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Understanding Your Mortgage APR

Your APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is an important term for any potential homebuyer to know. Distinct from your interest rate, your mortgage APR tells you the overall cost of your mortgage loan, taking into account both your interest rate as well as any additional costs.

Understanding what an APR is and how it can impact your loans is critical when borrowing any loan, especially a mortgage. Here’s a primer on what elements make up an APR and how you can calculate it.

What Is APR?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate, and it’s used to measure the cost of borrowing money from lenders for various reasons, such as your mortgage loan. While it’s often presented at the same time as your interest rate, it isn’t the same thing.

APR is expressed as a percentage and takes into account not only the interest rate, but also many of the costs that are associated with the loan. When it comes to borrowing a mortgage, these costs can include items such as origination fees, application fees, processing fees, discount points, and other types of fees that lenders may charge.

APR provides a more comprehensive picture of the total cost of the mortgage loan since it gives you an overall view of the fees and costs you would have to pay that are included in the finance charge. If you compare just the interest rate, the additional fees and costs aren’t represented, which could give you an incomplete picture when it comes to determining the actual cost of the loan.

Since not all lenders charge the same fees or interest rates, comparing APRs is usually a better way to compare the total cost of your loan from one lender to another.

Why Is APR Important When Taking Out a Mortgage?

Knowing the APR can help consumers be more informed while comparison shopping for loan products. Thanks to the Truth in Lending Act , lenders are required to disclose the APR of their loans, as well as all fees and charges associated with a loan.

The APR should include all finance charge fees, which can make it easier for borrowers to sort through loan comparisons to find the right mortgage.

How Are Interest Rates Calculated?

As we’ve discussed, APR and interest rate aren’t the same, but your interest rate does impact your APR. So, how exactly are interest rates calculated?

Your interest rate is a percentage of your mortgage rate. What that percentage will be, depends on what type of mortgage loan you have. For instance, with a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll pay the same interest rate for the entire time you have the loan. With an adjustable rate mortgage, on the other hand, your rate will fluctuate throughout the life of the loan. Also, keep in mind that any unpaid interest gets added to the mortgage principal. This means you’ll have to pay interest on that interest.

Your lender will determine your specific interest rate based on your financial specifics, such as your credit score, as well as the current economic conditions and market interest rates. Lenders usually use their own unique formula to calculate interest rates, which is why your rate can vary from lender to lender — and why it’s important to shop around for rates.

Recommended: APR vs. Interest Rate: What’s The Difference?

How to Calculate Your APR

If you want to be extra thorough and calculate the APR yourself, there’s a way to make that happen. Be warned, it’s not necessarily a super fun math project, but hey, where there’s a formula, there’s a way, right?

To get started, you’ll have to know the approximate monthly Principal and Interest (P&I) payment on your loan. Maybe your lender has already told you what it would be, but if not, you could calculate it with an online mortgage calculator or by hand. You’ll need to have a loan amount, interest rate and a term in years. And remember, right now, we’re just trying to give an idea of the difference between the interest rate and the APR.

Once you have the monthly P&I payment calculated, you’ll then be able to calculate the APR, which you can do with this calculator . Keep in mind that because we don’t know what your applicable APR loan fees will be, we suggest using a ballpark estimate. Let’s say that the loan costs that will impact your APR are 2% of your loan amount. So, if your loan amount is $200,000, your loan costs for calculating the APR will be $4,000.

Why You Need to be Careful When Using APR to Compare Mortgages

So you’ve got the APRs for all the mortgage offers you’re considering. Your APR is important to consider because it factors in the expense of additional fees over the life of your mortgage. If you’re applying for a 30-year mortgage, those fees are spread over 30 years.

But do you plan to live in your home for the full 30 years of your mortgage and never refinance your mortgage? If you sell your home after five years, rather than staying for the duration of your 30-year loan, you’ll still have to pay for the loan fees (such as origination fees).

