*The NID-Housing Counseling Agency (NID-HCA) is a non-profit, HUD approved agency that assists homeowners with addressing financial situations including defaults and foreclosure, predatory lending, credit repair, referrals, foreclosure counseling, and other services. Their services are mostly free, and their goal is to help people stay in their homes. The NID Housing Counseling agency deals with a number of debt and foreclosure issues.*

*Remember that whenever you apply for a loan, including a mortgage, the “hard inquiry” the lenders make shows up on your credit report and temporarily lowers your score. Applying for several mortgages in a two week period only counts as one inquiry, but if you drag it out and canvas as many lenders over a longer period, you’ll end up doing damage to your score, which could result in a lower rate than you were hoping for.*

**DO THIS: UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR NUMBER IS BEFORE BUYING A HOUSE OR REFINANCING A MORTGAGE. A HIGHER CREDIT SCORE INDICATES BETTER CREDIT AND CAN HELP YOU GET A BETTER MORTGAGE INTEREST RATE. IF YOU’RE IN THE PROCESS OF IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT, ASK YOUR LOAN OFFICER ABOUT MORTGAGE PROGRAMS WITH FLEXIBLE CREDIT REQUIREMENTS, LIKE FHA AND VA LOANS THAT MAY ONLY REQUIRE A FICO OF 580.**

^{This seemed to be the thinking a few years ago, and things didn’t turn out very well. When you borrow more than you can realistically pay, that’s a sub-prime mortgage. Banks sold a lot of those to people who assumed the housing market would keep rising like gangbusters. Their home values would go up, giving them nearly instant equity and they could refinance quickly at a lower rate or sell the home for a quick profit. Lenders sold these loan products because they were making the same bet, and interest rates are always higher on sub-prime loans. Even if some ended up in foreclosure, the lenders would still make a tidy profit. Unfortunately, it was a bad bet for almost everyone. }

Looking back at the flood of foreclosures since the housing crash, it’s clear that many borrowers didn't fully understand the terms of the mortgages they signed. According to one study, 35 percent of ARM borrowers did not know if there was a cap on how much their interest rate could rise [source: Pence]. This is why it’s essential to understand the terms of your mortgage, particularly the pitfalls of “nontraditional” loans.

_{It’s equally important to find a lender who has access to — and knowledge in — down payment assistance programs. There are many options available to first-time home buyers and seasoned buyers. Options vary by county and state, but the right lender is going to know exactly what’s available to you. This is a great way to save even more money each month. }

Your first action item is to seek pre-approval from a lender. It's important to note that pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different processes. For pre-approval, the lender will check your credit and other financial information to determine what price home you can afford. (You can use an online mortgage calculator to give you a ballpark figure on how much home you can afford.) This will give you a price range to stay within during your home search and lets buyers know that you’re serious when you make an offer. Getting pre-approval for a standard loan should take a couple of days.

# Your first action item is to seek pre-approval from a lender. It's important to note that pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different processes. For pre-approval, the lender will check your credit and other financial information to determine what price home you can afford. (You can use an online mortgage calculator to give you a ballpark figure on how much home you can afford.) This will give you a price range to stay within during your home search and lets buyers know that you’re serious when you make an offer. Getting pre-approval for a standard loan should take a couple of days.

**With this in mind, it’s important to do research before choosing a mortgage lender. You not only want to compare the rates but also the level of service each lender provides. When comparing rates, be sure to get the estimates on the same day as rates can change daily. When reviewing level of service, ask how quickly they can process your loan. Is the lender available to personally help you choose the right product and rate, or are you waiting on hold for “the next available representative”? Do they make you jump through hoops just to get a rate quote?**

The first thing lenders will probably do when you apply for a mortgage loan is to check your credit; you should, too. There’s no better time for regular credit monitoring than when you’re trying to prove your creditworthiness to a lender so you can get the best possible rates. You want to make sure that your credit report is as accurate as possible, your scores are where you want them to be, and no one else is getting access to your credit, possibly harming your scores.

