Are Mortgage Rates Negotiable?

May 31, 2011 No Comments »


Mortgage Q&A: “Are mortgage rates negotiable?”

In short, mortgage rates are 100% negotiable, like many other costs involved with obtaining a mortgage, such as the loan origination fee.

Nothing is set in stone, and there’s certainly plenty of wiggle-room, especially when we’re talking about thousands of dollars changing hands.

However, like anything else you shop for, you may be told that prices/rates are firm, or are as low as they can go.

This isn’t the case, as mortgage rates can always be adjusted up or down in a variety of different ways.

For example, you can buy down your interest rate by paying mortgage discount points.

This isn’t pure “negotiation” because you’re actually paying prepaid interest upfront to lower costs during the loan term, but it does prove that mortgage rates can be adjusted.

The opposite is also true – like in the case of a no cost refinance, where you pay nothing out-of-pocket, but take on a higher mortgage rate to compensate the originator for that lack of costs.

Ask for Multiple Mortgage Rate Quotes

But a more pure form of negotiation involves comparing rates for the same product from a variety of different banks and lenders.

First, you’ll want to obtain multiple quotes from a single lender, by asking for a series of interest rate/cost combinations, as discussed above.

So if the loan officer or mortgage broker offers you a rate of 4.75% on a 30-year fixed with $2,500 in closing costs, you can ask for other options.

What would the mortgage rate be with no closing costs, or just $1,000 in closing costs? What if you paid $5,000 in closing costs?

After getting all those quotes, jot them down, then shop around with other lenders to see who has the best rate and lowest fees.

Once your shopping is complete, you can go back to the lender who offered you the best deal and ask for a slightly lower rate or reduced closing costs, using another bank or broker’s offer as leverage, even if it doesn’t really exist.

There’s a good chance you’re not getting the rock-bottom rate the first time around, so why just accept it as the best offer?

Use Competition to Your Advantage

The mortgage industry is a very competitive space, so mortgage lenders and their representatives will always be willing to work with you to snag your business, assuming you actually qualify.

They may make a little less in the way of commission, but still enough to want to close your loan.

Don’t believe it when they tell you they’re “just breaking even” or “not making enough” to do the deal.  This is simply their justification to make more money while you pay more.  In the end, they need your business more than you need theirs, so remember that during negotiations.

There are also loan originators who work on volume, so for them, just getting your deal, even if they aren’t making a whole lot on the loan itself, could boost their profits and be well worth their while.

So be sure to compare mortgage rate quotes online, visit local banks, and speak to a few mortgage brokers. It’s a big deal to get a mortgage, so why stop at just one or two quotes? Negotiating is a lot easier when you’re pitting multiple lenders against one another.

Just be sure you lock your mortgage rate. If it’s not locked, the interest rate isn’t guaranteed. And if anything, it’s more than likely going to rise from the quote you originally receive. This is the common “bait and switch” story borrowers express after the fact.

Tip: What mortgage rate can I expect?

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