That’s why it’s important to consider and compare APRs when choosing a mortgage. If you plan on living in the home for a limited time, a lender that offers fewer fees might be a better choice than a lender with a low APR but lots of fees. You’ll want to make sure to consult with your financial advisor before making this decision.

When you’re mortgage shopping, you also may want to proceed with caution when comparing the APRs of fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages if you are using an online calculator. The APR on adjustable-rate loans may not be an accurate representation of the cost of the loan since some calculators cannot anticipate the frequency or amounts of the interest rate changes.

Recommended: Tips When Shopping for a Mortgage

The Takeaway

If you’re ready to take the next step in your home-buying journey, the first step is taking stock of your mortgage options. Comparing each loan’s APR is a quick and easy way to see how your offers stack up but remember it isn’t the only factor to take into account.

One way to start the process of mortgage shopping is by checking out mortgage loans from SoFi. We offer a variety of mortgage loans, so you can select the option that works best for you. You can start the application online and find out if you’re pre-qualified in just minutes.

Learn how a mortgage with SoFi can help you buy the house of your dreams. Start today!

SoFi Mortgages
Terms and conditions apply. Not all products are offered in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

If you’re like many Americans, your home is the single largest purchase you’ll ever make–and one you likely can’t afford to replace if disaster strikes.

That’s why homeowners insurance can be a wise investment. This type of insurance will compensate you if an event covered under your policy damages or destroys your home or personal items.

It will also cover you in certain instances if you injure someone else or cause property damage.

Although having homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, mortgage lenders often require you to insure your home until you’ve paid the loan in full.

Choosing the right coverage for your home–and understanding exactly what is (and what isn’t) covered–can be confusing though.

Some policies cover more than others, and how much coverage you need will depend on your circumstances, as well as your risk tolerance.

Here’s what you need to know about the options available for protecting your home.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between Homeowners Insurance and Title Insurance?

What Does Homeowners Insurance Typically Cover?

Most standard homeowners insurance policies include six different kinds of important coverage.

•  Dwelling: This covers the physical structure of the home itself, including its foundation, walls, and roof, as well as structures attached to the home such as a front porch.
•  Other structures on your property: This covers things that aren’t attached to the main home structure, like garages and fences.
•  Personal property: This includes personal items including clothing, furniture, and everything else that you put inside your home.
•  Additional living expenses: This provides funds to pay for temporary living expenses, such as hotel costs and restaurant meals, while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
•  Liability coverage: This protects you against lawsuits and damages you or your family cause to other people or their property.
•  Medical coverage: This is offered to foot the bills incurred by somebody who is injured on your property, whether it’s your fault or theirs.

What Type of Events Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

The most common type of homeowners insurance policy on the market is called HO-3 insurance.

This insurance includes coverage of 16 specifically named perils, but it may also offer “open peril” coverage, which means that anything that damages your dwelling that is not specifically excluded in the paperwork will be covered by the policy. (This coverage generally does not extend to your personal property, however.)

The 16 named perils typically include:

•  Fire or lightning
•  Windstorms or hail
•  Explosions
•  Riots
•  Damage caused by aircraft
•  Damage caused by vehicles
•  Smoke
•  Vandalism
•  Theft
•  Volcanic eruptions
•  Falling objects
•  Damage due to the weight of ice, snow or sleet
•  Water or steam overflow from plumbing, HVAC systems, internal sprinklers and other appliances
•  Damage due the “sudden and accidental tearing apart,cracking, burning, or bulging” of an HVAC, water-heating, or fire-protective system
•  Freezing of pipes and other household appliances
•  Damage due to a power surge

What Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance typically covers most scenarios where a loss could occur. However, some events are generally excluded from policies. These often include:

•  Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes
•  Infestations by birds, vermin, fungus or mold
•  Wear and tear or neglect
•  Nuclear hazard
•  Government action (including war)
•  Power failure

What if you live in a flood or hurricane area? Or an area with a history of earthquakes? You may want to consider a rider (which is supplementary coverage to an existing policy) for these or an extra policy for earthquake insurance or flood insurance.