^{If you have a hybrid ARM or an ARM and the payments will increase – and you have trouble making the increased payments – find out if you can refinance to a fixed-rate loan. Review your contract first, checking for prepayment penalties. Many ARMs carry prepayment penalties that force borrowers to come up with thousands of dollars if they decide to refinance within the first few years of the loan. If you’re planning to sell soon after your adjustment, refinancing may not be worth the cost. But if you’re planning to stay in your home for a while, a fixed-rate mortgage might be the way to go. Online calculators can help you determine your costs and payments. }

**This example is based on Anne, the youngest borrower who is 68 years old, a variable rate HECM loan with an initial interest rate of 4.032% (which consists of a Libor index rate of 1.782% and a margin of 2.250%). It is based on an appraised value of $300,000, origination charges of $5,000, a mortgage insurance premium of $6,000, other settlement costs of $2,688, and a mortgage payoff of $35,000; amortized over 193 months, with total finance charges of $51,714.48 and an annual percentage rate of 4.53%. Interest rates may vary.**

If you put less than 20% down on your mortgage, you'll probably have to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI, so be sure to budget for this when shopping. Mortgage insurance rates can vary significantly, depending on your credit, the length of your mortgage, how much your down payment is, and other factors. However, it can add a significant amount to your payment, so be sure to take it into consideration.

So one thing that makes a mortgage different from other types of loans is that it is backed up by something – in this case, your home. They call this a “collateralized loan.” Credit cards are also loans, but they aren’t backed up by anything. If you fail to make your credit card payments, the credit card companies can’t take your home away from you.

How much you can afford. Lenders will be happy to tell you how much they’re willing to lend you, but that’s not actually a good indication of how much house you can afford. Check out our affordability calculator to get an idea of where you stand before you start looking for houses. Remember that your monthly payment will be more than just principal and interest. It will also include homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and, potentially, mortgage insurance (depending on your loan program and down payment). You’ll also need to factor in utilities and maintenance.

The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial, tax or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional and tax advisor when making decisions regarding your financial situation.

*Learn about a federal government program, Hope for Homeowners, that is offered through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). It will help hundreds of thousands of lower income homeowners pay or refinance their mortgages (including subprime). Some forms of help may even be available if the value of your home has significantly declined and if your loan is “underwater”. Continue with Hope for Homeowners.*

**If you choose a variable rate mortgage deal, then the amount of interest you pay can fluctuate over time. Mortgage rates often rise when the Bank of England raises the base rate, as borrowing costs become steeper for lenders, and these higher costs are passed on to homeowners. That’s why many homebuyers opt for fixed rates to provide peace of mind that their interest payments won’t change.**

Modify your mortgage loan. In many cases your payment is no longer affordable due to changing personal or financial circumstances. A loan modification can reduce your payments, waive fees, lower your interest rates, and more. Banks and lenders are also offering loan modifications with interest rates as low as 2%. They have determined this is in their best financial interest as well. Learn more on low interest rate loan modifications. Find all of the pros and cons as well as details on modifying mortgages.

*Maybe your parents had a 30-year fixed-rate loan. Maybe your best friend has an adjustable-rate loan. That doesn’t mean that either of those loans are the right loan for you. Some people might like the predictability of a fixed-rate loan, while others might prefer the lower initial payments of an adjustable-rate loan. Every home buyer has their own unique financial situation and it’s important to understand which type of loan best suits your needs.*

Know your credit score. As soon as you decide to start looking for a home, check your credit report and credit score with any of the 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If you find any mistakes that need to be corrected, addressing these issues early will put you in a better position when it’s time to buy a house. (Bank of America credit card clients can get a free FICO® score in Online and Mobile Banking.)

