Analyzing APR during mortgage refinancing or second mortgage loan shopping can be a very tricky proposition. “Many people have come to believe that a loans APR, or “Annual Percentage Rate”, is the single most important factor in comparing mortgage loans. However, this is rarely the case, especially in today’s marketplace,” explains Bob Peckenpaugh, Manager of CFIC Home Mortgage. Annual Percentage Rate is defined as “the cost of consumer credit as a percentage spread out over the term of the loan.” Most consumers have no idea what makes up this elusive number. APR is a valuable tool in comparing various mortgage loan programs, but it should never be relied upon as the sole determining factor in choosing a loan, for the following reasons: 1) Not all closing costs are calculated within the APR uniformly. According to Peckenpaugh, “There is a huge variance among lenders, mortgage loan officers, and even states on which fees they include in their APR when calculating the loan. There is no standard among the mortgage industry, let alone among competing mortgage companies.” 2) The costs themselves can be manipulated within the loan. For example, prepaid interest (the amount of pro-rated interest a consumer pays at closing for interest which will be earned from that date until the end of the month) can be represented as anywhere from 1 to 30 days, a potentially huge difference, especially on larger mortgage refinancing loans. 3) Manipulation of the title fees. Ordinarily, the title company’s settlement, or closing fee is an APR fee, while their title insurance cost is not. Peckenpaugh explains, “Recently, in order to minimize the effect to the APR, title companies began simply decreasing their closing fee, while subsequently increasing their title insurance fee by the same amount, thereby reducing the APR.” 4) Lack of industry awareness of what is accurate. Most mortgage loan or refinancing officers do not intentionally try to mislead, but inaccurate information could result in the consumer making a poor decision. As opposed to APR, consumers would be better served by asking the following simple questions. 1) What is the mortgage interest rate? 2) What is the total mortgage loan amount? 3) What is the monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest)? 4) How much are the closing costs? Generally, a written estimate covering all of the above can be generated by the mortgage loan-refinancing officer and provided to you in the form of a “Good Faith Estimate” and/or a “Truth In Lending Statement”. Then, you can compare these documents between mortgage lenders in order to determine the authenticity and accuracy of your quotes. For further mortgage financing or refinancing information, contact Bob Peckenpaugh, Manager, CFIC Home Mortgage, at 1-800-943-9472.