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Getting Mortgage On the Cheap

Contributed by mm | January 30, 2014 5:42 AM PST

Once we decided that adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) should be our cup of tea, we wasted no time in looking for the best lender. To be more specific, we wanted to shop for the best rate when it came to 5-year or 7-year jumbo ARMs -- the price range of our shortlisted properties dictated that conforming loans wouldn't work for us.

The internet resources we used in our previous home financing experience were still very useful. Our inquiry thru LendingTree got us several quick quotes, and Bankrate also provided us with other names. Most of the competitive quotes back then were at 2.50% or 2.75% for a jumbo 5/1 ARM with zero points. Sweet enough already!

I was always under the impression that biggest banks usually don't put their best rates online, but in the spirit of comparison shopping, I took some extra efforts to browse the home loan pages of some large banks. To my surprise, Wells Fargo offered a super attractive 2.125% rate for 5/1 ARM.

This was big enough incentive for me to submit a pre-approval application online. Several emails and a number of overseas phone calls later, I was handed an even better news -- I was told Wells Fargo was running a promotion along the West Coast and the 2.125% rate actually comes with a 0.25% upfront rebate. And a pre-approval letter was provided to me accordingly. It's almost too good to be true :-)

A couple of weeks later as we got our home purchase offer accepted, I pushed my mortgage banker to show me all options of different ARM products and different point options. Some arcane rules governing home loans prohibited my realtor from giving me more commission rebate than the closing cost so I had an incentive to inflate the closing cost thru mortgage initiation points.

It was a hassle for my mortgage banker -- for every quote he has to generate a whole new set of documents. But under my pressure he provided me with a total of 8 quotes (listed below).


I finally picked the 7/1 ARM with 0.75%-point since it represented the best return on investment. 7/1 ARM over 5/1 ARM was an easy choice since it would extend the initial rate-lock period to 2020 which is our timeline of becoming empty nesters.

Between the no-rebate 7/1 ARM option at 2.125% rate and the 0.75%-point option at 1.875% rate, my upfront investment of 0.75% points would yield annual interest savings of 2.125% - 1.875% = 0.25% (rough number since the base of the principal shrank every year), or about 3-year payback period. (Also for the tax savvy, both discount points and interests are tax deductible)

Paying extra points beyond 0.75% wouldn't pay off nicely. Between 0.75% points and 1.50% points, the extra 0.75% points front-loaded investment would only yield 0.125% annual savings, resulting in a 6-year payoff period.

So 1.875% we are … until March 2020.


P.S. It was reported that jumbo mortgages are starting to become cheaper than conforming loans. What's your experience?

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