_{As the housing market shows more upward movement, the temptation to borrow more than you can afford becomes enticing. That’s why it’s important to really look at how much you can spend. Your mortgage payment should be comfortable even if it’s a stretch, not a weight that drags you down each month. The lender will look at your income, debt and savings, and is required by federal regulation to demonstrate your ability to repay a loan. So while that determines how much you can borrow, it isn’t necessarily what you can afford. }

This example is based on Anne, the youngest borrower who is 68 years old, a variable rate HECM loan with an initial interest rate of 4.032% (which consists of a Libor index rate of 1.782% and a margin of 2.250%). It is based on an appraised value of $300,000, origination charges of $5,000, a mortgage insurance premium of $6,000, other settlement costs of $2,688, and a mortgage payoff of $35,000; amortized over 193 months, with total finance charges of $51,714.48 and an annual percentage rate of 4.53%. Interest rates may vary.

`In the beginning, you owe more interest, because your loan balance is still high. So most of your monthly payment goes to pay the interest, and a little bit goes to paying off the principal. Over time, as you pay down the principal, you owe less interest each month, because your loan balance is lower. So, more of your monthly payment goes to paying down the principal. Near the end of the loan, you owe much less interest, and most of your payment goes to pay off the last of the principal. This process is known as amortization.`

What I want to do with this video is explain what a mortgage is but I think most of us have a least a general sense of it. But even better than that actually go into the numbers and understand a little bit of what you are actually doing when you’re paying a mortgage, what it’s made up of and how much of it is interest versus how much of it is actually paying down the loan. So, let’s just start with a little example. Let’s say that there is a house that I like, let’s say that that is the house that I would like to purchase. It has a price tag of, let’s say that I need to pay $500,000 to buy that house, this is the seller of the house right here. And they have a mustache, that’s the seller of the house. I would like to buy it. I would like to buy the house. This is me right here. And I’ve been able to save up $125,000. I’ve been able to save up $125,000 but I would really like to live in that house so I go to a bank, I go to a bank, get a new color for the bank, so that is the bank right there. And I say, Mr. Bank, can you lend me the rest of the amount I need for that house, which is essentially $375,000. I’m putting 25 percent down, this right, this right, this number right here, that is 25 percent of $500,000. So, I ask the bank, can I have a loan for the balance? Can I have a $375,000 loan? And the bank says, sure, you seem like, uh, uh, a nice guy with a good job who has a good credit rating. I will give you the loan but while you’re paying off the loan you can’t have the title of that house. We have to have that title of the house and once you pay off the loan we’re going to give you the title of the house. So what’s going to happen here is we’re going to have the loan is going to go to me, so it’s $375,000, $375,000 loan. Then I can go and buy the house, so I’m going to give the total of $500,000, $500,000 to the seller of the house and I’ll actually move into the house myself, assuming I’m using it for my own residence. But the title of the house, the document that says who actually owns the house, so this is the home title, this is the title of the house, home, home title. It will not go to me. It will go to the bank, the home title will go from the seller, maybe even the seller’s bank, maybe they haven’t paid off their mortgage, it will go to the bank that I’m borrowing from. And this transferring of the title to secure a loan, I say secure a loan, I’m saying, look, I need to give something to the lender in case I don’t pay back the loan or if I just disappear. So, this is the security right here. That is technically what a mortgage is. This pledging of the title for, as the, as the security for the loan, that’s what a mortgage is. And actually it comes from old French, mort, means dead, dead, and the gage, means pledge, I’m, I’m a hundred percent sure I’m mispronouncing it, but it comes from dead pledge. Because, I’m pledging it now but that pledge will eventually die once I pay off the loan. Once I pay off the loan this pledge of the title to the bank will die, it’ll come back to me. And that’s why it’s called a dead pledge or a mortgage. And probably because it comes from old French is the reason why we don’t say mort gage. We say, mortgage. But anyway, this is a little bit