lenders will also look for multiple late payment occurrences over the last two years.

Ratios – Secondly, the borrower’s monthly obligations (this does not include utilities, phone, or items generally not reported on a credit report) are calculated and reviewed by lenders. Two ratios are determined, front-end and back-end. For most lenders, a “grade A” conventional loan is one in which a borrower has a front-end ratio less than 28% and a back-end ratio less than 36%. For example, a borrower has a gross monthly income of $4,000, a car payment of $350, a credit card payment of $55, and a new house payment of $1,000. The calculations are as follows:

•   $4,000/1,000 = 25% Front-end Ratio
•   $4,000/1,405 = 35% Back-end Ratio

Down Payment – Thirdly, the lender factors in the amount of a borrower’s initial down payment. The less money spent on the down payment means a higher interest rate charged by the lender. Simply stated, more risk for the lender equals a higher rate for the borrower. Even if a borrower has perfect credit and wants to put 0% down, their rate will generally be about ½% higher than a person who puts 10% down.

After a lender has considered the three points described above, the borrower’s application must pass the specifications set by an underwriting department for the loan to be approved.