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The Anatomy Of a Mortgage What Exactly Is a Mortgage?

The Anatomy of a MortgageWhat exactly is a mortgage? - Simply put, it's a loan from a financial institution to you. In return, you pay interest on the amount loaned. The lender also has first dibs on your house in case you neglect to pay back the loan.

Anatomy Mortgage, Mortgage

Francophiles and wordsmiths will recognize the root word "mort" in there. No, that's not your Uncle Mort; that's the French word for "dead." The idea is that you're going to kill off that loan, by paying back the money you borrowed. You amortize the loan, over time. Yes, it's a slow death, but it must be carried out.

A loan has three facets:
  • size (how many dollars you need to borrow)
  • interest (the percentage rate you pay on the loan)
  • term (how long it will take to pay off the loan)
The first one is self-explanatory (although there are choices you can make with regard to the down payment, which we'll investigate in a little while).
  • The other two are more complicated. Let's look first at the interest rate.

  • The Calculation of APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

  • The annual percentage rate is a method developed under federal law to disclose to loan applicants the actual amount of interest that will be paid on a given loan, over the life of that loan. It makes it easy to compare one mortgage to another by making it an apples-to-apples comparison. You should, however, use the APR as just one tool in evaluating a loan, not as the sole factor in making your decision.

To understand APR, you must first understand the concept of points. A point is 1% of the loan amount. If the loan is for $100,000, one point is $1,000.

There are two types of points: origination and discount. Origination points are the fees normally charged by a lender, and sometimes by a mortgage broker, for originating, or starting up, your loan. Discount points are charged to lower your interest rate, and this lowers your payments. In other words, if you pay some more money up front, the bank will let you pay less over time.

Both types of points should be considered interest that you pay up front. Therefore, you must figure points into the cost of your loan repayment. If you take out a loan for $120,000 at 9% interest for 30 years, and you pay one origination point and one discount point, you're paying a total of two points, or $2,400. Your payment will be $965.55 per month.

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