Home insurance policies also typically set special limits on the amount of reimbursement you can receive in categories such as artwork, jewelry, appliances, tools, electronics, clothing, cash, and firearms.

If you own something particularly valuable, such as fine art painting or piece of expensive jewelry, you might want to purchase a rider that you will be reimbursed in full for it.

What Should I look for in a Homeowners Insurance Policy?

Homeowners insurance companies typically offer three different reimbursement models or levels of coverage.

Which one you choose can be an important decision. That’s because it will impact how you will be reimbursed in the event your home is damaged or burglarized, and also the cost of your premiums.

These are the most common homeowners policy options, listed from least to most costly.

Actual Cash Value

Actual cash value typically covers the cost of the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them). If your five-year-old TV was stolen, for instance, you would not likely get reimbursed for the cost of a brand-new one.

Replacement Cost Value

Replacement value policies generally cover the actual cash value of your home and possessions without the deduction for depreciation, so you would likely be able to repair or rebuild your home and re-buy your possessions up to the original value.

Extended Replacement Cost Value

This coverage will typically pay out more than the original value of your home and belongings, up to a specified limit, if it actually costs more to fix your home and/or replace your possessions.

The limit can be a dollar amount or a percentage, such as 25% above your dwelling coverage amount. This gives you a cushion if rebuilding is more expensive than you expected.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost Value

Guaranteed Replacement Cost is the most comprehensive coverage. This inflation-buffer policy pays for whatever it costs to repair or rebuild your home and replace your possessions—even if it’s more than your policy limit.

This type of coverage can be ideal since you typically don’t need just enough insurance to cover the value of your home, you will likely need enough insurance to rebuild your home, preferably at current prices.

Understanding Homeowners Insurance Deductibles

Homeowners policies typically include an insurance deductible — the amount you’re required to cover before your insurer starts paying.

The deductible can be a flat dollar amount, such as $500 or $1,000. Or, it might be a percentage, such as 1 or 2 percent of the home’s insured value.

When you receive a claim check, an insurer typically subtracts your deductible amount from the total claim.

For instance, if you have a $1,000 deductible and your insurer approves a claim for $8,000 in repairs, the insurer would likely pay $7,000 and you would be responsible for the remaining $1,000.

Choosing a higher deductible will usually reduce your premium. However, you would likely have to shoulder more of the financial burden should you need to file a claim.

A lower deductible, on the other hand, means you might have a higher premium but your insurer would likely pick up a greater portion of the tab after an incident.

The Takeaway

Of the many types of insurance coverage out there on the market, homeowners insurance is one of the most important–it literally protects the roof over your head, which very well might also be your most valuable asset.

Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and its contents. It also typically reimburses you for losses due to theft and pays out if visitors to your property are injured.

Your policy may also pay for living expenses, such as a hotel stay, if your home becomes uninhabitable.

In some cases, you can get additional policies or riders for events not covered by your regular home insurance, such as flooding, as well as extra coverage for any highly valuable possessions.

Because choosing the right homeowners insurance company and right amount of coverage can be overwhelming, SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to help bring customizable and affordable homeowners insurance to our members.

Prices start as low as $25 per month, and Lemonade gives back leftover money to charities of your choice.

Check out homeowners insurance options offered through SoFi Protect.

SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:
Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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How to Buy Another House When You Already Have a Mortgage

Are you sick of pouring money into summer rentals or booking vacation houses online, sight unseen? If you’ve already got the mortgage on your primary residence set and within your budget, you may be ready to invest in a second home. Here are some ideas on how to get an additional mortgage loan to potentially purchase another home.

Considering All the Costs

If you already own a house, you understand that the costs of home ownership go beyond mortgage payments. Remember that you’ll now have a second set of costs, including taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and the cost of travel to the second location.

You may also face some expenses with a vacation property that you wouldn’t face with a primary residence. For example, a house on the beach might need flood insurance to protect it against hurricanes.