technical but normally when people refer to a mortgage they’re really referring to the loan itself. They’re really referring to the mortgage, mortgage, the mortgage loan. And what I want to do in the rest of this video is use a little screenshot from a spreadsheet I made to actually show you the math or actually show you what your mortgage payment is going to. And you can download, you can download this spreadsheet at Khan Academy, khanacademy.org/downloads, downloads, slash mortgage calculator, mortgage, or actually, even better, just go to the download, just go to the downloads, downloads, uh, folder on your web browser, you’ll see a bunch of files and it’ll be the file called mortgage calculator, mortgage calculator, calculator dot XLSX. So, it’s a Microsoft 2007 format. But just go to this URL and then you’ll see all of the files there and then you can just download this file if you want to play with it. But what it does here is in this kind of dark brown color, these are the assumptions that you could input and that you can change these cells in your spreadsheet without breaking the whole spreadsheet. So, here I would assume the 5.5 percent interest rate. I’m buying a $500,000 home. It’s a 25 percent down payment, so that’s the $125,000 that I had saved up, that I’d talked about right over there. And then the, uh, loan amount, well, I have the $125,000, I’m going to have to borrow $375,000. It calculates it for us and then I’m going to get a pretty plain vanilla loan. This is going to be a 30-year, so when I say term in years, this is how long the loan is for. So, 30 years, it’s going to be a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, fixed rate, fixed rate, which means the interest rate won’t change. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. This 5.5 percent that I am paying on my, on the money that I borrowed will not change over the course of the 30 years. We will see that the amount I borrowed changes as I pay down some of the loan. Now, this little tax rate that I have here, this is to actually figure out, what is the tax savings of the interest deduction on my loan? And we’ll talk about that in a second, we can ignore it for now. And then these other things that aren’t in brown, you shouldn’t mess with these if you actually do open up this spreadsheet yourself. These are automatically calculated and this right here is a monthly interest rate. So, it’s literally the annual interest rate, 5.5 percent, divided by 12 and most mortgage loans are compounded on an monthly basis. So, at the end of every month they see how much money you owe and then they will charge you this much interest on that for the month. Now, given all of these assumptions, there’s a little bit of behind the scenes math and in a future video I might actually show you how to calculate what the actual mortgage payment is. It’s actually a pretty interesting problem. But for a $500,000 loan, well, a $500,000 house, a $375,000 loan over 30 years at a 5.5 percent interest rate. My mortgage payment is going to be roughly $2,100. Now, right when I bought the house I want to introduce a little bit of vocabulary and we’ve talked about this in some of the other videos. There’s an asset in question right here, it’s called a house. And we’re assuming that it’s worth $500,000. We are assuming that it’s worth $500,000. That is an asset. It’s an asset because it gives you future benefit, the future benefit of being able to live in it. Now, there’s a liability against that asset, that’s the mortgage loan, that’s the $375,000 liability, $375,000 loan or debt. So, if you are, if this was your balance sheet. If this was all of your assets and this is all of your debt and if you were essentially to sell the assets and pay off the debt. If you sell the house you’d get the title, you can get the money and then you pay it back to the bank. Then, well actually, it doesn’t necessarily go into that order but I won’t get too technical. But if you were to unwind this transaction immediately after doing it then you would have, you would have a $500,000 house, you’d pay off your $375,000 in debt and you would get in your pocket $125,000, which is exactly what your original down payment was but this is your equity. And the reason why I’m pointing it out now is I’m, in this video I’m not going to assume anything about the house price, whether it goes up or down, we’re assuming it’s constant. But you could not assume it’s constant and play with the spreadsheet a little bit. But I, what I would, I’m introducing this because as we pay down the debt this number is going to get smaller. So, this number is getting smaller, let’s say at some point this is only $300,000, then my equity is going to get bigger. So, you can kind of view equity as how much value do you have after you pay off the debt for your