All of these costs factor in on top of a second mortgage payment. Before you dive into owning a second home, consider whether or not you can afford the additional costs.

Determining if You Want a Vacation Home or Rental Property

Before beginning to shop for a mortgage, you’ll need to decide whether you want to potentially earn rental income on the property. The answer to this question will determine the type of mortgage you qualify for.

However, if you need rental income in order to qualify for the additional home purchase, you may need to identify a renter and have a fully executed lease among other documents to show the lender the source of additional income. Keep in mind that the lender may only use a certain percentage (likely 75%) of the lease amount as a credit towards your qualifying income.

To qualify for a rental property loan, lenders will likely require a higher down payment, typically at least 20% or more. Non-owner occupied loans allow you to use the home when it’s not rented.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

Factors to Qualify for a Mortgage

If you’re ready to buy a home, and you’ve decided what type of property you’re looking for, you’ll want to consider many of the same factors needed to secure a first mortgage. Utilizing a home affordability calculator can be important when understanding how much home you can afford.

Credit report and FICO® score: Your credit report is essentially a report card that shows lenders how responsible you are about managing your debt, including your first mortgage. It shows whether you make payments on time and whether you’ve missed payments or defaulted on debt in the past.

Your FICO score is a number that reflects your consumer credit risk. Make sure that you keep your credit score healthy by making on-time payments. Also check your credit report to make sure everything has been reported correctly. Mistakes can drag your score down, so it’s important to alert the credit reporting bureaus immediately if you find incorrect information.

Debt-to-income ratio: Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a measure of how much debt you carry each month compared to your monthly income. If you have $2,000 a month in debt payments and make $6,000 a month in income, your DTI is $2,000/$6,000, or 33%. If your DTI is too high, lenders are less likely to give you a mortgage, or you may not be able to secure a mortgage with favorable terms. The DTI required by your lender can vary based on factors such as your credit score, type of home, and the size of your down payment.

One way to get your DTI low is by paying off old debts and avoiding taking on new ones. You may also consider refinancing loans you already have, including the mortgage on your first house, to take advantage of potentially lower interest rates. A lower interest rate could mean paying less over the life of the loan, which could help you lower your DTI sooner than you thought.

If you are purchasing a rental property, and you can provide a fully executed lease agreement and other supporting documentation the lender may require, it is likely that the lender will credit you with 75% of the monthly lease amount towards your qualifying income.

Down payment: Required down payments on second homes are typically higher than on primary residences. For a second home purchase, lenders may require a down payment of at least 10% or more. If you put less than 20% down, you may be required to have private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender if you stop making payments.

The more you can pay upfront with a down payment, the more favorable your mortgage terms are likely to be. Your interest rate and monthly payments may be lower, and if your DTI or credit score is less than ideal, a higher down payment could potentially help you compensate for these factors.

Though making a large down payment can be a financial boon, you may want to make sure that you don’t deplete your savings so much that you no longer have extra cash to cover other expenses like closing costs .

Income and assets: Your lender will typically want to see that you have two years worth of steady and ongoing income to qualify for a mortgage. They also may want to see recent statements from any monetary assets you have such as a checking account, savings account, CD, IRA, 401(k), etc. For well-qualified borrowers, lenders will want to see reserve funds. Amount of required reserves will vary from lender to lender and loan program to loan program, but each month of reserves is equal to one month’s worth of payments on your first and additional mortgage. One month of mortgage payments is defined as principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and other miscellaneous costs (such as flood insurance or HOA dues).

Estimate How Much You Can Afford

This home affordability calculator helps estimate the cost of purchasing a home and what your monthly payment would be – including closing costs, insurance, and property tax.

Shopping Around

It’s usually a good idea to shop around. As you search for an additional mortgage, consider checking out multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting the best deal for you on interest rates, terms, and fees.

Learn more about qualifying for a SoFi mortgage.

The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Mortgages are not available in all states. Products and terms may vary from those advertised on this site. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria#eligibility-mortgage for details.
FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
on credit.

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