house? If you were to sell the house, pay off the debt, what do you have left over for yourself? So, this is really kind of your, this is the real wealth in the house, the owner is, this is what you own, wealth in house or the actual what the owner has. Now, what I’ve done here is, well, actually before I get to the chart, let me actually show you how I calculate the chart and I do this over the course of 30 years and it goes by month. So, so you can imagine that there’s actually 360 rows here on the actual spreadsheet and you’ll see that if you go and open it up. But I just want to show you what I did. So, on month zero, which I don’t show here, you borrowed $375,000. Now, over the course of that month they’re going to charge you 0.46 percent interest, remember that was 5.5 percent divided by 12. 0.46 percent interest on $375,000 is $1,718.75. So, I haven’t made any mortgage payments yet. So, I’ve borrowed $375,000, this much interest essentially got billed up on top of that, it got accrued. So, now before I pay any of my payments, instead of owing $375,000 at the end of the first month I owe $376,718. Now, I’m a good guy, I’m not going to default on my mortgage so I make that first mortgage payment that we calculated, that we calculated right over here. So, after I make that payment then I’m essentially, what’s my loan balance after making that payment? Well, this was before making the payment so you subtract the payment from it, this is my loan balance after the payment. Now, this right here, what I, little asterisk here, this is my equity now. So, remember, I started with $125,000 of equity. After paying one loan balance, after, after my first payment I now have $125,410 in equity. So, my equity has gone up by exactly $410. Now, you’re probably saying, hey, gee, I made a $2,000 payment, a roughly a $2,000 payment and my equity only went up by $410,000. Shouldn’t this debt have gone down by $2,000 and my equity have gone up by $2,000? And the answer is no, because you had to pay off all of this interest, all of this interest. So, that very, in the beginning, your payment, your $2,000 payment is mostly interest. Only $410 of it is principal. But as you, and then you, and then, so as your loan balance goes down you’re going to pay less interest here and so each of your payments are going to be more weighted towards principal and less weighted towards interest. And then to figure out the next line, this interest accrued right here, I took my, your old, your loan balance exiting the last month multiply that times 0.46 percent and you get this new interest accrued. This is your new prepayment balance. I pay my mortgage again. This is my new loan balance. And notice, already by month two, $2.00 more went to principal and $2.00 less went to interest. And over the course of 360 months you’re going to see that it’s an actual, sizable difference. And that’s what this chart shows us right here. This is the interest and principal portions of our mortgage payment. So, this entire height right here, this is, let me scroll down a little bit, this is by month. So, this entire height, if you notice, this is the exact, this is exactly our mortgage payment, this $2,129. Now, on that very first month you saw that of my $2,100 only $400 of it, this is the $400, only $400 of it went to actually pay down the principal, the actual loan amount. The rest of it went to pay down interest, the interest for that month. Most of it went for the interest of the month. But as I start paying down the loan, as the loan balance gets smaller and smaller, each of my payments, there’s less interest to pay, let me do a better color than that. There is less interest, let’s say if we go out here, this is month 198, over there, that last month there was less interest so more of my $2,100 actually goes to pay off the loan. Until we get all the way to month 360 and you can show, see this in the actual spreadsheet, at month 360 my final payment is all going to pay off the principal, very little if anything of that is interest. Now, the last thing I want to talk about in this video without making it too long is this idea of a interest tax deduction. So, a lot of times you’ll hear financial planners or realtors tell you, hey, the benefit of buying your house is that it, it’s, it has tax advantages, and it does. Your interest is tax-deductible. Your interest, not your whole payment. Your interest is tax deductible, deductible. And I want to be very clear with what deductible means. So, let’s for instance, talk about the interest fees. So, this whole time over 30 years I am paying $2,100 a month or $2,129.29 a month. Now, at the beginning a lot of that is interest. So, on month one, $1,700 of that was interest. That $1,700 is tax-deductible. Now, as we go further and further each month I get a smaller and smaller tax-deductible portion of my actual mortgage payment. Out here the tax deduction is actually very small. As I’m getting ready to pay off my entire mortgage and get the title of my house. Now, I want to be very clear on this notion of what tax-deductible even means ‘cause I think it is misunderstood very often. This doesn’t mean, let’s say that, let’s say in one year, let’s say in one year I paid, I don’t know, I’m going to make up a number, I didn’t calculate it on the spreadsheet. Let’s say in year one, year one, I pay, I pay $10,000 in interest, $10,000 in interest. Remember, my actual payments will be higher than that because some of my payments went to actually paying down the loan. And, but let’s say $10,000 went to interest. To say this deductible, and let’s say before this, let’s say before this I was making $100,000. Let’s put the loan aside, let’s say I was making $100,000 a year and let’s say I was paying roughly 35 percent on that $100,000. I won’t go into the whole, uh, tax structure and the, and the different brackets and all of that. Let’s say, you know, if I didn’t have this mortgage I would pay 35 percent taxes which would be about $35,000 in taxes for that year. Just, this is just a rough estimate. Now, when you say that $10,000 is tax-deductible, the interest is tax-deductible, that does not mean that I can just take it from the $35,000 that I would have normally owed and only paid $25,000. What it means is, I can deduct this amount from my income. So, when I tell the IRS how much did I make this year, instead of saying, I made $100,000 I say that I made $90,000 because I was able to deduct this, not directly from my taxes, I was able to deduct it from my income. So, now if I only made $90,000 and I, and this is I’m doing a gross oversimplification of how taxes actually get calculated. And I paid 35 percent of that, let’s get the calculator out. Let’s get the calculator. So, 90 times .35 is equal to $31,500. So, this will be equal to $31,500, put a comma here, $31,500. So, off of a $10,000 deduction, $10,000 of deductible interest, I essentially saved $3,500. I did not save $10,000. So, another way to think about it if I paid $10,000 interest, I’m going to, and my tax rate is 35 percent, I’m going to save 35 percent of this in actual taxes. This is what people mean when they say deductible. You’re deducting it from the income that you report to the IRS. If there’s something that you could actually take straight from your taxes, that’s called a tax credit. So, if you were, uh, if there was some special thing that you could actually deduct it straight from your credit, from your taxes, that’s a tax credit, tax credit. But a deduction just takes it from your income. And so, in this spreadsheet I just want to show you that I actually calculated in that month how much of a tax deduction do you get. So, for example, just off of the first month you paid $1,700 in interest of your $2,100 mortgage payment. So, 35 percent of that, and I got the 35 percent as one of your assumptions, 35 percent of $1,700. I will save $600 in taxes on that month. So, roughly over the course of the first year I’m going to save about $7,000 in taxes, so that’s nothing, nothing to sneeze at. Anyway, hopefully you found this helpful and I encourage you to go to that spreadsheet and, uh, play with the assumptions, only the assumptions in this brown color unless you really know what you’re doing with the spreadsheet. And you can see how the, this actually changes based on different interest rates, different loan amounts, different down payments, different terms, different tax rates, that’ll actually change the, the tax savings and you can play around with the different types of fixed mortgages on this spreadsheet.

# To be clear, you don't need a pre-approval to start looking at houses. However, since a pre-approval is essentially the same as a full mortgage approval, just without a specific home in mind, it can be an extremely valuable shopping tool. Specifically, if you submit a pre-approval along with your offer, it tells the seller that you're a serious buyer who is not likely to run into trouble when obtaining financing. One caveat: A pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different things. A pre-qualification is based solely on information you provide and is not a commitment to lend money, therefore it doesn't carry nearly as much weight.

**Freddie Mac has also opened Borrower Help Centers in several cities around the country. The centers will provide people with direct access to a housing specialist. Meet with a counselor to explore options for mortgage assistance, including loan modifications, overall debt counseling, and other resources to deal with a delinquent mortgage and other financial problems. Find a Borrower Help Center to learn more.**